I was browsing Instructables the other day and noticed a "Pest Control" contest had recently started. Fortunately for me, I just finished a project that fit perfectly. My hope is that you either find this Instructable helpful in controlling any pests or you simply enjoy the design.
If you happen to know someone who lives in a location surrounded by farm fields, ask them about winter weather and rodents. Trust me, I bet they have a few war stories. As the temperature drops here in Indiana, you start setting all of your seasonal traps. After not catching anything and seeing signs of mice, I began to investigate where the mice were obtaining their food. I walked into the back room one morning and found a mouse eating from my dog's food bowl. It was then that my own personal war story began.
I decided I needed to get the food and water dishes off of the floor and out of the reach of the mice by building an elevated food station. This is my story.
As always, before we start any woodworking project, follow these famous words from Norm Abram - "Before we use any power tools, let's take a moment to talk about shop safety. Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these — safety glasses."
Step 1: Gathering and Prepping Your Materials
Here is a list of the materials I used:
- Wood (sourced from a friend)
- Wood filler
- Wood glue
- A 10' piece of 1" PVC pipe
- 4 x 1" PVC elbows
- 8 x 1" PVC tees
- 4 x 1" PVC end caps
- 4 x 1" galvanized pipe brackets
- PVC Primer/Cement
- 2 x Food safe bowls (picked up from my local restaurant supply store)
- Random screws (details in build instructions)
- Drill/Table Saw/Jigsaw/Orbital Sander
A friend called the day I had planned to head to the local big-box hardware store to pick up my supplies and asked if I wanted a shelf system he built for an old 4H project as a child. I believe my response was, "Obviously!" After picking it up, I took a few minutes to pull nails and remove screws from the shelf system and ended up with a nice selection of old yellow pine.
I then took some wood filler and plugged up any nail/screw holes and any imperfections on the face of the wood. After that dried, I sanded all of the surfaces of the wood and cut two pieces of the 3/4" thick yellow pine to size - The base platform being cut to 28" x 11" and a backsplash cut to 28" x 5". I then took my orbital sander and rounded all of the edges and corners of the pieces, minus the edges of both pieces which would meet in the front of the platform.
Step 2: Adding Food Dishes and Protecting the Wood.
I spent some time doing the math to perfectly center the dog food bowls on the platform. To save you the time of figuring out all of the dimensions, I've included my measurements in the attached image. I started by measuring a horizontal line across the face of the platform to set my bowls in the center of the platform when the backsplash was attached. Since the backsplash sat on top of the platform and was 3/4" thick, I measured 5 1/8" from the front and placed a horizontal line across the platform (5 1/8" + 5 1/8" + 3/4" = 11"). I then went 4" inches from the side of the board to allow me to attach the stand from below without getting in the way of the hanging bowls. From this point, I measured over 8 1/2" to account for the 8 1/2" bowl. I left a 3 inch space between bowls and then marked another 8 1/2" from that for the second bowl. The last measurement was another 4" inches for the other side of the stand. When added up, they totaled my overall 28" platform. - MATH!
I split the 8 1/2" space and made a center mark so I could cut out the hole for each bowl. I used a compass set at 4" to mark the cut out for my bowls. Each bowl has a 3/8" lip from the edge to the start of the bowl and I wanted the 8 1/2" bowl to sit flat on the platform but also have a little wiggle room so the bowl could be easily removed and cleaned. Cutting the holes at 8" gave me that needed room. I used a drill to start a pilot hole and a jigsaw to rough cut the holes from the platform. I then used some sandpaper to round the edges of each hole.
After dry fitting each bowl to make sure my math was spot on, I coated the platform and backsplash with 3 layers of polyurethane, sanding between each coat. I finished with a layer of rejuvenating oil, followed by a light sanding with 0000 steel wool.
Step 3: Building the Stand
After a trip to the local big box hardware store and an hour on the floor laying out various types of piping, I decided to go with 1" PVC. The decision to go with PVC was made due to overall cost and weight of the final project.
After some internet research, I found that the average mouse can jump upwards of 11-12 inches. I found that I needed to fit my pipe connections as close as possible to both keep me above a mouse's jumping ability and to keep it low enough where my dog could reach the bowls without issue. Here are the specific sizes of each piece of 1" PVC:
- 8 x 1 1/2"
- 2 x 22"
- 4 x 5 1/4"
- 4 x 4 5/8"
You can find the layout in the attached image. (Please pardon my sketchy mock-ups and please let me know if you have specific questions on the construction.) I did a rough fitting to make sure everything fit properly, which it did, and then began to clean and cement the pieces together. Being I had to work quickly with the cement, I did not get a lot of pictures of each step. I built the frame in sections, building the back supports, front sections of legs, and back sections before putting it all together at the end. Doing this is sections allows you to square up all of your joints. After each section was built and cemented together, I put all of the pieces together and quickly worked to square up all of the pieces and ensure the platform would lay level on my newly constructed stand.
I then applied a layer of primer and once that dried I spray painted the stand with a few layers of flat black paint.
Step 4: Attaching the Platform to the Stand
I then flipped the platform over and centered the stand on top of it. I used galvanized pipe brackets and a set of small screws to attach the platform to the stand in 4 locations - 2 on each leg.
I was smart enough at the beginning to square up the backsplash to the platform and pre-drill 5 screws holes from the bottom of the platform up into the backsplash. I then used some 2" screws and wood glue to attach the backsplash to the platform and set it upright.
Step 5: Setting Everything Up
I placed the new platform in its final location, added the bowls, and filled them up. Otis Puppy took to his new food dish platform in no time... thanks to a couple of pieces of pepperoni I placed under his normal food.
The good news is that I have yet to see any signs of mice on the dog food platform and have actually found a few in my traps. I believe this is due to them finding alternate sources of food since their old source is now out of reach.