The other posts in this series:
Cut Outer Wall Panels to Size
Like the side walls, the front and rear walls consist of a 5/8″ T1-11 plywood exterior, an insulated inner frame made of 1-1/2″ material, and an inner “skin” made from 1/2″ plywood. However, there are a lot more angles and a door cutout to contend with. But, that’s all part of the fun…
Start by ripping a piece of T1-11 plywood to match the width of the base with side walls attached. This should be about 30″. From this piece, cut two pieces that are about 36″ long (Figure 1). These two pieces will form the front and rear outer wall panels.
Clamp the two pieces together and layout the cut lines that will form the peak of the dog house (Figure 2). The angled cuts will start at about 23-3/4″ from the bottom of the panel – the height of the side walls. Once the lines are drawn, clamp a straight-edge in place that is offset the proper distance for your radial saw and commence cutting. Tip: To make the grooves in the front and back panels line up, clamp the two pieces together back-to-back with exterior sides facing out.
What if you cut the panels and then find that the base of the angled cuts doesn’t quite line up with the side walls? (Don’t tell anyone, but that happened to me). Well, that’s easily solved by clamping the panels in place with the angled cuts in the proper position and then trimming off material at the bottom so the sides and front/back all line up. It’s better if the front/back pieces are a bit short vs long because it’s easier to rip the rectangular side pieces to size on the table saw than it is to trim the front/back pieces to length with a hand-held radial saw. I hope that makes sense…
Establishing Roof Position
Because the dog house design features a removable roof, the position of the roof must be established before the front and back inner wall frames can be constructed. The idea is that the roof should fit snugly against the top of the wall frames (Figure 3). So, go build the roof and then come back here…
Framing the Walls
Ok, you’ve built the roof — right? Now attach the back wall to the side walls with a couple of screws and place the roof on top (Figure 4). Crawl into the house and use a pencil to trace along the edges where the back wall meets the side walls and roof. Now temporarily attach the front wall with a couple of screws and remove the back wall that you just traced. Repeat the tracing process on the front wall and remove that wall when done. You now have the outer framing outline traced on both end walls. (In a perfect world, the outlines would be identical, but what are the chances of that?)
With the wall panels lying flat on the workbench, measure out and cut the framing pieces. Start with the two vertical studs. Cut the upper end at an angle to match the pitch of the roof using the wall panel as a template to mark the cut line. While you’re at it, cut the lower end of each upper framing stud at the same angle. Put each vertical stud in position (using the trace marks), mark the bottom cut-off line, and cut to finished length. Put in a few screws to secure the vertical studs to the wall panel. Tip: leave some of the pencil trace line showing to give yourself a little wiggle room. Cut two horizontal studs that that fit snugly between the two upright studs. One is a bottom stud and the other goes near the top of the uprights.
One way to mark the cut lines on the upper end of the top angled studs (the peak) is to put the top stud in position with the previously-cut lower end mated against the vertical stud. Now put a framing square against the bottom of the wall panel with the other end projecting up to bisect the traced peak. Mark the upper stud where the square crosses over it. This is your cut line. Set up your miter saw and cut the stud (maybe just a hair long). Cut the other stud and see how they line up. Trim to final size as necessary. With any luck, the two studs will be the same length and meet perfectly in the middle (not that anyone other than you will ever notice).
At this point, attach all of the back wall framing pieces to the inside face of the T1-11 wall panel. I found that toe-screwing the studs to the panel from the inside (so as not to mar the exterior), with clamps in place to secure the studs, worked pretty well. Insert insulation panels into the upper and lower cavities formed by the framing (Figure 6). Mark and cut the inner plywood panel. You should be able to lay the plywood on top of the framing and trace around the framing to establish the cut lines. Screw the inner panel to the framing and then screw the completed wall assembly to the house. Three screws per side should be more than adequate.
Hold off on attaching the framing for the front wall because you need to create a doorway first.
Creating the Arched Doorway
I could have wimped out and made a rectangular doorway that would have been perfectly adequate and relatively easy to construct. But no, I decided to go for an arched doorway that involved considerably more time and effort to layout and cut. Something about the house demanded the classic Snoopy arch…
I made the doorway 11 inches wide by 15 inches high. The bottom of the doorway lines up with the top of the bottom stud and the left side lines up with the inside edge of the leftmost vertical stud (when viewed from the front). With the framing studs temporarily screwed in place, measure out and mark the cut lines for the top and right side. Also trace along the studs to mark the bottom and left edge of the doorway.
To create the arch, you need to layout one half of a circle that has a radius of 5-1/2″ (half the width of the doorway). Mark a point that is 5-1/2″ from the top layout line and 5-1/2″ from one of the side layout lines. Using this as the pivot point, use a compass to draw the arch. I didn’t have a compass of sufficient size, so I made a quick and dirty one from a piece of scrap wood with two holes drilled in it that were 5-1/2″ apart: one for the pivot point (using a nail) and one for the pencil point (Figure 7).
With the outline of the doorway drawn, remove the framing pieces and cut out the doorway. You’ll probably want to use the scroll saw for this operation. It’s worth a little extra diligence here because the doorway will be one of the most visible features of the house; the interior doorway cut-outs will be much less noticeable. You don’t want your dog complaining about sloppy craftsmanship, do you?
Reattach the framing studs to the front wall, including the horizontal stud that goes a few inches above the doorway. Measure, cut and attach a vertical stud to the other side of the doorway. Cut a 2X8 header that spans the width of the doorway between the studs. With this board in position firmly against the upper horizontal stud, trace the arch onto it from the front side. Remove the board and cut out the arch using a band saw or scroll saw. You now have all the front wall framing and doorway pieces (Figure 8).
Note: If I were to do it again, I would probably make this arch framing piece a little longer to avoid having to deal with little slivers of wood on the bottom that could possible snap off or form splinters. This would involve cutting out a section from each of the vertical studs and extending the arch framing piece to fill in the gaps.
Cut out the inner plywood panel for the front wall (again using the framing as a template) and clamp it in position. Reach in from the front and trace the outline of the doorway on the inner panel. Cut out the doorway on the inner panel with your scroll saw. Finish up the front wall by inserting insulation (Figure 9) and screwing on the inner wall panel. It’s also a good idea to sand all of the exterior and interior edges of the doorway.
Screw the front wall to the side walls and the base. At this point, the basic structure of the dog house is complete.
To improve the ventilation of the dog house, I drilled a couple 1″ vent holes in the front wall just below the roof peak. These were fairly deep holes – about 2-5/8″ – because they had to go through the inner and outer wall panels plus the wall framing. To minimize splintering of the plywood, I used a sharp Forstner bit and drilled from both the outside and inside of the walls.
Corner trim is optional but it definitely spruces up the appearance of the house by covering the plywood joints where the walls meet. For each corner, I used two pieces of 3/4″ thick cedar – one piece 2-1/4″ wide and the other 3″ (the narrower piece butts up against the 3″ piece to form 3″ all around). The top of the front and rear facing trim boards are cut an angle to match the pitch of the roof. The side facing trim boards are shorter as they only need to be as long as the height of the side walls (about 24″).
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.