Building an A-Frame

Originally printed in the 2012 2nd Quarter NARA Newsletter
By Kadi Thingvall

Unless you are able to weld, it can be difficult to build a palisade for training at home.  It is not difficult though to build an a-frame which can be used to teach the dog proper palisade technique and prepare them for the palisade at your club field.  

Parts List:


  •     Exterior grade plywood 1/2-inch by 8-foot by 3-foot (can be left 4 feet wide just adjust the directions accordingly)
  •     8 – 2x4s
  •     4 – 1 inch x 1.5 inch x 8 feet wood strips
  •     4 door hinges
  •     2-inch wood screws
  •     4 hook bolts
  •     Chain
  •     Exterior paint
  •     Sand
  •     Pool noodle or carpet


1.    Make two frames 3 feet wide by 8 feet long, with the 2x4s, using 2-inch wood screws.
2.    Attach a ½-inch by 3-foot by 8-foot sheet of exterior grade plywood to each of the frames with 2-inch wood screws.
3.    If your 1×1.5×8 boards are square on the edges (some are, some come rounded) round them with sand paper
4.    Attach the slats — rounded edges up – to the plywood starting 6 inches from the top and attaching 1 slat every 9 inches.
5.    Paint all of the wood with non-glossy, exterior paint.  Mix sand in with the paint prior to painting for traction.  If you plan to paint 2 coats you can sprinkle sand on the still wet first coat, and then paint a second coat after it dries.
6.    Lay the panels together with the support structures touching, make sure you have the top ends (ones with small slats) pointing the same direction.  Put a small scrap of wood between the panels so there is a little gap, this is for the round part of the hinge.  Screw the hinges 1 foot apart starting at the outside edge. You should now be able to swing the panels open and shut with the aid of the hinges.
7.    Screw a hook bolt into the outside board of each panel, approximately one third of the way down from the top of the panels. Attach a chain to each side that will stabilize the frame when it's set up. It should be stretched tight when the obstacle is extended.
8.    Cover the gap formed along the top by the hinges by cutting a strip from the pool noodle and wedging it into the gap, or stapling/gluing a strip of carpet over the gap.

Misc observations:
•    A more palisade like a-frame can be built by replacing the large sheet of plywood with fence boards, and attaching them horizontally to the frame.  If this is done, remove the center two horizontal supports (the 3 foot ones), and add 2 more vertical supports (8 feet) to the frame.  Also do not add the horizontal slats.
•    A closer fitting top can be achieved by leaving off the top horizontal 2×4 and cutting the ends of each vertical 2×4 at an angle, the sharper the angle the higher/straighter the a-frame can be bent.  The hinges will be attached directly to the plywood, which may need to be reinforced on the back side with a piece of leftover plywood.


One thought on “Building an A-Frame

  1. Pete Hudson

    I would urge anyone building an A-frame to use 1/2 round   for the "Toe breakers"  AKA  woden strips placed at one or two foot spacings on both sides of the a frame.  The 1/2 round strips give an equivalent grip on the way up and have much less crevise for a sliding foot to jam a toe into.


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