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 Deborah Zelten's Do-It-Yourself 
Dog Ramp

Last Christmas I decided to get a  present for my friend’s aging Lab/Newfie mix (weighing in at about 105 pounds) who is starting to have problems getting into and out of her SUV – a dog ramp.  I researched them and found they were quite expensive, costing $200 - $225 for “large” dogs.  When I looked at them I thought: “I could build that for a lot less money!”  Since I am quite handy, I designed one myself, basing my plans on those I saw in various magazines and catalogs.  After about $25 worth of material and a couple of hours of “building” – voila!  a handy, dandy dog ramp for one-tenth the cost of a “commercial” one!  The plans follow.

This makes a dog ramp that measures approximately 5 feet in length by 16 inches wide.  (Commercial dog ramps are usually 4 feet 8 inches [56 inches] long by either 12, 14 or 16 inches wide.)    It uses rubberized non-skid ribbed carpet and has “sides” to keep unsteady dog feet from slipping sideways.  I bought all my materials at Home Depot.  The ramp has optional features such as a ramp ledge and the ramp can be made to fold in half for easier storage.

I have written very detailed plans to help those who are not used to building things.  Obviously, more experienced people can just skim them.

REQUIRED SUPPLIES

     One 5-foot section (or two 2 -foot sections for a folding ramp) of 16- inch wide lumber or “shelving” board.  (I used a 16-inch wide,  - inch thick melamine-coated shelving board made of particle board.  This is heavier in weight than normal pine lumber boards such as a 1x16, but I wanted sturdiness since the ramp may be used by a St. Bernard.)   I had to buy an eight foot length of this shelving board [about $13] and had the lumber company cut a 5 foot section for me.  This wood is for the actual “ramp.”

     Two 5-foot sections of 3- or 4-inch wide base-board moulding (or four 2-foot sections for the folding ramp).  Moulding is usually sold by the foot (about 40 to 80 cents a foot depending on the type).  I paid 40 cents a foot for some 3 inch wide, already-painted moulding that I had the lumber company cut for me.  This moulding makes the “side rails.”

     Ten #6 1-inch (drywall) screws – five for each side.  (Use twelve screws for the folding ramp) to attach the side rails to the ramp.  (A box of 100 screws is a about $5.)

     One 6-foot section of carpet runner approximately 15 inches wide.  I bought a 15-inch section of a non- skid, ribbed indoor/outdoor carpet.  This carpet looked like giant “wide wale corduroy” and was on a huge roll that was 6 feet wide.  It was sold by the linear foot and cost $4 per linear foot or $5 for a 15 inch strip.)  Another material you could buy by the linear foot is the rubberized matting that is put under throw rugs to keep them from slipping on hardwood or tile floors.  It looks like rubber-coated hardware cloth.  A couple layers would make a good non-slip surface.  Another possibility is ordinary bathtub rubber non-slip mats – a couple of them would also work.

     Approximately twenty -inch flathead screws (or nails) for attaching the carpeting (or rubber mats) to the ramp to provide non-slip footing.  OR use a heavy duty staple gun and staples instead of the screws.

OPTIONAL - Supplies for the RAMP LEDGE

     One 6-inch section of the same lumber or shelving board as the ramp base – again, have the lumber company cut this section for you from the original “board.”  This will become the ramp ledge.

     Four 135 heavy duty angle braces (about $1 each).  These braces are for attaching the 6-inch piece of lumber to the 5-foot section.  The angle braces are made of metal, about an eighth of an inch thick.  They are about 6 inches wide and each "side" of the angle is about 2 and a half inches long with pre-drilled screw holes.   I found them in the section of Home Depot where all the deck building supplies are.  (Specifically, they were in bins next to the various joist hangers, etc.)

     Approximately twenty-four -inch flathead screws for attaching the two wood sections with the angle braces.

OPTIONAL - Supplies for the FOLDING RAMP

     Two heavy duty 4- or 5-inch hinges with screws.  (I have found that 2 heavy duty hinges are stronger than one long “piano hinge”.)

     Two heavy duty barrel (slide) bolts with screws.

REQUIRED TOOLS

     Screwdriver and/or hammer

Optional:

     Saw to cut lumber if you can’t get your local lumber store to cut the wood for you.

     Drill with 3/32-inch drill bit for pre- drilling screw holes

     Heavy Duty Staple Gun and staples

     Cordless screwdriver

INSTRUCTIONS

Note:  These instructions are geared toward a non-folding ramp.  If you want to make a “folding” ramp, you will need to cut your “ramp” lumber in half and each of the two baseboard moulding pieces will have to be cut in half also.  Then you will need to do Step 1 of the “assembly” steps twice.

STEP 1  - Ramp sides

Cut the baseboard moulding into two 5-foot sections (the same length as your piece of ramp lumber).  Nail or screw, using the #6 1-inch (drywall) screws, through the thickest part of the moulding sections, to attach them to the piece of lumber as in the diagram below.  If you are using screws, it helps to pre-drill the screw holes with a drill and drill bit indicated in the “Required Tools” list.

 moulding  ------>  ||______________||  < ------  moulding

lumber

STEP 2  - Ramp Ledge

This step is optional – do it only if you want to make a ramp ledge.  If you don’t want the ramp ledge, skip to Step 3.  The ledge gives the ramp a bit more stability as it leans on your vehicle.  The diagram below gives you a rough idea of a side view of how the ramp ledge will look when it is attached to the ramp with the angle braces.

Step 2A   The angle braces will be used to attach the ledge to the ramp.  Attach two of the angle braces to the bottom side of the ramp “top” with the -inch screws so that the “bend” of the angle is even with the end of the ramp top.

Step 2B   Using the -inch screws, attach the 6-inch piece of lumber (the ramp ledge) to the top of the angle braces you just attached to the ramp in Step 2A, making sure that the edge of the ramp top and the ramp ledge are flush up against one another.  (Note that for a totally flat fit it will be necessary to cut the butting end of this piece at the appropriate angle; however, this is not really necessary.)

Step 2C  Using the -inch screws, attach the remaining two angle braces to the top of the ramp and the top of the ramp ledge.  (The bend of the angle braces will cover up the point where the ramp top and ramp ledge meet.)

STEP 3  - Carpeting/Non-skid Matting. 

Screw (using -inch flathead screws) or use a staple gun to attach the carpet or non- skid matting to the ramp.  Wrap the extra carpet/matting length a couple inches over each end of the ramp (extend it onto the ramp ledge if you made the ramp ledge) and attach it securely to the bottom of the ramp.  (This helps keep the ramp from slipping on the ground as your dog walks up the ramp into your vehicle.)   NOTE:  If you are making a folding ramp, only wrap the carpet over the ramp top (or ramp ledge) and ramp bottom – do not wrap it over the edges where the hinges will be.

STEP 4  - Folding Ramp

This step is optional – do it only if you want to make a “folding” ramp.  This allows the ramp to fit more easily into your vehicle.  The ramp will fold so that the bottom side (i.e., the side without the carpeting) folds onto itself.

Step 4   Take your two ramp halves and attach them with two heavy duty hinges evenly-spaced and put on the bottom sides of the two ramp sections so that the ramp will fold together with the two bottom sides touching.  Make sure the hinges are placed correctly!

Step 4B   For added support and less flexibility at the joint of the two ramp ramp sections, attach the two heavy duty barrel (slide) bolts to the bottom outside of the ramp at the break in the ramp.  These will be kept open when the ramp is folded, closed only when used for large dogs.  Make sure they are placed so that each section of the bolt is on either side of the opening.  Also, they should be attached so that one row of screws is connected through the moulding into the actual bed of the ramp.  Use longer screws for this row.

AND THAT’S IT!  You are now the proud owner of a dog ramp that you made yourself!  You can paint or stain the ramp to preserve the wood if you wish.  Also, the folded ramp should fit quite nicely into an old pillowcase, allowing you to keep it clean and present a nice, finished product.  


 
Questions?  
write
Deborah Zelten 

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