Introduction: Easy to Make Modern Dog Bed
In this article, I'm going to show you how I built this mid century modern inspired dog bed made out of white oak and walnut. What makes this dog bed stand out is the embedded tennis balls on the side. Overall, this was a pretty simple project, with a little bit of math involved for cutting the grooves for the tennis balls, but I think this is approachable for woodworkers/makers of any skill level.
Be sure to check out the video!
- Walnut Hardwood
- White Oak Hardwood
- 3/4" Plywood
- 1/2" Plywood
- 3/8" Dowels
Tools (Affiliate Links)
Step 1: Prepping Lumber
I started the project by picking out some walnut and white oak for making the frame of the bed. The most important thing to do, when working with solid lumber, is to check that the wood is acclimated to the shop before starting any work to minimize wood movement concerns later on. The tool I use for this is the Orion 950 that Wagner Meters sent me, which allows me to first measure the equilibrium moisture content (EMC) level of the shop, and then the moisture content of the wood by simply placing the meter on the wood surface. No more stabbing into the wood! Usually, if my numbers are within 1%, I'm good to go!
The next thing I did was using my jigsaw to cut the lumber down to their rough lengths. I typically leave about 1/2"-3/4" extra material. Then I proceeded with flattening one surface and square up one edge on my jointer. Flattened the second surface, and bringing it parallel with the first, on my planer. And finally, ripping the second edge on my table saw. This whole process is quite involved, but it's very important to start out with flat, and square blanks. If you don't have these tools, most lumber stores and woodworking stores will provide the service for you at a little extra cost.
To bring the pieces down to their final lengths, I set my table saw blade at 45 degrees to cut the mitered ends, which is how the frame will join together. I like using miter joints because it hides any end grain from showing. Just an overall cleaner look, in my opinion. And while the blade was still set at 45-deg, I added a smaller chamfer along what will be the bottom, outer edge of the bed frame. I did this because I thought it would look cool, but since the bed sits so low, I couldn't even see it unless I was looking for it. But it's there, so I figured I'd show it to you.
Step 2: Cutting Rabbets for Bed Frame
The only real bit of joinery that needs to be cut into the frame was the rabbet for accepting the two cleats later. So after marking out the size of the joint using a piece of 3/4" ply that I had laying around, I made the cuts at the router table. The reason I used a router instead of my table saw was because the rabbets along the two side panels will be stopped at about 5", instead of running the full length like the ones in the front and back pieces. Be sure to check out the video to see the animation of what I'm talking about.
Obviously, the router bit left rounded corners, so I squared the stopped rabbets using a chisel.
Step 3: Bed Frame: Front & Side Panel Shape
Next, I moved on to finalizing the shapes of the bed frame. The first thing I did was cut the large opening on the front panel. I basically just laid out what I thought looked good and made the cut. But since I don't have a band saw, I chose to make two separate cuts at the table saw in order to keep the majority of the cuts nice and straight, and then connected them with my jigsaw to finalize the shape. Then I used a piece of 120 grit sand paper to smooth out any imperfections.
For the right panel, I marked where the front panel will mate to it, and then drew a taper that provided a nice transition without taking too much material away. Once again, I just did whatever I thought looked good. I made the cut using my track saw. One thing I didn't film in the video is that, since we are making an angled cut toward a mitered edge, the tracksaw had to be tipped a little bit when making the cut, or the ends won't quite match up as well. You can also try to match up the joint later using a piece of sandpaper, but I feel making the cut match up initially is cleaner.
The last thing I did for the frame panels was using a 45-deg chamfer bit at the router table to add a bevel along what will be the top inside edges. This is both for aesthetic reasons, as well as so Sammie's head won't be pressed up against a hard edge if she ever decides to rest her head on top of the wooden panels.
Step 4: Embedding Tennis Balls
Alright, so I think this is the best part of the build. I searched around a lot online to see if anyone's done something like this before, but didn't find anything. So, here's how I did it...and the only way I can think of doing it. There's a little bit of math required for this with the tools I'm using. First, I took a measurement of the diameter of the ball using calipers. Then, with the 1/4" bit and guide bushing installed in my router, I took another measurement between the bit and the outer diameter of the bushing. Whatever that second measurement is, multiplied by 2, added to the diameter of the ball, will be the diameter of the circle I'll need to cut for the template which I'll use to guide the router for cutting the grooves that the tennis balls will sit in. If you have a 1/4" bit with a bearing on it, then your circle will just be however big the diameter of the ball is.
After drawing out the size of circle I needed, I used a forstner bit to remove the bulk of the material, and then used my jigsaw to cut small chunks away, making sure to stay within the lines. What's great about using 1/4" MDF for templates is that I could use my jigsaw to carve material away. Then I could just use a piece of sandpaper to smooth out any jagged edges left behind.
To cut the tennis balls in half, I used the opening of the can as a guide to help me draw a line around the equator of the ball. And then I just took a knife and cut around that line. What's important here is to stay as close as possible to the equator, because that's where we took measurements for the template.
Next, I placed the hemispheres where I thought they'd look good and clamped the template down on the workpiece to start cutting using my router. One small issue I anticipated was the small gap between the outer edge of the groove and the tennis ball, which of course was caused by the curvature of the ball. Since I was going to use epoxy to attach the balls in the grooves anyway, all I had to do was add some yellow pigment to the epoxy to fill in the gaps. This provided a pretty seamless transition between the ball and the wood. You could still notice the epoxy if you got on your knees to look at it, but most people wouldn't do that.
Step 5: Bed Frame Assembly
To assemble the bed frame, I cut Dominoes into the miter ends of the pieces. If you don't have a Domino, don't worry about it, since this isn't a structural pieces so I don't think it's really necessary to add any additional reinforcements. Using the tape method or band clamps will just be as effective. The reason I used the Dominoes was just to make it easier to get everything together, since they'll help me hold the panels in place as I get the clamps on.
Step 6: Bottom Cleats & Legs
With the bed frame glued up, I took measurements between the rabbets on the bottom to determine the length and width of the cleats, which I cut from 3/4" plywood. At this point, I don't want to attach the cleats to the bed frames just yet, because these cleats will also be what the legs will attach to. The way I'm going to do that is by cutting stop dados on both ends of each cleat, which the legs will sit into. By doing it this way, it will keep the clean minimalist look without additional stretchers on the bottom.
So after milling the wood down to about 1" thick, I proceeded with cutting the splayed legs as I always do. But this time I decided to go with a much steeper angle of 30 degrees. And since these legs will be sitting in dados, I had to factor in a little extra length when cross cutting them, as well as when laying out the taper. I think my taper went from 3-1/4" down to 1". This coincidentally yielded two legs from each block of wood, with barely any waste!
After centering the legs on the cleats, I laid out the stop dados and made the cuts over at the router table with a 1/2" bit. The router table, along with a stop block, made quick work of this. I just had to line up the bit to one of my layout lines, make the cut on one end, flip the board over and cut the other end. Then readjust the fence to line up with my other layout line and repeat this process. And of course this left rounded ends, which I squared up with a chisel.
After sanding the cleats and the legs up to 220 grit, I attached them together with glue and clamps. Since the legs are angled outwards quite a lot, I decided to drill a couple of holes to insert dowels through the cleat and into each of the feet to add additional reinforcement.
Step 7: Grooves in Front Panel
At this point I was all but ready to start applying finish when I noticed the front panel was just really flat and REALLY boring. So I decided to cut three 1/2" wide grooves in the front. But since my feet weren't very good clamps, the frame kept wobbling and my router ended up drifting. So I had to make the grooves wider to cover up the mistakes. That's how I ended up with two 3/4" grooves. If I had the opportunity to do everything over again, I'd either use my CNC to carve Sammie's name in the front or cut the grooves before everything's assembled! But, I think this still came out better than if I had left it blank!
Step 8: Attaching Cleats and Bed Slats
Now with the finish applied to both the frame and legs, I attached them together using screws, countersunk into the cleats. Glue's not really necessary for this. But since I'd already applied finish at this point, it's not like I had much of a choice anyway.
Anyway, the last thing I did was cut some strips of 1/2" ply for the bed slats, and attached them to the top of the cleats using screws. And now the bed is complete!
Besides wishing I'd done the front panel a little more cleanly, I'm really pumped with how this came out! I know there were a lot of words, but I hope you guys aren't intimidated by any of the steps so you can give it a shot as well!
First Prize in the
Pets Speed Challenge