Introduction: Build a Small Agility Jump
There are several good tutorials on making dog agility jumps, and I followed one to make a set of full size jumps for my daughter's small dog (who is about 14" at the shoulder). However, in addition to the full-size jumps, my daughter also wanted a set of smaller jumps that she could more easily take to the park when she's back at grad school, and that she could also use indoors. She asked for approximately 1/2-sized jumps made from 1/2" pvc, so I scaled the original plans so that I could get a single jump out of a 10' length of 1/2 PVC. The jumps were cheap (less than $9 each), quick to make and turned out really well so I wanted to share them here in case other small dog or cat owners would like to give these a try.
You can see one of the jumps in action on this Instagram post. It's from the account my daughter created for our cat, Lionel, who is very smart and is also learning agility Lionel the cat doing some agility training
There is also one unique thing about the jumps I built that may be useful to other jump builders. I figured out how to cut 4 very nice adjustable jump cups from a single 4-way PVC connector. The technique I came up with is easy to accomplish with a bandsaw, but I wanted to make this instructable accessible to people without a full woodworking shop, so I built this jump using only a small hand saw and a Dremel rotary tool with a small sanding drum (you could substitute a dog claw sander with the guard removed).
It took me about 20 minutes to build a single jump using the hand saw, compared to 30 minutes to build two jumps using a bandsaw and a reciprocating saw.
Here are the tools you need to build these jumps:
- Small fine-toothed hand saw or hack saw (you can also use a band saw or scroll saw if you have them)
- Tape measure
- Handheld rotary tool with a medium grit sanding drum
- Workmate or vise to hold the PVC for cutting (if you are a DIYer, I highly recommend picking up a Workmate. All of your projects will go better with a proper holding device, and I have 2 of them in spite of the fact that I have a full-size woodworking bench).
- Small hammer or mallet to knock the pieces together
Here are the supplies you need for each jump:
1 - 10' length of 1/2 PVC pipe ($1.74)
4 - 1/2" PVC 3-way or T-connectors ($.46 each)
1 - 1/2" PVC 4-way or Cross connector ($1.44)
6 - 1/2" PVC end caps ($.49 each)
Step 1: Layout and Cut the PVC Pipe
Start by cutting the PVC pipe into the following pieces:
4 - 9" feet
2 - 24" cross bars (one to hold the two sides of the jump together and one for the jump bar)
2 - 16-1/2" uprights
2 - 1-1/2" connectors (connect the uprights to the feet)
It's easiest to mark all of the cuts at once, so I just hold the tape measure along the PVC pipe and mark the following lengths with a sharpie:
9", 18", 27", 36", 60", 84", 100-1/2", 117", 118-1/2"
As I noted in the intro, it's best to cut the pieces with the PVC clamped in a Workmate or similar vise. I like the Workmate because the jaws have a v-groove that holds pipe very securely. I recommend making the cut about 1" from the edge of the Workmate you can hold the saw parallel to the edge of the table to ensure a relatively square cut (but it doesn't have to be perfect). Start the cut slowly with your saw placed directly on the marked line, and hold the saw parallel to the edge of the Workmate and vertical as you complete the cut with nice even strokes and light pressure.
Step 2: Layout and Cut the Adjustable Jump Cups
You'll get 4 very nice adjustable jump cups from a single 4-way connector by following the steps below. You can apply the same technique to larger size PVC.
- Mark the location of a "shallow" cup on one end of the 4-way PVC connector, and measure the distance from the bottom of the connector to the location of your marks, The easiest way to do this it to hold the connector against a block of wood and hold the tape against the face of the wood block while reading the measurement where the tape aligns with one of the cup marks. You can see me doing this in the 2nd photo.
- Transfer this measurement to a scrap of cardboard and cut about a 3" length to the width you measured. In this case, I measured the distance to the cup cuts to be 1-9/16, so I cut my cardboard template 3" long by 1-9/16" wide.
- Mark the cut lines for your jump cups by placing your 4-way connector on a flat surface, holding the template alongside it, and marking the connector by following the top edge of the cardboard template. Stop your line where the line for the next cup would be, then rotate the connector 90 degress and repeat this step until you have 4 lines, drawn in the pattern shown in the 5th photo.
- Clamp your 4-way connector and cut along each of the lines, doing your best to keep your cuts square across the connector and to keep your cuts straight. The first cup will fall away when you complete two adjacent cuts. It gets a little tricky to clamp the piece for the final cut, but I managed to complete it without great difficulty.
Step 3: Shape the Jump Cups
You need to do a little sanding on the cups to resolve two issues: 1) remove the little ridge on the inside of the cups, which will prevent the cups from sitting properly on the upright and 2) remove the sharp edge and corners from the cups. While you could sand all of the sharp edges by hand, it would be pretty tedious to remove the interior ridges that way, so I highly recommend the use of a handheld rotary tool (Dremel being the most common) equipped with a small drum sander (medium grit is best). Start by removing the ridge as shown in the second photo, then take off all of the sharp edges so your cups look like the ones shown in the last photo.
Step 4: Assemble Your Jump
With all of the pieces cut, you're now ready to assemble your jump. The pieces fit together tightly so I don't glue them, which makes it easy to disassemble the jumps for transport and to replace broken parts.
- Insert the 9" foot sections into either end of a 3-way connector and place end caps on each of the feet, then stand the assembly on a solid surface and tap the other end with a hammer until all of the parts are fully seated. You'll be able to hear when this happens as the sound will go from a hollow sound to a dull sound when you tap the end with the hammer.
- Insert the 1-1/2 connector into the center of the foot assembly, then insert a 3-way connector onto that, followed by the 16-1/2 upright and finally, the end cap. Again, set the assembly on a solid surface and tap it together with a hammer.
- After you've assembled both foot/upright asemblies, connect them with a 24" section and tap them together to fully seat the connector bar.
- Snap the jump cups onto each of the uprights, slide them to your desired height, and lay the other 24" section into the cups.
At this point it's also worthwhile to mark the uprights with your desired jump hieights so that it's easy to switch to different heights while you're working with your dog. Slide the holders until the bar is at each of your desired heights (8, 12 and 16 inches are typical) and mark the position of the bottom of the jump cup clip with a permanent marker. Do this for each of your uprights.
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