Enclosure Design Considerations

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Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby MrSpectrum » Sat Aug 17, 2019 5:10 am

claudiusx wrote:Good luck with your build, you should start a thread in the diy section. We need more diyers in there! Lol.

-Brandon


OK. :lol:

Background:
After NOT being able to find any information on the elusive "CrossFire" enclosure (I'm guessing there may be a story behind this, but I don't know), I embarked upon the endeavor of designing an enclosure (which turned into 2 enclosures) from scratch. I watched about a dozen (probably more) YT vids on DIY enclosures, took a lot of notes, reviewed as many commercial enclosures as I could find, took more notes, then took stock of my own abilities (and took more notes :roll: )
"A man's got to know his limitations."--Dirty Harry


Several personal factors/considerations went into my designs:
1. I do not have access to a table saw (I do have a radial arm saw).
2. I do not have access to a tile cutter/saw, and I knew from research that I wanted a tile floor for easy cleaning/maintenance, maintaining claws, etc.
3. I wanted something that looked a little nicer than a "plywood box" (even though that's essentially what it is). This is just aesthetics; I don't care for exposed fixtures & wiring.
4. I'm not what most folks would call a "craftsman".

Since I don't have a table saw, I had to design something with as few cuts (of plywood) as possible. I won't go into the pros/cons of having the DIY chain store cut it for me; I got it cut elsewhere.

Adventures in Plywood:
At first, I was intending to build the enclosure out of 1/2" plywood. Upon pricing out several kinds/varieties, I was a bit surprised to learn that the difference in cost between 1/2" and 3/4" plywood--even very good quality plywood--is incremental, only a couple dollars per sheet. This was my first mistake. While the price difference is negligible, the difference in WEIGHT isn't; 3/4" plywood weighs 50% more than 1/2" plywood. These puppies are going to come in between 225-300 LBS! (Live & learn... :oops: )

Baltic Birch is great stuff, and used to be more expensive than regular plywood, so I figured designing for it would be an exercise, and I'd wind up using regular 4x8 plywood. Not so this time. For some reason, the Baltic Birch option priced out about $100 less than 4x8 plywood.

Moral: Plywood/lumber are commodities worth shopping for.

The 2 Options:
1. Since Baltic Birch comes in 5'x5' sheets, it didn't make sense to me to cut a foot off of each sheet to build a 4 ft. enclosure, so I designed it as a 5 ft. enclosure--fewer cuts, and far less waste.

2. Again, to save cuts, I designed the enclose for 4x8 plywood to be the full 8 ft. long, with a removable partition down the middle. This leaves the option of two 4 ft. enclosures (side by side), for 2 dragons, 2 different species of lizard, or a breeding enclosure (male on one side; female on other side) or one big-*** 8 ft, enclosure.

Since I don't have a tile cutter/saw, and I found some nice big (12"x24") slate tiles at a big-box store, rather than designing the box and trying to cut/fit the tile into it (nigh impossible), I designed the box(es) around the tiles. :twisted:

A Word on Tile:
I found some natural stone (slate) tile, which is impervious. It's not exactly the color I would've chosen, but being impervious, lizard poop won't penetrate and... linger. :D The tile I almost chose (for color & texture) was quite porous, and IMO would--over time--soak up odors, etc. like a sponge. Word to the wise. :wink:

Lighting:
As mentioned previously, I didn't want exposed lighting fixtures/wiring. so I designed the boxes to be 36" tall; 25" for the lizard, and 8" for the fixtures/wiring (I measured a deep dome enclosure at 8" in case I needed to go that way, but see next paragraph...) with a "false ceiling" between the compartments. The remaining space is taken up by plywood thickness, tile, etc.

UVB will be provided by a 48" T5 fixture with integrated reflector. Basking lamp is concealed within a recessed aimable "eyeball" fixture.

Decor:
The false ceiling (containing the lights) will be painted sky-blue (not that a C-B lizard will know/appreciate that... :roll: ) and the back wall will be covered with slate backsplash tile (to match the floor). I also bought some smaller slate floor tiles that I've removed from the backing, and will use to build some climb-ables, basking areas, small planters for live succulents, etc.

I thought about devising some way to utilize baking soda as an odor inhibitor (Cool your jets, folks, I also read that baking soda is a definite no-no for beardies). I haven't totally given up on this idea; I just need to figure a way to make it beardie-proof. :)
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby Claudiusx » Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:12 am

Cool! Can't wait to start seeing some pics of the build.
MrSpectrum wrote:At first, I was intending to build the enclosure out of 1/2" plywood. Upon pricing out several kinds/varieties, I was a bit surprised to learn that the difference in cost between 1/2" and 3/4" plywood--even very good quality plywood--is incremental, only a couple dollars per sheet. This was my first mistake. While the price difference is negligible, the difference in WEIGHT isn't; 3/4" plywood weighs 50% more than 1/2" plywood.

Yeah much heavier, but I use the 3/4 for all my builds too simply for strength. Could probably get away with 1/2 but I prefer the strength and stability the 3/4 provides. Plus, I cut my glass tracks into the 3/4 which would be harder to do with 1/2. Pros and cons to both! :)

MrSpectrum wrote:fewer cuts, and far less waste.

For all my projects (well I guess mainly ply projects) I use a cut list optimizer. Basically design your build, measure it out, get the dimensions of all your pieces, and plug them in to an app or calculator. I have an app that takes my pieces and finds the best way to get that out of a sheet of ply.
For that reason, some of my past 4x2x2s haven't been true 4x2x2s, more nominal like 42x20x22 or somewhere along the lines. With the app it gives me the ability to tweak my dimensions and measurements until i'm happy with the "waste". I would have to go back and look but I believe I have a design I came up with that makes a nominal 4x2x2 with 1 sheet of ply and only 6.2% waste :D
My double stacked 4x2x2 uses 3 sheets though and has a bit more waste. But it's a large (63% waste) amount of one board, which leaves me a nice 5x4~ sheet to use on another project.
But if you're going to get into building more, it's a nice tool to have!

MrSpectrum wrote:I thought about devising some way to utilize baking soda as an odor inhibitor (Cool your jets, folks, I also read that baking soda is a definite no-no for beardies).

I've never read that but to be honest i've never looked into it. The smell really isn't an issue I think you'll find. As long as you clean the poo daily, there shouldn't really be a smell. The only time I ever catch a whiff of something is if they had just had a BM.
How exactly were you thinking of utilizing the backing soda?

Good luck with this!

-Brandon
Follow along with all my beardies. Check out my thread here!: Claud's Crew
P.S. We have lots of pictures ;)
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby MrSpectrum » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:01 am

claudiusx wrote:For all my projects (well I guess mainly ply projects) I use a cut list optimizer.


That works if direction of grain doesn't matter (unless your app is that sophisticated). Since this is birch, I was planning on staining/finishing to complement the furniture in the room (color-wise, anyway :roll: )
I never actually calculated waste percentage, but since I laid out the cut sheets by hand, and utilized full length in each case, there's very little waste, and what there is is still usable elsewhere.

How exactly were you thinking of utilizing the backing soda?


Still thinking about that. An open container is the traditional household method. Just gotta figure a way to keep it out of reach. Probably not too much different than kid/puppy-proofing. :wink:

Just got back from Home Despot with the sky-blue paint, clear urethane (inside sealer), dimensional lumber, and a few odds & ends. Still have a few more things to order/obtain before assembly begins in earnest. DW is having fun transplanting the beardie-safe succulents into their new enclosure pots.
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby Claudiusx » Sat Aug 17, 2019 9:23 am

My app does consider direction of grain actually. My double stack is made out of maple ply, otherwise I would have had less waste haha. Maple ply for everything exposed. Everything that isnt is just regular furniture grade ply.

It's not very sophisticated though. It's an app for my phone and it is pretty crude and hard to understand at first but once you get the hang of it, it gets the job done.

And like you said, nothing is really waste unless you're doing it for customers lol. Scrap wood always has a use, at least in my garage lol.

-Brandon
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P.S. We have lots of pictures ;)
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby MrSpectrum » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:29 am

claudiusx wrote:....nothing is really waste unless you're doing it for customers lol. Scrap wood always has a use, at least in my garage lol.


That's (partly) why I have a standard note on all my cut sheets:

_____"Usable waste to be saved and returned to customer."

I've had no drama over the interpretation of "usable"; one piece I got back is 60" x ¾" x 1". At first I chuckled, but it's looking like I may use it as blocking/bracing in lieu of 1x2.

Have you (or anyone) got much experience using clear urethane (as a sealer)?
I'm kinda.... "old school" (i.e. Old Fart) when it comes to finishing; I always used lacquer. I tried urethane once (late '70s) but the results were so crappy, I never touched the stuff again.
If I'm to believe/trust what I've read recently, urethane tech is greatly improved since then (and lacquer can be a pain outside of a finishing room) so I'm giving it another go....

I'll be using it to seal the plywood floor under the 12" x 24" slate tiles. The tiles are cut/mfrd. so well they fit flush, so I'm not using grout--just clear silicone--between the floor tiles. That also makes them more easily removable in case the l'il fella decides to squeeze one out right over a tile seam. :roll: :lol:

Any advice/suggestions?
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby Claudiusx » Sun Aug 18, 2019 4:28 am

Well that must make me new school because I've only used urethanes to seal my projects! :laughing6:
I build more than just beardie tanks though, and on furniture that doesnt need to stand up to beardie I use other sealers but polyurethane is the way to go in this application as far as I'm concerned. you could get super high tech and use epoxies also. But they tend to be a lot more expensive lol.

There are so many options out there basically just pick one and go with it. Figure out what you like and dont like, and adjust for next time.

I started off with wipe on oil based urethane. Ended up not liking it too much mainly because I found it a pain and took way too long to actually cure. It's more expensive but now I just buy the water based aerosol cans. Much easier to spray imo. If I had a spray system I'd just buy the cartons of it and use my sprayer, but a project hasn't come up for me where it would make sense to pick up a couple hundred dollar sprayer.

Anyways, for my current build that's what I've done so far. Sprayed the inside to seal it. The exterior will be a finishing oil to highlight the maple.

Word of warning though, if you can still smell fumes it's not fully cured. The product usually says anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days to cure. I find most of the time I'm waiting 1-2 weeks before it's actually fully cured. You dont want to put your buddies in an enclosed environment full of VOCs! :)

-Brandon
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P.S. We have lots of pictures ;)
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby MrSpectrum » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:16 am

claudiusx wrote:Word of warning though, if you can still smell fumes it's not fully cured. The product usually says anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days to cure. I find most of the time I'm waiting 1-2 weeks before it's actually fully cured. You dont want to put your buddies in an enclosed environment full of VOCs! :)


Way ahead of you on that one. Probably won't be getting the l'il monster until Nov.--gave myself a lot of lead time for all the glues, finishes, etc. to cure, and for the succulents to work any chemicals out of their systems... :wink:
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby MrSpectrum » Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:56 am

FIRST ENCLOSURE PIC

Plants/Enrichment

Prevailing wisdom :study: is to plant early, and allow several weeks for any chemicals to work their way out of the plants, so this is the first pic of our "build".

Before you ask/comment...
1. All plants shown are Succulents that have been checked, double-checked, & verified as being "Beardie Safe" :study:
2. I DON'T know all the species off the top of my head--only that they've been checked and are BD-Safe and suitable.
3. All plants shown were then checked for Exposure (Full Sun, Partial Sun, etc.) Temperature Range, Humidity Requirements, and Mature Size. :study:
4. All plants shown have backup duplicates (not shown) in case of consumption/destruction. :banghead:
5. The 3 in the back will be transplanted into slate planters made from slate floor tiles (not built yet).
6. Plant tags will be removed before installing in enclosure.
7. Yes, we know that in all likelihood these plants will be eaten/otherwise destroyed, but we can still remain hopeful... :lol:

Image

Can you guess which ones are the Living Stones :?:
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby Claudiusx » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:25 am

About time this stinkin' thread gets some pictures! :laughing6:

I'm excited to see what you come up with. Is November here yet? :mrgreen:
Idk how you stay so patient.

-Brandon
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P.S. We have lots of pictures ;)
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby MrSpectrum » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:51 am

claudiusx wrote:Idk how you stay so patient.


"God, please give me patience; if you give me strength, I will just punch someone in the face." :D
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby Claudiusx » Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:05 am

Lmao. Did not expect that one haha. I'm definitely stealing it :laughing6:

-Brandon
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby MrSpectrum » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:45 am

FIRST (POTENTIAL) DESIGN CHANGE

As can be seen in the photo of the plants, I put a layer of pebbles on top of each planter, thinking it might discourage digging (I also really like the way they look). Well, I just read a few threads on BDs eating stone/pebbles, and it got me wondering if it's better/worse he eat dirt or pebbles (a no-win situation). Small pebbles (vs. larger pebbles) better because they'd pass easier? Forgo the pebbles? Lizard health/safety trump aesthetics.

Thoughts/experiences?

Thanks.
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby Claudiusx » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:52 am

Are you able to epoxy the pebbles into one large mass? Or do you need access to the soil?

-Brandon
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby MrSpectrum » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:44 am

Plants--even succulents--have to be watered, transplanted, or replaced (if eaten/trashed) occasionally.
I'll give it some thought though.
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Re: Enclosure Design Considerations

Postby Claudiusx » Thu Aug 22, 2019 8:47 am

Yes, epoxy them together but leave areas (holes) where water and air can still get in. Gaps in the epoxy pebble mixture of sorts.

Just throwing out a suggestion though. I dont have any real experience with succulents.

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