The Learning Curve


Resident Demon
Resident Demon
Mar 2, 2004
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You know, there is a REASON that there are cage companies out there (why did I not think of this 2 weeks ago lol?). It takes time and experience, I think, to become adept at carpentry.

Despite the most excellent cage plans, one needs a certain familiarity with wood and saws and stuff, I think. To paraphrase Shakespeare: "The fault, Horatio, lies not in their cage plans, but in themselves."

The emerging housing I am producing for my beloved pets bears about as much likeness to the pretty illustrations in the cage plan pics as Frankenstein does to Pamela Anderson. Stuff not exactly square. (Who knew that the quarter sheets of plywood from Lowe's would not be precisely the quoted measurements, and that I should have measured them?)

Oh and braces: there is at least a ton of supporting metal- if the gummint ever needs scrap metal for war efforts like they have called for in the past, no problem, they dismantle Lucille's snake cages and they need go no further.

One needs humor and philosophy for carpentry: After all, we all need to begin somewhere, and these are my baby steps. (The baby, my 18 year old teenager, just rolls his eyes and happily pointed out that the aquariums and screens were just fine, and why wasn't I up on the roof putting in the new turbines which we really need done).

But, unlike Martha Stewart in jail, the snakes will not feel they are slumming, they do not care that these first steps are not perfect; many of them (if this every gets finished lol) will have more room and I know they will enjoy that..

Well, enough of this break, I am getting back to work;
I must say, that although I have always had respect for all who put in an honest day's work, those who create beautiful and functional caging just rose quite a bit in my estimation, they are artists, indeed.......
I have to admit that I got an ego boost today, my Teen's best friend came over to the house to visit today, the cages are about half finished and he said they looked awesome :D
(Of course he is not a craftsman and expert like the folks here).
It takes practice to become adept at cage building, and the proper tools are a big help. There's only so much that can be done with the basic tools and the lack of some makes certain things impossible to do.

You should have seen my first cage designs I built years ago. I never built a second cage exactly like the first one, it was a huge pain to build and difficult to work with.
I had nothing to go on at the time though, and was just figuring it out as I went. There were no commercial cage companies, and no internet so there were no ideas to glean.
Over the years my basic design has changed many times, each time getting a little better, a little easier to build, a little more functional while being easy to service.
I still have several of the crappy cages I built over 10 years ago in use in the slum section of the herp room. They are slowly being replaced by better looking models, but it takes a lot of time to get there.

After six months of using the cage you are working on now, you'll probably find there are a few things you would definately do differently, and this knowledge will be applied to the next cages you build.
If you continue building cages, you'll also build a selection of tools to make the job easier and allow you to do more complicated designs without adding much difficulty.

There's a certain satisfaction in building a furniture quality cage and displaying your animals in something you built yourself, but no one should expect their first attempts to actually work out like they planned.
I've spent days on end and sometimes weeks going over a new design in my mind before ever buying a piece of wood just trying to predict where I might run into a problem, or uncover flaws I did not expect. Things still slip through, and every new design brings a few glitches along with it.

I love building cages, but it is time consuming when you're not set up for mass production. It often takes me 2-3 months to finish a set of cages.
For those who can, and understand the areas where costs can be cut, building your own is a rewarding and money saving option.
I still have respect for the commercial cage companies though. There's no way I would go into building cages for other people. I've had many requests, but I always decline. I just don't have the time or inclination to venture into that area.
My cage needs have been outpacing my available time in some areas, so I will likely make use of the services some of these cage companies offer myself just to ease the load on me a bit.

Hang in there though. It'll come together in the end. Post a pic or two of it when you're done. The maiden voyage of new cage builders is always interesting.
By the time I got around to putting together enclosures, I had already been building cabinets anf furniture for awhile so most of my early cages, while some had major design flaws, weren't riddled with amusing problems but those early furniture and cabinet pieces... I look at them sometimes, the ones that are still around. With three times the fasteners that they should have required and sometimes having entirely new aspects to their construction that took more time and effort than the remainder of the piece. There's an old saying about an engineer who gets so caught up fighting alligators that he forgets it's his job to drain the swamp. Clearly for herpers this engineer is an evil manifestation of alligator death but the meaning behind it is pretty obvious.

Like Clay said though... the early overthinking will be replaced in time as you identify what does work well and what doesn't. Familiarity with your specific set of tools is a great help as well, anything I am forced to build using someone else's tools will never be as clean or neat as something I might build with my own.
Haha, Lucille, you crack me up.

Good luck with your cage-building.