As I was saying... it wasn't exactly baby gates, but I spent some time this past evening dealing with similar safety devices: latches to keep kitchen cabinets closed. If you mosey into our WABAC machine for a moment, you might recall this post, or perhaps this post, where I recounted my assorted (mis)adventures with installing devices to help keep the Pipsqueak safe.
"Wait a minute," I hear you say; "Your sister has an active toddler in the house and she hasn't done anything to lock away dangerous cleaners and chemicals?!?" Not to worry; she did... or, to be correct, she and our folks tried to help while I installed magnetic latches on every. single. cabinet. door. that the Pipsqueak could potentially open in the kitchen. The problem is that the latches mounted with adhesive pads instead of screws, so it wasn't terribly long before they began moving out of place -- and a couple of them just plain broke at one time or another, leading AJ to try to find a different solution.
After a few false starts, she found a package of latch locks that could allegedly* be used on both drawers and cabinet doors and I set out to install them one evening. With help from Dad and "help" from the Pipsqueak, I figured out where I could attach the receiver hooks and a quick way to mount the restraining hooks and confidently began attaching the first latch set. After a few minutes I realized AJ's cabinets were made from thinner wood than I'd thought and I had to change my installation plans. After a few more minutes I realized I was a lot less flexible at 53 than I was at 35. After a few more minutes I realized I should have brought my own screwdrivers instead of depending on AJ's removable bit "twelve million tools in one" model.
And after a few more minutes I realized that I could huff and puff and silently curse in my mind (remember, Miri was "helping" me) all I wanted... but that little screw, no matter how sharp, was NOT going past some hidden obstruction inside the door frame, and that was that. Of course, no one could find either of the two electric drills AJ was supposed to have in the garage, and it was getting late (and I was having a little more trouble getting up each time I pulled my head out from under the sink) so we called it a night.
Well, this past evening, with trusty Dremel Moto-Tool in hand (do they still make those?), I returned to the scene of the crime and tried again. This time, I used the Dremel to drill a super-thin guide hole the entire depth of the screw, and all my huffing and puffing paid off with the 2nd half of that first latch being installed in only
We all marveled at the wisps of smoke that rose from the hole while I was drilling, and at the obviously burned sawdust adhering to the drill bit when I finished, but Miri thought it was all a Very Neat Adventure and kept insisting on standing right on top of me while I worked. (That's with the "five" minutes is crossed out in the preceding paragraph.) I then turned to attaching the catch hook for the 2nd door, and had to lay down on the kitchen floor to do so. I won't go into details, but AJ took some really cute photos of me laying there holding a screwdriver over my head while the Pipsqueak made herself comfortable laying at first next to, then on me as I tried to work.
It was with a great sense of satisfaction that I grunted, creaked & groaned my way back into an upright position and showed AJ how both doors would only open about 1-1/2" before the hooks grabbed, just as they were designed to do. While Miri tried to figure out why she suddenly couldn't open the cabinet doors, AJ and I discussed whether I should try to fix her reluctant printer or continue with my installation work and add the same latches to other cabinets.
Then, from behind me in the kitchen, I heard a quiet "click" and turned to see my niece happily swinging the now-unlocked cabinet door wide open.
I'll close this post with the comment that kid-proof door latches aren't necessarily as kid-proof as they claim, no matter how careful you are with choosing and measuring and installing. The plan now is for AJ to pick out some handles to install on all her kitchen cabinet doors so we can use the ugly but much more effective external "handle tie" type cabinet locks.
*I say "allegedly"because the two situations are very different -- keep this in mind when doing your own installations. Drawers pull straight out in a back-and-forth motion and usually have internal framing just above the opening that gives you a nice hunk of wood onto which to fasten part of the locking mechanism. Cabinet doors usually have no framing around the internal edges, so there's very little material onto which to mount part of the latch -- and the doors swing open in an arc, so the two parts of any latching mechanism will actually be meeting at a constantly-changing angle. Trust me: you really do want to use those ugly external wraparound locks that fasten to the handles on your cabinet doors.