When we got our dog Myah, we got one of the typical stuffed dog beds from a local store. She likes the bed well enough but I found myself moving the bed from the upstairs to the downstairs several times a day. I knew I could just leave the bed upstairs (where she sleeps) but I wanted her to not have to be on the floor. It is easier on her joints that way. I looked around and decided on an elevated bed. There are a number of such beds on the market- some good, some not so good. One of the best ones out there is quite expensive and I hate to spend money on something I can build myself so I decided to build an elevated dog bed to leave downstairs. The advantage of an elevated bed is that it keeps the dog off the hard ground, off the cold floor in the winter, and helps keep them cooler in the summer. Also it helps keep them off the furniture! I came a cross a video made by an animal rescue and decided this was what I wanted to build. I decided to document the build as my first instrctable.
The video clearly describes the process. I followed their instructions and it turned out well. The purpose of this instructable is to document my build and show how to over come some problems you might encounter if building it solo.
Step 1: Materials
The materials are not too expensive and readily found. All together I spent about $25.
1) one 10 foot section 0f PVC pipe (1.25 inch inner diameter)- cut into 2 pieces at 25.5 inches each and 2 pieces at 34.5 inches each. This will use up the entire 10 foot piece with no waste.
2) one 2 foot section of PVC pipe (1.25 inch inner diameter)- I bought another 2 foot section and cut 4 legs each 4 inches long. The only waste in the project is the left over 8 inches from this piece. (Interestingly enough- the 2 foot length was more then half the cost of the 10 foot section!)
3) four PVC 3 way elbows (1.25 inch inner diameter)
4) heavy fabric with no stretch to it- 36 inches by 45 inches
5) screws with rounded heads and (ideally) built in washers or add washers to your shopping list
I was lucky and got the fabric for free . I called a local awning company and asked if they had scraps left over from jobs and they were kind enough to give me two pieces. (thanks Otter Creek Awnings!) I used one and have a spare to either build another bed or re-cover this one some day. E-bay is a great source for fabric as well. Do a search for ballistic nylon, sail cloth, dacron, or cordura. The fabric needs to not have stretch to it because over time the bed will sag and be more like a hammock. Because I made a large bed I needed a 36 inch by 45 inch section. I added about an inch to each dimension to be on the safe side. If you purchase on-line, be aware of the width- the widths can vary from 36 to 60 inches. This page has a specific list of materials for each of the three sizes :
The PVC pipe is standard schedule 40 PVC pipe with an inner diameter of 1.25 inches. The elbows were ordered and shipped to the store for free. I found that the type of screw suggested in the video was not a regularly stocked item but found these and when I factored in the cost of washers and screws these came out cheaper.
Step 2: Tools
The tools needed to assemble the bed are basic: a drill / driver, channel lock pliers, and a hammer or mallet. I got the pieces cut at the store so I did not need a saw but other wise you will need a saw as well. If you cut the pipe on your own a miter box is helpful to make sure you have ends that are square. The screws I bought had a special "star" shaped bit included in the package. I don't suggest that you try to install the screws by hand. there are a lot of them and it will be difficult to do. You should not need to pre-drill any of the holes- the screws should go in just fine with some pressure.
Step 3: Assemble the Frame
This part is straight froward. I started by placing an elbow on each end of a long piece and using the mallet to seat them firmly. Take the time to make sure the elbows are in alignment during his step and it will safe you some trouble later when you square the frame. Also make sure the sides are fully inserted into the elbows- if they are not you will have sides of differing lengths and will not get a square frame. I then placed a short section on each elbow and seated them with the mallet. This is a good time to check the alignment. Place the frame flat on the ground and see if one of the short sides sticks up. I found it easiest to push and pull on the opposing legs to move them towards center. The first picture shows the build up to this point. I then placed the remaining elbows on the last section of pipe - the second long one long one. Once again, take care in aligning the elbows and save yourself some trouble. the second picture shows this step. Then place the appropriate openings on the open ends of the short pipes and tap into place.I don't have a photo of this- I was working solo. The third picture show the frame finished except for the legs. In seating the pipes in the elbows it would be better to to use the mallet on the elbows and brace the pipes on the floor. This reduces the risk of chipping the edges of the pipe.
Step 4: Prepare the First Side of the Fabric for Attachment
Place the cover on the ground and center the frame over the cloth. The next step is to fold the corners of the cloth back towards the center and under the frame so the corner of the frame is lined up with the edge of the cloth. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of this but you can see what I mean in the third picture. Once you have done this with all the corners I found it was helpful to use a bit tape to hold it in place. Duct tape works great and what project would be complete without duct tape! starting on a long edge I made two folds of the fabric along the whole length of the edge. In working solo I found the fabric kept wanting to unroll- duct tape to the rescue again! The first photo is the tape in the middle and the other tow are the tape near the ends of the fold. If you are working with another person you would not need the tape. Your helper could hold the fabric in place. I struggled for a bit trying to hold the fabric with one hand and screw it with the other without having the fabric unfold. The tape eliminated the problem of not having a helper.
Step 5: Attaching the Fabric to the Frame- the First Side
Attaching the fabric to the frame goes quickly. The important thing is to work opposite sides one after the other and not to work around the edge. I did the two long sides then the two short sides. Grasp the fabric and pull it across the pipe and line up the folded fabric so it is centered on the pipe and secure it with a screw. The first one should go in the middle of the side. The positioning does not need to be exact. The first picture shows the position of the screw on the pipe and the second picture is a close up of the screw I used. The next two screws go at either end of the fabric. Be sure to NOT screw through the elbows! Then place a screw in between the screws as in the third picture. The third picture has notes that show the locations for the other screws as well. The last picture shows what it should look like. In the video they started in the center and worked their way out to the ends- I did not do that because I was working solo.
Step 6: Attacing the Fabric- the Second Side
The sequence for placing screws is the same for this side as it was for the opposite side. The one important difference take place after placing the first screw. After placing the first screw it is time to stretch the fabric. Using the channel locks grasp the pipe near the center and roll it away from you. This will pull the fabric taught. Then place a screw at either end and then add the others just as on the other side.
Step 7: Attaching the Fabric- Thrid and Fourth Sides
The process for this side is the same as for the firs two. I used tape to hold the folds in the fabric, started in the middle with the screws and spaced them evenly. Once I got he third side fully secured- I taped the fabric on the fourth side, placed a screw in the center, and tightened the fabric. I then placed the rest of the screws. The second and third pictures show the top and underside of the the bed.
Step 8: "chew Proofing" the Bed
In the Video they commented that many dogs in the shelter had a tendency to chew on things including the beds- to help the bed last longer and reduce the potential for loose fabric for chewing you can secure the fabric at the corners. Since Myah is not a dog that tends to chew on things in the house I used only three screws in each corner. In the video you can see they used about five. Do this at each of the corners
Step 9: Securing the Sides to the Elbows
This step keeps the sides from rotating and allowing the fabric to go slack. Drive a screw through each leg of the elbow and the side it is attached to. Yo can see in the picture the correct placement of these screws. Do this for each elbow. The reason this was not done when we attached the fabric was because it allowed for making sure there was not twisting of the frame during the attachment of the fabric.
Step 10: Add the Legs- and You Are Done!
As I was writing this instructable I realized I did not take any pictures of putting in the legs. However, there are only a limited number of places they can go so I feel safe in not having any pictures of the attaching of the legs! You can secure the legs in the elbows with screws if you like but I found that is not necessary- the friction fit is quite tight and secure. The third picture gives you a good view of the leg- I had initially thought thy would be too short but they seem to be just the right length.
Step 11: Final Thoughts
I think the bed has turned out well and that I will get many years of use before I need to recover the bed. When I do recover it- I will need to take out ALL the screws, and give each side pipe a slight turn so the screw will have a good surface to drill into. This way I dont have to try and align them back to the exact position they were in before. As I said earlier I spent about $25 to build this- it would have been closer to $35 pr $40 if I had not gotten the fabric for free. The build itself took about and hour. I think that if you are building this with help it would go faster. To give you some idea about the size of the bed and how much room she has- Myah weighs between 65 and 70 pounds. She seems to have plenty of room. She also has a habit of laying with her head off the bed- when she does this or while getting on or off there have been no indications of instability. I think the build is do-able solo but you will get a tighter surface with two people. One last thing about the build- if you are taking pictures- do this on a sunny day! I had heavy over cast and poor lighting!