Introduction: Jyka's Travelling Picnic Box - Hot Weather Road Trips With Your Dog

About: I am an escapee from modern life, now living by the sea in a forest garden in France. After over 20 years industrial experience, I quit my managerial position to study for a degree in Engineering. That done I …

This Summer we've had a few very hot days with the temperatures in the 30s/90s and these have coincided with some visits we had planned along with a friend who has a Schnauzer. We obviously didn't want to leave Jyka at home but we were worried about the heat and so we devised this travelling picnic box which contains all sorts of items specific to her needs when on a road trip.

Step 1: Planning the Box to the Contents

This is what our box needed to contain:

Food and water bowls,

Her favourite snack (breadsticks),

Two specific cloths:

One is to make a light cape she could wear in the car and which could be moistened down if we thought she was getting too hot - I read about this on a dog advisory site as being a good way to keep a dog cool on a journey and I can confirm it was! You can purchase these 'cooling coats' but a home-made one is easy and very cheap!

The other is specific to Schnauzers, the clue is in the name, which is German for 'whiskery snout'. This was to clean her moustaches post picnic.

Her second favourite toy, her first favourite being too chewed to be seen out in public.

A fork and spoon to serve up her food, which is kept in the car cool box.

Obviously your contents may vary according to your pet's needs but in general if you put all the main, larger items out together you can then plan the box size and the materials you will need. Smaller items like silverware and snacks can be tucked down between the larger ones.

Step 2: Tools & Materials


Hand Saw

Fine-toothed Saw


Belt Sander (optional)

Saw Table

Measuring Rile

Try Square


Nail Punch

Drill and Bits


Marking Gauge




3 Untreated Pallet Wood Planks ½" or 13mm thick - for details on how to source and dismantle these:

1 or 2 Fruit Crates - depending on the size of the box. The fruit crates we have here come in various thicknesses of wood and for this project, I selected those of ⅛" or 3mm.

2 Rectangular Hinges 1½" x ¾" or 37mm x 22mm

8 ¼" or 6mm Countersunk Screws

1¼" or 30mm Panel Pins

Waterproof Wood Glue

Step 3: Box Design & Preparation

The main criteria was to have a solid and simply constructed container with a closing lid that could be placed in the back seat of a car or strapped onto a bike carrier, so that the contents would be safely kept together and quickly accessed to accommodate the changing needs of the dog.

The simplicity of the design and construction means it is easy to make but still looks pleasing when the wood is prepared, i.e. when the rough-sawn faces of the planks are removed. However, if you purchase wood rather than reclaim it, this stage is obviously not needed,

The corner joints for the box and lid are simply butted together, glued and nailed, so there is no complicated cutting of joints.

Step 4: Cutting & Planing the Wood

Happily the containers for Jyka's food and water were exactly the same as one pallet wood plank width. Therefore all I needed to do was to plane all four sides of each plank prior to cutting to length.

For the lid, I cut one of the pallet wood planks down to 1" or 25mm wide strips. I wanted the lid to be sufficiently deep to accommodate additional 'softer' items to go in on top of the bowls - i.e. napkins/toys. Using pallet wood for the lid also made it easier to fit the hinges.

The upper and lower faces of the box were of fruit crate wood and were difficult to plane, so I used a bench-mounted belt sander to smooth the surfaces. However, often this fruit crate wood is of excellent quality and good-enough to use without sanding.

Step 5: Construction - Box

The front and rear walls of the box were cut to the same length.

The side walls were also cut but I took more care to ensure that the cut faces were square, as these were to butt against the insides of the front and rear walls.

I used a marking gauge on the inside faces of the front and rear walls to mark the positions of the sides and I also marked the location for the nails, this so that I could drill pilot holes for all the nails in the assembly.

The pilot holes were then drilled and the glue was applied to the faces prior to nailing.

Once nailed, the squareness of the box was checked.

I then used a nail punch to drive the heads below the wood's surface,

The box was then cramped and left to dry overnight.

The fruit crate wood for the base had to have the edges planed smooth and flat where they were going to meet in the centre of the box (to allow the adhesive to stick). The wood was cut to length and the box was used to facilitate the marking of the nail positions and pilot holes were drilled.

Adhesive was applied to the bottom edge of the box and to the mating faces of the fruit crate wood and the assembly was nailed together.

I decided that once dried, any overhang of the thinner wood could be easily planed down to the front and rear face of the box, this was the main reason for using a nail punch so that the nail heads didn't foul the plane blade.

Step 6: Construction - the Lid

This was completed in the same way as the box.

Step 7: Assembly

The Box was joined to the lid via two hinges. I just made a starter hole for the screws with an awl.

We're off tomorrow on another day out and so is Jyka with her picnic box!

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