It took a while, but the dog-crate end table Rob made for Milou is finally done. It is gorgeous.
We started out using a plan for a dog-crate end table from furniture-making website ana-white.com, and Rob used it to understand how the construction should work.
He quickly diverged after deciding he'd use mostly salvaged materials. Once he found old radiator covers with interesting screens at the Preservation and Conservation Architectural Warehouse, he adjusted the crate's dimensions to fit those. They were close to the dimensions of a crate we keep for Milou at my parents' house.
We bought a Kreg Jig to aid in construction, and Rob has mostly used salvaged, solid wood he brought home when it was going to be thrown away at a former workplace.
The wood started out looking like the picture below, but Rob cut it down into planks and corner pieces for the crate with his table saw, then sanded the bejesus out of them. The kinds of wood aren't labeled or anything, but Rob chose an assortment that looks great together. He has a wonderful eye for what's made of quality wood. (The rest makes good firewood.)
Rob made the top out of birch plywood, and we agonized about whether to put a bottom on it. We finally decided against, and instead will buy a plastic tub lid (rounded, of course) to act as a tray for the bottom, in case Milou has any accidents. (He's vomited a couple of times in his crate, but has never had the other kind.) Still, we wanted any cleanup to be easy, just in case.
As Rob built the frame, I sanded down the screens, treated them with Rustoleum Rust Reformer and spray-painted the inside glossy black and the outside copper. Rob built sort of a lip for the screens and screwed them in place.
Once he finished the the frame, we let Milou inside to see how it fit him. He liked it and we sometimes found him hanging out inside the doorless crate while we were working in the basement. He's the kind of dog who likes to take a special treat to his crate, or sleep in there when he's hot or bored. He also sometimes puts himself in his crate when he knows I'm getting ready to leave for work.
Rob wanted the doors of the crate to be extra-special. He tossed around the idea of creating cottage-style arched doors or bifold doors for the crate. I urged him to simplify (complicated always takes longer, and we both have a lot going on) so he settled on French doors with smaller inset pieces of painted radiator screen. He attached them with screws through wood trim. That trim keeps the screens in place and covers and sharp corners.
We decided to leave the wood natural because of all the beautiful grain. We didn't want to stain it or treat it with harsh chemicals before sticking our beloved dog in there, so we decided on a mineral oil finish and let it dry thoroughly before we let Milou anywhere near it.
The ASPCA suggests mineral oil as a substance you can use to clean your dog's ears, so I don't think just being around it will hurt Milou. Plus, he's not a chewer, so I don't see him ingesting any. To be safe, though, we didn't oil the inside of the crate.
long that I don't have a complete tally of how much it cost. I would estimate it at less than $100. However, we've been working on this project for months. If you want to make one and need it quick, I would recommend sticking to the Ana White plan.
Still, even though it didn't cost much compared to other furniture-style crates, it is a beautiful piece. We are easing Milou into it - it's now holding a blanket and some of his toys. He's still staying in his other crate, for now. I'm hoping to transition him sometime next week.