John Hollister's Wooden Cages
I prefer to use 3/4" birch plywood for the sides and front of my cages. It is handsome wood, stains well, and it is straight, flat and lighter in weight than most pine plywoods. The cages pictured below were stained with Golden Oak and then coated with polyurethane. A minimum of two coats was used on the interior surfaces.
Construction methods on both cages were the same. The only difference was the center support on the 48 inch wide cage. Because of the length of the span, the racks may eventually sag without the supports. The bottom of the crosspieces was routed out to allow the glass to fit snugly. On the 48" wide cages, the center support was also routed out to accept the glass.
The cup holder is a 4" PVC pipe connector. I got it at Lowe's for $.76. A 16 oz. deli cup fits into it perfectly. Since it is snugged into a corner, a single screw holds it firmly in place.
The small piece of wood seen slightly above the cup holder was cut from scraps. It swivels on a screw and serves to hold the glass door closed.
I have used various materials as vents. For these cages, I used 1/4" thich pegboard. The vents were adhesed to the back of the rack with liquid nails, and also held with screws. They were stained, although the stain does not show up on the pegboard. It was also coated with polyurethane. The cages were built as a single unit, rather than as individual cages. The dimensions are 48"X24"X72" high, 6 cages for the wider one, and 32"X24'X72", 7 cages high for the narrower ones. The wires lead from the heat tapes to the rheostats.
The Rollers are heavy duty swivel rollers. The cross pieces on which they are affixed are scraps cut out for the vents. If it doesn't show, feel free to use scraps. It works fine and saves money. The three rheostats are hidden from view. The cross-pieces rest on 2X4's. This arrangement gives the height needed while giving good structural strength.
The knobs on the bottom panel are for the rheostats used to control the heat tapes. I have used FlexWatt 4" heat tapes. They are tacked down with staples, and then clear tape is run along the sides and edges to keep snakes and bedding from getting underneath the heat tape. I have two cages hooked to each rheostate. On the 7 cage setup, the center three cages are on a single rheostat.
The sides and front panels were routed out to accept the 1/2" thick pine plywood shelves. This will keep them from sagging, as well as adding structural support. A bead of liquid nails was laid in the grooves prior to adding the shelves. The front panes are held to the sides with brackets screwed to the wood. on the back of the shelves, screws were run through the back panel into the shelves, and a bead of silicon was used to fill any gaps and make the cage water-tight. This will keep each cage seperate unto itself.
Adhesing the hinges can be tricky. I have tried may types of adhesives, including the two-part epoxy glues, one part epoxies, hot glue, etc., but have yet to find one which will work with 100% dependability. Some let go on the metal, some let go on the glass. I've sanded the glass, sanded the metal, still can't get a perfect adhesive..