Our children’s stuffed animal collection is out of control. They love them dearly. Each and every one have names, and a back story. Grandma loves Build-A-Bear as much (or maybe more) than the kids do, and with a combined 12 years of stuffed animal collecting … well you get the point. Here is the final product we built today, and below, I’ll step-by-step show you how I built Courtney built it.
Jamie has seen several projects on Pinterest where people have built cabinet like cages for their animals. Some are plain, some are painted, some are held in with bungee cords. Some are retails, and some are home grown. After walking around our house, we realized that our play room has two little nooks, one on each side of the room, that would be perfect for our Stuffed Animal Zoo. Instead of building something free standing, we decided to build it attached to the wall. This gives us the ability to make it ourselves, and lift the Zoo cages up off the ground. We lose the ability to move it around, but we also gain more space, as the area is 53×20, and have to buy less materials, since three of the sides of this cage came with the house. Here is a Before picture.
With the depth, being 20 inches, I decided to have a long 2×4 cut into 19 inch parts, and I’ll need 8 of these pieces. Two on the bottom, two on the top, and a matching set on the opposite wall. (remember, we’re building two of these.
Then I’ll need a 53 inch anchor board across the front, and with these three frame pieces in place, I’ll be able to lay a shelf on top of them, to make the base of the Zoo. Then for the top, I’ll only need the 3 framed pieces, as we want the kids to be able to throw their animals into the zoo, through the open top. Here is my sketch of the material / layout / and measurements.
My shelf is 53×20, which I had cut at Home Depot out of a 4×8 sheet. Here is how I asked them to cut it. I love that Home Depot will do cuts right in the store for you. This also makes it much easier to get home. This gives me two 20×53 pieces that I need for the shelves, on left over 8×53 (from the middle), and a larger 48×43 piece I can do something else with later. This part is important, if you are buying a sheet of wood with finished edges. Make sure you cut on the red line first, which keeps your finished edges (around the green line on the outside).
Then for the cage, I decide to use 3/4 inch wooden dowels. These serve a lot of purposes. First, they are cheap. Second, they are sanded and already perfectly round, which match the drill bits I’m going to use for the holes. Once home, I took the two 20×53 pieces and locked them together with wood vices. This let’s me cut them both at the same time. I bough particle board which is great for shelving, and had a finished white top, but not the edges. If you have ever drilled into particle board, you know you can get a nice clean cut going in, but the other side usually pops out a much larger piece. This is simply because of the way the pressure is being applied from your drill bit. Here is the trick. First, use a tine drill bit, and drill all the way through both boards. Then use a wood boring bit on the top, and drill through the first piece, top and bottom, and then through the bottom of the second piece, but then stop. Turn the two attached pieces over, and drill from the (what was the bottom) through. Now you have nice clean holes on all 4 sides of your boards. Here is my shelf, after the holes were cut (with Courtney’s help).
Now that I have holes in my shelf, for the wooden dowels to go through, I need something to stop them from just falling to the floor. For this I used 1/2 inch PVC metal connectors. These are loosely 1/2 and tightly fit a 3/4 piece. With two pair of pliers, I’m able to easily open these jaws up, so the 3/4 dowel fits nicely and easily in. I’ll attach the connector, and place a stop screw under it, so the dowel will be held in place by the connector, and stopped by the stop screw. Here a picture is worth 1000 words. Remember, this is the back side, of the bottom face piece. The dowel has just come through the shelf, heading down, and is being held in place and stopped by this masterpiece!
I don’t think I could have been successful here without Courtney – assembling the connector, a washer, and the actual screw for me. After all, we had to make 36 of these, and she would have one assembled, just as fast as I could screw it it.
I mark, and space these appropriately, and in the end, my two face boards look like this. Notice that the stop screws are only placed on two of the four boards. The bottom boards. This is because the top, needs to dowel to be inserted, slid up far enough to be then placed above the shelf, and pushed back down into the bottom piece. I’m sure sure if that makes sense or not, when written. Looking at the final product, maybe that’s easier to understand my point. Anyway, stop screws only on the bottom.
Now, all the pieces are cut, prepped, and in place, all I need to do is attach them to the wall, and put the dowels in, and I have a finished project. The kids can now play basketball with their animals putting them into the Zoo. Mommy is happy to have a place for them to live.
And when Mommy is happy, Daddy is happy.