Depending on your security needs, personal tastes and skill level, fabricating a functioning homemade gate latch can be accomplished with common home-repair tools and inexpensive supplies. Making the appropriate latch that will suit your security needs depends largely on whom or what you are trying to contain by latching the gate. A latch made to keep bunnies out of the garden may not be suitable for keeping thieves out of your backyard.
The Simplest Gate Closures
Wooden livestock fences are often secured with only a loop of rope, leather strap or wire that holds the gate to the gate post. The loop may be nailed to the gate post to act as a hinge and to keep from misplacing the wire or rope. This simple and inexpensive latch is effective for containing most livestock and takes only minutes to construct. To make a simple locking closure, a short piece of chain may be wrapped around the gate post and gate frame, then secured with a padlock.
Hole and Pin-Style Gate Latch
With two small pieces of scrap lumber and a drill you can make an effective nonlocking gate latch. One block is screwed to the gate post and the other to the gate. The ends of the wood pieces protrude past the edges of the opening and are aligned so one is positioned just above the other when the gate is closed. A vertical hole is drilled through the aligned planks. To keep the gate closed, a metal rod or screwdriver is inserted in the top hole in the upper plank and pushed into the hole in the lower plank.
Pivoting Gate Latch
A pivoting non-locking gate latch is essentially a stick with a hole drilled in the middle that is screwed to the gate or gate post. The stick may be a narrow piece of scrap lumber or part of an old broomstick. The stick must be long enough to hold the gate closed when it is turned horizontally. To open the gate, the stick is turned vertically. A metal washer is placed on the screw between the stick and the gate or gate post to facilitate pivoting.
Locking Gate Latch
If you are handy with metal-fabricating tools and can bend, drill and join steel, a simple locking latch can be constructed with rebar, steel rods or heavy-duty sheet metal. The latch must be attached to either the gate or gate post and traverse the gap between them when the gate is closed. For most homeowners, commercially manufactured locking latches are the most practical choice.