Introduction: Oak Dog Bowl Stand

About: Retired Lockheed Martin Electrical Engineer (BSEE Texas A&M University 1982). Love to design and build things. Craftsman, hunter, angler, pretty darn good cook, prolific consumer of beer and barbeque, aspiring…

There were a couple of events that led to this particular project. We had a crazy week of extremely cold weather here in Texas this past February. We were fortunate that we were not one of the many who lost power though one of our water pipes burst. Luckily we were home and I was able to quickly shut off the water main. It took just about every towel we had in the house but we got all of the water mopped up before much damage had occurred. I was able to locate the pipe and splice in a new section but I had to tear out a built in entertainment center to get to it. I wasn’t too upset about losing the cabinetry as it was old and outdated and I had been thinking about replacing it anyway. It also resulted in a windfall of nice wood that I could repurpose. I would also like to note that it only took me three trips to the hardware store to fix the pipe... which is close to a new record for me for fewest trips to complete a repair.

The second event occurred last October when after 14 years we lost our sweet little dachshund named Eevee. We got her when the kids were little and they named her after one of their favorite Pokémon characters. I’m retired now, the kids are grown and gone, and the house is just way too still and quiet... especially without our little dog. After quite a bit of thought we decided that we would feel much better with dogs in our house again so we’re getting two puppies this summer. Boykin Spaniels. We are in high gear preparing for their arrival. My wife was looking at dog bowl stands the other day. Apparently there is an optimum height for dog bowls based on the size of the dog. Who knew? I figured you just set the bowl on the floor and got out of the way. She showed me some of the various designs she was looking at online. Of course I figured I could build something similar... but better! And here we are.

There was a fairly wide range for what was considered to be the “optimum” height for the bowls. I just picked something that was in the middle range for medium sized dogs (9-1/2 inches).


The cabinet that I tore out was built from oak plywood, lumber core plywood, and had a solid oak face frame. So I’m working with oak. Heck, I figure you could use any hardwood... I’m just using what I have on hand. I purchased the dog bowls (I’m ultimately making 4 stands) from Amazon. The brand was PEGGY11 and it was the set of two 6 cup stainless steel bowls. 4.8 out of 5 stars with over 6700 reviews. Since I’ll be making 4 stands I fabricated a jig to facilitate cutting the lap joints in the base frame. I used 1/2 inch MDF for the jig along with 4 each 8-32 x 2 inch screws, #8 washers, #8 lock washers, and #8 wing nuts. The glue is Titebond 3 waterproof glue and the finish is polyurethane. Note: I’m writing this tutorial in parallel with actually building the project so if it seems like I’m figuring stuff out along the way... it’s because I am.

Step 1: Top Piece

The dimensions for the top were dictated by the size of the bowl. At least the inside diameter was which ended up being 7-1/2 inches. The outside diameter is 10-1/4 inches and was arrived at by simply what looked good to me. It was also the dimension of our dinner plates that I used to trace around. The piece was cut from 3/4 inch thick lumber core plywood. I used a scroll saw to cut it out and then smoothed it on the sander. Pretty easy step.

Step 2: Vertical Base Pieces

There are 4 each of the vertical base pieces. These are 1/2 inch thick by 3/4 inch wide by 8-1/4 inches long. I would rough cut sections of the 1x2 face frame and run them through the surface planer until they were the correct dimension. Then the pieces were cut to length on the miter saw. Again, nothing complex here.

Step 3: Horizontal Base Pieces

Just like the vertical pieces these were cut and dimensioned from the 1x2 face frame boards. 4 pieces. Dimensions are 1-1/8 inches wide, 1/2 inch thick, and 8-1/2 inches long. I paid close attention to ending up with as accurate dimensions as possible. The reason for this is that the jig I made to cut the lap joints was custom fit to hold the pieces tightly together. This was to help make uniform cuts on the lap joints and hopefully a good fit when it was time to assemble the parts. So this was the first (and only) fiddly step.

Step 4: Feet

The feet were cut from the what was left over from the horizontal base pieces. Same thickness and width. Length is 2-3/4 inches. 4 each.

Step 5: All of the Blank Pieces Ready to Be Shaped

Here are all of the wooden parts ready to go. Nothing needs to be done to the vertical base pieces. The feet will get a nice curve sanded into them on one side while the horizontal base pieces will receive half lap joints along with a mortise cut in them to receive the vertical pieces. The top piece will also be mortised for the vertical pieces. This will all be detailed in the following steps but first we’ll look at the custom jig.

Step 6: Half Lap Jig Build

The jig is made from a 1/2 inch thick sheet of MDF. I like using MDF to make jigs. It’s fairly easy to work with and it yields nice results. I was careful to be as accurate as possible when I glued up the parts to ensure I would get a snug fit for the base pieces that would receive the half lap joint. I didn’t want anything shifting while the router bit was making the cut. The overall dimensions are 12 inches by 10-5/8 inches. These dimensions aren’t critical. You just want something that is stable and easy to use with the router table. The slots cut in the bottom are access for the router bit. These are 1-1/8 inches wide by 6-1/2 inches long. There will be a half lap joint cut on the ends first using the right most slot. Once that cut is made the pieces are flipped over and another joint is cut on the other side using the left most slot. Starting from the right side of the right slot and measuring to the left side of the left slot the dimension is 4-1/2 inches. The area that holds the pieces to be cut is 8-1/2 inches wide by 4-1/2 inches tall by 1/2 inch deep. These are the critical dimensions. The screws are countersunk into the bottom piece so that they are slightly below flush and the cover is match drilled to the holes in the base. I drilled the holes in the top a bit oversized to make it easier to install and remove. The last two pictures show the horizontal base pieces placed in the jig and then with the top cover installed. Note: You want the pieces to be snug but not super tight. You shouldn’t have to hammer them into place. Otherwise they’ll be really tough to remove and possibly damaged. Now this jig is something that I made up on the fly here. We’ll figure out if there is a best way to use it in the next step.

Step 7: Cutting the Half Lap Joints - Setup

Just wrapped up the process of cutting the half lap joints. Holy cow... I’ve never made better half lap joints in my life. Very happy with my jig! Nice snug fit... no gaps... a really nice joint. We’ll start off with a few pictures of the finished product. Pics one through five.

Now, besides the homemade half lap jig, having an Incra jig installed on my router table (Pic six) was a key element of my success. It allows you to adjust the fence in 1/32 inch increments. It’s very easy to use and very accurate. You can buy super expensive units but mine is the fairly inexpensive plastic one. It’s not as snazzy as the more expensive jigs but it does a remarkable job for the price. I highly recommend it! It’s only about $50.

The first step was to adjust the router fence such that the 1/4 inch spiral router bit just barely touched the inside edge of the slot in the half lap joint jig. Pic seven.

I made start and stop pencil marks on the router fence (Pic eight) as well as a stop block (Pic nine) to make things easier. While using the jig there won't be a clear view of the router bit.

The last three pictures show the parts installed in the jig, clamping on the cover, and a view of the bottom of the jig for reference.

The last step prior to cutting is to adjust the height of the router bit. I wanted to be very careful so I started off with a shallow cut and then raised the bit just a little at a time between complete passes. You only want to cut half way through the parts for a half lap joint so I took my time and slowly crept up on reaching the proper depth.

Step 8: Cutting the Half Lap Joints - Running the Parts Through the Router

With the router turned on the jig is held at an angle and placed firmly against the fence. Then the jig is carefully lowered to make a plunge cut ensuring that the edge of the jig is lining up with the start mark on the fence. Next the jig is pushed smoothly at a consistent rate across the router bit until the jig reaches the stop block. Pic two shows the first pass. Once again note the shallow cut. The third pic shows the first complete pass. After the initial pass I used the Incra jig to move the fence over a quarter inch for the next three passes and then 1/8th of an inch for the last pass to cover the entire 1-1/8 inches. I repeated this process several times at increasing router bit depth. Pic four shows the completed joint cut to the proper depth.

Remove the cut parts from the jig (I don't think it's important but I numbered the parts so that they would go back in the same order later) and then the process is repeated for the second part of the joint... starting with the aligment of the router bit to the edge of the jig (Pic five). The pieces are placed back in the jig upside down as shown in the last pic. Make sure you don't flip them end for end. Just turn them over.

You might also notice that I added a couple of arrows on the jig indicating where the fence should be... I almost screwed up one time and set the jig down backwards. Luckily I caught myself before I went too far and started cutting.

Step 9: Shaping the Feet

After the last step I wanted to do something that was nice and simple so I grabbed the feet and sanded a curve on them. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Step 10: Horizontal Base Pieces - Laying Out and Cutting the Mortise

The cross section of the vertical base piece is 1/2 inch by 3/4 inch so I want to cut a mortise in the horizontal pieces to match that. First step is to center the top piece over the assembled (dry fit) horizontal base. Next I draw on either side of the top piece so I know where to center the mortise. I’ll use my scroll saw to cut out the cross hatched area. Note: I did the lay out on what will be the bottom side of the horizontal pieces so I’m not too concerned about having to sand out the pencil marks completely.

Slow careful work results in a nice fit as can be seen in the last two pics. One word of caution... if you cut the mortise a bit on the small side (which is better than cutting it too wide) then don’t be tempted to jam the pieces together. It’s very likely the piece will split and that would be most disheartening after all that work. Instead, take a fine file and slowly work on opening up the mortise. You can also lightly sand the vertical base piece as well. Take your time until the two pieces slip together fairly easily but still a little snug.

Step 11: Top Piece Mortise

I’m sure I could get away with a simple butt joint here but I figure a shallow mortise will be helpful in stabilizing the position of the vertical base piece when it comes time to glue everything up. Once again I dry fit the base pieces together and centered the top piece on them. I traced on the inside to transfer the mortise location to the top. Next I used a 1/2 inch chisel to cut the shallow mortise. Though... not even sure you can really call this a mortise. Sort of I guess. Maybe recess would be a better term. Either way I have a little landing spot to position the vertical base pieces.

Step 12: Shaping the Feet (One More Time)

The feet were glued using Titebond 3 adhesive and the joint was clamped overnight. Final shaping is done on the sander. Looking for a tasteful smooth curve. Once I was happy with the first one I traced the shape onto the remaining pieces. After shaping the feet I’ll give all the pieces a light sanding in preparation for final assembly.

Step 13: Dry Fit Check

Hey... finally done with making parts. Ready for final assembly... but first a quick dry fit check. Woo hoo! Looks great. Wow... even though it’s only dry fit it’s pretty darn sturdy. I like the proportions and just love the oak. Ha, it’s a dog bowl stand but it looks like a little piece of furniture. Very happy!

Step 14: Final Assembly

Yay!!! It’s time to put this thing together. This will be done in two stages.

Stage one... The parts were taped with masking tape in order to keep the glue off of the areas where it’s not supposed to be. Even small glue ups like this are a fire drill and it’s a lot better when you’re not also scrambling to wipe off excess glue. And it’s a lot easier to peel off tape than to sand off glue. Once again, I used Titebond 3 wood glue to bond the pieces together. This is where all of that effort to make good joints is going to pay off in ease of assembly. I’ll start with the horizontal base pieces. Clamps are applied and the whole thing will be allowed to set overnight. I applied clear packing tape to the cover of my half lap jig to turn it into a clamping jig. Ha... it is no longer a unitasker. MDF is flat so it should (hopefully) keep the entire base nice and flat too. Otherwise I’ll have some sanding to do on the feet so it won’t rock.

After setting overnight the clamps and tape are removed (Pic four). Woo hoo! It sits flat with no wobble. No errant glue stains to clean up either. Really glad I chose this side for the top as it features the nice looking lap joints.

Stage two... The assembly is completed by adding the vertical base pieces and the top. And again everything will be taped, glued, clamped, and allowed to set. I had to get a little creative with improvising a stand from one of my cook pots to get some clearance for the clamps. I used a damp paper towel to clean up the glue squeeze out and then peeled off the tape. The clamps were removed after about an hour but I did use a can of tomatoes to keep a little pressure on the joint. I was concerned that the clamps might warp the base that I worked so hard to make flat. Now all that’s left will be to do a light finish sanding with fine grit sandpaper and then apply the finish. Oh... the recesses in the underside of the top piece were super helpful. It made the assembly process a breeze not having to worry about the location of the vertical base pieces. So these are highly recommended.

By the way... San Marzano tomatoes are awesome! Run these through a fine food mill for the easiest and freshest tasting pizza sauce there is!!!

Step 15: Apply the Finish

Once the glue was set I told myself that I was going to take my time and be meticulous on the finish sanding. I’m dying to apply the finish but I’ve got to force myself to do a careful job sanding. I enjoy woodworking but dang it... I really don’t like to sand. The end result is definitely satisfying but it’s not a very fun trip getting there.

Also, now that the glue is dry this thing is super solid. No kidding, it is a brick! So no worries about it getting knocked around during feeding time.

I started off with 100 grit sandpaper and finished up with 220. So I didn’t go too crazy with trying to achieve a glass finish. Whew... happy to have that part done. NIce and smooth (Pic two).

I used a wipe on polyurethane finish (Pic one). Really easy to apply and I like the look (Pic three). Now just got to build three more! I'm glad I wrote this tutorial to refer back to... I won't have to remember what I did!

Step 16: Epilogue

Wow. There were only 13 pieces that I had to make for this little project and now that I look back I’m surprised at how many photographs and words it takes to describe the process in detail. I sincerely hope that this was helpful. We covered various aspects of some woodworking skills and jig building as well as maybe inspiring you on your own project. If so, please post pictures in the comments of what you have created. I would love to see it. As I said, I was designing, building, and writing this tutorial all at the same time. It took me a little over a week and a half to complete everything. It shouldn’t take as long to build the next ones. The jig is built, the design is done, I have the process figured out, and I won’t be writing a tutorial!

Now I still have work to do on my clock project to follow up on my electromagnetic pendulum tutorial that has already been posted. Also I’m working on my version of a Weber grill cart... which will be different than other carts you may have seen. And I have an update for my catfish noodles.

Until then....

Sawdust Willy.

P.S. The last picture is our little Eevee in the Texas bluebonnets. We miss her dearly.

Step 17: Addendum

I was showing some of my dog loving buddies my dog bowl stand creation. One of my friends is a cigar guy and when he saw the dog bowl stand he asked me to redesign it to accommodate his Arturo Fuente ash tray. Here’s what I have so far. Solid oak. It’s dry fit at this point to check the proportions so it’s not completed yet. The thought here is this will hopefully illustrate the versatility of the design.

And the more I think about it I believe I’ll add an intermediate shelf. I think that will add visually to the design and also provide a place to store accessories like a lighter, cutter, or maybe a small humidor.

Step 18: Ash Tray Stand Recap

So it's a week or so later and I'm getting close to wrapping up the cigar ash tray stand project that was based on the dog bowl stand design. Adding the intermediate shelf turned out to be a good idea. The stand looked a bit too tall and spindly without it. It looks much better now and the shelf added even more strength to the structure.

I won't go into as great of detail as on the dog bowl stand but I did learn a few things from the first project and I came up with a couple of ideas to make things a little easier this time. It will probably be a while before I get around to gluing everything together and finishing the project. I've got a lot going on over the next month or so. But when I do I'll be sure to provide an update.

Step 19: Dimensioning the Parts

The wood is an old piece of oak that came from my grandparents' house in West Virginia. They passed away a long time ago and the house has since been demolished but I salvaged what I could beforehand. This board was a piece of a shelf they had in the basement where they would store the food they canned (preserved) from the garden they had in the summer.

I made the legs a little bigger and longer than what was on the dog bowl stand. The dimensions are 5/8 X 7/8 X 23 inches. The feet and horizontal base piece are the same dimensions as before.

I made what I call the "cup holder" out of oak instead of using the lumber core plywood and is made up of three layers. This is what holds the ash tray.

Step 20: Fabricating the Cup Holder

The pieces for the cup holder were a little less than 3/8 inch thick and I used the 22.5 degree preset detents on my miter saw to cut the angles. I ended up making three rings with the bottom ring being wider than the top two. They all have the same outside diameter but the bottom piece has a smaller inside diameter.

One improvement in the process was to print out circles and tape them down to provide a guide while cutting. Before I scoured the house trying to find something (coffee cans, buckets, dishes, bowls, etc.) with the correct diameter to trace around. Now I could make it exactly what I wanted.

The octagonal board that I'm using as a clamping jig is a piece of 3/4 inch melomine covered in packing tape.

I glued the two top pieces together first and sanded the edges down to match. In the last photo I stacked everything up to illustrate how it will go together.

Step 21: All the Pieces Are Shaped

Here you can see all of the parts (except for the shelf since I thought of that later). My next process improvement was to print out patterns to cut the moritises in the cup holder bottom as well as the horizontal base pieces. I ended up with a much better fit that required just a little light sanding for the parts to fit easily together.

The last pic is the completed cup holder. If you look closely you will see that I staggered the joints from layer to layer.

Step 22: Shelf Fabrication

I made the shelf pretty much the same way as I did the cupholder though it is not built up in layers. Just a single thickness. I used a 3/8 inch rabbet router bit to cut a recess on the bottom of the ring to hold a 1/2 inch thick piece of oak plywood.

I used the mortise cuts in the cupholder base to mark where the legs would be notched into the shelf. And once again I printed out cutting guides that I taped to the shelf. The notches were later cut on the jig saw.

Once the notches were cut I had all the parts ready for a dry fit check which is what you see back up in step 18.

So that's all for now.

See you later!


Step 23: Adding a Little Decor

My buddy is a Razorback fan so I cut this on my scroll saw for a nice personal touch. It will be glued to the intermediate shelf.

Step 24: All Done!

The ashtray stand turned out very nice and I love the darker oak I used for this project.

The last pic shows the the original idea for comparison.

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