First DIY/Enclosure build

Discussion in 'DIY Zone' started by Vengeance, Jun 19, 2013.

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  1. Vengeance

    Vengeance Not so new Member

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    The current enclosure for my Blue tongue skink is being returned to the previous owners, as they wanted their fish tanks back (they were given to us). So after a bit of panic, I was given the option of getting an enclosure once we moved to NSW next week, or building one now. I chose the latter option thinking it might be cheaper, and because I wanted to get some practice before we build the enclosures for our snakes. I've got until Monday to put together the majority of the enclosure, so it can be taken down with everything else. Another reason was from reading all the DIY threads on this forum, I was quite keen to give it a try.

    The decision to DIY it turned out to be the more expensive option, in terms of initial cost, simply because I've had to buy tools on top of the needed items. In the end the tools are going to be useful for the next few enclosure builds I have planned, so it was something I was willing to deal with. Cost so far: est $270.00. All items purchased sourced from Bunnings & Mitre 10. I still need to purchase lights, fittings and glass, but those will have to wait until we move, because I'm short on time and money. :lol:

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    The tools

    Initially, I was going to make an enclosure with the measurements 1200x600x450, however the Bunnings I went to wasn't able to cut the melamine (something about a broken saw, or some such). I instead settled for an enclosure size of 1200x595x595, as I could use the enclosure for a different animal if I ever went with the idea of a bank enclosure for my Bluey and future Blueys, and well there was a guide on this very forum using those measurements. The melamine sheets I bought measured 1800x595x16 (and one 1800x295x16 for the top and bottom lips), they barely fit into the back of my mother's sedan. I'll be sourcing melamine from a cabinet maker in future, less stuffing around!

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    The melamine sheets. I think it was $20.95 per 1800x595x16 sheet for a total of $62.85 for three, and $11.95 for the 1800x295x16 sheet. I decided to go with black as I liked the colour better. This added at least $15.00 of cost, and limited me to using small round black vents. I may still get white rectangular vents and just spray paint them, but for now I've got 4 28mm vents for either side.

    With the Bunnings saw out of commission, it meant I needed to cut the melamine myself. Not a prospect I was looking forward to. I had to ask my mother's boyfriend to demonstrate the use of a circular saw, before attempting to cut the melamine myself. After seeing how to do it, I was confident I could cut it without too much trouble. One side was cut a little wonky, with 2mm too much on the top edge. I scrapped that piece and cut another side out of the remaining 595x600 piece, which was fine seeing as I wanted a 595x563 side. This one came out perfect, matching up with the first side piece I cut.

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    Starting to assemble the pieces. Don't mind the dusty/cobweb covered wood, it's a scrap piece that was pulled out from behind the hot water tank to level the corner clamps on.

    Matching the sides so that they were flush with each other was perhaps more frustrating than measuring and cutting, as one wrong move sent the melamine millimetres off centre and we had to start again. The poor lighting wasn't helping, though I did start the project at 5pm and didn't stop until 9pm, tomorrow I'll be starting much earlier, now that the cutting part is done.

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    Screws in and countersunk.

    The bottom and one side are now screwed together. I didn't glue the edges, as I may have to take this apart at a later date. I will however be sealing the insides with silkaflex. The sealant costed more than I would have liked, but I couldn't find anything else that was both waterproof and safe for use around animals.

    Will update tomorrow after the project has progressed. :)
     
  2. CptLici

    CptLici Not so new Member

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    I am planning on building my first enclosure soon, too. I'm in the same boat as you, I don't have any tools (for constructing, anyway), so I have to purchase all of those, too. It's a good excuse to buy an electric drill, right? I want to build my own 'cause it's something fun my boyfriend and I can work on together on weekends. Also I think it will feel nice to have created something :)

    Looking forward to seeing the finished result.

    Good luck on your move :) Where abouts in NSW are you moving to?
     
  3. Tyl3r

    Tyl3r Active Member

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    Looks great so far! I am planning to build racks soon out of black melamine. Make sure to keep us updated
     
  4. Vengeance

    Vengeance Not so new Member

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    Thank you, I've never moved interstate before, and prior to last year had never moved out of our hometown so this is a big move. We're moving to north west Sydney, near Castle Hill.

    I was lucky in that we had a screwdriver set, an electric drill and a circular saw. I had to buy everything else (clamps, corner clamps, drill bits, drill spade for the vents, portable floodlight, level, tape measure). All the small stuff that only costs a lot when you buy it all at once. I should have opted to get a set square as well, it would have been useful!

    An electric drill certainly something you'll be using for other projects too, so it is well worth the funds spent. I'm thinking about getting my own down the track, because changing drill bits over was a pain and I'd like to have a tool set of my own to rely on (saves having to hunt down my mother's boyfriend's set). :lol:

    Good luck for when you begin your DIY enclosure, it's a lot of fun (and a bit frustrating at times), it's been a great learning experience so far. Looking forward to seeing a thread on it if you want to post the progress. :)


    Thank you! The idea was to use white melamine at first, but when I saw the black melamine I wanted that instead! Our next enclosures are most likely going to be made with black melamine, so having matching enclosures means they won't be an eyesore when in the same room.

    Good luck with your build, looking forward to seeing the thread if you decide to post the progress!

    Update on the build, yay!

    I started early today, and managed to get a fair bit done. I hit a snag with the back wall not being perfectly cut, but it's nothing major. Just a cosmetic issue that will drive me mad every time I see it. Good thing it's the back wall, haha.

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    Top, bottom and sides screwed in.


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    Starting to screw the back wall on. The melamine is a few mm off on the opposite side, and on the top here as seen in the picture.

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    The general structure is finally finished. Weird lighting because it's starting to get dark and I turned the portable floodlight on for a sorta clearer image. I'm not sure it was all that effective.

    Next up is to cut the top and bottom melamine lips, once I measure the gap first. Then deciding whether or not I want black tracks. If I opt for the black tracks, I'll need to spray paint the tracks black, which requires a trip to the local hardware store for a can of spray paint or a tin of acrylic (although I'm not sure how acrylic would hold up to having glass moving over the top of it often.

    I'm hoping to get more done this afternoon, and to hopefully finish putting the melamine in tomorrow before cleaning it off to seal the same day. After that, I'll decide if I want to attach tracks and place the vents in before of after we move. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013
  5. CptLici

    CptLici Not so new Member

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    Ah, I work out that direction :) I'm still relatively new here, still learning my way around. The roads here are nothing compared to Brisbane's - I will never complain about Brisbane roads again! Also, I think the M4 is the only non-traffic lighted road that isn't tolled :\

    A screw driver set is about all I have out of my tools that I could put to use on something like this - everything else is car tools. I would love an electric drill though, I'm sure I could find plenty of other things to drill. And I will definitely be taking pictures of my build progress when I start! That way when my dad doesn't believe I built something, I have some proof :p

    Yours is looking good so far, great work :)
     
  6. Vengeance

    Vengeance Not so new Member

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    As long as the drivers aren't as crazy as they are here, I think I'll like the change (as a pedestrian!). Learning how to drive on NSW roads isn't something I'm looking forward to though. I'm the one of only DIY savvy people in this house, nothing like being able to say "I built this" after it's all set up and ready to go! Photographic evidence, good idea. :p


    It was raining quite a bit today so I was dubious at the idea of finishing the enclosure itself (walls, screws, sealant). With most of the people in the house about to go on a road trip, I needed to get it done regardless. A bit of warm water on a cloth and paper towel to remove any residual water cleaned the surface of the melamine up nicely. In the first picture the melamine is still dirty, but in the second it's clean (well, the interior is anyway).

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    Attaching the top lip to the enclosure. Bottom lip isn't secured yet, it's just a snug fit.

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    All edges sealed. Silkaflex was really easy to work with and had fairly low odour compared to some other sealants I've used. In future I'm going to lay some tape down so the sealant has clean edges. It looks alright as it is now though, so I think I did a decent job of applying it.

    I want to make a 3D background for this once we move, I'm still undecided on the style of background I want. I think I might go for rectangular vents, spray painting both them and the track black as I don't think the vents I have now will provide adequate ventilation (four vents for each side with a 28mm total air flow opening). The vents and track aren't going to be attached until later this weekend, or maybe after we move. All in all I'm glad I have gotten this far, given the time limit I have.
     
  7. dragondragon

    dragondragon Subscriber Subscriber

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    Good job well done
     
  8. Norm

    Norm Guest

    I`ve got a little black cage with the brown tracks and although my interior is stained timber it doesn`t look too bad. Once you put some branches in the brown tracks don`t look out of place. Just might save you painting them black.
    Theres pics on here somewhere, I`ll try to find them and show you. Its an old bedside chest of drawers.
     
  9. Norm

    Norm Guest

    Here we go, was my first enclosure. As I said the timber interior helps but with branches and brown hide I don`t think it comes up too bad.
    RIMG0676.jpg RIMG0709.jpg
     
  10. Vengeance

    Vengeance Not so new Member

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    That enclosure looks great! I see what you mean with the brown track blending in with the timber interior. I won't be using branches in this build however, as I don't want Gizmo (the intended resident) to try climbing them, he's a bit of a clumsy climber. Thank you for the suggestion Norm. :D

    Thank you dragondragon. :)
     
  11. Norm

    Norm Guest

    Ha Ha! Didn`t read properly, I didn`t realise Gizmo`s a blue tongue!
     
  12. Tyl3r

    Tyl3r Active Member

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    Looking good so far!! I like this.. With the last pic, it looks like there is a 'gap' between the bottom piece and the back piece. Is that what you were talking about in earlier posts? It could be easily hidden if you use the right substrate. :)
     
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