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article number 213
article date 02-28-2013
copyright 2013 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Help a Gimpy Dog … Build a Dog Ramp ... Quick & Cheap.
by Mean Uncle George Moment

Rocky (a big dog) hurt himself jumping out of his Mom’s SUV. She found a plastic dog ramp at a local pet shop but it was really expensive. Lucky for us, it takes just one sheet of cheap ¼ inch plywood, about 4 really cheap 1 x 2’s and hinges to make a decent dog ramp.

It’s fun too … perhaps because it’s really easy to scrap together … or perhaps because you know it will see a lot of service.

Let’s get going.

How wide do we cut the ¼ inch plywood? Note my paws. They are the paws of a big dog. 18 inches wide will be just right.
3 ½ feet long for each of the two sections will fit in most vehicles. That will be 7 feet of ramp unfolded. I cut the sheet on a table saw. ¼ inch ply is light and easy to handle on a table saw.
Here are the two ¼ inch ply pieces, again, 3 ½ feet by 18 inches. I’m looking at hinges I have in my junk pile. The brass door hinge won’t work because the screw holes are too wide for the 1 x 2 backings … which of course are ¾ by 1 ½ … Duh is me! You can use door hinges with an extra backing. You are smarter than me.
Yeah. That will work. Just eyeballing the design.
OK. Here we are going to cut the 3 ½ foot long 1 x 2’s for the sides, 4 of them in all. Note the angle. We want the ramp to NOT unfold completely horizontal. It will become horizontal over use.
That looks like a 5 degree angle … didn’t measure it. When the 2 boards of the folding ramp come together and two 5 degree angles meet, we will have a 10 degree angle. Just want you to know ahead of time. You design it the way you want.
The length is not critical … what will be critical is placing the angle ends of the 1 x 2’s flush with the ends of the plywood boards.
Cut four 3 ½ foot long 1 x 2’s using the same angle. Wish I had my chop saw at the shop. Just set the angle on it.
Of course, after I get the 1 x 2’s cut, I note that my chop saw is here in the shop after all.
Just eyeballing the design. Hmmm … which way will the ramp fold. The 1 x 2’s go on top. The angle of the long board should protrude toward you with the bottom flush.
Four cross members of 1 x 2’s will [cross] each half of the ramp. Laying them vertical gives more strength but the dog may trip on them. Turns out … laying the cross-members flat gives plenty of strength to the ramp. We will place the cross-members between the long (lengthwise) 1 x 2’s. Near the top of the photo, I measure the board length. We will cut 8 of them.
Just trying to see what the halves will look like. You LAR designers (Looks About Right) can vary the design the way you want.
I’m going to mark the edges of the lengths of the plywood ½ of the 1 x 2 width so I place the screws in the middle of the 1 x 2’s. The line is 3/8 inch from the edge since the 1 x 2 placed vertically is ¾ inches wide.
Just checking on how this design is going. And remembering to have the angle go away from the board. ‘Course if you get it wrong you just unscrew the long 1 x 2’s, turn them over, and screw them in again.
I just put in a few screws to ensure that the side of the plywood is flush with the vertical 1 x 2’s. Now I’ll drill the rest of the holes for the screws, 5 or 6 inches apart. Trying to evenly space the screws may be a good idea as you may want to place the screws on the other board offset from these so that the boards fold without the screws hitting. #10 by 1 ½ screws were used on this project.
One side done, now do the other side. … Starting to look cool.
After marking the locations of the screws on the next plywood sheet, I marked offset lines (the bigger lines) where the screw holes will actually go … again hoping that the screws won’t hit each other when folded.
Rechecking that I have the angle ends correctly positioned before doing the other board. These boards are upside-down so we want to see this up angle between the up-side-down boards when you butt them together.
Both boards are done.
Found some old indoor-outdoor carpet in the garage … removed 10 years dust from it. I think that the dog will like this deluxe carpeting which we will place under the cross-members. I cut it with metal shears.
Place the cross-members, 4 per half, and put a couple of temporary screws through them to locate the cross-members. We will screw the cross-members from the other side, then remove these temporary screws.
Flip over the board. See the sharp temporary screws. I used these to draw the line telling me where the center of the 1 x 2 cross-member is. Here I used #8 x ¾ inch flathead screws. Don’t want the screws points to go beyond the cross-member on the other side … or else poor doggy will scratch his paws. HERE I MADE A MISTAKE! I put in all the screws before removing the temporary screws on the other side. The board wasn’t happy and warped.
Here’s the good way. Mark the screw lines, drill the small holes and just screw-in the two outside #8 x ¾ flatheads. Turn over and remove the temp screws … then turn back this way and screw in the rest of the #8 x ¾ screws.
The two halves are done. Have them upside-down like this and butt them together at the angle ends with one half elevated.
Place the hinges with the hinge-pins over the center-line. Drill the screw holes slightly to the outside of the hinge holes. I had to move the hinges a bit so that the holes don’t end up over existing screws.
Look at the last picture and compare it to this picture. The boards pulled together nicely.
Yee-Haa! looks great.
Folds nice too!
It’s 7 PM but I’m sure that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere … but just want to stare at the ramp before I open a cold one.
Rocky’s gimpy leg is still healing so his stand-in, Ed, poses for this picture.

The weak link of this design? You can be sure that the screws holding in the hinges will loosen over time. Maybe you will repair it with a piano hinge. Also the angle ends (at the center) of the length-wise 1 x 2’s will compress over time, flattening the ramp. You can just glue in shaved wood or resign the ends with metal pieces.

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