Parts of a Pooch Palace
Just like any well-built house for humans, a custom abode for your canine companion should have good bones—a structure strong enough to withstand the occasional errant soccer ball, a load of wet snow, or the weight of a big Labrador leaning heavily against one wall. Carpenters Mark and Dale Jolliffe of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, constructed just such a shell for each of the doghouses featured here.

A project of this diminutive scale isn't like a full-blown building job. On the frame, ¾ inch pine stock stands in for heavy 2x4s. A brad nailer substitutes for a nail gun. A platform of plywood and pressure-treated 2x4s serves as the foundation. And the small size of the basic components allows the assembly to follow a different course, one that's simpler and faster than regular framing. Here are the basic steps the Jolliffes followed:

Walls - Lay two sheets of ½-inch plywood on top of each other so you can cut out two identical walls in one pass. Stand up all four walls, overlap the corners, and tack them together with 6d nails.

Framing - Cut ¾-by-1 ½-inch pine to length for cleats, studs, and rakes, then glue and nail them to the walls, as shown in the illustration above. Space the studs evenly, about 12 inches on center.

Platform - Screw together a framework of pressure-treated 2x4s. (Make sure to miter the outside corners to hide the end grain.) Check for square by measuring diagonally to opposite corners; when the measurements are equal, the platform is square. Then nail on the ½-inch plywood floor. The platform should be 1/8 inch smaller than the interior length and width of the doghouse shell. Thatway, the shell will slip easily over the platform. The bottom cleeats rest on the platform and hold the strcture 2 inches off the ground. Once the shell is in place, fasten the walls to the platform with 1 5/8-inch galvanized deck screws.

Roof - Glue and screw the ridge beam between the peaks of the gable ends. Glue and toenail the rafters to the beam and to the top cleats on the walls. Tie adjoining rafters to each other just below the ridge beam with strips of plywood. Finally, sheathe the roof in ½ inch plywood so the edges overlap at the peak. "I could stand on this roof and it wouldn't sag," Mark says. After the shell is complete, take your time adding the trim, the "windows," and the siding and roofing. The Jolliffes took no shortcuts here; everything was done the same as a real house, only in miniature. "You'll get 30 years out of this house, no problem," Dale says.

Thomas Baker
Ask TOH users about Pets

Contribute to This Story Below