Introduction: Bing's Dish Holder

About: Hey, I'm Zac, I'm a Toronto area contractor turned furniture maker and lover of DIY.

Anyone who follows me on any social media (My Instagram and YouTube) has probably caught at least a glance of my cat Bing (otherwise known as Bingy, Bing-Bing or Bing-A-Ling) hanging out in the background of a lot of my photos and videos. I figured it was time I do a project just for her. So I decided to make her water and food dish holder made out of solid walnut and oak. Possibly the most ornate pet bowl holder ever?

It’s funny because this was a project I was doing concurrently to a bunch of other larger projects, but I ended up liking it more than the larger projects. It just goes to show that bigger isn’t always better 🙂 Sometimes when I’m doing bigger projects there’s a lot of downtimes while I’m waiting for glue or paint to dry, so it’s nice to have these smaller projects to keep me occupied. This was a relatively simple build that only took me 4-5 hours of actual working time to finish, though it was spread out over a couple of days, because of the other projects.

Step 1: Supplies

This wheelbarrow full of wood scraps is where I started this project. A friend of mine who works for a larger company offered to give me a bunch of walnut and oak offcuts which I happily took. Obviously I didn't use all of these pieces for that project, I got a few other projects out of them too.

Outside of that I ordered a few other supplies for this projects including:

Wood glue

2 stainless steel pet bowls

Kreg Jig R3

6" Hole Saw

Saman Stain Hybrid Satin Floor Varnish

Step 2: Cutting the Wood

The first step was to mill all of the wood down to a uniform size and cut off any defective bits (like knots and cracks). Remember this was all scrap wood, so it wasn’t in the best of shape. With most pieces, I had to cut 2 sides of the wood before I was left with anything useable.

I cut most everything to 1″ x 1″, but there were some pieces that were too small for that dimension. I cut a bunch of smaller scraps down to 3/4″ x 1″ and that’s the stock I used to make this bowl holder. This was actually a fun exercise in optimization, I had to figure out what was the optimal way to cut each piece to yield the most usable wood. Now is probably also a good time to mention that I was an economics major in university, which might explain why I find optimization problems so enjoyable 🙂

Most of the pieces of wood were approximately 18″ long. To achieve the mosaic look I was going for I wanted some of the pieces to be longer and shorter than others. So I grabbed half of the pieces I had just cut on the table saw and cut them in half using the miter saw.

I think having the pieces at random lengths help the overall project look a little less boring. If each piece was the same length I’d have less of a mosaic piece and more of a striped piece.

Step 3: The Glue Up

Prior to uncorking the glue bottle, I took a few minutes to arrange my wood pieces in the pattern I wanted to glue them in. This helps save time and make everything go so much smoother once the glue starts flowing. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through applying your glue and realizing that you need to re-cut a piece or shuffle around your whole layout.

After that I got my Dexter on. I used 6 mil poly/ vapor barrier I had some left over from a house I built to cover my work surface. It prevents my tables from getting all covered in glue and the glue doesn’t stick to it very well, which makes releasing my glue-up from the table a lot easier. It's win-win

Finally, I laid all of my pieces of wood on the table and rolled them onto their sides. I applied a generous bead of wood/carpenters glue onto each piece. A good practice here is it spread the glue around with a brush (or even just your finger) to make sure you get good even glue distribution. Once the glue was applied I rolled them back up and clamped them together using 6 F-Clamps

Step 4: Cleaning Up the Glue Up

12 hours or so hours later and I’m back to work. Don’t you just love the smell of freshly planed wood in the morning?

After removing the clamps I ran my glued-up board through the planer to remove any variations in height between the pieces I glued together. I love this part of the process. The wood goes in all uneven and bumpy and comes out perfectly smooth.

After a few passes, this is what the planer spit out the other side. Perfectly smooth. I might’ve mistaken it for a single piece of wood if I hadn’t made it myself!

To me, this represents the end of the first stage of the project. I’ve essentially created the material I need to do this project. If you wanted to simplify this project to make it a bit faster and easier for yourself you could just skip everything up until this point and make it out of a single piece of wood.

Step 5: Cutting the Individual Pieces

Time to cut up my freshly glued together wood!

Using a table saw miter gauge (set to 0 degrees) I cut the uneven ends off of the board. With the ends cut clean, I was able to easily use a big square to measure and mark the location of my cuts. From this single piece of wood, I need to cut a midsection (that will hold the bowls) and 2 legs.

I wanted my legs to sit at a 60-degree angle, so to make the miter cuts necessary I set my table saw to 30 degrees. For a miter joint, you cut both sides of the wood at half of the total angle. So 60-degrees, divided by two cuts, equals two 30-degree cuts. Make sense? I’m not even sure that makes sense to me and I just wrote it. I hate angles.

Cutting along the lines I had just made I made a total of 6 cuts. In order to get my angles right I had to cut along the same line twice in some cases, flipping my piece of wood over to invert the angle of the cut.

Step 6: Cutting Out the Holes for the Dishes

You guys ready for the drill press? It’s been a long time since I’ve had a need to use a drill press in one of my builds, I’m kind of excited!

I cut 2 large 6″ diameter holes in the center of the midsection using a huge hole saw. The dishes I bought for this project have a diameter that is slightly less than 6″ so they’ll slot right into these holes (the lips of the bowls are greater than 6″ though, don’t worry they won’t fall right through) I clamped my mosaic piece to the platform of the drill press and, slightly nervously, flicked the on-switch. I wasn’t sure if this giant hole saw would be too much for my trusty old drill press, but luckily it held up just fine. Didn’t skip a beat, even with all that cutting area. Old tools are the best tools! Except for all the shitty old tools, luckily those all died a long time ago so we’re only left with the good ones. It’s called the survivorship bias, its basically the reason everyone thinks old tools were so much better than modern tools haha.

Despite owning more than one hole saw kit, I didn't have anything in the 6" range so I had to order this hole saw specifically for this project. I found a random no-name brand hole-saw on Amazon that wasn’t crazy expensive (~$20). According to it’s packaging this hole saw is meant more for cutting holes in drywall and other, similar, lightweight materials. I was definitely pushing the boundaries of what this thing was designed for, but I only needed it to survive two cuts. Thankfully it held up well and I might even get another 2-3 cuts out of it.

Step 7: Drilling the Pocket Holes

One big question I had going into this project was how I was going to connect my miter joints. Previously I’ve used biscuits (wooden wafers cut into channels in the wood) and a lot of glue to connect miters. To be fair to that method, its always worked well for me. Never the less I still had the urge to try out a new technique.

Recently I saw a video of someone using pocket screws to connect a miter and thought “oh that looks cool, I’m gonna try and do that”. It’s not really how pocket screws are meant to be used, but it looked like it would be quite strong if done right. Normally pocket screws are meant to hold joints that are butted together flat. Because I was going to be using them on a mitered corner I had to be very careful about the location of the holes and the length of my screws. A poorly positioned pocket screw hole or a screw that was too long would mean the screw would poke out the other side of the wood. I experimented on a bunch of scrap pieces until I perfected my technique. I don’t think this technique would work on a 90-degree miter corner unless the material was quite thick, but because my corner was only 60 degrees there was enough “meat” to catch the screws on the other side.

Continue my theme of trying out new techniques I bought a Kreg R3 jig for this project. This is my first time using a Kreg jig, or any store-bought jig for that matter. Normally I like to make my own jigs, or if I’m really looking to screw things up, I’ll try and do it freehand.

There’s something to be said for quality jigs. They can help you work more efficiently and reduce the chance of you making an error. That being said I still really resent paying 40 dollars for what is essentially a cheap piece of plastic. Kreg tries to soften the blow by packing in a bunch of screws and drill bits. It still feels like it could be 25-50% cheaper though.

Step 8: Assembly

I’m not completely ready to give up on homebrew jigs though! Here’s a quick one I made out a piece of 2×6 and some plywood. I cut the 2×6 at the same 30-degree angle I cut my miters at and then screwed it to a piece of plywood.

This jig helped hold the legs and midsection in place while I screwed them together.

First I applied a generous bead of glue on both sides of the miter. Maybe the screws would’ve been enough to hold everything on their own, but I feel better knowing that there’s some glue in the joint too. I used regular old carpenters glue, the same glue I used to do the glue-up in the first place.

Using my right hand I applied downward pressure on the leg, keeping it locked in position, and sank the pocket screws with my left.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like a complete badass when they’re holding an impact gun or drill upside down? I imagine this is how gangsters feel when they’re shooting a gun sideways.

Step 9: Error Correction and Prep for Finishing

With everything, all screwed and glued all I had left to do was some quick finishing. Any small gaps and imperfections got filled with walnut colored wood filler.

Believe it or not, not all of my joints are 100% perfect, but no one besides you and I need to know that.

Once the wood filler dried it was time to give the whole thing a quick sand. I started out with 80 grit sandpaper to remove the wood filler, round the corners and knock off any loose splinters. Then 120 grit and finally I ended on 220 grit. A good sanding at 220 grit gives the wood a silky smooth feel to the hand but still leaves enough surface variation for good adhesion of the clear coat.

After sanding, and before applying the finish, I always like to give whatever I’m working on a good wipe down. It helps to remove dust and any other contaminants that you wouldn’t want to be trapped underneath you finish layer.

I find that blue shop towels are really good at collecting dust and not leaving behind any fibers of their own.

Step 10: Finishing

Almost done now!

I decided to use a satin floor varnish as my finish. I picked this finish for a few reasons. For one it’s really strong and resistant to scratches, probably owing to it being a floor varnish. Two, it’s a hybrid oil and water product that dries really fast, which means that putting on multiple coats is a much easier affair. Third, and probably most importantly, I already had a can of it on hand from another project 🙂

The application was dead simple. I used a mini roller and tried to roll on very thin coats as quickly as I could. I find that many thin coats are the best way to apply any clear coat. Don’t worry about getting it perfect on the first try. Just roll it on thin, sand lightly with more 220 grit sandpaper between coats and layer up the coats until you have a nice finish.

After that, all I had to do was let the clear coat dry and drop the bowls in place.

Step 11: Take It Home

After the finish dried there wasn't anything left to do except take it home and load up the bowls with some kibble and water for Bing!

I hope you found this post interesting and enjoyable. If you'd like to support me so I can keep generating this kind of content one of the best things you can do is just follow me on my social media channels. It might not seem like much but it does really help! Check me out on YouTube here and Instagram here!

See you on the next build!

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