Many people would like to make a custom bed for their beloved pooch, but the idea of carpentry and sewing sends them shopping for a ready-made version -- despite the cost. Merely because you don't know one end of a hammer from another and can't sew on a button, is no reason to give up. If you can master a hand saw, scissors and a screwdriver, you are on your way to making the perfect easy-to-clean, lightweight and snazzy medium- to large-sized dog bed from PVC pipe and canvas.
Building the Frame
Measure, mark and cut PVC pipe into the following lengths: four side pieces 40 inches long and four leg pieces 12 inches long.
Assemble the frame by putting one side piece into each PVC three-way elbow to make a square.
Add a leg to each corner and use a mallet or hammer to tap all the pipe sections in firmly to seat them. Set the frame on a hard, flat surface and rap on each corner until all four sides are level and everything squares up.
Preparing and Attaching the Canvas
Measure, mark and cut a piece of canvas 6 inches larger than the PVC frame in each direction. For this project you need a piece 46 by 46 inches.
Double the edges over twice -- one half inch per fold -- to make a 1/2-inch wide seam all around. Place fusible fabric tape in long strips between the body of the fabric and the last fold, and use an iron adjusted to the canvas or denim setting to heat-weld the edges together along each side.
Lay the canvas face down on a large, flat surface and center the upside-down PVC frame on top of it.
Fold the four corners of the canvas in so that the elbow fittings sit very slightly off the edge of the cloth but the fabric remains centered with approximately 5 inches sticking outside the frame all the way around.
Start in the center of one side and pull the canvas edge up and to the top of the PVC pipe. Have an assistant hold the canvas securely in place while you fasten a screw through all three layers of fabric and into the pipe using a drill and Phillips head screwdriver bit. Stop turning the screw at the point where it just firmly contacts the cloth. Overtightening could strip the hole and cause the screw to fall out. Continue adding screws from the center out to the edges spaced 3 to 4 inches apart.
Turn the frame and canvas together so the opposite side now faces you. Pull the edge of the canvas up and over the pipe tightly on this side, but insert only one screw -- in the center as before.
Fasten the channel locks under the fabric directly against the PVC pipe at one end and give the pipe a quarter turn towards the center to tighten the fabric, then continue to insert screws along that edge as you did on the opposite side.
Repeat the fastening process in the same way with the remaining two sides.
Add a screw through the PVC elbow and into the ends of the pipes on each side of the legs at the corners to hold the pipes in place and prevent turning under your dog's weight.
Turn the bed over and give it a final squaring by tapping it with the hammer on the corners as needed. Adjust any wrinkles in the cloth at the corners, then fasten the fabric over the center of each corner directly into the elbows with a screw. Working from the center out, add screws closely together to securely pin the fabric edges against the PVC to prevent inveterate canine chewers gaining a hold there and tearing the bed.
You can save the 16-inch leftover piece for another project or use that to add length to the sides or legs -- up to 4 inches per side or leg to better suit a larger dog. Note that you can also cut down the measurements of both frame and canvas proportionately, to customize for a smaller dog.
Check with awning makers for leftover fabric ends to save money on canvas.
When it gets dirty, you can clean the bed with a garden hose and let it air dry.
Items You Will Need
- Measuring tape
- 2 sticks of 10-foot, 1 1/2-inch PVC pipe
- 4 PVC three-way elbow pipe fittings for 1 1/2-inch PVC pipe
- Mallet or hammer
- Chalk or fabric marker
- Straight edge
- Ironing board or other flat surface
- Fusible fabric tape
- Box of No. 8, 3/4-inch stainless steel machine screws with built-in washers
- Drill with Phillips head screwdriver bit
- Channel-lock pliers
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