EDIT: see the end of the post to see the recent update I did to these jumps
Wing jumps in agility are becoming a necessary piece of practice equipment. While it’s cheaper and easier to build a wingless jump, using jumps with wings (at least on occasion) is actually important. Aside from forcing more lateral distance on the part of the handler, it is highly recommended to teach tight turns with a wing standard as wingless will force the dog to turn unnecessarily tight (which is very bad for the joints over the long term). Also there’s enough anecdotal evidence that it’s physically easier for a dog to perform a backside on a wing jump that some organizations are banning wingless jumps for pushes (like AKC) or at least heavily encouraging judge to do pushes on winged jumps (USDAA), and other organizations only use wing jumps throughout the course (like UKI). Long story short you’ll want to add some to your collection of equipment sooner or later, and frankly the sooner the better.
There’s a variety of designs available but as usual I went for the cheapest and easiest option. So here it is: the idiots guide to making a wing jump.
This list is all the things you will need to build one jump, which includes two wings and a single bar. If you can get some friends to build equipment at the same time, it can often be cheaper to get the pvc connectors at bulk rates online. Otherwise the connectors will end up being the most expensive part of this project.
- 20-feet of 3/4-inch pvc piping.
- Six elbow connectors.
FORMUFIT 3/4″ 90 Degree Elbow PVC Fitting Connector – Furniture Grade
- Two 3/4-inch four-way connectors. This is a pack of 8 (smallest pack I could find on Amazon for the 3/4″ pipe)
FORMUFIT F0344WT-WH-8 4-Way Tee PVC Fitting, Furniture Grade, 3/4″ Size, White (Pack of 8)
- Four 3/4-inch end caps.
FORMUFIT F034EEC-WH-10 PVC External End Cap, Furniture Grade, 3/4″ Size, White (Pack of 10)
- Jump cups. Of which there a few options. I purchased a few slip-t connectors and chopped them in half to get two jump cups out of each (FORMUFIT F034STE-WH-8 Slip Tee PVC Fitting, Furniture Grade, 3/4″ Size, White (Pack of 8)), or you can buy the Clip and Go Jump Strips (I prefer the flexible ones), or the individual jump cups, which you have to buy in a 10-pack (3/4″ Jump Cups – 10 Pack).
- PVC glue
Oatey 31012 PVC Regular Cement, Clear, 4-Ounce
- Something to fill the wings with. I used duck-tape, though I have also used lattice (like what you would use for a fence) on my original design. Basically anything that is at least semi-opaque will work.
- A saw or pvc cutter
Getting pvc connectors in Canada is a pain. I linked to Amazon.com pages as you can’t buy the 4-way connector on the Canadian Amazon site. I purchased mine at Lee Valley, and just used electrical pvc pipe purchased at Kent, though I ended up getting the end caps at Canadian Tire. You can get coloured connectors (at Amazon, or Clean Run) if you feel like getting fancy, but they will cost extra.
So first thing is to cut the pipe. For each wing you will need two 30-inch sections for the standard, two 10-inch sections for the top and bottom, and two 7-inch sections for the feet. You can modify how wide you make the wings (some organizations have a minimum diameter but so far I’ve seen them at a variety of different widths). Just keep in mind that if you make it too wide and it will get unwieldily to use in sequences, two narrow and you lose the benefit of the wings. You can also choose to make the feet shorter (but I wouldn’t suggest any longer), however there’s some cautions for that. Shorter seems like a really good idea in order to avoid stubbed toes for when your dog is turning really tight to the jump, but shorter also equals unstable. Especially if you use a filler for your wing that wind can’t blow through—you will forever be picking up your wings when you use them outside. An alternative is to put some sand or other weight in the pipes to make it a bit more stable, but you still want the wings to fall over easily if your dog runs into them. 7-inches has been a good compromise between not being too short, but still giving the jumps lots of stability. Make sure the feet are placed on the inside of the wing, not the outside, as the dog is less likely to trip over the feet, and that placement means the jump will fall away from the landing area if the dog bumps the wing on his or her way over.
Take your four-way connector and glue one of the 10-inch sections to the middle hole. Glue the two 7-inch sections on the side holes. At the opposite end of that 10-inch piece glue the elbow joint, taking extra care to make sure the elbow joint isn’t crocked (pvc glue sets fast, by the way!). Once dry glue a 30-inch section to the top hole of the four-way connector and the other 30-inch section to the elbow joint. You will want to glue the base pieces together as otherwise there’s a chance the jump will be very wobbly. The rest you can leave unglued provided the pipe you purchased has a snug fit. In fact if you’re going to make jump cups with the slip-t connectors as I have I’d suggest leaving the top unglued incase you need to take them off for whatever reason.SIDE NOTE: Different pipe from different manufactures tends to have a slightly different diameter. So 3/4-inch pipe from Home Depot might be slightly different than pipe from Canadian Tire. Obnoxious, I know. Best practice is to get the connectors first (since they’re the hardest to source) and then bring one or two of them with you when you purchase your pipe.
Take the remaining 10-inch section and slip an elbow connector on each end, and attach to the 30-inch pieces. You now have the frame of your wing! From the 20-feet of pipe you purchased you should have just enough left over for the jump bar.
If you’re using the slip-t connector for the jump cup, put it in a vice and cut it down the middle to get two cups. File down the edges for safety! Put a rubber band or hair elastic snugly around the 30-inch section (attached to the 4-way) and slide the slip-t on top of it. You now have an easily adjustable jump cup that will turn away from the dog if he knocks the bar.
You are now ready for the filler. Child of Red Green that I am I used duck tape. I may regret that choice if I’m ever using these jumps in a big field on a windy day, but the great thing about duck tape is that it is cheap and removable. Also, nowadays you can get it in lots of pretty colours and patterns, which is great for the OCD part of my brain that wants my jumps to match my dogwalk and tunnel.
Things I learned about using duck tape:
- She is a flexible but fickle medium. Plan meticulously, and then move decisively.
- Buy extra.
I cut out strips slightly longer than the standards and taped two pieces together so there were no stickily bits exposed. I overlapped the sections as I went so that it made one big panel. I then taped (with multiple pieces) to the top and bottom of the 10-inch sections.
Now the only thing left to do is mark the heights on the standard (remember to measure from the floor once everything is glued together, as the connector adds a bit of height!), and add some strips of duck tape to the jump bar to make it more visible for the dog and violà! You have an easy to set up, extremely light to carry, safe wing jump.
I can’t tell you how much it would cost to build just one, but I built three for about $100 CAD. Considering even the cheapest commercial wing jumps start at about $100 USD, that’s a pretty good deal, especially if you’r trying to build enough jumps for a full course.
Now, get building!
EDIT: So as I was expecting, eventually the duck tape started to fall apart. It was really never meant to be permanent, especially since if I was using them outside the wind would catch on the duck tape and knock them over easily. I finally managed to find the time and money to head to a local Rona and pick up some lattice. The cheapest wood lattice that was large enough to do six wings ended up being 8’x4′ and came in at about $10 CAD. I actually have quite a bit extra lattice left over, which is mostly just making me want to build more jumps now. Once things warm up I’ll paint the lattice white so it’ll show up better against the sand. You can also buy coloured PVC lattice, but it’ll be twice as much. The hardware store can even cut the lattice for you, which believe me is a lot more fun than trying to do it with a handsaw. For now the lattice secured to the pvc with binder twine (because my jumps still need to be a bit ghetto), but once it’s painted I’ll use zip ties to make it more secure.