I picked up a used 20 gallon hexagon aquarium tank off of Craigslist for 5 bucks. This is the perfect size tank for my 2 whites tree frogs. The tank came complete with a couple heat bulbs and dishes but had no top to it. Whites tree frogs like a taller tank and the tank needs a good solid cover as well as good ventilation.
So I made my own hexagonal tank hood top complete with LED lights.
ALWAYS BE SAFE! READ AND FOLLOW YOUR OWNERS MANUAL FOR YOUR EQUIPMENT! I removed my table saw guard because I use a cross cut sled for a lot of projects. Also, no one else uses my saw either. NEVER OPERATE A TABLE SAW WITHOUT THE GUARD.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Table Saw (with crosscut sled)
- Miter Saw
- Clamps (spring and small bar clamps)
- Drill with a bit for the chicago screws
- I used 1/2" plastic sheet material I picked out of a local plastics company scrap pile, I love "free". (This stuff cuts nice and very rigid and waterproof).
- 2 -2" But Hinges with 8 - chicago screws
- Cloth Screen (the stuff in a window screen)
- Poultry Fabric AKA chicken wire (this is wire screen with larger openings (1/4" squares))
I also used a strand of LED lights for the hood.
Step 2: Figuring Out a Design
I have been woodworking a very long time now and this hexagon was a very challenging project.
I started this project (and failed) 3 times before my fourth attempt. I even drew up a Sketch-up model with very accurate dimensions (this really helped a lot.)
The top consists of 1/2" lightweight plastic cut into a front and rear top attached with a standard but hinge with chicago screws. I used chicago screws because of the density of the plastic sheet material. Its almost like a dense (but light) foam.
cutting this hexagon accurately is pretty tough. I managed to get this right in 2 of the 3 failed attempts and did it differently each and every time. I cannot pin down a good process of doing this.
This one I made in two halves, a front lid and a rear lid with screed door screen in one half and poultry fabric in the other. I needed the poultry fabric on the rear because of the UVB light the critters need. The screen door screen would filter too much of the light rays. And these are tree frogs and climb. I needed to block them from exiting and allow for ventilation.
Step 3: Cut the Hexagon Top
My material was scrap. I think it was a sign from a cell phone store.
I needed to cut the first straight edge using a "straight edge jig" It clamps the odd shape to the bar and the bar rides along the fence for your first cut. Next, I removed the jig and flip the board for the other side straight edge.
I rough cut 2 pieces about 7-1/2" wide and about 18" long (finished length is 17-1/4").
Next, I set up the crosscut sled to 30 degrees and made the first cut at the end of each lid.
Now I flipped the boards over and installed a stop block. I rough cut it to longer than needed dimension and with a couple more cuts fine tuned it to properly fit , then I cut the second lid to fit.
Step 4: Cut the Openings for the Screen
Using a Depth Gauge, I scribed a mark at each corner where the distance meets. This is a visual reference to stop.
I set up a 1/4" straight bit in my router and placed my fence 1-1/4" away from the bit. Then, with the router running I place the lid panel into the bit. A plunge router would be safer or even a scroll saw would work for this, but I got the best results this way.
I pushed the panel into the fence and stopped at my mark. this first cut was a rough cut. I moved the fence closer for a second finished cut.
Once I cut the openings for the ventilation,I need to rabbet a groove on the underside of each lid panel. I installed a 1/4" rabbet bit with bearing in my router and cut a groove 1/4"X1/4" on the inside bottom of each panel. Next I cut some scrap at 1/4" X 1/4" to fill the rabbet groove and help hold the screens in place.
Step 5: Cut and Install the Screen
I cut a piece of screen door material with a pair scissors, the first cut is the width. lay it in place to see how it fits before going further. The pic doesn't show the screen very well but you want to make the cuts as straight as possible. It looks weird if its crooked. Once I got it a good straight cut and fit for the width of the rabbet opening I cut the length to fit.
Next, I cut that 1/4"X1/4" scrap fillers to length. These fill the rabbet groove with the screen sandwiched between the frames and the fillers.
With the screen laying inside the rabbet, I used Epoxy and brush to brush a liberal amount into the rabbet groove on top of the screen. Then I placed the filler strips on top and clamped it tight for about 5 -10 minutes until it hardens. I always glue scrap pieces together with each epoxy mixture to test and see how well it hardens before messing with the project for each glue session.
I hate working with epoxy!
Step 6: Hinges and LEDs
These are standard butt hinges, I had laying around the shop. I also had these small aluminum chicago style screws that fit perfectly into the hinge holes.
With the lid panels in place, I placed the two hinges in place and marked for drilling.
I marked and drilled one panel at a time. After the first panel was drilled, I placed the hinges on it and marked and drilled the second panel.
I had to remove the top and flip it upside down for the LED lights. These lights consist of 7 small plasic fixtures attached by their connecting wires. I placed them in the proper place before screwing the fixtures down. I had to also drill a small hole in the back of the lid to allow the cord to exit the inside of the tank.
I had to adjust the hinges a bit but after a bit of tweaking, it fits, opens and lights up very nice.
Thanks for looking
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