How to Make a Modern Pet Bed

The Sadie bed (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)       Sarah and I have a little wiener dog named Sadie. She's pretty cool (also a little stubborn and a bit crotchety). We've had her for almost five years now, and since we've had her, she's never had her own bed. We've bought cheap pillowy things, but they never last. She'll lie on anything soft, so buying or making her something that would last just wasn't a priority. Well, Sadie is getting up there in age, and I thought she was due a little bed that she could call her own for years to come. There was also a wood working technique that I'd been wanting to try, called kerfing (I'll get into that), and this was the perfect project to try it with.

It's hard to put a cost on this project because I made it totally from scrap material lying around the shop. To estimate, I'd say you could make this for about 50 bucks, which is a steal! Plus, like I always say, it feels a lot better when you make it yourself. I loved making this bed. Give it a try; I'm sure your dog or cat or hamster would love a custom bed. 

Somebody please make a hamster-sized one.

The Sadie bed - inital sketch (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)Supplies:
-poplar hardwood plywood (I'll get into this more later)
-1" – 1 1/2" doweling ( you only need about a foot)
-a couple yards of heavier cloth material 
-pillow stuffing/Poly-fil
-wood filler
-paint/stain

Tools:
-miter saw
-table saw
-drill 
-Kreg pocket hole jig
-sewing machine

Sadiebed_diagramThe Sadie bed - drawing curve (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - drawing curve (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - drawing curve (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)Step One: For this project I'm not going to go into the exact measurements. Pets come in all shapes and sizes, so I'm going to go over the overall method, then you can take it from there.  

So, first things first. What size animal do you have? If you need to, measure the little critter. I didn't do that. I just imagined holding Sadie and started measuring and drawing on the wood. Since I have a terrible memory, I almost made the bed too small. Sarah walked into the shop right when I was about to cut out the base. She lovingly pointed out that I was an idiot and that Sadie would not fit in the bed. Of course I argued that she would, but then reality set in, and I ended up making it almost twice the initial size, which was a perfect size. 

So go ahead and measure and save yourself some time.

Before you cut the base out, find the circumference so you can cut out the wall section. I used a piece of rope to find the length. All you do is carefully place the rope or string (it works best with a stiffer rope) around the edge of the base. You don't have to place the entire rope at once; you do a couple inches, then slide your finger over. After you've got the length, determine the height (considering the size of your pet). I split the total circumference in half, so I had two pieces to cut.

The Sadie bed - pocket holes (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - pocket holes (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more) The Sadie bed - pocket holes (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - kerfed wall (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - pocket holes (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)Step Two: Let's go kerfing! Such a funny word, kerfing. A kerf is the slit you make when you cut a piece of wood. Kerfing, a process where you cut a series of slits, makes the piece of wood bendable. If you look at the first picture, you'll notice that I used a couple of different types of plys. On the left is poplar plywood and on the right is oak. The poplar worked the best; it was so bendy after I kerfed it and bent like a dream. The oak obviously worked; it was just a bit stiffer and didn't bend as easily. I also tried making a wall with a piece of pine ply; it snapped right off the bat. Don't use pine.

Alright, so the actual process:

I had the two pieces of plywood cut to length and height needed to circumvent the base. I rounded off one corner for the "entrance" side. Using the rope again, I found out where I needed to kerf. I started about 1/4" before and after each curve. I then drilled some pocket holes on the straightaway parts. Then I was ready to start kerfing. I set the depth of the table saw so that it would leave about 1/8" to 3/16" of wood left (or one layer of wood in the ply). Then I just start cutting slits 1/4" apart. It takes a bit of time.

The Sadie bed - gluing (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - gluing (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - gluing (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - gluing (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - gluing (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - bending wall       (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - bending wall       (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)Step Three: This was the most satisfying and nerve-wracking stage. You just spent all this time preparing the pieces (measuring/cutting/drilling/kerfing), and now you're going to try to bend it! I actually went through four walls making this bed. It was worth it.

It's a pretty straightforward process. Start by screwing in one side (lay some glue down before screwing). I started with the back, so I knew it would be dead center; the front part has more flexibility where it starts or ends. After you have the end screwed in, slowwwwwwly bend the wood, screwing the straightaways down when you get to them. Repeat for the other side. 

The Sadie bed - making slurry (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - making slurry (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - making slurry (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - making slurry (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - making slurry (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - making slurry (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - process (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)Step Four: Maybe I should have done this step before bending the walls, but I didn't, and it turned out all right. Decide for yourself when you want to. I initially was going to fill the kerfs with wood filler then proceed with painting and poly. There was a lot more space that needed to be filled than I thought, so I made a slurry of sawdust and wood glue. No measuring was involved; I just threw some sawdust into a small bucket, then started pouring in wood glue. I ended up using about a bottle's worth. I added glue till the slurry was about the consistency of putty or tuna salad.

I filled in all of the kerfs with the slurry, using my hands and a putty knife. I tried to make it smooth as to eliminate a lot of time spent sanding. The slurry was left overnight, then sanded. Then the wood filler was applied to make the surface as smooth as possible. After the filler dried, there was lots more sanding (course grit to fine).

The Sadie bed - legs  (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - legs  (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)Step Five: Cut four dowels and screw to the bottom of bed. You don't have to do this, but I thought it looked good. After this point, you can go ahead and paint and/or stain to your liking.

The Sadie bed - tracing material (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - tracing material (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - tracing material (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - tracing material (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - tracing material (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)The Sadie bed - tracing material (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)I don't really sew, so I'm not going to try to teach you about it. I made this pillow. I'm proud of it; it's the first one I ever made. It could definitely have turned out better. Maybe in the future when I've gotten a little better, I'll try to share some tips.

The Sadie bed - sadie inspected (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)There you have it. The bed is Sadie-approved; that's what really matters. I love walking into the room and see she's sleeping in it. I hope you give this a try. Kerfing isn't really hard. You do need a table saw to do this, but if you can access one, this was a really fun project. Leave any questions in the comment section, and I'll try to get back to you. Now, what other things can I make with curved wood… ?

The Sadie bed (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)            The Sadie bed (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)            The Sadie bed (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)                                   The Sadie bed (how to make a modern pet bed. click for more)  Credits // Author: Josh Rhodes. Photography:Laura Gummerman & Sarah and Josh Rhodes. Photos edited with Imogen from the Folk Collection.

  • I cannot even handle how adorable this is! What a cute idea. My girl is pretty big (40 pounds) and, even though she sleeps on our bed at night, her bed is in her crate. Otherwise I’d be all over this!

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

  • 1. A hamster bed would be too adorable for words and yes, someone please make one.
    2. Kerfing is so much fun! As a former engineer, I totally appreciate the struggle of trying to cut pieces to be round when most tools like to do squares. Loved seeing this process!
    3. Sadie is adorable and this bed turned out fantastic!

    PS: Unrelated to this post, but overall feedback on the site. The right margin (where the “popular blogs” are) keeps cutting off a tiny portion of the text. I can still read the posts fine because it’s usually just cutting a letter in half, but just FYI. I’m viewing this on a non-Mac computer using Chrome if that helps πŸ™‚

  • Cute! I also love that human bed! Can you tell me where the white quilt is from?

    Love reading your projects and hope to make one someday!

    Ali

  • Awesome! I’ve been sketching ideas for a dog bed for my 4 legged friends christmas present. This fits the bill perfectly so come the holidays, it will be wrapped under a tree all ready for her to use.

    Thanks Josh!

  • I love these tutorials! I can’t wait to get some more power tools and make some of these (or try).

    If never heard of kerfing before, but it seems like a really handy technique. Do you have any experience with belt plywood (using clamps, etc)? I’d love to see tutorials on that as well!

  • I want to make a hamster-sized one because…obviously. As tempted as I am to make this bed for my kitties I know that 1. They would rather sleep with me in the bed and 2. They would not get as much enjoyment from the bed as they do with pushing us into the corner of our own bed while taking up as much space as possible. Although, they would probably love this in the livingroom to hang out in instead of the cardboard box!

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • I’m having the same issue reading – using Chrome on a non-Mac, and a tiny bit of text is covered. Really enjoying the new site though; it’s so pretty! And the loading pictures at the bottom are brilliant. It’s like your own personal ABM pinterest!!

    This bed is amazing! I LOVE the look of the curves and how you finished the final piece too. What a gorgeous, mod bed. Sadie is one lucky pet!

  • This tutorial is great bro. This bed looks sick. I’m really going to try this! Quick question…how is your kerfing so perfect? I either cut too deep, or the cuts are uneven. Any tips?

  • What kind of magic is this kerfing?! (side note: my computer wanted to correct that to kerning, which I do use all the time. Sorry, computer.) I don’t have the tools or skills to make this, but want to! How cute would it be with those little brass capped angled midcentury legs you can get at the hardware store? (SO CUTE.) Also, seems like you could just bondo the hell out of the insides, or do a wood veneer. I DIE.

  • I’m impressed! The last time I used a saw was in fifth grade wood shop class, but I so want to run into Home Depot now and have a hand at some Kerfing!! The bed is adorable, as is your pup. I enjoyed reading this, well done!!
    p.s. congrats on your first sewing project. It looks great!

  • Thanks Kolbi. My only recommendation is that you size the piece of wood up to the blade (as pictured above) and then make sure you are moving your fence in increments of 1/4″ (it does take patience!)
    -Josh

  • The same thing is happening with me as well. Chrome on a PC. Otherwise the new site is really really gorgeous! I love it!

    Also this bed is adorable and so is Sadie!

  • Same here – the text is trying to go past the right edge of the content and it’s just saying noooooope!

  • I love this post for several reasons. First, the final product is fantastic, handmade, and just everything I’m looking for in a DIY project. Second, it teaches me something new! I’m a very crafty person, but woodworking has always been something I’ve relied on my husband to do for me, and let’s just say it puts me on a slightly different timeline when I need his help. πŸ™‚ also, it really empowers me to tackle the things I ‘think’ I can’t do or are too hard. It’s not hard! I just don’t know enough about it to understand the process, and once I do (via your posts!) I suddenly understand how attainable these kinds of project are. So, thanks for empowering me and my power tools. πŸ™‚

  • Thanks Abigail. I’m so glad that this post made you feel like you could do it yourself, that is the ultimate goal! Send us a photo if you do make it. Thanks for reading.
    -Josh

  • I definitely need to try kerfing. My issue is I have to go to my parents to use their table saw, since we don’t have one here at home. It’s just a hassle, though I think my dad secretly loves it! He likes to see what I’m doing, and I like to think it makes him proud. He’s very diplomatic about asking me why I’m doing things a certain way, instead of just straight out telling me I’m doing it the hard way. πŸ™‚ I think he would be very impressed if I showed up at his garage and started kerfing!
    -Mandi

  • Your dog is so cute! And the bed is a brilliant idea, I would consider making one if my dog didnt weight 100 pounds.. I might as well stick with the pillow!

  • Well we all know this isn’t a simple DIY project, but MAN it’s cute. My weirdo cat, Princess-Pants-McGee would LOVE it!

    …or I would love it and she would look at it with distain and go back to licking her belly from my couch. She’s an unholy jerk.

    xo
    K

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    I love this bed and Sadie is pretty darn cute too! We have 3 dogs – a Great Dane, a blue healer, and a Yorkie. I think this would be a nice bed to make each of them one ( even the Dane ). Thanks for sharing!!

  • I was thinking the same for my cat. But I hate having cardboard boxes around the house. What if we made it a lot taller like a cardboard box, not open in the front (maybe just a bit lower) and then put a piece of cardboard inside instead of a pillow….?

  • This is such a cute little pet bed! I would make one for my cat, but I think he would be a typical cat and snub it. haha

  • I’ve spent my fair share in the wood shop and think this is great! Re: wood filler before or after bending the wall I think you’re right that it would be easier to put it in the kerf gaps before bending. The liquid should help soften up the wall to bend easier. Thanks for this great post!

  • Hi Josh + team,

    My name is Jessica and I’m working on an article for Pet360.com, a pet parenting and lifestyle website, about building a cat tree at home and would LOVE to talk to you guys about any tips/tricks you have for building crafts for pets! Please let me know if you’d be free to chat, happy to e-mail questions to you too. Hope to connect soon!

  • Kerfing is OK but a lot of work. Ever seen bendy ply. A lot easier and 2/3 layers glued up will do the same thing and a lot less mess. Cheers