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How to Build a Dog Ramp

This simple DIY project is a dream come true for pooches who have a hard time jumping into bed at night

Your companion follows you everywhere—on walks to the park, down the driveway to get the mail, and even to bed at night. But when one hop doesn't quite cut it anymore, or arthritis makes the trip to bed too difficult, the addition of a handy ramp that collapses for storage and hides away pet bedding feels like a custom fit. In fact, if your pup is part of the 20 percent of adult dogs experts say suffer from osteoarthritis; the gentle incline could even help avoid injury.

As This Old House senior technical editor Mark Powers shows here, angled sides, fold down legs and a flip open top come together to make a functional bedroom accessory that'll get your companion where he wants to be—closer to you.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Building a Dog Ramp

Step 1: Gather Materials and Cut List

Illustration by Jennifer Stimpson

Cut List

Download printable cut list and plan

  1. Plywood bottom – 1 @ 14x 31½ inches
  2. 1x5 sides – 2 @ 12½ inches
  3. 1x5 sides – 2 @ 45 inches
  4. 1x5 bottom crosspiece – 1 @ 14 inches
  5. 1x5 legs – 2 @ 15½ inches
  6. 1x5 leg crosspieces – 1 @ 14½ inches
  7. 1x16 lid – 1 @ 45½ inches
  8. 1x3 block handle – 1 @ 7 inches

Shopping List

  • 1x12 laminated shelving board Get one 6-foot board.
  • 1x5 Get two 8-foot boards.
  • 1 5/8-inch trim head screws
  • 3/8-inch 2½-inch bolts to attach the legs to the box. Get two.
  • 3/8-inch washers Get ten.
  • 3/8 inch locking nuts Get two.
  • Wood glue
  • Wood filler
  • Piano hinge Get one that’s 30 inches long.
  • Folding door hinge
  • Toy box lid supports
  • Drawer pull
  • Nonskid rubber strips or pads
  • Round skid feet
  • Latex primer
  • Latex semi-gloss paint
  • Contact cement
  • Non-skid/sisal rug
  • Coffee can


Step 2: Cut the Parts

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Using a jigsaw, cut the parts of the box, top and legs to length according to the measurements on the cut list. On the long 1x5 sides of the box, mark the edge 2 inches from one end and 10 inches from the other end.

Using a jigsaw guided by a straightedge, cut off the corners of the 1x5 at each of these marks. The longer cut will be the front of the ramp where it will sit on the floor. The shorter cut will be at the back, or top, of the ramp where it meets the edge of the bed.

Step 3: Cut the Legs

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Round over the top of one leg. Use a coffee can as a template to create the curve, and cut the arc with a jigsaw. Trace the curve onto the second leg and cut it.

Step 4: Build the Box Sides

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Make a mark 2 inches from the longest point at the back of each 1x5 side piece. Make another mark 10 inches from the longest point at the front. Using a Speed Square, draw a square line across the 1x5 at each mark.

Set the 12½-inch box ends between the sides, inside the lines. Clamp the sides in place to keep them square. Using a drill/driver, screw 1 5/8 inch trim head screws through the long sides and into the ends.

Step 5: Attach the Bottom

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Using a drill/driver and 1 5/8 inch trim head screws, attach the plywood to the bottom—or the shorter edge—of the box sides. Attach a 14-inch 1x5 crosspiece flush with the front edge of the plywood bottom.

Step 6: Drill Holes for the Leg Bolts

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Using a drill driver fitted with a 3/8-inch drill bit, bore a hole at the back end of each long side that's 1½ inch from the bottom edge and 3½ inches from the shortest point at the back of the box.

Step 7: Drill Bolt Holes in the Legs

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Drill a 3/8 inch centered hole 13½ inches from the bottom of each leg. Screw the leg crosspiece between the legs with the ends of the crosspiece flush with the back edge of the legs. Using a putty knife, fill all the seams and fastener holes with wood putty. Sand, prime and paint all the parts.

Step 8: Bolt the Legs to the Box

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Insert a 3/8-inch bolt through the leg and box using a washer on the outside of the leg, four washers between the leg and the box, a washer on the inside of the box, and a locking nut on the end of the bolt. Tighten the bolt with a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench.

Step 9: Attach the Lid

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Fasten a block to the underside of the lid, ½ inch from one end. This block will serve as a handle for pulling the collapsed ramp out from underneath the bed.

Set the box upside down onto the underside of the lid. Center the box between the sides of the lid and so that the ends sit flush with the ends of the lid. Using a drill/driver, secure a 30-inch piano hinge, knuckle side out, to the side of the box. Screw the hinge to underside of the lid.

Step 10: Fasten On the Hardware

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Mount the toy box hinge to the inside of the box, then to the underside of the lid on the same side as the piano hinge. Attach the folding door hinge to the outside of the box ½ inch from the top edge of the box on the opposite side as the piano hinge. Attach the other end of the folding hinge to the front edge of the leg. The ends of the hinge should be installed equal distance from the bolt hole at about 9 inches.

Screw a drawer pull to the back end of the box for easy lifting while extending the legs. Mount nonslip rubber strips or pads on the bottom of each leg and skid feet to the crosspieces on the underside of the box and to the back of the crosspieces between the legs.

Step 11: Mount a Non-Slip Rug on the Lid

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Cut a nonslip rug, like the sisal shown here, to the size of the lid. Roll contact cement onto the top of the lid and the underside the sisal rug in a well-ventilated area. Allow the contact cement to dry to the touch. Place scrap strips of wood on top of the lid to keep the surfaces from making contact and instantly bonding before the rug is perfectly positioned.

Place the end of the rug flush with the end of the lid. Slowly remove the scraps, allowing the rug to bond to the lid, ensuring the edges stay flush with the edges of the lid. Work your way from one end of the lid to the other until the rug is secure.