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Old 12-03-2012, 02:22 PM   #1
Vectis Hamstery
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Default Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

Note: photobucket has prevented the photos in this thread showing. I will upload them to another site but in the meantime, the photos can be found here: Vectis Hamstery and Exotics - Making a Bin Cage

A bin cage is a plastic storage box that has been converted into a hamster cage. Doing the conversion requires some time and DIY (and adult supervision for youngsters), but even I can manage it and my DIY skills are limited to flat-pack furniture! They can be adapted to your individual needs/wants in terms of layout and colour and are especially useful if there are few suitable cages available near you. They may not be suitable for hamsters that chew a lot as they can make a bid for freedom through the walls!

Equipment

A box to be turned into the cage
Mesh
Something to fix the mesh to the box, e.g. cable ties or nuts, washers and bolts
Strong pair of scissors or pliers for cutting the mesh
Soldering iron for ‘cutting’ holes in the box - if you borrow it, ensure the owner knows what you’re using it for. Apparently molten plastic residue can make it unsuitable for proper soldering in future

(plus substrate, bedding, water bottle, toys and hamster)

Instructions
The first step is to find a plastic storage box. As well as finding one that has the floor space required by your hamster, check the inside of the box for indentations or plastic ridges that could be a starting point for chewing. Two brands of boxes I have used and liked are Really Useful Boxes and Wham boxes, both of which have nice smooth insides. It’s also worth checking the boxes are deep enough to fit the toys or wheels you want to use and will fit in the planned space.



Next you need to decide where to put the ventilation panels in your cage. Placing them on the roof will give a nice deep area for filling with substrate, will allow you to hang toys and will make it harder for the hamster to access the mesh. It will, however, mean you are unable to stack the bin cages. I choose to put the ventilation panels on the side of the box. I put two panels in so I could hang toys between them and to provide better ventilation than just meshing the small side that would face out of the shelves. Remember to leave a good amount of plastic remaining at the bottom so the substrate doesn’t get kicked all over the floor! If you prefer, you can mark where you wish to cut using a felt tip pen.


When cutting the holes in the plastic, ensure you are in a well ventilated room away from any animals. This is something that must be done by an adult as the soldering iron becomes very very hot. I would recommend working with the soldering iron facing away from you, and going slowly and carefully as burns from soldering irons are very painful. If you do burn yourself when using a soldering iron, get the affected area under cold water for at least 10 minutes and consult the NHS website for further advice.

While I am cutting the ventilation holes, I also make smaller holes around the edge the width of the soldering iron tip with which to attach the mesh


After cutting the holes, I cut the mesh panels. I use mesh with 6mm squares as it is harder for hamsters to chew and small hamsters to escape through, but 13mm is fine for Syrians.

I hold the large mesh panel up to the hole I have made in the box and mark out where to cut - making sure it is a centimetre or two larger than the hole so you can later attach it.

Strong scissors can cut through the 6mm mesh (take care of pointy ends and make sure to sweep up any loose bits of metal promptly), though you can also use pliers. If the mesh panel has any sharp bits, trim those flush so they don’t pose a hazard to the future cage inhabitant.

The next step is attaching the mesh to the cage. This is similar to meshing a Zoozone cage (though much easier than meshing a Zoozone 1!). I place the mesh panel on the inside of the cage to protect the edges of the hole from hamster teeth.

I then attach cable ties at the four corners - this can be tricky with just one person.

I tie the cable ties so the ‘knot’ is on the outside of the cage and away from small teeth.

I then put cable ties in the rest of the holes I made in step 3 until the mesh is firmly attached close to the plastic.

When all the ties are in place, I trim the excess ‘tails’ of the cable ties using my scissors so it looks neater.
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:22 PM   #2
Vectis Hamstery
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

After cleaning any dust or plastic bits from the inside of the bin, pat yourself on the back for a bin cage (or four) well made.


And now for the fun bit, setting the cage up for it’s small furry resident. I attach water bottles using strong sticky-back velcro, though depending on your mesh is they could be attached there using wires.

Mesh panels in the walls also offer different opportunities for cage enrighment, such as an elevated sand bath ideal for Chinese hamsters
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:32 PM   #3
alanjamesblair
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

Good guide. I put a dab of hot glue on the nubs of the zip ties after cutting them to make them soft to the touch.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

Very nice and helpful tutorial! I love your purple bins.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:28 AM   #5
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectis Hamstery View Post

(plus substrate, bedding, water bottle, toys and hamster)
Haha the + hamster part made me laugh. What a lovely tutorial! Ill definately look into making a bin cage if I get another ham
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:49 AM   #6
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

Lovely!! Thank you so much for this in going to be using the 70-40 really useful boxes to make mine! I'm just waiting for my play pens to arrive so i can use them for the mesh
This is really usefull to have plus some great ideas like the floating sand bath!!! Brilliant! I bet they love it!
Well done on making them x
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

I love the floating sand bath idea too Great thread, great cages!
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:53 PM   #8
Vectis Hamstery
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

Thanks everyone

The information about the soldering iron comes from personal experience - it's too easy for concentration (and the hot soldering iron) to slip when tired or building a stack of bin cages. Believe me when I say oooooow! Thank goodness for some lovely nurses at work who dressed the burn for me. I had got a bit blasť about melting plastic but it reminded me to be more careful in future. I can't emphasise enough the importance of working so that the soldering iron is moving away from yourself so any slips won't hit your clothes or skin.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:28 PM   #9
syrianali
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

This is great, and answered a question for me about if the boxes had the be clear/white
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Old 12-21-2012, 03:50 PM   #10
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Default Re: Photo Guide to Making a Bin Cage

This is a great guide. I've had to quickly make 2 bin cages this past November as I brought my hams with me to visit my parents for 2 weeks, and would like to highly recommend this Amazon.com: Stanley 6-Inch Jab Saw or any mini hand-held saws for cutting the thick plastics. After I drilled a starter hole, I was able to cut the bin cover very easily and cleanly with it, with very little resistance. It's probably a bit safer than soldering iron, but I understand people work with what they have.
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