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Thread: 4'x2'x18" cage tutorial

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default 4'x2'x18" cage tutorial

    Okay guys. For those who are less fortunate with building things. I decided on the cage I'm building at the moment to make a tutorial.

    Cage demotion: 48"x24"x18"
    Total cost: In the $70's
    Supplies that I had to buy:
    1/2" MDF Plank - $15.59
    32"x14" Window - $13.49
    6'x9' Roll of Linoleum - $16.97
    Vinyl Adhesive - $6.97
    Trowel - $2.99
    1" Drywall Screws - $3.82
    Undereave Vent - $1.49
    Supplies I had around the house (may be added to in the future):
    1 gallon Bear Paint - $10
    Sealant - $2.99
    Screw drivers
    Jig saw
    1" Drill bit
    Drill bits

    Supply pictures (not all supplies are shown below)

    From left to right - 1" drywall screws, trowel, vinyl adhesive
    user posted image
    From left to right - 1" drywall screws, trowel, vinyl adhesive, undereave vent
    user posted image
    36"x18" Window
    user posted image
    user posted image
    Linoleum 6'x9' roll (picture card was bad so the pictures color turned out bad)

    8'x4' Plank cut into 5 pieces.
    1. 48" x 24"
    2. 48" x 24"
    3. 48" x 18" - will be cut into 2 pieces of 24" x 18" for the sides (ends) of the cage.
    4. 46" x 18"
    5. 48" x 12" - scrap. Can be used for a lip in the front of the cage or a shelf inside.

    This was only some supplies, there are still other supplies not pictured
    First step in the process.
    1. Before you get start, unroll the linoleum and place on a flat, hard, clean, substrate. Weight it down in order to get rid of all the roll in the sheet. Top side is best facing downward. Wait a few hours (or even 24 hours for best results) in order for it to be ready to use.
    2. While the lenolium is flattening out, you can be some other things in order to get things started. On the window, you must remove the screen in order to use the window as the main entrance of the cage. You can do this by pull up the edges of the screen with a pair of pliers. Its best to removed the glass before you go yanking at the window.
    3. Cut the planks of MDF into the certain measurements you want. I chose a 48" x 24" x 18" cage. Above you will find each planks measurements. You may prime the planks to start if you want. The side with where the linoleum is being placed does not need to be primed, sealed, or painted. The other side can be, but its a preference. In this order is the best way to paint the outsides of the planks. Prime once(1), paint once (1), paint twice (2), seal once (1), seal twice (2), seal three times (3, isn't needed but is nice to have).
    Linoleum placement, cutting, and glueing.
    Once the linoleum has flattened out, you may now start the process of glueing on the linoleum to the wood, but theres a few steps before this you have to do.

    1. Line up the wood planks onto the linoleum in order to find out the best way to cut out the linoleum. Once you have found the right 'pattern' or 'puzzle' the hard process comes in.
    2. Make sure to line up the edges of the flattened linoleum with the cut planks of wood. This makes sure when you cut the linoleum patterns out that you get nice even cuts. Once you have the wood lined up, trace a pencil line around the outsides of the wood. Label the wood and the linoleum pattern for future glue. (*hint: Right the number on the wood the same direction as the letter on the linoleum pattern, this way it will line up correctly when gluing)

    3. Take off the wood plank and set it aside. Now you can take your handy dandy cutting tool and carefully cut out the lines you drew. Its best to use a sharp blade when cutting to make the cuts even and perfect. Once you have successfully cut it out, set the cut out piece of linoleum ontop of the plank and set it aside. Once all the patterns are cut out, move to the next step.
    4. Take a dry cloth and wipe all the pieces of wood and cut out pieces of linoleum really well. This way no dust or debree are on the places you will glue.
    5. Time for the gluing. This can be tricking, but after the first plank and linoleum are glued, you'll get the hang of it. Trawel the glue onto the wood, then place the cut out linoleum pattern ontop of the wood. (Hints, when traweling the glue, make sure you dont get to much around the edges, this will cause oozing of the glue. Stay at least .5 of an inch away from the outsides of the wood with the glue.) Once you have layed the linoleum on top of the gluey wood, use a rolling pen to get out all the air bubbles underneath the linoleum. If any glue oozes out the sides, take a damp paper towel and whipe off the access glue. **Important: Once the glue is placed onto the wood, you only have 15 minutes in order to put on the linoleum.**
    6. When all the pannels of wood are glued to the linoleum, place in an area where they will not be walked on, bumped, and make SURE they have venhilation. This is a big deal. Some glues may not smell bad, but still may have fumes. We don't want your house to go 'Ka-Boom'... Allow the glue to dry for 24 hours before the next step.

    Next steps: Screw the boards together. Well This part is pretty self-explainable. Just screw them together. Remember, you can't go overbored with screws. You want this to be sturdy. Make sure you drill pilot holes.

    Now you can drill holes for your vents. I chose to use a door hole bit. Its a big circle with teeth on it used for cutting out door knob holes. I centered the holes and it came out nice. Make sure not to go to fast when drilling it out, it will start burning the MDF if your not carefull about that.

    Now you can line up your exterior vents to predrill holes and make sure it looks nice. Make sure to measure and center it. This way both sides will look the same.

    Time for caulking. Buy any type of clear sylicone caulking for sealing the inside corners and edges. Just squeeze a bead of caulk on the cracks and gently glide your finger down the caulk on the edges to make it nice and smooth. Make sure to get extra caulk in the corners so nothing can leak out there or get in there.
    Lighting: Now you can install your lights. Simply drill a hole in the back of the cage around the top to thread your power cords through. You will probably have to splice the cords in order for it to fit through the small hole. Once you thread it through the hole, reconnect the cords and use electral tape on it so nothing can get to it. Mount your light fixture anywhere on the top of the inner part of the cage and thats it for that.

    STAINING: Nows the tricky part. Choose your prefered stain. Gently STURE (not shake) the stain in the can in order to mix it. Apply the stain to the wood with a cloth. Once the area disired is covered, whipe off the access stain with a paper towel then move to the next part of the cage. Apply more coats after 6 hours of drying time inbetween coats. Keep adding coats until the color you want appears.

    SEALING/POLYURETHENE: This is the HARDEST PART. Before I start, make sure you do this in a well venhilated area! Whipe down your cage with a very very lightly watered cloth on order to remove debree. Stir the slear in the can very gently, dont allow bubbles to form when sturring. Apply a coat of this to one side at a time. Make sure the side your sealing is facing upwards so no drips accure. This will take awhile but its well worth it. You DONT want to have drips on your cage. Inbetween coats, sand off the little bumps that drys on the cage with the finest sandpaper you own. Then take a tack cloth (sold at homedepot, its a sticky cheese cloth) and whipe down the spot your apply the second or third coat too. Then apply another coat. Allow the recammended drying time between coats. 2-3 coats is best. It takes at least 2 coats in order for it to become water resistant.
    Once its all dried now you may start to apply the door and vents. Since everything was pre-drilled, there wont be any hassle marking out where to put it. Just screw everything on the cage.
    You may apply trim to the cage in order to cover up those edges. I have not done this yet but I will. I just have not had the time to do so. Allow the cage to "air out" for a few days so theres no fumes inside the cage.

    DOOR. I used a storm window for my door. Its 36" x 18" it has little latchs on the front. Problem is the whole thing glass piece comes off. I'm sure they sell windows. I'll just add some hendges onto the frame. Before attaching the window, you have to re-enforce the MDF. This way it wont buckle on you from the weight of the window. I simply bolted on 1x2's inside. Then I screwed the window onto the 1x2's. The storm window only cost me $13 opposed to a $50 real window.

    LIGHTING: I used a wire cage around my light. Secured the cage with some wood around the base of the cage. The other light bulb was taken out. Its just an open socket for back up.

    This took a lot of time to build and to type up.
    Hopefully it will help anyone who is having troubles with building cages.
    Just remember one phrase, "Measure twice, cut once".


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Fort Wayne, IN



    very nice i love the look i want to build 2 tanks likde this one for my ball and one for my king....... very very nice

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    wow this is great, awsome I was just about to start building my BBC's new cage and this is the plans and tut I will use great job

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    I'm also thinking about using the stick on laminant tiles for the outside of the cage. I like the black marble look. To top it off after that, I plan on putting white trim on the edges on the outside. Make everything look nice.

  5. #5


    Very nice!! This design would be fabulous for dragon's. Thank you very much for taking the time to write up the tutorial. I really like how you've put the linoleum in the whole thing. Makes cleanup so much easier.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    durham, nc


    wow im impressed

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Southern California


    nice job!
    Animals: Too many.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Cow town, AB


    Hey RehabRalphy,

    Thanks a million for posting these pictures and instructions on building such a wonderful tank. I will have to use some tips you gave when making my own custom tank. DIY FOREVER :P

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    Thanks, I have done some upgrades to the cage since the tutorial was made.

    I added black and white marble stick on tiles to the outside of the cage, I didnt like that brown anymore. Then I added white edge molding to the outside corners of the cage. Looks great now.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007


    How about some updated pictures?
    1.1 Blue Tegus, 1.1 Cuban Rock Iguanas
    1.1 Bearded Dragons, 0.1 Veiled Chameleon
    0.1 Columbian Boa, 1.0 Ball Python, 0.0.1 Corn


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