The pause table is a big challenge for a dog zooming through an agility course. The dog has to climb onto the table and sit or lie down for five seconds, the antithesis to the speed required in the rest of the course. Assembling a pause table like we’ve built here will take four to six hours and will cost about $60 (not including the non-skid surface).
Note: Because your dog will be climbing on this obstacle, the table needs to be sturdy and have a skid-free surface (the table as assembled “in the raw” is very slippery and should not be used until you can put a non-skid surface on it). This is a new obstacle and we’ve only had it in service for a few days as of the published date. The design seems to be solid but keep an eye on your new table!
You will need a PVC pipe cutter, a sharpie, a measuring tape, a couple of wrenches to fit your bolts (mine were 5/16″), a saw for cutting the plastic boards and sleeve connectors (I used my power miter saw, but a hacksaw or similar will work), and a drill with a 1 3/8″ spade bit and a 3/8″ twist bit for drilling the various holes.
Below are the pre-cut pipe pieces and connectors (all for 1″ pipe), cut and drilled plastic fence boards, and fasteners, ready to be assembled. The straight pieces of pipe are under 8 feet in total length, which means you’ll need 1 10-foot piece of pipe to construct this pause table. You will also need to buy two 16′ vinyl ranch fence rails and 20 washers, ten bolts and ten nuts. Finally, this obstacle must have a non-skid surface applied…we used a latex paint and sand mixture, but you can use non-skid tape or similar.
Please note that this obstacle can be sized to your dog…if you have a small animal, a smaller table is perfectly acceptible for backyard agility, and if you have a larger animal, make the table larger. You will need to adjust the lengths of your cross-pipes, which are “eye-balled” in any case. You may also need fewer boards, each board adds about 5 1/2 inches in width. Official dimensions are available from various organizations; table height can be anywhere from 8″ to 30″. We kept our table low. If you build a high table, you will want to consider bracing the legs with cross pipes, close to the ground.
1 16′ vinyl rance fence 6″ rail, cut into six 3’6″ pieces (2)
2 Straight connectors (couples), cut down to size (4)
3 5/16″ coarse threaded nuts (10)
4 5/16″ x 1″ coarse threaded bolts (10)
5 1 1/4″ diameter washers to fit bolts (20)
Note on the fence rail: The trim aisle at Home Depot has a hand saw for cutting long pieces of trim to length; you will probably want to use this facility to cut the fence rail in half to get it home, as 16′ is pretty hard to handle. When you get the eight foot pieces home, cut them to length; it’s more important to get all six pieces the same length than it is to have them be precisely three foot six inches long.
1 End Caps (5)
2 T Connectors (2)
3 “X” connector (1)
4 1 3/4″ pipe stubs (2)
5 21-5/8″ pipe cross bars (2)
6 4-3/4″ pipe legs (3)
5 8-1/4″ pipe legs (2)
Note on the cross bars: These should be cut to actual length when it is time to assemble, they may vary a bit depending on your fence rails, hole spacing, etc.
Please see the tips page for general hints on cutting and assembling PVC pipe. Look for the red glue symbols in the photos to show the freshly glued joints in each step. Read through all of the steps before starting, later instructions can shed light on what you’re doing and make earlier steps clearer.
The first step is to cut your six boards to length. I’m using my power miter saw (because it’s fast and I have it handy) but you can use a hand saw. For neatness, your boards would ideally be the exact same length, but it’s not a structural concern if they’re not. You will be making two end boards and four filler boards, which differ only in the holes that are drilled into them.
All boards have 3/8″ holes drilled into their sides about 2″ from either end, centered vertically (3/4″ from the board top or bottom edge). The end boards only have these holes on one side, as they only attach to one other board. In all, you will be drilling 20 of these holes. The further towards the center of the table these holes are, the stronger the table, but I found 2″ from the end was as far as I could go and still be able to reach the holes with fingers and wrenches from inside the board, and that was just barely. 1-1/2″ in would have made the table top much easier to assemble.
In the two end boards, you will be drilling a 1 3/8″ diameter hole centered on the width of the board, with the hole center 2″ from the end. I used a spade bit, which, as you can see, produced a ragged hole. A forstner bit almost certainly would have done a cleaner job, but I didn’t have one and they’re quite pricey at this size, at least $20. If you place a snug-fitting block of wood into the board, you may find the spade bit does a better job (though not much!). A hole saw might be a good alternative.
We will eventually be placing a “socket” inside the board to hold the leg, so having a slightly rough hole is OK. The one key is that the hole must be a bit larger than the pipe but smaller than the outside diameter of the socket.
The legs will be held in place by these sockets, which are created by cutting down a straight-through sleeve connector. You want these to be a nice snug fit in the board. Mine were just over 1 3/8″ deep. You can cut a test length of regular pipe to get the depth right, and then transfer that measurement to the socket.
Here is how I cut my sockets using my miter saw. I have the uncut sleeve connector on a piece of pipe, with a scrap on the other end to keep it level. I’m approaching the blade from this side as the fence on my saw won’t support the short sleeve due to the cutout you can see to the left of the blade. Take things slowly and be careful. A hack saw or similar will obviously work, though you should make sure your cut is as close to 90 degrees as you can be.
Here is the full set of boards, sockets, and hardware, ready to be assembled. Be sure that any mounting tabs on your fence rails are on the underside of the table–you can see tabs in this photo on the close end of the three center boards nearest the camera.
The table boards will be assembled with glue along their mating edges with the bolts, nuts and washers taking up most of the load. Before applying any glue, make sure that a bolt will pass through the holes in the chosen boards without messing up the alignment (boards should match end-to-end and vertically, up-and-down). If they don’t match exactly, use your 3/8″ drill to enlarge one of the holes in the right direction. The size of the holes is not critical for structural strength. Dry fit the two boards together with bolts and washers to test their fit before gluing.
Before gluing, I ran a piece of sandpaper down the board edges to take a bit of the gloss off, the theory being that the glue may have a better “bite.” I have no idea if my theory is sound, but the effort was minimal.
The bolt, nut and washers that are used for each connection. Note that once you apply glue, you’ll need to do one of two things: either firmly hold the glued joint along its length for a couple of minutes and then add the bolts to the dried assembly, or use the bolts as clamps to get a tight glue joint. The latter requires you to move quite quickly as the glue sets rapidly. (I think the ideal solution would be to use pipe clamps to hold the boards, bolting once the glue was dry.) I opted for the rapid bolt method. If I was to do it again I would use pipe clamps, it’s a lot less stressful and would lead to better glue joints.
The bolts and washers are strong enough on their own to support the weight of a dog on the table. The glue helps, but mostly makes the table more rigid.
Because the holes were at the very limits of where my finger could get to, I resorted to using a cone of masking tape, sticky-side out, to help me get the bolt and washer started. On the washer and nut side, I found that I could just get the nut started with a bit of luck. Practice first if you’re going to be gluing and immediately bolting!
Here is the finished joint, glued and bolted. You can see that the washers just fit into the board (the nut-side washer is hidden by the angle of the camera). You want to buy the largest diameter washer that will still comfortably fit inside of the board, with the center hole sized for your bolt.
To tighten, you will need two combination wrenches, using the closed ends. I found that because I was at the very limit I sometimes needed to do a little wiggling to get the wrench onto the bolt or nut…again, holes a bit closer to the end of the board than 2″ would have made this part much easier. This will be fiddly, but doable, at 2″. Again, if you’re using the bolts as clamps with the glue joint still wet, you need to work quickly to get to the second bolt and nut before everything sets.
The table top is about half assembled. I have glued and bolted each joint. Be sure you keep the end-board socket holes and any tabs on the boards on the same side of the table!
Once your table top is assembled, insert the four sockets. Do not glue them yet, we’ll do this when we glue the legs in. The bit of wiggle room not gluing them now allows will make the cross-piece easier to fit.
Start the assembly of the legs by gluing three end caps to the three short legs.
Glue the remaining end caps to the two long legs.
Glue the two “T” connectors to two of the short legs, as shown.
Glue the “X” connector to the remaining short leg.
Glue the long cross-pieces to the two short leg assemblies, as shown.
Note: You should size these cross pieces by temporarily assembling the short legs into their sockets (using the stubs) and placing the “X” in the center of the table. You can then measure from end of the “T” facing the “X” to the “X”, and again on the other side. Add about two inches to each piece to account for the depth of the glue area, and you should be very close (average the two measurements for an “exact” fit in the center). Dry fit the assembly together to make sure it will work. As long as you have enough pipe going into the connector for a good glue joint, close is good enough.
Once you’ve sized, cut, and test fit your cross pieces and have glued them to the short “T” legs, glue one of the short leg assemblies to the “X” leg, as shown. The “T” and the “X” must be coplanar.
Glue the stubs into the bottom of the “T” connectors.
To glue the cross-member assembly together, place the assembly with the “X” fitting on it into one of the sockets. Do not glue it in place yet.
Glue the other leg assembly in placeby adding glue to the “X” connector, and insert the pipe assembly without the “X” while simultaneously placing its stub into the table socket (again, without glue in the table socket). This allows you to get an exact fit on the cross member without worrying about measurements or multiple glue joints. Remove the cross brace assembly from the table top once the glue has set.
Finally, apply a liberal amount of glue to the two sockets in the table that hold the cross piece assembly, and insert the asembly into them, pushing it fully home so the “T” connectors rest against the bottom of the table. Wiggle the sockets back and forth a bit when as you assemble to get glue between the table top and the socket. Once the cross brace is glued in place, you can liberally add glue to the two remaining sockets and add the long legs to each, using the same wiggle to get a good join between the socket and the table.
We’re done assembling! Note, this obstacle is not usable as-is, it is far too slippery. You will need to add a non-slip surface, either paint with sand in it, or non-skid tape. We opted for paint, in a left-over color we had lying around. Be sure to scuff the gloss from the surface of the table before painting to give the paint some “bite.”
Allie is in charge of paint, and has achieved a nice stucco effect here. However, she is considering stripping this and using non-skid tape or outdoor carpeting, as she has doubts about the paint’s durability. A primer for plastic would help adhesion a great deal, but we didn’t have any at hand.
Note that this table does require being placed in a fairly level spot, due to the five legs.
Another row of bolts across the middle of the table would make this stiffer, but would require cutting access holes (probably 3/4 to 1″) for the wrenches needed to tighten them…that’s a lot of holes. Tess and Kipp together weigh about 70-80 pounds, and the table holds the pair of them just fine–but more strength is good.
I suspect that instead of a single leg in the middle (on the cross-brace), the same support would be provided by an extra middle leg on each side. You would then use four short-leg T-assemblies with two “X” legs and much shorter pipes. The center cross-brace and center foot would be eliminated.
A smaller table could skip the cross-brace entirely.
You could possibly leave the end-caps off the table legs and cut the legs at an angle. This would allow you to press the table into soft ground. Likewise, you could leave the end caps off, set the table onto your surface, and then carefully trim the legs to exact length.