One of the most essential items for do-it-yourself grooming — right next to your shears, clippers and table — is the grooming arm.
First, let’s talk briefly about what exactly this piece of equipment is. Then, we will demonstrate exactly how to make a grooming table arm yourself, so you can save your money for other things.
This is the third in a periodic series of articles from Pets Adviser for the do-it-yourself groomer. The previous articles in this series are: DIY Dog Shampoo and How to Make a DIY Grooming Table for Your Dog.
Understanding What a Grooming Arm Is
Attached to a grooming table is a metal bar in the shape of an upside down L that a noose or loop is attached to. This is your grooming arm.
Some tables are sold without this essential piece of equipment, but for the most part tables include at least one adjustable arm and often a loop as well. The grooming arm performs an important function during the haircut.
Why a Grooming Arm Is Critical
If you’ve ordered a table without a grooming arm or are working in your back yard, it could be tempting to forego this piece of equipment. This would be a mistake as the grooming arm is one of the more essential items.
A few of the important reasons you need a high-quality grooming arm:
1. Security for Your Dog: Dogs aren’t used to being up high and on a small table. Even if your table gives the dog plenty of room, she will still be tempted to jump off or wiggle around. Having a grooming arm with a loop securing the dog will help to make her feel more comfortable and secure.
2. Safety for You and the Pet: Because a dog doesn’t like being up high, the added bit of security of a loop attached to an arm can help prevent her from leaping off the table. While this is a good safety measure, it’s vital that you never leave a dog unattended on a table, especially when in the loop. If she does jump or fall off the table, she can easily hang by this noose.
With a large dog it can be a battle keeping him from trying to jump down. With a secure loop helping to tether him to the arm, it’s far less likely he’ll jump into you or over you in an attempt for freedom.
3. Mobility: Perhaps the dog you’re working with isn’t nervous or close to attempting to get off the table. If this is the case, your loop and grooming arm will be most helpful in keeping the pooch still. Having a secure loop attached to the arm can help keep the dog from avoiding getting the hair trimmed away from his eyes or his ears plucked.
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It probably goes without saying, but home groomers who plan to make a few dollars on the side by grooming some dogs from the neighborhood are looking at a huge liability if they don’t have a grooming arm in place for safety and security reasons.
Now that we know why grooming arms are important, let’s talk about materials.
Materials to Use for Your Grooming Arm
Basically, when it comes to making your grooming arm, you’ll have two choices in regards to materials.
- Wood: Choosing to create a grooming arm out of wood can mean a simpler task. But it can also mean you’ll end up with a grooming arm that doesn’t work the way you want it to, or one that is very heavy. One of the biggest things you need from a grooming arm is the ability to adjust it up and down. With a wooden arm, this can be nearly impossible unless you are very creative. Your best option is #2:
- Metal: There are many people who understand that the metal grooming arm is the best choice, but may not realize this should also be the only choice to consider if you’re looking into making your own. When making your own grooming arm from metal, you will find it difficult to make one that is easily adjustable. One way to create your own at home is outlined below.
How to Make a Grooming Table Arm
For purposes of this tutorial, we’ll assume you want a metal arm.
- Measuring tape
- Straight metal conduit
- Elbow conduit
- ½ inch connector (3)
- Metal exterior outlet cover
- Metal file
- Threaded eye bolt
- C-clamps or hand clamps
- Wood screws (4) (optional)
- Grooming loop or old dog leash
- Measure your dog from front paw to the top of her head. Use the hacksaw to cut the straight conduit to the appropriate length. Also measure the length of your dog, and cut another piece to this length. NOTE: About 7 inches will be added to this when you attach the elbow conduit.
- Drill one hole in the straight conduit and four holes in the exterior outlet cover. File away any rough edges.
- Insert the eyebolt into the conduit, but don’t overtighten as it might buckle. Attach the two pieces using the elbow conduit and two of the connectors. Use the third connector to attach the large L-shaped arm you now have to the exterior outlet cover.
- Mount the cover to a table or countertop using C-clamps or hand clamps. Make sure to clamp both sides securely so that it is stable. (If you wish to secure it permanently, you can use wood screws to attach it to your table.)
All you will need is a grooming loop to complete the arm and you can fashion this out of a leash or buy one for a reasonable price. This entire project can be completed for less than $20.
Critical Needs of the Grooming Arm
Because the grooming arm is such an essential part to the grooming process, a few more words should be said about safety.
There is such a wide range of grooming arms available to purchase for anywhere from $30 on up to $100 or more. These arms are easily adjustable and come with secure clamps that allow them to be attached to a wide range of table tops.
We strongly encourage you to buy an adjustable arm, especially if you are going to be grooming professionally. Using a homemade piece to save a few dollars should not be more important than safety.