Introduction: Super Comfy Dog Kennel Bed

About: I am a perpetual student, researcher, and hopelessly dedicated skill collector. I hope that you can find something inspiring or useful in the instructables I publish.
My dog, Mac, spends about 10-12 hours at night in his kennel (it's OK - he likes it) - so I want it to be a comfortable place for him to be. Mac's old dog bed was getting a bit frazzled, and instead of dumping a bunch of money into another one that would have a limited life span due to questionable design and materials,  I decided to build him one structured more like a piece of furniture - one with a durable, washable, replaceable cover that could handle the occasional sickness and accidents without showing much wear and tear.  I never have understood why pet beds are made of fuzzy or soft fabrics - most pets (that you'd be building a bed for) are likely covered in fuzzy, soft, material already and probably can't tell the difference.

I also wanted to build the bed out of scraps and found materials - along with some supplies I had lying around - i.e. I didn't want to have to buy anything to make it.  Now, I realize that very few people are going to have most of these supplies "lying around" (what can I say?  I'm a pack-rat)  - but they would be readily available from most upholstery supply shops.  I buy a lot of my supplies from here: as well as from local suppliers.

Total cost, if you were to buy everything, would probably be around $100 - which is half what I've spent in the past on beds that didn't last much more than a couple of years.  In addition, this bed can be easily cleaned (most can't) - and if the need should arise it can be recovered for about what a cheap dog bed would cost.

  • 1000-Denier, urethane-backed Cordura - I picked up some on clearance a few years ago (hence the cammo pattern).  It's waterproof, abrasive resistant, and tough - and was pretty inexpensive.
  • 1/2" Dacron batting
  • Scrap 2"x4" lumber for the frame
  • Scrap 1/2" or 3/4" plywood for the bolsters
  • Elasbelt Webbing - like very strong elastic - used as a replacement for springs in furniture
  • Urethane Foam - good furniture-grade foam will last a lot longer and be more comfortable
  • 1" Hook and Loop fastener - about 6 feet should do it
  • Staples, Foam Adhesive, Screws

Step 1: Build the Frame

While it IS possible to use lumber as-is, I find that taking the time to true/dimension lumber pays off in ease of construction and accuracy - so I do it.  The final dimensions on the frame sides is 3" x 1-1/4"  and the stretchers are 1" x 1-1/4".

This frame is assembled entirely with screws - no glue.  If you have a pocket-hole jig, this would be a great use for that as well. 

The goal here was a strong, square frame that could handle the continuous tension of the webbing as well as the weight of Mac.

Be sure to drill pilot holes for your screws - Why?  Because pine is notoriously easy to split.  The only time I don't drill pilot holes is if I'm using a self-drilling screw like a "Spax" brand screw - which I used to install the corner braces.

As for the rest of the description, I'll let the pictures do the talking.....

Step 2: Install the Webbing

Elasbelt Webbing is like really strong elastic - it makes great spring materials for seating surfaces - and in this case - dog beds :)  It's pretty easy to adjust how "firm" it is by how much you stretch it when installing it.  For this application, I wanted the bed to have a decent amount of "give" so I only applied about 1/2" of stretch to the webbing when I attached it.  Basically, to attach it, you staple down one end, pull it taught, mark your installed length, stretch it to that length, staple it down, cut it loose and do it again. 

Step 3: Upholstery

I used scrap foam from another project, so I had to do a little bit of splicing to get the sizes I needed.  If you use a good quality foam adhesive, there isn't any problem with the bond breaking or becoming stiff - and often the glue-line is stronger than the foam.  As with most contact adhesives, you get one chance to line things up - so - a little trick is to lay the two pieces you intend to bond on top of each other with the edges you intend to bond lined up.  Next, spray the adhesive along the exposed edges - give the adhesive time to dry a bit (usually about 5 minutes) - then just rotate the top piece over like a hinge.  There will probably be a little glue on the common edge that will act like a hinge to make it even easier to keep things aligned.

Once it was all assembled, I made sure I wasn't going to have any problems getting it in or out of the kennel - and had Mac test it out ;)

Step 4: Side Cushions

Mac, like most dogs, is a "lounger" - and he likes to lean against something while he lounges - so I wanted to build some side cushions for the bed.  One problem, of course, would be that if the side cushions were attached, they would make the bed too tall to get in and out of the kennel - so I decided to make them basically loose and have them attach to the wire frame with hook-and-loop fasteners.  I was also conscious of the fact that I didn't want them to eat up too much "floor space" - so they are relatively thin.

I had to cut up a bunch of scrap foam to make the side cushions - a bandsaw with a narrow blade is *perfect* for this.  You can also use an electric knife, or in a pinch, a hacksaw blade - but the bandsaw is the way to go if you have access to one.

I also tapered the thickness of the foam top-to-bottom by about an inch - although I'm not sure how much difference it made.  The best way to do this is to glue the foam to the backing board, and then cut the taper on the bandsaw.

Step 5: Field Testing

The final result is pretty nice.  I've already had occasion to test it's "accident worthiness" twice (Mac was sick for a couple of days) - and so I can attest to how easy it is to clean and maintain.... and Mac seems to like it, too :)