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Dog stairs for bed, take 2 (successful)

Picture of Dog stairs for bed, take 2 (successful)
My elderly dog is having problems with her hips and knees.  She hurt herself trying to jump into bed with me a few months ago.  After that she didn't even try to jump up for about a month and a half, but now she's trying again--and she can't make it, and I'm concerned she's going to hurt herself again.

My bedroom is small, I have back issues, and I'm not willing to buy pre-made steps at the prices I can find.  So I made a set of steps that is lightweight, takes up as little space as possible, and is fairly inexpensive.  Bonus: it was quite easy and perhaps it will help someone else with a not-so-mobile--or small!--dog.

In Take 1 (http://www.instructables.com/id/Dog-stairs-for-bed-take-1), I made something very pretty but that my dog ultimately could not use.

In Take 2, we'll see something that she finds much more usable, if requiring slightly more in the way of expenditure and hardware.


 
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Step 1: Disassembling the first attempt: a crash course in de-upholstering

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So, I had a rather pretty set of steps that couldn't be used.  My stingy nature wouldn't let me just toss it and buy all new parts, so I took it apart.  

I used a LOT of staples.  Boy.  Okay, taking apart an upholstered piece of furniture involves a number of tools.  These are my favorites: 
* really sturdy awl
* wire cutters
* hammer

You find the staple, and stick the awl tip under it to pry it up.  You may need to use the hammer to get the awl under the staple.

Once the staple is loosened, you can pull it off by hand, or you may need to use the wire cutters to slide under and grab it.

If the staple breaks, the wire cutters come in really handy for pulling the pieces out.

I removed, and removed, and removed staples.  This involves not just repetitive motion that's rather hard on your wrists, but also hunching over to get at just the right spot; very bad body biomechanics.  If you're trying to take something upholstered apart without destroying the underlying frame (and particularly without destroying the cloth, or in this case carpet), it takes a LOT of work. 

(I really, really should have used a minimum of staples until  was sure the project would work out.  Ah, well, hindsight.)

Once the carpet was finally fully removed, it was simplicity itself to just remove the screws that secured the steps.

I left the bracing board on the back; I'll mention in in construction, though.

And now, ready to move into construction of the alternate version.

 Nice work, but the attachment of those corner brace hangers is going to be a weak point.  It's good that you used longer screws, but the force is still pulling up axially on the screw.  For more strength, mount the brace hangers so the screws are subjected to shear forces.  Mount them on the vertical end of your stringers, and avoid screwing into the horizontal stair board if possible.  That gives you an upside-down "L" with the horizontal part extending out towards the bed.  You may want to use the smaller braces, depending on your bed.  Then for the "hook," you can either bend the end of the brace down (may be difficult without a good vise), or screw in a small piece of wood that is shaped to give the proper "hook".  

Now, for a small dog, the way you mounted the hangers is probably fine.  The issue is when these stairs are someday used by a bigger dog, or for a non-specified application, like kids running up them to jump on the bed.  If you plan on some morbidly obese Great Dane using those stairs, they should last a lifetime!


galadriel (author)  Freudian Hardware3 years ago
I do agree that the screws into the hangers are a weak point.  I would have liked to put the other corner braces over them as a further reinforcement, but it didn't work--perhaps if I had a router and could make a depression for them.  (But then I would also want a thicker board for the step.)

However, I think you're overlooking two things:

1) A good deal of the force actually rests sideways, not downwards.  The stairs are leaning into the bed frame as well as hanging off it.  The entire weight of the stairs and the dog is not, in fact, entirely supported by the hangers.

2) These are premade stair stringers.  They are pretty soft wood and the grain is set up for stairs resting on top of them, not for stress on their edges.  The grain where you suggest I attach the hangers looks like it wouldn't take much stress at all. 

Indeed, it is because the wood is not meant for such stresses that I attached the hangers over not just the stringers, but also over the step.  It's a nice hardwood and should add a lot to the strength of the attachment.  I considered putting the hangers between the step and the stringer for reinforcement, but decided I should have them screwed directly into the hardwood.

~ ~ ~

My dogs are 60, 50, and 25 pounds.  I am sure it is suitable for all of them.  I have tested it with my own weight and it holds without difficulty.
sweet 'ible!! I'm going to post this to my giant list 'o free dog projects on my website. 2 thumbs up!!
 Thanks for this, i needed this so i have and idea on what to build for my wienie dog since hes older and his back is already had problems from jumping down from our beds
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