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Friday, July 23, 2010

The Rat Cage

I told the story of the rat cage that spiraled out of control in an earlier post.  I've finally got the photos together to show how it was constructed and how it looks now.  As I mentioned, it started out as a $20 bookcase from a local second hand shop.  It looked like this (I'd already taken off a piece of trim from the top edge before I thought to take a photo).

As I mentioned before, the only tools I had at the time were a hand saw, mitre box, chisel, drill, jig saw and palm sander.  I constructed the door frame out of 1"x2" lumber with lap jointed corners that I secured with glue and pegs made out of dowels.  Here are a couple of photos of the construction.

The lap joints were created by sawing down to half the depth of the wood every 1/4" with the hand saw then removing the excess material using the chisel.  I used the chisel to knock down the edges of all the boards to create a more rustic finish at the joints since having them match perfectly was very difficult.  The pegs were made out of stock doweling.  I bored the holes with a drill bit, added glue, inserted small sections of doweling and then chiseled them flush.  Once the door was finished I lined it with wire mesh and attached it to the carcass with  simple hinges.  To finish the carcass of the cabinet I sawed off the kick plate at the bottom, added crown molding at the top, added tall legs to the bottom and sawed holes in each shelf so the rats could access all levels of the cage.  Here is a photo of the carcass without the door.

I searched photos of cabinets and decided that I would only use turned legs on the front for emphasis and plain legs on the back.  Here is a photo of the door assembly as I was checking the fit.

Once the whole thing was put together I painted the outside using a flat latex paint and then used a latex based varnish for the interior to showcase the wood grain.  The varnish was supposed to be good not only for exteriors but also for use submerged in water.  It didn't turn out that way however, after a few months of use the interior was peeling and I ended up lining the floor of each level with a peel and stick tile.  That worked wonders.  The finished cage looks like this...

1 comment:

  1. Just found this through Pinterest. It looks brilliant! How has the cage stood up to the test of time? I'm contemplating building one but wasn't sure how durable it would be and well it would cope with the rat wee... Also, what type of wire did you use? Galvanised or coated? Thanks. :)