Drawing of a wooden pethouse - Blitzen

5 types of wood for a DIY doghouse

5 min read

Do you want to make your own wooden doghouse? Well, then here is my personal ranking of the best woods to use (that’s what we use).

Did you think to use birch or poplar wood, maybe? I answer you with this quote from one of my favorite Disney movies.

 I forgive you, but remember: a boy who won’t be good might just as well be made of wood. (Blue Fairy to Pinocchio)

A few days ago our friend Vittorio came in. Vittorio is an old cabinetmaker but because of his way of talking and moving he seems more like a mysterious alchemist. Vittorio always reminds me how beautiful and fascinating wood is, with its texture, its history and its scent.  When we go to choose wood, Vittorio always comes with us, helps us and shows us the right way.

Here’s what the wise cabinetmaker Vittorio suggested for us.

Some clarifications:

  • Suggested woods are the same we use. They blend perfectly with our personality, with our way of working, our taste and what is more, they are of the highest quality. We have added to the list also a wood we do not use, but it is very easy to work with. I propose it because it can be useful to you.
  • The thicknesses we use for the panels is about 1.5 cm for a solid structure. I suggest you do the same.
  • I show you the advantages, disadvantages and why we choose each type of wood.
  • I have selected three kinds of solid wood and two types of marine plywood. Solid wood is a portion obtained directly from the trunk, while the plywood is a set of several panels joined with glues or resins. Both are choices of the highest quality, with different aesthetic and functional properties.

Solid maple wood for the structures

 

The maple is a beautiful tree, with the typical leaf that in autumn has intense discolorations of yellow and red, infusing forests with color. Very hard and heavy, it is normally used for making furniture. It has a very light color, tending to yellow-brown, with very elegant dark streaks in correspondence of the growth rings. We use it for the frame, the walls, the base and the door. It is beautiful to see and is very resistant . It is also used in violin making for some musical instruments.

Very important thing: it is impregnable. This means that it is easy to paint: after having assembled the doghouse and having polished it, we always pass it to the brush with non-toxic and hypoallergenic paint. The maple wood absorbs it wonderfully.

Some disadvantages? Yes, it’s very hard, not easy to work, so if you are not an expert it can be very difficult to shape it correctly. But if you’re good at carpentry or you can get help from capable hands, maple is a great choice for a great result.

Solid iroko wood

 

The iroko is a majestic tree from the African forests I had seen in Kenya and in Ethiopia. Its wood is very hard and has very beautiful streaks. Although it recalls noble woods, it has the great advantage of being quite cheap.

It has a wonderful feature: it is imputrescible. That means that it never rotes and is not attacked by insects. Because of its properties it is very used for the realizations that must be immersed in water.

We use it to make the strips of the pet-house roofs. Once painted, it takes a beautiful brown color with a pleasant contrast to the lighter maple wood. Even iroko, being very hard, is not easy to use.

Solid Larch or Fir wood

 

They are the ancient trees living on the mountains, shaped like a Christmas tree. Almost indistinguishable, they taught me to recognize them when I was walking in the Alps: those who lose their leaves in autumn are larches, all the others are firs.

Their wood is beautiful and that is why it is used to make furniture. Being resinous, it is also quite resistant. What is more, its most interesting feature is the workability: this wood is rather soft.

Basically, if you want a solid wood that is beautiful, strong , cheap and easy to cut, larch or fir wood is a good choice.

Spruce marine plywood

Perfumed, the spruce is an aromatic tree whose odor is very pleasant, highly appreciated by pets. What is marine plywood? It is one of the most resistant and valuable processed wood, highly resistant to moisture (it is used to make boats). It is a panel composed of several superimposed layers.

The various sheets of wood are glued one on top of the other alternating the orientation of the fibers and the veins in a crossed way. This aspect is very important, because it gives the panel incredible strength and a non-deformability. Because of these characteristics, it is recommended by many, including us, to make pet-houses.

It’s good for the interior and it’s great for the outdoor, even if it’s always important to pass the surfaces with non-toxic and hypoallergenic paint. We use this worked wood for the walls, doors, bases and the structure of the pet-houses. To sum up, the marine plywood of spruce is a good choice for you because it is resistant to moisture, soft and easy to work; also, it resists to deformation and looks very nice.

Mahogany marine plywoos

Disegno raffigurante un pannello di Compensato Marino di Mogani per costruire un imbarcazione navale - Blitzen

Precious and refined, mahogany is among the noblest woods in cabinet making. It’s really beautiful and evokes the ancient works of the most refined cabinet makers.

The mahogany marine plywood we recommend is made up of layers of Mahogany arranged crossing its fibers to ensure extraordinary non-deformability. As for the other plywood I have described, gluing is done with phenolic glue that does not deteriorate and gives a very strong resistance to moisture (it is used for boats).

We use it to make the strips of our pet-house roofs. In conclusion it is resistant to moisture, does not deform with heat and cold, is very elegant and very easy to cut.

What about the birch wood?

 

At the beginning of this post I made you understand that birch wood is not an optimal choice.

The birch is a beautiful tree, lover of the sun, with elongated leaves shining over the thin white trunk. However, its wood has the typical characteristics of poplar wood and a weakdurability. It has the good advantage of being very tender and easy to work, but its thick texture without resin lets the water pass and rots very quickly.

That’s why we do not use it and do not recommend it. However, I have seen many bat boxes made of birch, so maybe you can consider this wood for a bat-box anyway.

If you have any other advice, let me know. See you next Tuesday.

alberto blitzen
ARCHITECT

I am an architect and I study the habitat of many animals. I used to live among the woods of France, the sands of the Middle East, the canals of Venice and the lights of Paris, before returning to the fold.

The fold is on the beautiful hills of Lake Garda, surrounded by castles, fairy tales and cypresses. From here I tell stories and make drawings on cats, dogs, mysteries, legends, hedgehogs and bats.

 

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