Magnetic Gate Latch

My husband and I commute by bike, and this means going in and out of our gate throughout the day from both directions. Anyone who brings their bike inside regularly will be familiar with the physical maneuver that is hoisting the door open while you slide through with your bike. Usually this is okay in one direction, but a pain when you have to pull the door open towards you first before going through.

The time finally came this summer where the decorative inner section of our old gate broke and it was time to replace it. This time we opted for a gate that would swing both directions, like saloon doors. Ideally we could just push through the gate with our bikes in either direction, without any awkward gymnastics.

Once we replaced the gate however, we found that the spring mechanism wasn't really strong enough to close it quickly or keep it closed. This meant that our tiny dog or even a small gust of wind could push it open. And if we were to keep the latch in the locked position, then it would be hard to get through if you were on the wrong side of the gate.

We wondered: how could we latch the gate in way that was easy for an adult to push open from either side, but provided a strong enough force against wind and dogs? The folks that installed the new gate threw out a hairbrained idea to use some kind of magnet since the new frame on the gate was steel. I tested with a few hard-drive magnets on-hand and although the force was weak, it was promising!

hard drive magnets to make a gate latch

After a little testing, we came up with this magnetic gate latch concoction: We got an aluminum carpet threshold as the base, this gave me a surface to mount the magnets to that wouldn't interact with the magnetic field. We got a lot of 24 identical Neodymium rare earth hard drive magnets and gorilla glued them to the threshold. We then wrapped skid-proof pads to the threshold to add friction and help slow down the gate as it passes by.

After screwing the threshold to the gate post, we gave it a test and it turned out to work great! It offered a solid amount of resistence that I can safely say my 6lb dog can't open, and it also snapped the gate shut after a few swings. Look how much snappier it is with the magnets:

If you're looking to make a gate that swings easily in both directions, I definitely recommend the magnetic solution as an option.

P.S. If you do use these hard drive magnets, watch your fingers as these magnets have a death grip pinch that will draw blood.

P.P.S If you happen to follow this design, one thing I found very helpful in slowing down the gate was to allow a little bit of "slack" in the aluminum threshold so that it could bow out slightly to meet the steel frame on the gate itself. This slowed down the gate much faster than when the aluminum threshold was completely flat against the post.