Building a Whelping box for our Great Dane

As I mentioned before, our little Heidi is having babies soon. Right now we are about 8 days from her giving birth. So a whelping box was required to keep Heidi and her babies happy and safe. And keep Odie out as much as possible. I sat down and spent 20 minutes or so throwing ideas down on Solidworks. Once I had the winner, I created a quick weldment so I could have a cut-sheet. I could have made it an assembly and put the hinges on and screws in and that sort of thing. But after considering it for about half a second I decided that was overkill. So, if you like my idea, feel free to rip it off. The more the merrier.

Whelping box plans

Whelping box plans, click for full size.

Now this box is for a Great Dane. So it needed to be slightly larger than a usual whelping box. However, when checking out youtube and doing research, I decided all of them I found were either made too small out of convenience and made at 4′ x 4′, or they were way too big to keep that puppy den feeling for the pups. So I decided to make this one 4′ x 5′. And yes, I think that extra foot of length is both significant and necessary. Also, Most of the whelping boxes I found were screwed together permanently. Sure, you can unscrew them, but re-screwing wood screws into the same hole will become ineffective in short order. So I made this one come apart for storage and shipping if we have to move the puppies and mommy elsewhere. I think it turned out well. I used 3/8″ bolts which are way bigger than necessary, but make it so both metric and standard tools can be easily used. Another complaint I had of others I saw is that some weighed over 100 lbs. In fact one I saw installed a pulley system crane in their ceiling just to lift it up to clean it. No thanks…

We went down to Lowes and bought about $70 worth of wood and screws and hinges and such. I happened to already have some of the hinges and locks from a previous planned project I never made back in 2006. Luckily the girlfriend came across those in the garage just at the right time. Lowes will cut sheets 3 times for free. Which was perfect. I had them cut both sheets into (4) 2′ widths while we were there. Now my plans call for 1/2″ plywood sheet. Don’t do it. It’s a trick. I ended up doing 3/8″ because it was $15 a sheet rather than $50. And I needed 2 sheets. $50 a sheet would have destroyed my budget. Also, for 2×4’s I spent the extra $1 per length to get better quality ones. I highly suggest doing this. It doesn’t add much cost, but the boards are a lot more straight. As soon as I got home I started cutting the wood. Turns out I ended up buying an extra 2×4 I didn’t need. Oh well, I was in a hurry and not thinking math. Should have done my weldment a bit different and let Solidworks calculate that for me.

Pile of wood once cut

Pile of wood once cut

I let the wood sit overnight and acclimate. No, just kidding. I was tired of wood and wanted to wait. We will say it was acclimation though rather than laziness. By the way, I am terrible at woodworking. I can weld alright, machine steel or aluminum ok. But wood can suck it. It hates me ad I very much dislike it in return. So lengths were not super precise. And I ended up screwing a piece upside-down and another one backwards. But anyway, step one was to start screwing. I took what would be the back wall and used a c-clamp (get those quick clamp things, you will thank me) to hold the 2×4 onto the end of the sheet close to flush at the bottom. I screwed in some 2.5″ long screws, and did the same to the 2×4 on the opposite end of the sheet. At this point I put that assembly on the floor to add the pig rail. I was feeling rather proud of myself as the pig rail fit tight, but not too tight. Did I actually cut and screw more than one piece of wood properly??? I applied 2 screws to each end through the 2×4’s.

The back side

The back side

Well, that is the piece I screwed backwards. The ugly side of the sheet was to the outside. Oh well, still feeling it was a success. Flipped it over and put screws down the sheet to hold it to the pig rail. Next I took the other full length 2′ x 4′ sheet and drew the lines for the door on it. I drilled the bottom corners with a 3/8″ hole so I could have a start/stop point for the jigsaw. Then I proceeded to cut the least straight line you have ever seen a jigsaw make. Oh well, a little sanding will keep clearances large enough for door functionality…

Front side prior to cutting the door.

Front side prior to cutting the door.

Next step is for the 4 side pieces. They all ended up being a variant of this:

a couple variants make all 4

a couple variants make all 4

Once I made the first one I figured it was a good idea to number it and mark the drawing accordingly to keep track of which pieces I had made so I don’t end up having a pig rail across the top. BTW, I put the pig rail 5″ up from the bottom to the bottom of the pig rail. Smaller dogs will want this lower, bigger dogs (haha funny) may want it even higher.

I laid it out to make sure I had all sides correct and to make sure I thought the size was good.

Check construction

Check construction

I whipped out the c-clamp again, and the drill, and a couple hours after starting the project, I had this:

Bolted together for first time

Bolted together for first time

I then sanded it a bit and took it apart and stored it until tonight. After moving Heidi’s kennel into the garage we brought in her new whelping box for her to check out for the first time. The ramp door it turns out freaks her out a bit so she hops over it. But at least it’s easier than hopping over the 2′ sides 🙂

Heidi chilling in her new whelping box

Heidi chilling in her new whelping box

I think she likes it. And I think the size is just right.

I think she likes it. And I think the size is just right.

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