Make your own weave poll set! Also on the cheap! UPDATED

I’ve waited a bit to post my weave polls because I didn’t really have any proper plans to base these on, and frankly, I think they still need some tweaking/further thought. I’ll have to make a second set soon, so maybe I’ll get it right this time. These particular plans are for three sets of 2x2s (so six weaves), which is all you’ll need for novice level agility. But eventually you’ll need to be able to do twelve weaves in a row, and if you’re at that stage you can just double everything I listed below. And, just to cover my ass:

Declaimer: I am not a professional builder in any way. You will be using power tools and sharp instruments to make this, so do so at your own risk. I managed to do it without injuring myself (aside from being a bit sore from all the sawing) but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. You should take any safety precautions you can since, well, pain sucks and it’s not acceptable to loose a finger to make agility equipment for your dog.

So, the materials are pretty simple, just like the jumps. Again, this is for just 6 weaves:

  • 30 feet of 1″ or 3/4″ PVC pipe (pluming or furniture grade, doesn’t matter). 3/4″ is what most competition grade stuff is made at.
  • PVC glue (extremely cheap, you can get a small can for like $3. Super glue will also work in a pinch, but it may not last forever)
  • A saw or something to cut the pipe with.
  • Six 4-way branches to connect the pipe (they look like this)
  • At least six end caps for the pipe used on the base, though if you want caps for the top of the weaves you’ll need twelve all together.
  • For winter use: Sand or some other heavy substance, contained in six bags (freezer bags work well). If they’re on a flat surface you don’t mind possible marking, you could just use tape for this, I’ll explain later on. For summer use: ground ties like you would use for a tent (something like this would work perfect).
  • Tape or paint.

This is a lot less involved than the jumps, but it’s crucial to do the bases properly, or you’ll wind up with wobbly weaves, which is probably not going to help your dog much. All weaves are set 24″ apart, no matter what size dog you have, and making them shorter adds unnecessary strain on your dog’s body, so it’s not worth it to cut any corners there. The  amount of pvc I listed above could be reduced if you have a smaller dog, or if you have a great dane or a borzoi you’ll probably need more since the main point is that the actual weave polls are taller than your dog. In Mufaasa’s case he was exactly the right size to just make all the polls 24″, which made calculating the lengths a lot easier. You will need 4 lengths of 24″ of pipe for the base, and another six pieces for the weaves themselves. You’re remaining pipe should be divided into six shorter sections to support the base. Keep in mind that the wider your base pieces, the more stable your weaves are likely to be (I actually made mine small on my first set, which I’m regretting a bit now).

Glue the end caps onto one end of each of the shorter pieces of pipe. Don’t worry too much if the ends of the shorter pipes are jagged, they won’t be exposed by the time you’re done. You’ll now need three lengths of 24″ pipe and all of the 4-way branches. Put everything together without glue first to make sure it’s put together correctly. You’re going to make an “S” shape with the base (see picture to the left). It’s important that you make it this way and not the opposite, and that you don’t just use a five-way to make a more stable base, which might be your first instinct. Your dog, if he is weaving properly, should be entering the polls on the right. With this configuration, the dog won’t have to worry about tripping over the extra pieces used for the base, and he will have an easier time stepping around the polls. All 2x2s that I’ve seen, whether they’re built like this or with a metal base, are made this way.

However, you will need to glue the longer poll to the 4-way branches, otherwise the base will flop over when your dog brushes against the weaves. I didn’t glue the smaller base pieces in simply because I wanted to be able to break the weaves down as much as possible so I could bring them to the park with me, but if you aren’t planning on moving them around too much, you could glue them in and make this next step easier. If you want them to be removable, you have to act quickly. I did this wrong the first time, so learn from my mistakes! Insert the shorter pieces into the 4-way branch, and then get ready to glue the longer piece to the branches. PVC glue sets really, really fast, which is why you should do the dry run first to make sure you know where everything is supposed to go. You should put the glue around the end of the pipe (thickly), and some in the end of the 4-way branch (don’t need as much glue here). Place the base on a flat surface to dry, and leave for about an hour (though it’s recommended that you let it cure for 24 hours before you test it). If you do this with the shorter pieces (with the end caps on already), you will have a nice, flat base. It will certainly make a difference if you plan to use them indoors.

Take your six weave polls and put stripes on them (above you can see how I did mine, I just used some electrical tape I had lying around). You don’t need to glue the actual weave poles in place, you can just slip them into the top of the 4-way branch. You’ll have two lengths of 24″ pipe left over, which you’ll use to connect the three sets of 2x2s together. You don’t need to glue these in place, and if you’re using the 2×2 method you don’t want to, but once you’re at the stage where you can keep all your weaves fully closed, connecting everything will take the guess work out of keeping the weaves straight, the correct length apart, and will help to make the whole thing more stable.

Now, here’s where I ran into a problem. While the weaves were open, they worked great, but as I started to close them, naturally Mufaasa would bump into them as he went. If he tried to weave with any speed he would just take the whole thing out. I tried putting sand in the base polls and sealing the ends to try and give it some weight, but that didn’t seem to make a difference. So my solution was to take some grocery bags and freezer bags (the later works best), filled them with sand and put them on smaller pieces sticking out from the base. Your dog won’t have to step on them since the “S” shape keeps them out of the way, and once everything is connected you shouldn’t need to use as many bags. This has worked great for now, since I can’t tape them down at the office (when we’re on carpet), or at the park. Once the ground thaws, I plan on getting some pegs, like the type that you would use to tie down your tent, and just hook them onto the shorter pieces. That, or I’ll buy a bunch of these (or DIY something similar, I already have an idea for that), and just leave the bases for the winter.

In the meantime, here’s a cute video of Mufaasa weaving at work, and me rewarding him by conking him on the head with his ball:

Mufaasa weaves! from Jenn Embree on Vimeo.


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Update: I’ve finished the second set and they work much better. So make sure you make yourself a wide a set of base legs as you can manage. I used 40 ft of pipe and it was enough to do these, have connecting poles for the first set I made and still have some left over. You can see the difference (new set is on the right):

Once everything is connected it’s pretty stable, at least at the extremely slow speeds my dog travels when we weave inside. Also, the green tape you use when you paint works great if you have floors without carpeting, and it comes off easily. Here’s Mufaasa after his first day doing 12 poles (at the speed of a very slow moving sloth).

That’s a lot of poles, mum, I don’t think I can count that high.

  6 comments for “Make your own weave poll set! Also on the cheap! UPDATED

  1. February 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Hiya! I thought I should come over to your blog and introduce myself since we both take agility classes with Sublime and since we both have blogs. So hi!

    I don't know how we have yet to meet but I saw your links via the new Sublime group on Facebook and I love this idea for weave poles. We live in such a small space and don't have a fenced yard so it's been a struggle for us. Most of our training is done in our wee living room, which is only big enough to fit two sets of poles. Thanks for sharing this great idea! My birthday is coming up and I may have to forward the link to my husband as a hint. 😉

    • scruffykitty
      February 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Hi Kristine, I'm glad you like them! I'm in the same boat, I live in a 650 square foot condo and have no backyard, so something that I can easily transport was a must (and being super poor I wanted something that wouldn't destroy me financially to buy). We've been taking them to sports fields and Seaview and they work petty good (and the advantage is your dog learns to do weaves in a bunch of different places, which will only make them better!).
      I'm off to ready your blog now, it actually looks pretty good! There doesn't seem to be that many active bloggers in the area (well, dog bloggers) so it's good to know I'm not the only crazy one :p

  2. February 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Cool blog!

  3. March 11, 2012 at 1:49 am

    We have weaves built very very similar to this. They're great! I wish I had though to leave mine loose, so I could bring them inside to work! In a stroke of genius I dug up part of the yard to embed them under the lawn and now I have to weed whack around them. Boo.

    • scruffykitty
      March 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      Oh no, well at least you know they won't move on you! You could always make a second set to bring inside, a full set of 12 using this method should only run you around $30-$40 to make

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