Introduction: The Backyard Rabbit (or Quail) Coop
Many budding homesteaders and/or suburban rabbiters enthusiasts quickly find themselves in need of a sturdy, outdoor rabbit coop. We found ourselves in this predicament this spring. Though we searched for plans online, the results fell flat for us. So, my wife and I designed one ourselves and bought the needed hardware/lumber at our local hardware store. This build will take you a weekend or two by yourself, and considerably less time with a partner. You don't have to be a professional carpenter or woodworker to take on this project, but it helps to know your way around a few power tools.
2. Drill bits / sockets
3. Table saw
4. Miter saw
6. Work gloves (optional)
8. Wire cutters
9. Carpenter's level
10. Circular saw
1. 2 - 2"x8"x6' (rafters)
2. 3 - 1"x2"x12' (roof support beams)
3. 15 - 2"x4"x6' (framing/doors)
4. 4 - 2"x4"x8' (framing)
1. 4 - Sets of gate hinges
2. 5 - Polycarbonate roofing panels
3. 1 - 5 lb box of 2 1/2" T20 deck screws (or similar)
4. 1 - 2 lb box of 1 1/4" T20 deck screws (or similar)
5. 1 - 2 lb box of 5" T20 deck screws (or similar)
6. 1 - 2 lb box of 2" hex-head screws (or similar)
7. 1 - 1 lb box of matching neoprene washers (or similar)
8. 6 - Pier blocks
9. 1 - Roll of aluminum flashing
10. 2 - Decorative plant hooks (optional)
11. 1 - 5 lb box of 1" fence staples
12. 1 - 30' of 36" 1/4" wire mesh.
13. 1 - 15' of 36" 1/2" wire mesh
14. 20 - 90-degree corner brackets
15. 4 - Sets of hooks & eye latches or latch bolts
Step 1: Build the Frame & Attach the Wire Mesh
Lay the 8' boards on the ground or a table parallel to each other. Decide on the depth and width of the hutch. I cut the middle support pieces at 30". Cut five of them. Space them evenly apart, and screw them in place with 5" screws.
Affix the four inner corners 90-degree angle brackets to ensure square across the frame.
When you're satisfied, attach quarter inch wire mesh on one side. References pictures above.
When you've finished - build ANOTHER frame just like this one, but attach the vinyl-coated half-inch mesh on one side.
The vinyl-coated mesh will be the bottom of your cages. The 1/2" makes it so manure is easier to slip through the cracks to down below. The vinyl coating repels heat more than traditional wire and is softer on the feet of your rabbits and/or quail.
Step 2: Build the Legs, Finish the Framing, Set the Frame on Piers
Take your 6' boards and screw them together in an L shape (refer to first photo). Decide on the height of your cages and mark the legs accordingly for attaching the top and bottom frame. With the help of an exceptional friend (you've sufficiently inebriated ahead of time), screw them in place, and check them for level. Be sure to have enough screws on all sides. It may be a bit wobbly at this point. That will work itself out once you've added additional braces.
Once both the top and bottom are on, lay the piece down with your strapping friend and/or family member, and attach connecting boards in the front and back. I aligned the boards from the top and bottom, which provided an easy guide.
When this is done, stand the frame up on its legs. Though not pictured above, you can add middle 6' board braces on the front and back to provide additional structural support.
Measure the distance of the legs from each other. Set your pier blocks where the legs will stand in place. Dig them down enough so an inch or two is above ground. Use a large carpenter's level to ensure the piers are level all around. Use your wire cutters or sharp scissors to cut aluminum flashing that will sit on the top of the piers. This will provide an extra layer of protection from moisture to the wood.
Grab your magnificent and hopefully not fully intoxicated friend/family member and lift the frame on to the piers.
Step 3: Attach the Dividers, Wrap the Cage in Wire Mesh, Affix the Rafters & Support Beams, Attach the Roofing
Measure and cut your plyboard to match the height and depth of your cages. Attach them with 90-degree angle brackets on top and bottom. No need for both sides, as the board is light and will not be moving.
Once completed, take your 1/4" wire mesh, and wrap around the sides and back of the cages. Keeping things straight while hammering in fence staples can be quite a task. Be sure to wear gloves so you don't cut your hands here. After you've finished wrapping, take your wire cutters, and trim away any excess wire mesh.
Now that you've got the cages wrapped, let's cut the rafters. Take your 2"x8" boards and cut them diagonally in half. This can be a tough cut, so I'd recommend using a long straight board or your carpenter's level to draw a marking line diagonally end-to-end. You can also use a chalk line if that's something you have lying around. Take your circular saw, jigsaw, or band saw (whatever you can make this cut with) - and make the diagonal cut. After you've done this, measure 1 1/2" from the top and make a mark. From the bottom, make a mark at 12". Make this diagonal cut, and you'll end up with the shape of the rafters above. This can be difficult to comprehend, so check out the pictures I've uploaded to help you here. Cut the rafters to the length of your coop, allowing for 6" - 12" overhang in back (depending on preference).
Cut your support beams, also allowing for 6" overhang on each side. Attach your rafters to the frame with 90-degree angle brackets. Reference the picture above for positioning. Attach the 1"x2" support boards in the front, back, and middle with the overhang evenly spaced on both sides. I ended up with three 10' boards horizontally laid across the rafters. Again, check the photo above to help you with positioning.
Once the support boards are on, place the roofing on top of them. Overlap each panel about 4" or so. Screw them into the support boards with the 2" hex head screws and neoprene washers on the edges, and where the overlaps occur on every panel, across all of your support boards. Refer to the picture above if you need help with visualization.
Step 4: Make and Attach the Doors, Attach Extras
Measure the inside of your door frames. Cut 2x4" boards to size and attach them. I liked the aesthetic of 45-degree angle cuts on both sides and joining the boards that way. You can opt for something more simplistic (or complicated), as long as the job gets done.
Take your gate hinges and attach them appropriately. Reference the pictures above for the orientation I chose. Drill the holes necessary to install your hook and eye latches (or latch bolts) as well for all the doors.
You're done! Optionally, you can add things like decorative hooks, wi-fi cameras, hanging plants, or even landscape around the base.
Participated in the