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Building A 4x2x2

Discussion in 'General Construction' started by Qwerty3159, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. Qwerty3159

    Qwerty3159 Elite Member

    Yes, well the time has come for me to finally build an enclosure of my own. Nothing too extraordinary.

    I plan to use plywood, (I can get exactly one enclosure out of a 4x8 sheet)
    This tank would be for an ameiva, a tropical lizard requiring a fair amount of substrate and moisture.
    Would this affect anything? I know the tank needs to be sealed anyways, I planned on using this Minwax 1-Qt. Satin Polycrylic Protective Finish-63333444 - The Home Depot

    Just wondering if it would perhaps not be a good idea to have such a moist enclosure out of wood.
     
  2. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    As long as it's properly sealed, you won't have any issues with wood. I would also recommend swing doors over sliding, lizards almost always manage to kick loose substrate into the tracks of sliders.
     
  3. Qwerty3159

    Qwerty3159 Elite Member

    Thanks :) So is the polycrylic what I should be using to properly seal?
    I had also seen melamine as an option, based on how water would run off the exterior. However if melamine's interior does get wet that that is a real mess.

    I thought about swinging doors, but I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with the whole front of the cage open (Ameivas are insanely fast)
    I suppose I could have the top of the cage open but then I would have to have a screen.
     
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Having an open top also will require you to come down on the lizard from above,...the way a raptor would. Not very conducive to trust building.
     
  5. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member


    Hi, you can have a solid top that hinges upwards to open, no need to fit screen, it could also be in two halves so you can open one side at a time.
     
  6. Qwerty3159

    Qwerty3159 Elite Member

    Thanks for the suggestions guys.

    I'm thinking now that I'll probably just have an opening top. I have had similar, smaller, and more timid species of the same genus before. I think maybe if I put the basking area to a side where I won't open the tank it wouldn't give too much of a fright- mine in the past have gotten used to me and will come to my hands tasting them hoping to be fed. Though I still don't want to frighten it of course.

    If I were to do sliding doors, I have a shop vac with a really thin hose in the room anyways(perfect for sucking up substrate in the slider door tracks) so that shouldn't be a bother.

    This is all in a planning phase. Once again, thanks for your input :)
     
  7. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Front opening doors would not require you to have the entire cage open at the same time, you wouldn't want one nearly 4' long door anyway. What I usually do is to have 2 doors hinged at the ends of the cage and opening out from the center. Pretty easy to just use the door thats farthest from the animal then. If the cage will be up on a stand you could even do drop down doors, where they are hinged at the bottom and swing down and out of the way. But there really needs to be enough room for them to swing all the way down, otherwise you end up having to reach over the door. I can add some pictures later to show what I mean if you'd like.
    Oh, and I don't know about your animals, but I know mine would freak at the sound of a shopvac being run near their cage.
     
  8. Mattersmore29

    Mattersmore29 Member

    Just a suggestion. Polycrylic works for a little bit, but you will have to refinish it sooner than later. As a carpenter of 15 years I have have seen a lot of damaged wood work. For the sides that might be ok, but long term would be to use frp panel to line the bottom of the cage at least... or even plexiglass on the bottom. You could build your enclosure from 1x3, 1/4 inch panel, styrofoam insulation and frp for about 100 dollars. would save on heating to insulate. And If sealed properly with frp on the inside, it would last forever. Have fun building your cage :]
     
    murrindindi likes this.
  9. BrownFoundling

    BrownFoundling Established Member

    For those of us lacking in clue, what is frp?
     
  10. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    FRP= fiberglass replacement panels, or something close to that. They are a white panel, with antextured surface usually sold as a cheap and easy covering for bathroom surfaces like the walls and ceilings. It would make a really good cage lining as long as the corners and any fastener holes are sealed properly.
    Mattersmore29, not sure what the circumstances were you've dealt with, but polycrylic work quite well when properly applied. I and many others have used it for years with good results. I have a cage right now that has been in use for over a year without issues, and that's with humidity being at or above 75% constantly and with a fair sized monitor clawing at the walls a lot. I will admit to not having used it below the soil line personally yet, but I haven't heard complaints from those I know who have. Could you please give some examples of what you've seen? I curious of the circumstances of the failures involved.
     
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member


    Hi, FRP is fibreglass reinforced plastic, normally sold in sheet form.

    As already mentioned, varnish will last a limited time on the surfaces below substrate level, particularly if there`s a relatively high moisture level underground.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2015
  12. Mattersmore29

    Mattersmore29 Member

    hi Darkbird, my examples would be that water as we know gives life but also destroys many things. water will most certainly find its way into anything that there is a flaw or weakness in (mainly untreated lumber, to be on topic). i am no extra ordinary man by any means and i most certainly do not know everything about anything, so please dont think that i am coming across that way. just through years of repairing flawed designs or even accidental incidences, i have had to figure out how to fix or just simply repair water damaged houses. water proofing and water resistance leaves a huge gap in my personal opinion, as in that resistance to water is not water proof but frp is water proof, polycrylic is water resistant not water proof. a deep enough scratch will most definitely let water into the untreated wood and make it weak and over time destroying it if it comes in contact with water, i have seen this from house to house through out my career as a carpenter. that being said, i understand that someone who would be building a reptile enclosure would use more coats of polycrylic than that applied to a normal house building project. i am just the sort of person to do it one time only.... lol hopefully so! even using frp is not a full proof plan. if silocone is not applied correctly than even frp will not make the cage last for a very long time. my example of properly applying silicone is by running multiple beads of silicone between (between the wall and the floor before screwing them together) what ever you are wanting water to not be able to get into, not just in the corners of your seems, which will rub off or break contact from the seems when being cleaned. This is all just my experience and there are always better ways to do things but i just want to aid people in finding better ways or even bettering my ways through knowledge and experiences of others.
     
  13. Mattersmore29

    Mattersmore29 Member

    Darkbird, i never really gave you a direct answer to your question lol. so my reasoning is that there is not much flexibility from polyurethane, it is a very hard substance when dried. many factors from humidity, heat, cold, wear and age will cause wood to expand and contract or dry out (not just what you can visibly see), resulting in the joints and seems to separate in small and unnoticeable increments. scratches and wear that are not noticeable will let in moisture. most of the time structures that are damaged are not noticed until it is too late. all these things happen in long periods of time and will not take noticeable affect for years. silicone is flexible and frp is 100 percent waterproof, i pay close attention to my caulked corners when i clean so that i can correct any noticeable flaws in my joints that need repaired. with polycrylic you might not know how deep the scratch is and if it needs repair. i built my fisrt enclosure quickly and cheaply knowing that i would have to build another one. my last enclosure i built to last the entirety of my retics 15 to 25 year life span. but that could be indefinite if i made a design flaw somewhere when building it. anyhow you are correct in saying that many people use polyurethane because they do and it works until altered by my reasonings, and those factors could be just as damaging to my enclosure if not watchful, so my way isnt the best way. i was just stating my opinion to what i have learned to be a longer lasting way to construct an enclosure. if i had the money i would have built the enclosure entirely out of abs and never had to worry about anything ever again. i was just stating my opinion to what i have learned to be a longer lasting way to construct an enclosure with a limited amount of money. my opinion came from years of learning from my mistakes and listening to better knowledge than mine and much better carpenters than me. thnks for reading my opinion.
     
  14. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Thanks for the response on that. Wasn't trying to call you out or anything, really was just curious what your experiences had been. And definitely not knocking the use of FRP, it's probably the fastest and easiest way to finish the interior of a cage. But I will say I have at least one cage with the back panel done in polycrylic, and 10 years later it's the least damaged panel in the cage. No damage in fact. The rest of the cage was prefinished, as it was an old console tv that I gutted. That held up ok, but I'm going to re-do it with polycrylic.
    And you did make some very good points too.
     
  15. Qwerty3159

    Qwerty3159 Elite Member

    I forgot about this thread.

    Thanks for all your replies guys, I appreciate it.
    Looking into the FRP, I can get it for just about the same price as the plywood. Would it be possible to build the enclosure's interior entirely out of that? I could just silicone the edges off and then the whole thing would be waterproof, from my understanding
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  16. Mattersmore29

    Mattersmore29 Member

    Qwerty,

    i would just glue the frp to the plywood on the inside of the enclosure. the frp is to thin to build the enclosure entirely out of it. i framed walls, top and bottom out of 1x3 ( 1.67 per 8 foot), screwed it all together then i used 1/4 in plywood ( $12 for 4x8) to cover the inside and out. then i lined the inside of the cage with frp ($30 for 4x8). insulated the entire cage before i put the plywood on also. ventilation and insulation means a lot when it comes to conserving energy. also i trimmed it out nicely. but before i did all the finish work on it i had about 100 dollars in it. i will post a pic or two. yours might need to be different if its for a lizard. mine was for a retic.
     
  17. Mattersmore29

    Mattersmore29 Member

    20150310_175207.jpg 20150310_175214.jpg before I put my glass in. trimmed it all out of scrap lumber that I had in my shop.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    Yes, the FRP must be backed by something, it's rather thin and very flexible. The only thing I might change to what was said above is to suggest going with 1/2" ply, since you will be have to contend with the weight of a deeper substrate.
     
  19. Gaflem

    Gaflem Member

    I am needing to add frp to an existing cage made of plywood but I have yet to see anyone say how to attach the frp to the wood? Someone mentioned glueing it on but with what? This is for a savannah I will be getting so I plan to screw it in on the top edges so he does not catch a nail and pull it off too.
     
  20. Darkbird

    Darkbird Elite Member

    I believe construction adhesive, the type that comes in a caulking gun style tube is usually the ticket. Check with someone wherever you get the frp from for the specific product you need. You'll also want something to seal the seams, aquarium grade silicone is usually good.
     

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