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These Modern DIY Dog Crates are my favorite pieces of furniture in my house.
I pride myself on having an aesthetic home.
There was just one problem that seemed to prevent that from happening…Wire Crates.
They were a huge eyesore. I found myself tucking our wire dog crates away in a closet — out of sight.
Eventually, the time came to replace the old rusted wire crates with something new.
After crunching the numbers, I realized that constructing a custom dog crate would cost roughly as much money as buying new wire ones – making it an easy choice to build custom.
I spent the better part of a month scouring the internet for a suitable design, but I never really found anything that fit my modern home.
So, my husband and I put our brains together, pulling inspiration from a combination of different crate designs to ultimately design the crates we have today.
I am SO glad we decided to build custom dog crates instead of buying new metal ones.
Because, I am over the moon with the outcome.
The crates match our aesthetic, adding a beautifully handcrafted element to the décor of our home.
Plus, I know that they will last for years to come.
If you are interested in recreating this design, I’ve put together a list of all the materials you will need to get started, as well as a step-by-step tutorial.
All it takes is a few basic power tools, a bit of patience, and you’ll have your custom dog crate in no time.
So, if you want a beautiful and timeless dog crate that looks great in your home, give this DIY dog crate project a try.
DIY Dog Crate: The Supplies
These supplies were purchased at our local hardware store.
We had most of the tools on hand from previous projects, but we did have to buy the router and plunge bits.
These are the materials and tools we used, but as with any DIY project, there are a million ways to do it.
The Shopping List
We choose to buy maple plywood because we liked the color, but you can use whatever kind/type of plywood you prefer.
- 4’x8′ Plywood – 1/4″ Thick
- 4’x8′ Plywood – 1/2″ Thick
- Wood Filler
- Wood Glue
- Package of Finishing Nails (Brad Nailer recommended)
- 1 qt. White Wood Primer
- 1 qt. Flat Black Wood Paint
- 1 qt. Polycrylic (Ultra Flat)
- Door Handle & Locking Hardware
Quantities will vary depending on size and number of crates you are building.
- Table Saw/Circular Saw
- Air Powered Brad Nailer
- Plunge Router (3/8″ & 3/4″ plunge bit)
- Hand Sander (and sand paper)
- Wood Clamps
- Painting Essentials (brushes, rollers, tape, etc.)
I also recommend using cutlistoptimizer.com to help you plan out your cuts.
It will save you from a lot headache and wasted materials.
DIY Dog Crate: The Build
Our goal was to build a crate that was 30″ long by 16″ wide (of usable space) for the dogs.
In hindsight, I wish I wouldn’t have built them off-standard sizes.
I ended up having to order custom dog beds because of it.
Had I spent a little more time thinking the dimensions out, I could have saved myself some money by building a standard size crate and buying standard size beds.
That being said, these are the dimensions/plans we used.
Step 1: Cut The Wood
The top, bottom, and sides of the crates were cut from 3/4″ plywood.
- The top and bottom = 31.5″ long and 18.5″ wide
- The side panels = 23″ tall and 18.5″ wide
The doors and back panel were cut from 1/2″ plywood
- The non-sliding door = 23″ tall and 15″ wide
- The sliding door = ~ 23.5″ tall and 16″ wide
- The back = 23″ tall and 30″ wide
(You will understand why the sliding door is cut slightly taller later)
Step 2: Routing The Grooves
Before you assemble the pieces, you’ll need to router the grooves for the sliding door and the flutes on each of the necessary panels (i.e. both side panels and both door panels)
To do this, we built a “guide” and two jigs to keep the router straight.
I highly recommend this since any mistakes will be very obvious. (we learned this the hard way)
If you don’t want to build a jig, you can buy a fluting guide/jig for your router.
Routing The Grooves
These grooves allow the sliding door to slide without the need for any hardware.
When cutting the grooves make sure to leave about 1/4″ of material on both sides.
In other words, don’t router all the way to the edge.
If you do, you will be able to see these grooves on the sides after it is assembled.
The plunge depth on the bottom panel is 1/8″ and the plunge depth on the top panel is 3/8″.
Both were set back 1-1/8″ from the front of the crate.
To do this, we made two passes with the 3/8″ plunge bit.
The goal is to make the groove slightly wider than the sliding door so it can move/slide freely.
Step 3: Routing The Flutes
This part was by far the most time consuming and challenging part of the project.
Be patient and remember the golden rule: “Measure twice, cut once.”
The Side Panels
These flutes were set in from the left and right edges by 3″ and set in from the top and bottom by 2″.
Every flute was then evenly spaced 2-1/4″ from each other. (center-to-center)
This gave us a nice uniform appearance with a total of 7 flutes on each side.
The Door Panels
The flutes for the non-sliding door were set in from the left and right edges 1-1/2″ and from the top and bottom by 2-1/2″.
Every flute was then evenly spaced 2-1/4″ from each other. (center-to-center)
The flutes for the sliding door used similar measurements as the non-sliding door except they were positioned 1/8″ higher and were set back 1″ from one side.
By cutting the flutes 1/8″ higher the flutes on both doors would line up when the crate is open/closed.
You will also notice that the sliding door was cut to be 1″ wider than the non-sliding door.
The extra 1″ provides the overlap between the two doors when the crate is closed.
You will want to set the flutes back the extra 1″ on the overlapping side to account for this difference when the crate door is closed.
This gave a nice uniform appearance with a total of 9 flutes on each door.
If you are using different dimensions, simply set both edge flutes where you want them and evenly space the remaining flutes.
Step 4: Assembly
We assembled this crate using wood glue, clamps, and brad nails.
With the assistance of some corner clamps, we glued and nailed the top and bottom to the two sides.
Next, we had to carefully fit and nail the back panel into place. (This took some minor cutting for us since the sides were not cut perfectly square)
Lastly, we nailed the non-sliding door into place. This took some patience to get lined up just right.
We placed the non-sliding door so that it left just enough space for the sliding door to pass behind it without rubbing or jamming.
At this point you should have a fully assembled crate and a sliding door that is removable (with some effort).
Step 5: Prep
We took some wood filler and touch up any imperfections where the crate will be painted.
Do not use wood filler where the wood grain will be visible.
We used wood filler on nail holes, blemishes from routing, and exposed end grains.
After giving the filler some time to dry, we sanded the crate.
We started with 180 grit and progressed all the way up to 600 grit sandpaper, sanding all surfaces to include inside the flutes. (Note: if you used veneer plywood like us, be sure not to sand too aggressively as the veneer is quite thin)
Once the dust settled we gave the crate a thorough wipe down with a wet rag and prepped for paint.
Step 6: Paint and Seal
We used blue painters tape on the inside of the crate behind the flutes and on the inner edge of the face.
In general, use tape wherever you plan to transition from paint to wood finish.
We chose to use two coats of primer and sanded after each layer.
Then we used two more coats of Tricorn Black paint (no sanding).
Lastly, we removed the tape and sealed the entire crate using three coats of polycrylic.
(Be sure to keep an eye out for drips and runs as they will not dry clear.)
Step 7: Finishing Touches
I picked these up at our local Lowe’s in the cabinet hardware section.
You can use any sort of hardware, but this is what we thought would look/function best!
DIY Dog Crate: Final Thoughts
Once everything was said and done, it took about two full weekends to make both of our crates.
After building these custom crates, I don’t think I could ever go back to wire crates again.
While this project had some challenging aspects, it was one of the more fun and rewarding projects we have ever done.
And I am forever grateful for the added touch of style and charm that our custom dog crates have brought to our home.
I hope this article has inspired and motivated you to create a DIY dog crate.
Whether it’s for a DIY project or an aesthetic upgrade, I think you will be thrilled with the outcome.
Good luck and Happy crafting! 🐶 🛠️ 💕