The Feeding Station

I’m taking a risk starting this, when it isn’t 100% done yet. The reason why is due to the long road it took to get here. This has been one of my most frustrating and mistake-prone projects, but it may just turn out okay.

Our cats had been eating at the floor since we got them, but nine months ago we adopted a dog. A beagle. A beagle that can’t ignore her nose, and likes to eat pretty much anything. Particularly pizza and wet cat food. So, we had to put the food bowls up on the kitchen table. Not ideal when we were also eating dinner. The food bowls needed to be elevated, but not to the kitchen table, but high enough where the dog couldn’t pull them down. So I had the idea of building a little cabinet where the food could be stored out of the way when needed.

It wasn’t a particularly difficult design at first. There would be a drawer, two doors, and a pull out section for the dog bowls.

I had some leftover drawer slides from a dresser, and otherwise I could make the carcass from one sheet of plywood. I figured I could do this for pretty cheap. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was already making mistakes before I had started.

This was the perfect project to attempt to test out cutting on site, so I packed up the cordless track saw, measuring tools, and rigid foam and picked up cheap ply from Lowe’s. This is noticeably cheaper than buying from the lumber yard, who seem to think their’s is made from unobtanium. The pieces fit fine in the back of my CRV, so that was a win.

I cut the pieces down to the exact size, cut mortises, and did a dry fit to make sure it would work in the space and with the food containers.

Next up was installing the hardwood edge on the plywood panels and getting them flush. The bandy clamps from Rockler are pretty good, and I enjoy using the OF1010 with edging attachment to get things flush.

Then it was time to cut and fit the pull out drawer for the bowls. Here is where it started to go wrong. I tried to install the drawer slide as below, but that didn’t give enough clearance for the drawer to fit in and out, and as such mounted it lower resulting in a noticeable gap.

That made me have to adjust several aspects to get the toe kick to line up, and the drawer slides to fit. Then it was time to stain, which brought other issues.

This isn’t bad plywood, but it’s not plywood that takes stain well except on the show side. On the opposite side, as on the back of the main panel in the second pic above, it blotches horribly. That, and I have come to hate staining plywood, and wish to really never do it again.

Next I added the top, which was a spare piece of ply bordered by spare pine. The stain again didn’t go that well, and had to heavily sand and re-stain, losing some of the top layer of veneer in the process. It will have to do.

I’d like to take a short break here to talk about just how much I hate staining, and I won’t be doing it again after this project if at all possible. I will use the correct wood, and I will use veneer, before I use stain again.

Now, onto the doors and drawer front, where it all started going wrong for real. I went for a simple shaker style, with maple rails and stiles with the leftover 5mm ceiling treatment becoming the panels. I planed the maple to 3/4″ thick, and ripped to 1.75″ wide. I joined everything together with dominos to make the frame outline.

Then I ran the inside edge through the router table with a rebate bit to house the panel. Not able to hit corners, I took care of those with a few chisels. With the panel space done, the panels themselves were cut on the table saw to fit.

After quite a bit of trial and error, the drawer front and door panels all lined up and it was time to install. That’s when I noticed the drawer front was too tall and not wide enough. The doors also were not wide enough, and did not meet in the middle. Time to make some changes. I also ran into issues with the last door cup hinge, as I blew through the inner stile. I had to patch with an offcut of thin material.

I completely redid the drawer front, as it was obvious trying to adjust it wouldn’t work. This time, I made the right size. For the doors, I didn’t want to remake those. I decided to put in a vertical post that would look and act like a face frame divider. So I installed that, then figured out that it was not not possible to remove the food containers. Fabulous.

I would insert pictures here, but I think I only put them on Instagram. Check there.

Next modification was to make it a fake post, and attach it to one of the doors. This was a viable solution. I added magnets in strategic places so the doors would stay closed. The final modification was to rout pulls on the backside of the panels, and again things went south. The drawer front went fine, but I accidentally swapped locations of the doors, and then I went too far with the routing when I tried a climb cut. Then the router rose up for some reason and the face is very thin. This entire project has been a disaster.

With all this sorted out, it was time for stain, which as I stated I hate. I again got poor results for a few reasons. I took down the door frame fronts before Arm-R-Seal was applied, and those came out better. The drawer front was fine until Arm-R-Seal was applied, as was the door backs. I have no idea what happened there.

 

Now, I don’t have a final picture that I put on the website, so here is a link to Instagram where I did: https://www.instagram.com/p/BnbYkaagSWX/

 

That’s it for this one. A few months later, we got a new dog, and they don’t share very well. So the kickplate bowl holder isn’t even used. Oh well. This was a learning experience.

 

 

 

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