Making and Prototyping a Mechanical Dog Feeder

I’ll take you step by step through the process of developing a working prototype to make feeding Fido both fun and stylish.

Here’s a how-to guide to both woodworking that starts from scratch. See how we make a mechanical dog-feeding station — and work our way through the creative process along the way.

Sometimes ideas arrive fully formed, and other times you’re more or less flying blind. That was my experience as I set out to make a working prototype for a mechanical dog feeder. What I’ve created is a good working model, but there are still some place where there’s room for improvement. So throughout out the tutorial, you’ll see how I had to adjust my approach based on what I was learning through trial and error.

The top tube uses paper-back walnut veneer over a PVC pipe with an auger inside to distribute the food. The base and bowl are built from solid walnut, and the knob at the top was made from a 3D printer. The finish is food-grade white mineral oil, which is safe to eat off of and should still hold up well after it gets dog slobber all over it.

While building this prototype model was a challenge, it also gave me the chance to troubleshoot and problem-solve along the way. It’s still not perfect, though, and that’s where you come in. Any suggestions you have to make this mechanical dog feeder better or more efficient, I want to hear them!