MillWorks: Raised Pet Feeder

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Raised Pet Feeder

You will need:

- Four turned legs that are approximately 4-6" tall (or more or less, depending on your cat's or dog's height). When shopping for them, check for a perfectly square shape by looking at the leg from the top. This square shape should continue for 1 1/2" or more down the leg design at these exact dimensions (no tapering), though the rest of the legs may be any design, including round. The legs will need to be relatively small, about 1 to 1 1/2" in diameter. You can be creative here if there are no premade furniture legs that you like or that will work. I used fancy, short, and--believe it or not--really inexpensive spindles/stair rails and cut them down to size. As you can see at left, depending on which half of the spindle I used, I had two very different choices--one modern and one more classic--for the leg style! The one on the left could have even been painted to look like a mushroom. If you aren't sure what height to cut the legs to for the intended recipient, ask your friendly veterinarian. Remember that the table top will add another approximate 3/4" to the height.

- One 1" x 2" board (under 6 feet). Because of the way the table is put together, it's not advisable to have these cut in a store. A manual miter box is sufficient for making these cuts.

- Two 5 1/2" top interior diameter (or smaller) stainless steel bowls with prominently projecting, flat rims

- One 1" x 10" board cut at 17". The best place to get the top piece is from a store that will let you buy just the 17" length, if you don't have a scrap piece at home

- Four small (3/4" by 1/2" size) metal L-shaped corner braces, with screws (they should come with them)

- Jig saw

- Manual miter box/saw

- Wood glue and a clamp. Because the feeder is assembled primarily with glue, clamping is very important.

- Mechanical pencil

Table Top

Create the table top by drawing on two holes completely centered all the way around, leaving space in between the two holes as well. To find the dimensions for the holes, measure the inside diameter of the top of the bowl and subtract just a bit of this measurement. It's better to create a hole slightly too small than one slightly too large! I made a paper pattern to help with placement, and then traced it. I had about 2" centering on all sides, including between the two bowls.

So as not to hit the stretchers with the bowls it is really important to pay close attention here. This project is a very, very tight fit where every little eighth of an inch counts!

Cut the holes out with a jig saw. Try the bowls in the holes and see if they fit. Sand the holes by hand to carefully and slowly enlarge them as needed to accommodate the bowls so that the bowls' rims are mesh with the table top. Don't stress at all about these circles being perfect. Mine definitely are not! The rims will cover up any minor unevenness.

Table Frame

The image above may be helpful to refer to during assembly.

Turn the table top over so its least pretty side is facing up toward you. The legs are slightly inset by 1/8". Draw marks 1/8" from the sides and squarely glue a leg securely in each corner. In attaching each piece, be generous with the glue, but be very careful to clean up the excess, because glue inhibits wood from taking stain properly.

Once the glue is dry on the legs, measure in between two table legs, and cut a stretcher. The measurements between each set of legs may be different, so you may want to cut and glue in one at a time. If you are super skillful and exact, you can cut the stretchers ahead of time using this formula:

  • Two short legs at the depth of the table top minus the leg diameter twice, minus another quarter inch.
  • Two long legs at the length of the table top minus the leg diameter twice, minus another quarter inch.
  • If you're like me, however, you won't be exact in gluing on the legs, and it will be easier to cut the stretchers to the exact measurements needed after the legs are glued on.

    Glue a stretcher in. The stretchers should be glued mesh with the table top and the inside edge and top of the legs. In essence, the stretchers are inset even more than the table legs. If your table leg is slightly rounded off, you can just go up to the part where it begins to round instead of to the exact edge. Just make sure to leave enough room for the corner braces to attach.

    For reinforcement after all the glue has dried thoroughly, attach the L-shaped brackets at the inner corners where the 1 x 2s just barely meet each another.

    Finishing Touches

    Round off the edges of the table top on all sides, and also round off the 1 x 2s. You can do this by holding a coarse sanding block diagonally to the edge of the wood, then clean up this edge with finer sanding. This is a little added touch, but it makes all the difference!

    Stain and varnish the feeder, following the stain and varnish manufacturers' instructions. Of course, you may instead paint it if you prefer. I chose to stain mine. Plenty of these feeders, when professionally-made, are medium-density fiberboard . . . not solid wood. Let that pretty grain and all your hard work show through!

    It's a good idea to put finishing products on the project far in advance of giving it to your or your friend's pet in order to allow the unappetizing smells to dissipate. A photo of the feeder, finished, is shown at the top of the page.



    After seeing plenty of designs for these but always balking at the prices, I decided to design one for my cat. Aside from potentially making eating more comfortable for cats and small dogs, the appearance is like a quality piece of furniture. Instead of a couple of mismatched bowls sitting directly on the floor and getting (accidentally) kicked around, you'll have a cute little pet-sized table. This is the first time I tried using stair rails to make something homemade look more "purchased." Believe it or not--I made a mistake and cut the legs wrong! I had to glue them back together, matching up the grain. It's not really noticeable now.

    Providing crafts since October 2011. Copyright 2011- and all contents by Millie. Resulting products can only be kept or given away as gifts. Always keep safety in mind.