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Making Hollow Logs/Branches

Discussion in 'Cage Furniture - Accessories' started by Terp91, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Terp91

    Terp91 Elite Member

    I'm curious if anyone here has experience making artificial hollow logs or branches, rather than finding natural ones?

    I have a hard time finding anything hollow outside, and they're often heavily rotted or full of life I'd rather not introduce to the cage. I know submerging it for a while would clear out all of the nasties but I don't have anything large enough to soak a 4-6' piece of wood.

    I've been trying to come up with ideas on how to make hollow pieces and so far all I've come up with is to use drain pipe, pvc pipe, or a combination of wood and foam sheets. Obviously whatever the structure is made of would need to be covered in great stuff, grout, concrete, etc. and then painted/sealed. Also haven't thought of a way to coat the inside properly. Thought about making each half separate and then lining them up and adding more grout to get them to become one piece but this seems like it might not last over time.

    Any thoughts?
  2. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    You could wrap bark around some pvc piping and they hot glue in place and seal it with a few coats of polycrylic by minwax.

    Is this going to be in a moist environment?

    Using great stuff around the pipe would also look nice, carve to make it look like a log and then paint and seal.

    Would love to see a finished product :)
  3. Terp91

    Terp91 Elite Member

    Hmm I like the bark idea, that'd be easy to repair/replace over time too. I've actually never used great stuff before, any clue how well it adheres to plastics? I'm looking into doing this for when I make my timor's larger cage to provide more hides. I wouldn't say that it'll be overly moist, my plan is to make some sort of hollow tree going up one corner and branching to different areas of the enclosure. The only moist/humid part would be where it's in contact with the substrate, but if using it for a partially buried log that'd be more of an issue.

    By making it the whole thing hollow inside and rough enough for him to climb anywhere on it I figure he'll feel more secure and maybe be a bit more outgoing haha. Plus it should be pretty easy to attach fake foliage all over the "canopy" of the tree to provide more cover. I'll draw up what I'm planning and attach a pic sometime tomorrow.

    Just had another idea, do you think hardware cloth would be sturdy enough as a base? It'd be easy enough to shape it into whatever design and then coat it in great stuff or foam sheeting and mortar/grout/etc.

    I'm sorry about all of the consecutive posts, if a mod comes by and wants to combine them please do.

    Here's a quick sketch of what I was thinking of doing. The sketch only shows a 4' long by 6' high area although the cage will be 6'x28"x6'. Also, I drew it with the upper branches too far away from the lights so imagine them all ~6" higher to give a good range of temps for basking. This may also allow for another branch or two further down the tree, but I didn't want to redo the entire thing as it's just a quick sketch.

    hollow tree design.jpg

    I may just construct the long branch first to see how it works out and if everything goes well then build the rest of the tree. Wasn't too sure how to draw it to show the inside designs as well, but I figure that adding a corkscrew path around the trunk interior leading to where each of the branches and entry/exit holes are would work. Obviously the monitor can climb straight up if he chooses, but adding ramps or platforms may increase his use of it.

    Also, would having a higher substrate level inside the tree trunk be beneficial? I can see how it would offer a greater range of temperatures and more nesting possibilities if I ever get a chance to add a female into the mix. Biggest issue I can see with designing something like this is how to support the mass of the tree and the abuse it will take over time. Two solutions I came up with are include a wooden skeleton inside that ends in a few spread supports below substrate level or wrap the hardware cloth around plywood sections where the tree will be touching the enclosure sides and simply screw the two pieces of wood together to hold it all in place.
  4. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    The one thing about great stuff is that when it dries, it shrinks, its also very messy to work with.

    I'm not sure how it would hold up to monitor's claws though? Hopefully someone will come by
  5. Vers

    Vers Elite Member

    I would be inclined to use molded hardware cloth and dense foam (not great stuff or similar) with a full concrete coating if you choose to go the artificial route. Just keep in mind, however, that it will be very difficult to clean, especially the interior and it may actually weigh more than natural wood.
  6. Terp91

    Terp91 Elite Member

    Hmm, how thick of concrete do you think would be necessary? I'm not overly worried about needing to clean it, my timor almost always defecates in his water so it shouldn't get too dirty. How much do you think something like this would end up weighing?
  7. Komododragon12

    Komododragon12 Elite Member

    I would suggest pvc pipe pieces covered in great stuff foam, or if it can hold it, grout. Make sure to waterproof it if this will be a humid enclosure. If you check out, there are quite a few videos that show how you can do the construction of grout decorations.
  8. Vers

    Vers Elite Member

    It's not all about fecal matter, you need to keep other things like mite/parasite infestations and disease in mind as well. You can simply remove a natural wood piece and soak/spray it down without worrying too much about damaging it in the process, which wouldn't be as easy with an artificial piece with said construction. As for how thick you should make it, it depends on the design and base materials but I'd say anywhere from 1/2"-1" thick depending on the specific area. I made some artificial basking surfaces and hides out of masonry mesh and sand/topping mix cement with a acrylic fortifier recently, which are approximately 3/4" thick, that seem extremely strong. You can also toss in some fiber reinforcement for added strength. Another possibility would be fiberglass. It would be a much more expensive and advanced route but it would be much stronger, lighter and easier to clean. The tricky part is adding texture and color, specifically a paint or coating that is safe and resilient. Also, I've seen people use PVC pipe (as suggested above) but I'd imagine it would be difficult for the animal to maneuver through it given it's smooth/slick surface, though I suppose you could just scuff it up a lot.
  9. KDK241

    KDK241 Well-Known Member

    I found an idea someone did on another forum that I want to try but still haven't gotten around to doing. You take pvc pipe and heat with a heat gun to bend it into shape. Cut some holes in it where you want them and then gouge and scuff it up with a dremel to look like bark. Paint it with acrylic paint and seal it and you're done. I'll post the link if I can find it.
  10. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    You can get a 4 or 5 foot piece of round cork bark at the next expo in MD or PA. Prices are not bad. Just keep in mind that you are not removing any reptile that crawls in there lol. I couldnt even get a corn snake out of a 6" cork round
  11. Rakoladycz

    Rakoladycz Elite Member

    For the soaking logs you can purchase a cheap 10-20 dollar kiddie pool and weigh it down underwater. I constructed my background out of basic styrofoam and greatstuff foam. I applied about a 1/2 inch of concrete vinyl patch mixed with a bit of concrete dye on all the surfaces. A year later it has held up to everything. I have one crack in it from me maneuvering and setting it up. I would say the one section with the background weighs near 300 pounds.
  12. lulubelle

    lulubelle Well-Known Member

    I found a site similar to that yesterday. Here's the link:Do It Yourself Fake Wood...the cheap way!

    I'm also trying to figure out some way to construct part of a tree about 3 or 4 feet tall and have been scouring the web for ideas. I tried doing a branch about 15" with a grey plastic pipe used for electrical wires. I used a power drill and a cylindrical grinding bit (I couldn't find the round bit). I also bent it slightly using a torch... not enough to burn it, but enough to heat and bend.

    The "bark" looked pretty good, but I don't think I will do that for my tree. If I fussed with it more and then painted it, it would look really cool, but for me, it's easier to carve polystyrene than deal with the grinder and plastic.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    One warning about heating pvc pipe,..DO IT OUTDOORS!
    PVC when heated gives off some seriously nasty fumes!

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