Introduction: Chopstick Hamster Structure

My first instructable!

Living in Asia has resulted in my family accumulating a lot of disposable, wooden chopsticks. We can feed a family of five for ~$20 here so takeout or delivery is perfect. No it's not McKing, Burger Donalds, or western fast food; it's traditional Korean and healthy.

I'm always asking our kids to come up with ideas for the chopsticks but the lack of ideas left the chopsticks piling up in a bag. I decided to make a structure for our pet hamster Jed. His cage is made from a storage bin and his house at the time was a plastic protein container that was cut in half and turned upside down with a small door cut out. Frugal, yes.

The entire structure was impromptu and each step built upon the last. Below is a list of material used.

  • 50 pairs of chopsticks (maybe more if mistakes are made)
  • Hot glue gun & sticks
  • Dremel with cutoff disc (or any saw capable of cutting chopsticks)
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Tunnel (optional)

Step 1: Getting Started / 1st Wall

Begin by arranging the chopsticks by alternating the direction. The chopsticks are angled naturally and alternating keeps the angle roughly 90 degrees. I chose to cut every other chopstick to give it a fence look.

The first wall consists of 19 pair of chopsticks although any odd number of pairs can be used making the wall bigger or smaller. 19 pair worked out best as you will see later. Start with the first pair pointing up (open end at top) and the odd number will ensure that the last pair is also facing up. The ends to be cut off will pair 2-4-6, etc.

I measured 3 inches from the top and pencil marked my cutoff lines. For this first wall I had 9 pairs to cut. I used a Dremel tool with a standard cutoff wheel for cutting. Try to make clean cuts - the pieces being cut off will be the flooring for the platform. I used the cutoff wheel to smooth edges but a sander wheel will work better. Also note that cutting off the adjoined side will result in the wall sticks being individual loose sticks.

Heat up the glue gun.

Rearrange the chopsticks so that the cutoff individual sticks are still in an alternating arrangement with the whole sticks. Even though they are shorter you should be able to distinguish the fatter part from the point.

Once they are arranged like the picture you can take two additional pair of chopsticks and lay them horizontally - one across the bottom and one just below the cut line. At this point you are just arranging and getting an idea of where to glue. The pair just below the cut line will be footing for the platform so be sure that it is as level as possible.

Step 2: Second & Third Wall

The end wall is consists of 8 pair of chopsticks. Again, alternate the pairs to keep the angles. You can use two of the cutoffs from step 1 as crossbeams. The walls will be overlapping so be sure to glue the crossbeams below and above the first walls crossbeams.

The third wall (front wall) is made up of 9 pair of chopsticks and constructed the same way wall 1 is. End pairs are pointing up and 2-4-6-8 are cut at 3 inches. Rearrange the wall like wall 1 after cutting and use cutoffs as crossbeams. Mimicking wall 1, glue the crossbeams along the bottom and the top. The front wall will be glued to the side wall by gluing the inside of the last pair to the end of the sidewall.

At this point I was contemplating my next step. I chose to break apart an additional pair of chopstick and glue one stick on the front walls crossbeam so that it extended out across the front. To keep it level I glued the second stick to the back walls crossbeam. You can see in the picture that the back wall now has three sticks across the top.

Doing this allowed me to extend the platform all the way across the structure. I didn't want to risk breaking so I added the fourth wall.

Step 3: Fourth Wall & Platform

The fourth wall is simple at this point. I lined up another 8 pair of chopsticks and marked the 3 inch cutoff line. I chose to cut the entire wall because I was unsure of where I would put a ladder. You can use any cutoffs for the crossbeams but I just used two single sticks.

Align the wall and glue your cross beams at the same position as wall 2. Glue the wall to the end of the structure.

The platform consists of the cutoff sections and aligned in an alternate fashion like the walls. You can lay them out on the cleats to ensure they fit. You may need to sand a little if it is too tight.

What is not shown in the pictures is how I constructed the platform. Once I had the platform arranged to make a good fit I took all of the platform pieces off and flipped them over keeping the same arrangement. I took another pair of chopsticks, broke them apart, and glued them along the middle of the platform to make one solid piece. Then I just flipped it back over and glued it to the cleats.

Step 4: Finishing Up

At this point I needed a way for Jed to be able to get to the top so I built a ladder. As you can see it is a pair of chopsticks broke apart for the rails and pieces of sticks for the steps. Choose how wide you want it to be and cut your steps. Each step is glued one at a time.

I also glued one step to the top backside of the ladder so it would better brace on the platform and not slide off. I chose to glue it to the platform so it doesn't fall accidentally.

I had a plastic tube laying around and glued it to the end of the platform. I noticed Jed would climb up the ladder but would not climb down. The tube gave him a familiar option and he uses it to come down. Now Jed has a new area that he made home and also a place to go lounge.

Feel free to comment and tell me what you think. One thing I learned from creating this instructable is to take more pictures.

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