It’s been a while since I did a project for our dog Marvin, but it was time! I finally made him a new dog crate with this IKEA Malm hack! One of my first projects of 2022 was to make some changes to our bedroom, one of which was our new bed. The other was to come up with a more visually appealing crate for our dog. The crate he has been using is not only way too big for him but also too big for our room. I recently had an idea to make him a new crate from the old IKEA Malm that used to be my nightstand. Do you want to see how I did it?
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You all know I have a serious love affair with IKEA, so it should come as no surprise that I had a few extra pieces laying around. As I mentioned above, we paired down the furniture in the guest room and moved the white Malm dressers into our room. As a result I had two extra three drawer IKEA Malms. I was about to list them for sale when I came up with an idea to turn one into Marvin’s new dog crate. But before we dive into how I did it, let’ take a look at what his set up was before. Definitely nothing special and a bit oversized for a 20lb dog.
Before I started tearing apart this IKEA dresser, I brought it into our room to see what it would look like. Since this piece was brown, I wasn’t sure if I should attempt painting it. Because I have another brown IKEA piece in the room, I decided to keep it as is to tie them together and I kind of liked the two tone mid century look. You can catch the full behind the scenes on this in my Instagram story highlight.
IKEA Malm Dog Crate Hack Supplies
IKEA Malm 3 Drawer Dresser
2 – 1x2x8 Wood
3/4 Inch Plywood
1x1s or wood scraps for spindles
2×3 Wood Scrap
Flat L Brackets
Slide Bolt Door Latch
Stain or Paint
Peel and Stick Tile
Drill & Driver
Nail Gun (I would buy this one if I didn’t have one)
DISCLAIMER: I make no guarantees this is safe for your pet. Use at your own risk. Marvin is not a destructive dog and is happy going into his crate. Your dog may behave differently and this may not be a good solution for you and your dog. Marvin is also a small dog. This would not be well suited for a larger dog.
Start by removing all the drawers in the IKEA Malm and the drawer slides. It is easier to remove the drawer slides after step 2, but I wasn’t 100% sure if my plan was going to work, so I refrained from cutting the piece until I was certain. If you do not already have one of these dressers, I would look on Facebook Marketplace or some other second hand site. I see these available all the time!
Cut out the finish pieces between the drawers. If you are working with a new IKEA Malm I would just skip attaching these. I cut them in the very middle with the reciprocating saw, but if you don’t have one you could probably use a circular saw as well. I really want this one.
Once you have cut them down the middle, unscrew the cam bolt on the back and you should be able to pull off each side. I was left with a cam bolt screw and a wood dowel that I was able to just unscrew and pull out respectively on each side. Note, my Malm is fairly old, so the specific parts might be slightly different if you are using a newer version, but they are still the same size.
Because the bottom of the Malm is hollow, you will need to reinforce it to provide a platform for the plywood. I did this by ripping a 2×4 on my table saw to the height of the front threshold piece. Once the 2×4 was ripped, I cut it to length with my miter saw so it would fit in the bottom of the Malm with one in the front and one in the back. The piece along the back will not be the same height as the back support on the dresser. That’s ok so long as the front lines up.
From the same ripped 2×4, I cut 2 “joist” supports and made sure they fit snug between the front and back pieces. Then I removed all of them and used my nail gun to attach them. I used two additional 2×4 scraps I had to make sure everything was squared off while attaching the pieces.
Once they were attached to each other, I laid them in the bottom of the dresser and once again used the nail gun to attach them to the Malm. I used the nail gun because I didn’t want to spend a ton of time patching holes. But I think the nail gun was sufficient in holding it all together.
Attach the plywood base. I used 3/4 inch scrap plywood I had on hand. As such, I had to piece mine together because I didn’t have one piece large enough. It would be easier with one piece however. You can usually find something small that would work in the project board section at Home Depot or Lowes. And if you don’t have a table saw they can cut the pieces for you as well. I attached the plywood base with the nail gun. Just make sure you know where the 2x4s are underneath so you hit them with the nails.
Fill in the nail holes from the drawers and paint. I was actually hoping I wouldn’t have to paint the sides, but after I filled the holes it just didn’t look great, so I decided to paint. I used Benjamin Moore Espresso which I had leftover from my kitchen island.
Step 6 (optional)
Add the peel and stick tile. This part is definitely optional and I only did it because I already had these from another project and I never used them. I thought it would be cute so I went for it. You could also use wallpaper, paint, or flooring.
Well….. it turns out they aren’t really that sticky. SO if you use these or something similar, I HIGHLY suggest you also use liquid nails to attach them. Mine started falling down and popping up even though I let them sit for several days with weights on them. I had to go back and attach them for a second time with liquid nails. You can see this whole debacle in my Instagram story highlight.
After you lay them, make sure you add weight and let them set, even with the liquid nails.
Make the doors. I’m not going to lie to you, I did not do this the best way. You can see the whole thing in my Instagram story highlight, but the cliff notes version is, use real wood (NO MDF) and DON’T miter your corners. I did both of those and learned the hard way. MDF is just a bad idea and we will just leave it at that. But the mitered corners just proved to be more work than they were worth. I recommend using a butt joint and pocket holes. But that isn’t what I did, so I will show you how I did do it.
I used mitered corners on pine 1x2s to make the door frame. Because of our room setup and because I know my dog, I opted for a fixed panel and a swinging door. The frame of the Malm is only 31.5 inches wide and I knew Marvin would be scared to go through a small opening. Also, I didn’t want the door to be too big because then it would just take up extra space when it was open. So I made the fixed panel 11 inches wide and the door 20 3/8 leaving 1/8 inch for the door to open and close.
Sand the wood pieces for the frames. I would definitely do this before attaching the door pieces. I used the orbital sander for this part with 220 grit sand paper.
My original plan was to nail gun the door frame and fixed panel, BUT once I did, I realized it was not strong enough. At this point I was more than frustrated by my mistakes, so I picked up some flat L brackets.
These of course didn’t come in black, so I also spray painted them. If you are ever in this situation and need to spray paint something with screws, don’t forget to spray the screws. I laid out all the pieces in a box and poked the screws through a paper towel roll I cut in half to get them to stand up. You could also screw them into a scrap piece of wood too.
While the paint was drying I stained all the frame pieces a dark brown to match the IKEA Malm. I used this Kona stain I have had for years. Once all the paint and the stain was dry, I used the flat L brackets to attach the frame pieces.
The spindles for the dog crate. I’m not going to lie to you, this part did not go as planned either. I had quite a few pieces of oak scraps left from the finishing pieces of the bunk beds. They were quite small but the perfect size for spindles and definitely strong because they are oak. My original intent was to attach them to the middle of the frames with, you guessed it, the nail gun. BUT since they were so thin and since the frames are 1.5 inches wide, shooting a 2 inch nail and “nailing it” was very hit or miss. Literally.
Mad about what poor planning I had done, I decided to try out my new router I got for Christmas and table this project for a bit. Well, I learned the answer was right in front of me this whole time. The router. I learned I could rout out a groove on the inside of the frames and simply attach my oak scraps this way!
If you don’t have a router, don’t fret. In hindsight I realized I could have also attached my wood pieces to the outside of the door frame. I do recommend using slightly larger pieces for the spindles (I don’t know why I am calling them that, they are not round, but you get the point) if you do not use a hard wood. But quite frankly, I never would have used oak if I didn’t already have it because it’s pricey. I would use 1x1s in their place if you don’t have scraps like me. Mine were 3/8 x 3/4.
After routing out two sides of the frames, I attached my oak strips to the back side of the frames with Titebond wood glue III. This is the strongest. I did not use nails so I only recommend using this glue specifically. To space them all out I used a scrap 2×3 and once I had the spacing right I taped them in place until I could glue them. Once they were glued, I put the tape back on to make sure nothing moved overnight.
Attaching the door and fixed panel to the IKEA Malm. Once again, I used the nail gun and wood glue to attach the fixed panel. I laid the dresser on its back and placed both frames on top of the Malm. Once the spacing was good, flush with both outside edges and a small gap in the middle, I ran a bead of glue along the Malm and placed the fixed panel frame on top. Then I used the nail gun to secure the panel to the dresser. I only nailed on the top and side out of fear the nails would curve on the bottom.
To attach the door to the left side of the IKEA Malm I positioned the frame so it lined up with the fixed panel and the outside edges. Then I taped it in place so I could mark for my hinges. I spaced mine in between the first and second spindle. I predrilled these as well.
Attaching the dog crate latch. I opted for a slide bolt latch in black to blend in with the dark frame. Because of the width of these and the width of the door frames, I had to attach one on bottom and one on top. When marking your holes for these, make sure the latch is closed so it all lines up. I also predrilled these.
Train your dog to go inside the crate. As with anything, it may take some getting used to for your dog to feel comfortable going in. My method is simple. Add their favorite pillows and blankets and give them LOTS of treats! These are Marvin’s favorite 😉 Also, don’t lock them in right away. Teach them to go inside, praise over and over with treats and then start closing the door, giving more treats and opening right away so they don’t feel like it’s a punishment. I am not a trainer by any means, but these things have worked for us.
Even though this IKEA Malm Dog Crate gave me a run for my money, I used mostly items I already had except for the hinges and the latches. The end result…..something that goes so much better with our decor and really saves floor space! Mommy built, Marvin approved!
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