Advice on DIY bearded dragon enclosure

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Newts

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Hi all,

I was planning on building my own enclosure for an adult bearded dragon, with the dimensions of 1100 x 600 x 1000mm. However I am becoming a bit disheartened over the cost. It seems like it is going to add up to more than a pre-built purchased enclosure, which surely can't be right...

Basically, I am limited by my lack of a work space and power tools beyond a drill and jigsaw (I don't even have a private backyard).

I know the cheapest way to go would be plywood, but I don't really have the space/ventillation to do the required finishing.

So I thought I would go with melamine, but Bunnings won't be able to cut all my pieces to size, leaving me with trying to jigsaw it which I would rather not do.

Now I have sourced a cabinet makers/suppliers who will cut, edge, and deliver the melamine for me (don't have a car either!)

But that and the glass is already taking it to $700. That's basically all the cost since I have all the heating/lighting fittings etc., but it's not what comes to mind when I think of "go cheaper with DIY".

I'm in fairly central Melbourne so a lot of the hardware stores are out in the suburbs and are not places I can visit to check out their stock or pick up supplies myself (closest by a long shot is Bunnings).

As you can probably tell, I have limited experience (and resources) for these kinds of projects, so I would love some advice on what I am doing wrong or what could be improved, or if that price is actually OK. I suspect DIY is just not economical when you have next to nothing in the first place.
 

Repthills

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In Sydney there is a chain of stores called Mr Ply and Wood. If they are in Vic they will cut to size for you.
 

princessparrot

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I just used those flat sheets of plastic from bunning on my womas enclosure. Can't remember the name or price though
 

kingofnobbys

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Bunnings Trade Desk , give them the sizes you want the plywood cut to ,and they'll be happy to arrange the cutting for a nominal fee per cut .

All you need do is select the material , thickness etc (can do that via their webpage) then a phone call to the local Bunnings and ask for the trade desk, tell them what you (regarding cutting) and then just have to pay and collect (or have them deliver).
 

Newts

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The issue with bunnings is that they have a policy where they won't cut to size if an off piece is going to be less than 300mm, so that leaves me with buying a lot of extra melamine (because buying sheets closer to the desired size means the offcuts are too small), as well as having to cut some pieces myself at home which I don't think I will do a good job of. So I thought it would be better to go with a place where I can get all the sheets completed for me and I just do all the screwing, vents, fittings etc. But it's ended up costing so much, more than buying a similar cage outright at some places.

Thanks Repthills and princessparrot, I'll look into those suggestions.
 

kingofnobbys

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The issue with bunnings is that they have a policy where they won't cut to size if an off piece is going to be less than 300mm, so that leaves me with buying a lot of extra melamine (because buying sheets closer to the desired size means the offcuts are too small), as well as having to cut some pieces myself at home which I don't think I will do a good job of. So I thought it would be better to go with a place where I can get all the sheets completed for me and I just do all the screwing, vents, fittings etc. But it's ended up costing so much, more than buying a similar cage outright at some places.

Thanks Repthills and princessparrot, I'll look into those suggestions.

Are there more than one Bunnings nearby ?
.... it might be a policy at the one you called / visited. Try another . Most any hardware store that sells timber will cut it for you for a nominal charge, you don't need to commission a cabinet maker to do the cutting for you.

I had some plywood precut at my local Bunnings last year and some of the offcuts were way under 300mm wide , as narrow as 75mm, only proviso was I had to take the entire sheet including offcuts/waste pieces.

Other option is maybe ask a mate or relative or inlaw who happens to regard himself as a handyman to do the smaller cuts for you (pay him in grog).

BTW melamine wouldn't be my choice of building materials for a reptile enclosure. Not a fan of using any sort of particle board (even MDF), only thing it has going for it is price.
 
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dragonlover1

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there are many people who build reptile enclosures for way less than that if you go for standard sizes,say 1200 x 600 x 600 you can get these in kit form for about $300-400
 

Newts

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[MENTION=41275]kingofnobbys[/MENTION] the Bunnings around me all have this 'no less than 300mm offcut' policy, and it's not to do with buying the board, apparently it's safety concern. I'd love to go with plywood for the lightness, cheapness and longer life span, but I don't have the means to give it the finishing it requires. I plan on sealing all the melamine edges and lining the bottom with plastic and I know it's vulnerable to scratching, but I think I can make it work well. Also I live 4 hrs away from family and all my friends and acquaintances are uni students with a similar lack of resources :(


I already have a 900 x 600 x 600 for my bearded dragon. Increasing the height and length is something I have been wanting to do for a long while to give him more climbing opportunities, microclimates and a substrate deep enough to dig in. I know it's not 'necessary' but it's something I want to do.

Thanks for the input everyone. I just want an idea of if it's even possible to build relatively cheaply with melamine when you have no power tools, no work space, and no car. Not really surprised that the answer seems to be no, but I'd love to hear otherwise.
 

kingofnobbys

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Have you considered buying a flat pack "timber" box , maybe these guys can help you http://www.customflatpack.com.au/melamine

or

perhaps check out a office furniture supply shop and take a look at their secondhand storage cabinets (can be very reasonably priced including delivery) and very easy to modify to the job of creating a beardie enclosure simply by removing the shelf (one the size you want will have an adjustable shelf) taking the front doors off and replacing with sliding glass or Perspex doors on the front.
 
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Newts

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Not a bad idea about the furniture modification, I'll look into it, thanks! Thanks also for the link :)
 
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