Intro: From Firewood to Rescued Dogs
Back in summer of 2015 my wife, son and I visited Eastern Canada for a holiday. Our home base was at my sister-in-law’s home where she lives with her two dogs that were rescued from the streets in Mexico. The love she has for her “four-footed kids”, as she refers to them, is probably only matched by the love they have for her. She was our hostess, tour guide and companion and made our stay a wonderful and memorable experience. Her dogs were with us almost all the time and were part of our experiences.
When she visited our home several months later I wanted to give her a gift as a thank you for the wonderful vacation we had had. As I dabble in wood I thought that a gift would be even more meaningful if I made it for her.
My neighbour had recently cut down an oak tree in his front yard and was using the cut up trunk and branches for firewood. I asked him for a few pieces thinking that I may, one day, be able to salvage some usable wood for a future project.
The thought occurred to me; why not use some rescued wood and convert it into a rescued dog. I would make a rescued dog ornament as a gift to my sister-in-law from one of the oak logs that I got.
This instructable describes how I started from a log. For anyone wanting to make their own wooden dog you can simply start by using dimensional lumber and avoid having to mill your own lumber.
Step 1: DESIGN
I did some online research viewing pictures of wooden dog ornaments and came across an image of one that appealed to me. I liked it because it was articulated so that it could be put in to a variety of different positions. I wish I could give credit to the original designer but I could not determine who that was. It appears though that it was originally from Czechoslovakia.
I decided on the dimensions shown in my sketches. I've placed a wooden blank piece over each sketch in the pictures to make them a bit clearer. The sketches are drawn on 1/4" squared graph paper which will allow anyone to make reproductions which they can cut out and use as templates or stick directly onto wood for cutting.
The curves on the body, heady and ears were freehand drawn to what appealed to me and not to any specific radius.
- ¾” x 1 ¾” x 14” – for the bodies & heads
- 3/8” x 1 ¼” x 28” – for the legs
- ¼” x 1” x 10” – for the ears and tails
- ¼” dowel – approx. 8” – to connect the parts
- pipe cleaner – for the collars
- Table saw
- Jig saw
- Drill press
- Sand paper
- Miscellaneous hand tools (hammer, square, etc)
- Wood glue
- beeswax polish
Step 2: MILLING THE OAK LOG
My intention was to use my table saw and jig saw as the primary cutting tools. I would first have to mill a log into a few small boards from which I would cut the parts I need.
To get flat wood stock from the log, which is essentially circular in cross section, I needed to be able to mill it somehow so that the wood pieces can be safely cut to dimension on my table saw.
This could be simply done with a band saw but I do not own one so I had to figure out how to mill the log, with the equipment I had, into usable wood with smooth and perpendicular faces .
After a bit of online research I came across a method on Youtube that utilized a table saw. A woodworker called Izzy Swan does a lot of very creative work with jigs on a table saw. He designed a jig for milling small logs on a table saw and this was exactly what I was looking for. Making the jig is worthy of its own instructable.
The steps of Izzy’s build are provided in the following video link, which I highly recommend;
Using some scrap lumber I made a similar jig. The jig is essentially a box into which you can mount a log securely for cutting. The exterior of the box provides the flat surfaces needed to run on the table saw and against the fence.
After screwing the log into place a first cut was done resulting in one smooth face.
The log was unscrewed, reoriented in the jig with the new smooth face placed flat on the table of the saw then secured in the box with screws. A second cut was made on the log resulting in two smooth faces that were exactly at ninety degrees to each other.
Once I had two flat surfaces at 90 degrees I removed the log from the jig and did the rest of the cuts on the table saw into the dimensions I needed, namely;
¾” stock for the body and head
3/8” stock for the legs
¼” stock for the ears and tail
Step 3: CUTTING THE VARIOUS PARTS
The picture shows the parts needed for one dog. I decided to make two dogs for my sister in law and so made two sets of parts. It then occurred to me that I could make the dogs look more like the real ones by tailoring the lengths of the legs, ears, tails and heads.
After cutting the pieces to length I made the curved cuts on my jig saw which I mounted upside down. These cuts could be done more easily on either a band saw or a scroll saw but not having either I used the upside down jig saw setup. Curved cuts were then sanded to remove rough edges. One set of legs were cut shorter for the smaller dog and the heads were also shaped at different sizes based on a picture I had taken of them. I also cut two new tails and shaped them in the dogs’ likeness.
Using the sketches with the dimensions, the various holes were made at the drill press.
SLOT FOR TAIL
The cutout in the body for the tail was also made at the drill press. The dog body blank was placed against a fence and a ¼” drill bit was centered over the blank. Several overlapping holes were drilled to a depth of ¾” to create a slot that was ¼” wide, ¾” long and ¾” deep at the end of the blank.
HOLE FOR HEAD CONNECTOR
I used a wooden axle pin that is used for toy wheels to connect the head to the body. I first drilled a small pilot hole from the bottom of the body where the pin will go all the way through to the top of the body. The axle pin was inserted from the bottom of the body up into the head allowing the latter to rotate. The head of the axle pin has a diameter just under 3/8” so I drilled a 3/8” hole 1 ¼” deep from the bottom of the dog body. The rest of the pilot hole was drilled with a ¼” bit to accommodate the 3/16’ diameter of the axle pin shaft.
Step 4: ASSEMBLY
Pieces of ¼” dowels were cut to length to connect the
legs, tail and ears to the body and head. The tail was assembled before the legs. The legs and ears are aligned in the same direction. The dog collars were cut from a length of pipe cleaner that I had from a previous dollar store purchase.
Before placing them into a gift box the dogs were given a coat of polish that I had made by combining mineral oil and beeswax.
My sister in law was ecstatic to get the gift of her wooden “doggies” and today they occupy a treasured spot on her hallway table. She has told me several times, "LOVE 'em".