Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dog Run Part 2: It's Panel Time

Catch up with Part 1 of the dog run series!

We last left off with our three posts in the ground and ready for some slat/board/panel things. Before we even started this whole mess, however, we did a little research. Here are some designs we were drawn to.

We really liked the modern look of the horizontal boards and the varied widths, so we came up with our own design based on the inspiration. (This is what I look like with no makeup on)

We had some trouble finding the boards at the big-box stores (they only had 6-foot lengths with rounded tops), but luckily we stumbled across a local lumberyard called South City Lumber & Supply which had exactly what we needed in 16-foot lengths (we had them cut to 8 feet since that's what our cars will fit).

With our lumber stash acquired, I got down to business with my new Makita miter saw, which is easily my favorite power tool right after my Makita cordless drill. This thing cuts wood like a hot knife through butter, clean and true. I foresee a long and happy partnership, us two.

After making quick work of those boards, we started putting it all together. A 2x4 header followed by 1x6 and 1x4 panels all the way down.

We used a 1/4" slivers of wood as spacers to keep things consistent.

And because I'm OCD, I measured out where to sink the screws (we used coated deck screws for extra durability) so everything was aligned.

Here we're almost done, with two more boards to attach.

Then we had to stop to clean up the concrete mess we made on the posts by chipping and sanding it smooth.

Ok now we're done! Except for that giant gap where the gate will be.

And once again because of a magical place called Blogland, we fast-forward to the next weekend, AKA gate-making time. The internets told me that for a single gate, I should make it 3/4" smaller than the width of the opening, so with lots of careful and repetitive measuring, that's what I did. Here are my 2x4s laid out in a gate-shape.

And now for my third favorite tool, my Kreg Jig pocket hole maker! And hey, I actually remembered to get a picture of me using it this time. In case you haven't heard of the pocket-hole technique, it's an excellent way to join wood together for furniture, frames, or in this case, a gate. It uses special pocket-hole screws which ensure a very strong connection. The last time I used this was for the floating shelves in the bathroom of our previous rental house.

Man, we're busting out all my favorites for this project! Hello there, Makita drill.

Time for some panels. Pretty much the exact same technique as the fence, but indoors and with fewer allergies.

Oh yeah, that gray bin with the yellow pages sticking out is where my composting redworms live munching on food scraps. I bet they really love living next to all my noisy power tools.

Adding the hinges was the part where I realized that this whole fence-gate thing maybe might actually work?


Watch out kids, we even added some fancy gate-locking stuff.

Then we finished up the boards on the skinny wall post. They look misaligned because they are. Deal with it.

So now all we have left to do are the finishing touches, which include:
  • Carving the last two boards for the bottom of the skinny wall post to accomodate the L-brackets
  • Chopping off extra bolt length on brackets
  • Sanding down any weathered faces and imperfections on the panels
  • Sanding down the wood filler in the pocket holes
  • Staining everything
  • Adding a cross-brace or turnbuckle to keep the gate from sagging.
  • Adding a doggie door so we don't to play doormen to our dogs anymore.
  • Buying more river rocks! 
 But for now, we have a beautifully functional fence-with-gate.

I made the gate about a week after putting up the fence panels, which I think is why it's such a different color. I plan to let it suntan a bit before staining. 

It's taken way longer than we expected, but Boyfriend and I are super proud and feel like grownups! Hopefully we can wrap this all up on weekend #8. Stay tuned!


  1. Love it! You should absolutely be proud! I wanted to create raised planter beds along our concrete jungle. Ugh! Now you've motivated me to start planning for some work in the summer. :)

  2. Forgot to ask these questions earlier: How do you choose your tools? Were they recommended to you, or did you do product research online?

    1. I usually just do lots of research online, reading Amazon reviews and such. Plus since Makita has such a stellar reputation for making long-lasting quality products, I tend to splurge a little on Makita tools because I've had such good experiences with them. Yes, they cost a little more, but I expect them to last for a good long time. As Boyfriend says, if you're going to be working with dangerous things, no expense should be spared.

    2. Thank you for explaining! I've been blessed with brothers who buy tools and never use them (hah), but they are fairly cheap tools that they bought as "toys." I'll be looking for a circular saw and palm/orbital sander, so I'll keep an eye out for Makita products. I have a Kreg Jig Mini ($21) but your Kreg Jig looks so appealing!

  3. we had to stop to clean up the concrete mess we made on the posts by chipping and sanding it smooth.

    A trick my handyman used for a fence: prevent this mess by wrapping the base of the post with paper or plastic or something - start at the planned level for the top of the concrete footings and wrap a foot or so up the post

    After the posts are set, unwrap them.

    1. Good tip! We will keep that in mind for next time.

  4. You may want to put diagonal, X, or A frame, braces on the back side of that gate to give it long term stability.

    1. Yes, I have an anti-sag kit that I'll be installing as soon as I finish staining the gate. Good suggestion!

  5. I like this dog run. It looks really good in your backyard. My wife is really worried that it wont look good and then the neighbors will get mad. I don't know! I'm looking to put a chain link dog run in Calgary. I wonder if I can make it look like this one so she will be happy!

  6. Looks good! We need to do something similar for our new house. Thanks for the ideas! One question-- why the river rocks? We have bark chips for our dog so weeds can't grow, and it's soft on his paws. Seems like "running" in a dog run filled with rocks might be a bit uncomfortable after a while, no? Please forgive me if that's not the case for your small dogs. I just know our little dog would tire quickly of navigating through the uneven rocks and probable end up sticking to the flat cement. Thoughts?

    1. The main reason for using river rocks was for cleanliness. I can just hose off the rocks to get rid of the majority of dust/dirt/poo/pee. My little dogs would probably prefer bark, but they seem to navigate the rocks alright too. In fact, when we're out on a walk, they almost always poo on rocks now instead of grass!