When you have a smaller dog breed like a shih tzu you have to work around things like short legs and limited vertical jumping abilities for tasks like jumping up on the bed. I was also thinking about the future when he gets older and is even less mobile. I looked online for a quick, easy, cheap and somewhat good looking plans for building a dog ramp. When I couldn't find anything I liked I designed my own. Originally I wanted to keep the cost low and make this out of one sheet of plywood. But I felt I would have had to skimp somewhere in height, sturdiness, looks or other.
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Step 1: Material List
(2) sheets of 1/2 inch plywood ~20 dollars a sheet
small nails or screws. ( I used a Ryobi One+ brad nailer with 1.5 inch nails)
Carpet scraps for ramp and landing. Approx 2 feet wide by 6 feet long.
Step 2: Tool List
hearing protection for circular saw
hammer (or nail gun) If using nails to assemble
drill\driver (or screw driver) is using screws to assemble
sander or sandpaper
Wood clamps (can do with 2 but 4 is easier)
Saw horses (2)
Jig saw or coping saw for cutting rounded edges
straight edge for cutting with circular saw. I have one in the pictures similar to this Link to Lowes for about 20 bucks.
Step 3: Slope of the Ramp
The thing you have to account for with a ramp is achieving the desired height over the allowed distance. Trying to go up high over a short run can make the ramp too steep and the dog won't use it. Making the ramp not steep enough can take up a lot of room. We are putting this against the bottom of a king size bed about 24 inches off the ground. Since the Bottom of a king size bed is about 76 inches we can do a quick calculation for the rise over run.
Slope percentage is calculated in much the same way as the gradient. Convert the rise and run to the same units and then divide the rise by the run. Multiply this number by 100 and you have the percentage slope. For instance, 3" rise divided by 36" run = .083 x 100 = an 8.3% slope. In our case a 24 inch rise divided by a 76 inch run = .32 x 100 = 32% slope. A little steep but manageable while the dog is still young. . But the top of the ramp doesn't need to be level with the bed. Only has to make it within jumping distance. So if we lower the ramp down to jumping height we can decrease the slope some. We also wanted a landing area at the top of the ramp so he didn't have to jump from the slope. so we made a 20x20 area at the top for a landing. We made the landing at 20 inches so only a 4 inch jump.
New numbers 76 inch run minus 20 inches for landing and height of only 20 inches.
20 inches divided by 56 = .36 x 100 = 36% slope. So a bit more steep but gives a stop at the top after running up the ramp. Think it's a good trade off.
Step 4: Measurements
Front side: 76 inches long on base, Top along landing 23 inches, bottom near ramp 5 inches high. Taper runs from 5 inches high at bottom to the 23 inches in where the landing would start.
Back Side:76 inches long on base, Top along landing 20 inches, bottom near ramp 5 inches high. Taper runs from 5 inches high at bottom to the 20 inches where the landing would start. (back of ramp is lower so dog doesn't have to step over to get onto bed.
Top landing: 20 x 20
Inside 20 x 20
Side 20 x 20
Ramp: 17.25 x 59
Step 5: Cutting Pieces
For cutting the plywood make sure to set your saw depth so it just clears the wood. This will keep the wood from getting too ragged a cut and save you sanding time later too.
My saw is 1 inch in from the base or shoe of the saw. Your saw shoe may be a different size, be sure to measure and adjust accordingly. Knowing my shoe is an inch away from the blade means if i set my aluminum straight guide 1 inch over from my cut and clamp it down. I will have a nice straight edge to run my saw against that will put the blade exactly where I need it. Using a guide like this will give you a nice precision cut and straight edge to work with for assembly later.
Where two cuts meet up I run the circular saw almost up to the line and then finish with the hand saw. This will keep you from having the circular saw blade marks at the edges of your cuts later.
Some good circular saw safety tips here: Link to Safety pdf
Step 6: Cutting Dog Door and Storage Below
For cutting the dog door we measured him for height and then across his shoulders for width. We used a paint bucket to draw a circle for the top of the door. Then just drew two lines straight down to the bottom. For the storage area we did three circles with the bucket. one above the other at the tall end and a single circle at the low end. Next we connected the outside of the circles to make one large area to cut. We wanted to leave a bit of wood at the bottom of the dog house and the storage area to maintain the strength of the structure. In the end we decided not to cut the storage area for now. We will make that decision later after the dog uses it for a while and before we paint it. (in case you were wondering where the storage hole went in the final pics. )
Now to make the cuts. take a drill bit that is large enough that it will allow you to insert your jig saw blade or a coping saw blade to make the rounded cuts. I like to drill holes on all of the corners and the peak of the rounded area. Be sure to keep the drill bit completely inside the area you want to cut out. Once you have the holes drilled carefully use your saw to follow the lines you laid out. Taking your time and cutting on the line will save you lots of sanding later.
Step 7: Sanding
You will want to sand down all of the edges for the sides of the ramps, dog door sides, and If you cut a storage hole in the side. Next sand the sides as smooth as you would like. We did most of this project with 80 and 60 grit sand paper for now. Smooth enough until we decide if we will paint, stain or modify later.
** You don't have to spend a lot of time sanding the ramp of the top landing since it will be covered with carpet.
Step 8: Assembly
I started with the front side of the ramp and the back piece. I made them flush and square while we nailed it together.
next the back side of the ramp to the back.
next the inside of the dog house to two sides
next the top of the landing to the front side of the ramp the back side of the ramp, the top of the back of the ramp and the top of the front wall of the dog door.
We attached the small cleat to front wall of the dog house below where the top of the ramp would go to give it a little more stability and a place to better nail the top of the ramp down.
Next the ramp gets attached to the sides of the ramp and the top of the dog house wall.
lastly attach the rug to the top landing and the ramp. We did ours in two pieces since those are the sizes for the carpet we had laying around from other projects. If you can do one piece it will be easier and look nicer.