New Enclosure Build concept to completion

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kingofnobbys Sicko
Got a bunch of 75x200mm sleeper offcuts from my garden bed builds . Have decided to use some of these to build a really solid base for my new bearded dragon Connectit & Perspex & plywood enclosure.


The whole build will be about 1.54m tall + a bit for the casters and the kickboard.

Plywood to go on the top and bottom of a frame made from 75x200mm sleeper offcuts, I will add 4 coasters to the base and a kickboard ( 90x18 Design Pine Pencil Round fascia mouldings ) to stop the skinks and dragons from going under the base, I will add either drawers or a doors to the base , will become my bug storage area .

The frame will be made using Connectit joiners and 1"x1" SQR Al tubing.

I have a bunch of 3W corner joiners, 4W corner joiners, 3W tee joiners and square tube cut to size and ready to go.
I have 6mm Perspex sheet cut to size ( might need some trimming ).
I have high quality indoor pine project ply cut to size and ready (18mm thick) for the bay bottoms and base.
Will order in more in the following sizes : 1200mm x 600mm x 18mm and 1200mm x 600mm x 9mm, I need a minimum of 5 off 18mm , 2 off 9mm , the 9mm thick should be rigid enough to support the electricals , MVB and T5ho 12% UVB Slimline kit .
I have plastic tracks on hand

I have round cupboard vents and rectangular cupboard vents on hand.

I have low profile ceramic e27 fittings , and Arcadia T5ho Slimline 24W 12%UVB and 80W Arcadia MVBs and basking globe cages set aside and ready to be installed and wired up.

Yet to get glass , need to buy screws and special blade for my Dremel.
The bays will be 1200mm x 600mm x 450mm (tall) and offset 100mm between top and bottom bays.
The sides and back of each bay will from 6mm thick Perspex (screw fastened to the 1"x1" SQR Al tube structurals , I don't want to use glue here).
The front will be sliding glass doors using plastic track.
The top of each bay will be plywood and removeable.
The base of each bay will likely be 1 layer of 18mm plywood , I can lift out the bases and stiffen them up if I need to by unscrewing it fixing a second layer 9mm or 18mm thick project board ( glued and screwed together to make a thicker stiffer bases ).

Base build planned for a weekend in October.


Gray-bearded Member
...And they say we speak the same language! :lol:

I tried google, but can't really get a grasp on "sleeper offcuts"--even the images didn't help much.
I'm impressed you can get that much done in a weekend! :laughing6:

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
MrSpectrum":1jd99gjd said:
...And they say we speak the same language! :lol:

I tried google, but can't really get a grasp on "sleeper offcuts"--even the images didn't help much.
I'm impressed you can get that much done in a weekend! :laughing6:

I bought my 75x200mm sleepers in 3m lengths , some of the raised beds required pieces under 1.5m long where I was dealing with steep ground , these are the offcuts (waste timber) that I'm utilizing rather than giving them away as firewood or sending them to landfill.

The base will be built on the weekend.
The frame will take a few hours.
Trimming plywood and Perspex a few hours.
Assembly and fixing the frame to the base and the Perspex to the frame a day or so.
Wiring a couple of hours.
If I really wanted to , I could build it all in a weekend , but I'm very lazy and am in no great rush . Caesar and Cleo are fine for now in their shared 120L rearing tub.

Anyway this weekend is mostly devoted to filling the mini skip (a special trailer) with rubbish and unuseable timbers

where effected by wet rot (contact with grass and frequently flooded, and damaged by weedwacker wire and had to be repaired to make shed structurally sound , took 3 days to replace the buggered timbers and missing sheets ( one on front and one on back = storm damage ), and to check my HardieFlex cladding ( lot of very loose even missing clouts, replaced loose clouts with with screws ) was all firmly fixed to the walls and to fix the roller door locks.
Took all day Mon, Tues and Wednesday.

Moved onto fixing my old garage when we finished building the 5 raised beds in the backyard and the 6m x 1.2m privacy lattice screen and before painting the outside of the house and the garage and then getting the mini-loader in to scrape up the loose fill on my north half of my backyard to partly fill my beds before topping with 200mm or so of good quality garden soil ( in a few weeks ).

Then my 8m x 4.5m deck gets built .

Lot of rubbish created from my garage roller door frame repairs and spring cleaning and junk purge so I've hired a skip. Was not easy backing it down my driveway, not much space left either side getting past my house.

I have the skip until Monday when they come back and I've asked them to take away my dead old 140L vertical freezer too when they leave.

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
Building a strong but very light metal structure using Qubelok / Connectit system is very quick and very easy , all you need is 1"x1" Al tube to connect multiple tubes is a piece of 4"x2" timber offcut , or for the better equipped , a nylon headed mallet .. bang bang and it joined and you'll never get it apart.
No welding or soldering or riveting or gluing or drilling and screwing needed. This is something a child could do.


example pieces


partly inserted , all I need is a piece of 4x2 or a mallot to get a very strong and very tight fit of the nylon joiners to the 1"x1" square al tubing , simplicity itself .

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
Final design for base

ps (30Sep2019)

Forgot to show on the drawing, the plywood is 18mm thick project board (high quality pine).

I'll use 18mm thick project board in the bases of the tanks ( will try one board , if it sags , I'll stiffen up by adding another on under it ( glued and screwed to make essentially 36mm thick plywood bases in each bay ).

It'll be 9mm thick project board in the lids of each bay ( only needs to support lights and will be easy to get off if I need to ).

My bearded dragon bays will be 45cm tall ( good height for an Arcadia 80W MVB in a low profile ceramic e27 fitting ) , I might go to as high as 50cm .

My BT skink dble bay will be different in that I'll use marine grade ply in the bays' bases ( more resistant to moisture )
And the BT skink bay's will be 35cm to 40cm tall.


Gray-bearded Member
kingofnobbys":78763mrc said:
Caesar and Cleo are fine for now in their shared 120L rearing tub.
:lol: That cracks me up too. The first pets I can recall were 2 goldfish I named Antony and Cleo. I was 3 or 4, and my folks couldn't figure out how I'd heard/came up with those names. I don't remember either, except that Cleo outlived Antony--no memory if she killed/ate him... :roll:

Much better drawing. :)

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
MrSpectrum":2n0kww5p said:
kingofnobbys":2n0kww5p said:
Caesar and Cleo are fine for now in their shared 120L rearing tub.
:lol: That cracks me up too. The first pets I can recall were 2 goldfish I named Antony and Cleo. I was 3 or 4, and my folks couldn't figure out how I'd heard/came up with those names. I don't remember either, except that Cleo outlived Antony--no memory if she killed/ate him... :roll:

Much better drawing. :)

Old school engineer here.
I learnt my tech drawing skills in high school in the early 70s, and then engineering design and engineering drawing skills in the mid 80s in my first engineering degree. AUTOCAD came later when I was a furnace R&D engineer at the steel works.

I always start off with tech drawings done in pencil & paper to do my concept sketches.

Then I sketch up Office (Word or Excel) , I wish I had a CAD software, used AUTOCAD lots when I was working and when designing experimental test rigs and pilot plants as a research engineer , but don't have access to the university staffs off campus license for AUTOCAD now I'm retired - bummer !!

My handyman is back today and he's giving my roof a "de-leaf" with his leaf blower ( got about 2 cu m of dead leaves and twigs of my roof and Gutter Guards ( bush fire season here so this is something that needed doing incase we get a big bushfire close enough for the house to be subjected to ember attack )
giving my big mature bluegum a trim ( removing some branches that are overhanging my house's roof ) - told him SHORT pieces no longer than 2m if it's thicker than 3 inches so they don't break anything on the way down to the ground .

Some of the branches are pretty long and capable of doing some serious damage if cut in one piece .

My duty of care is to ensure he does this safely and the risk of injury from falling timber , the chain saw , and falling off roof or ladder is close to zero.
His extension ladder looks way too wobbly for my liking and I told him if it's not safe do not try that harder to reach overhangers that are too high.
I've seen some nasty accidents involving very long extension ladders + chain saws + workers over-reaching or slipping , I don't want to be responsible for something like happening.

Saving some the thicker pieces (4 each short branch offcuts about 2ft x 3" to 4" diam and 4ft x 3" to 4" diam to go into the new bearded dragon tanks) to make climbing branches in Cleo & Caesar's new digs when I've got the double bay built .
Will store the climbing branches into the shed on a pallet to dry out and loose any resin before they go into the new double bay. Another example of repurposing stuff that would otherwise end up in the skip and at the landfill.

Am tempted to use the dead leaves as mutch / compost ( yes you can use gum tree leaves in compost and as mulch ) but my composter isn't built yet (another construction using using 75x200mm h/wood sleepers) and I do have some empty 1 cu-m bulkabags that are perfect to take the very light but bulky dead and dry leaves , might as well use the 4 cu-m skip fully.


Gray-bearded Member
Again, our drafting histories are similar. I never had an opportunity to learn autocad; career/work took a different path as CAD was coming into use. I used my drafting board, T-square, & lead holders through the end of the century (boy, does that sound weird!). Then one day, DW brought home a used copy of Visio (2003), and I've been using that ever since. I bought a new version with the last new PC, but it was far worse (visually) and had no clear benefits/improvements (IMO). That was $400 down the drain. :angry5:

I also have a stripped down version of CorelDraw, but it's usually easier/faster to fire up Visio for what I do (home & hobby-related) now.

A year ago or so, I briefly had an interest in 3D printing, and found a lot of free/near free drawing programs out on the web. Not as full-functioned as Autocad, but more than enough for what we're doing/talking about here. Might be worth a look-see. :dontknow:

We have a couple/few wooded acres out back. I went out recently to find some dead standing trees (lots of elms wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease) to cut up for enclosure climbing, but most were riddled with worm track under the bark, so I thought better. Got lots of maples & a few oaks, but they're all healthy & growing. Might try to find some grape vine from regional vinyards.

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
I had a huge drawing stand in my private office for a lot of years, always faster and easier IMO to simply get the scale rulers, pencils and drawing tools out and draw the old the fashioned way , only used AUTOCAD because the managers required digital copies of drawings.
I resisted for a long time , and usually delegated the CADing to one of my reports or brought in a draftsman to convert my hand drawings for me.

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
Decided to set aside the precut acrylic sheets I have on hand for the later upgrade of my bluetongue skink and water skink enclosures , so wont go to waste.

Settled on 1200mm wide x 600mm deep and 500mm tall for my dragon bays.

Optimising my cutting layout , 4mm wide blade on their machine , to use minimum machine cuts I get the following cuts on 2 sheets :


>>>> 24 Dec 2019 update …. an oops moment , I meant to get the side cut 544mm WIDE (+/-) x 423mm HIGH
ie correct sizes ( to match the actual size of the 18mm and 9mm projply panels

596mm - [2x 25] (Al tubes wall width in frame) - [2x 1.6]( Al channel wet thickness) = 544mm
450mm - [2x25] - [1x1.6] = 423mm

for the two tanks. Fortunately I have 2 sheets 600mm x 1500mm of 6mm for prior project (that was planned and never built ( entirely acrylic display cabinet 1500mm x 600mm x 600mm in 6mm acrylic ) that can be cut to size ).


Ordered these today , told them doors may need to be shaved down a bit once I tie down the allowable height for the sliding door tracks (might swap to aluminium if the plastic ones are not UV stabilized).
Height of sliding doors = opening height - 11mm.
The plastic tracks are for 5mm thick (glass) sheet, so I'm asking for 5mm acrylic for the 2nd sheet.

General idea

- just need to tie down how tall the doors need to be fit the tracks.
Last time I built a tank ( about 7 years ago ) , the glazier visited and cut the glass to size to fit the tracks he supplied and fitted.
The width of the Cowdrey tracks is 20mm so that works nicely to fit to the 25mm square hollow tube rails at the front of my tanks.

Properties considered for plywood
density = 0.5 g/cc
k = 0.14 W/mK against the grain
Decomposes exposed to temperatures higher then 90 degC.
Cheap but needs to sealed.
I am not a carpenter and I want to have double bays that my wife is agreeable to sharing family space with and wont look like an eyesore to her.

Properties of soda glass
density = 2.7 g / cc
k = 1.3 W/mK

Properties of Acrylic sheet
density = 1.185 g / cc
k = 0.21 W/mK
Softer than glass, but can be cut using woodworking tool.

Mechanically, the Connectit system is stronger than plywood and much faster to assemble a strong and very rigid structure with minimal tools and building skills.

I rejected melamine , MDF and particle board as my materials for obvious reasons.
I rejected building using mostly acrylic ( glued together ) , cost , poor structural strength at glued joints , and outgasing issues.
I rejected using Styrofoam board , outgasing and poor resistance to high temperatures.
I rejected using fibre glass ( I have built some stuff using it in the past ) too messy , outgasing , temperature stability issues.

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
The 4 casters I'll have under the stand will be 2" Polyurethane Castor Wheels rated at 100kg per caster, 2 will be locking , these stand 73mm.


I've had these under our coffee tables and buffets for many years and they a great and very reliable.

The DAR bullnose moulding kickboard / lizard barrier will be DAR Tasmanian oak bullnose moulding 85x19mm , the front and back moulding will be hinged using piano hinge about 1m long so I get access under the base especially to apply the breaks to the casters or release them.

Quick check
plywood 18mm
Casters 73mm
total to top of bottom plywood sheet = 18mm + 73mm = 91mm

bullnose moulding 85mm

Difference = 6mm which is fine.

Bit of a hiccup with the 9mm project board (for lids) , it's a special order item , none of the local Mitre10 or Bunnings have it in stock.

Quotes for precut POLISHED 4.5mm and 6mm thick clear acrylic sheet are arriving, one on hand , 2 more to come.

I've decided to make the multibay enclosure MODULAR.
Essentially I'll build 2 individual enclosures each with some 20mm x 25mm Annealed AL angle fixed to the top edge.
Same with a simple rectangular frame 100mm tall between each .
Same on top the base.

A picture will explain it succinctly

I'll lock the enclosures on top each other with a "grab screw" in each angle.

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
Precut and polished 4.5mm and 6mm thick Acrylic sheet (UV stabilized) ordered.
Cheaper for me by 30% to order from a manufacturer based on the Sunshine Coast in Qld than the local supplier in my town.
Acrylic I have is not cut the right size for this project so will be set aside to go into another project.

Ordered materials for my base ( some piano hinges, 90mm DAR, 6mm project panel , aluminium channel, aluminium L bar ) , and more Connectit corner joiners and some extra 1" sq tube from Bunnings.

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
Progress & Logistics as off 18 October.

H/duty coasters ordered.

Trunk handles ordered ( to help move heavy base about ). … update : here 18 Oct

4.5mm polished precut acrylic for sliding doors ordered.
6mm polished precut acrylic for sides and back of bays ordered (same place in Qld, cheaper even with freight than local plastics supplier in my own town !) , precut acrylic sheets arrived 21 Oct

18mm project boards (plywood) for bases of bays and top and bottom of cabinet base on hand.
9mm project boards for lids specially ordered (not stocked locally). Arrived 21 Oct

Hinges and Oak DAR ordered for kickboard. Arrived 21 Oct

25mm x 25mm x 3mm Al Angle ordered cut to size. ….. update arrived 18 Oct
10mm x 10mm x 1.5mm Al Channel ordered cut to size. ….. update arrived 18 Oct
More Connectit 3Way corner connectors ordered. Arrived 21 Oct
More 25mm x 25mm 1.2m, 600mm and 450mm long sq hollow tube ordered (only enough on hand to do one bay).
Cowbrey plastic sliding glass door tracks for 5mm sheet on hand.

75mm x 200mm sleeper offcuts on hand ( ready to be cut to size ).

Desk cable systems ( to poke plugs and cables through ) ordered.
Round cabinet vents on hand.
Rectangular cabinet vents (adjustable) on hand.

80W Arcadia MVBs on hand.
Arcadia Slimline T5ho kits w/24W 12%UVB tubes on hand.
Low Profile ceramic e27 fittings on hand.

Tree trimmings ( 1m and 0.5m long thickish branches ) off my gum tree ( from tidy up in shed drying , expect a week of very warm weather next week ( 35 degC PLUS days ) so should help dry out the resin and fluids in the branch cuttings nicely .

Should have everything on hand by next weekend.

kingofnobbys Sicko
Original Poster
My compound / drop saw arrived today.

So I now have a saw capable of precise cuts of timber or plastic or metal at any angle (always wanted one of these , beats using a mitre box or circular saw by hand or in a jig.

Asked Hossein ( my handyman carpenter) to cut up a 200x75mm sleeper to the lengths on his professional precision power saw rig tomorrow and use his gluing braces and jigs to glue and screw the main basics ( two sheets of 18mm plywood to the 200x75mm framing , of my 1200mm x 600mm timber base together ) and attach the static and hinged kickboards and coasters to the base .

I'll give it about a week for the glue to outgas in my nice dry and very hot in summer garage before getting it brought into my house.

Once that's done I'll be out of excuses and ready to assemble my modules ( 2x Connectit system enclosure frames and the spacer frame ).

Wont be long now before Cleo and Caesar get to move into their new big enclosure , yes , I think it's getting close to time to separate the pair.
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