Introduction: The Eco-friendly Bird and Misc Animal Cage

This instructable will show you how to make a simple 3'x2'x6' wooden + wire cage for small birds such as doves or specialty game birds. This peticular cage is designed to be partially taken apart and flattened in order to store when not in use and take up minimal space. Also, everywhere possible I'm going to re-use, reduce, and recycle all of the materials used in this project.

First of all, before I start, I'd like to explain a little about myself. I live on a small acreage in the prairies north of the 49th parallel. My mom and sister run an animal rescue. And often they bring in animals in these tiny little boxes not fit for my coffee to come in (and I do like my coffee). So as the one who complains, and the handy-man of the family I often get conscripted into building things for the rescue. My latest was this project, which after seeing the United States of Efficiency Contest, decided to document. Part of my contest entry I'd like to explain my green attitude. If it ain't broke don't fix it. If it is broke, keep it. Infact the variety of new use that can be shown here is pretty good, and I often forget about it. The shop that I built this project in was actually towed to the farm from the city with a tractor. The cupboards in it are all refurbished from a smoke damaged appartment complex. The garage doors on both my garage (also towed here) and my shop were reclaimed from fires as well. Infact, this portion of land where my yard is, has almost nothing freshly built. The barn was once towed here from down the road, in two pieces mind you. And even our summer kitchen and wood shed have been brought here. If we hadn't taken these buildings they would have been demolished. And as you can see in the pictures I've provided, they're in no condition to be thrown away like trash. My family has a pretty extensive construction background, and thus, the minimal damage to these buildings have all been fixed quite well.

What you're going to need for this project:
1cm grid small animal wire approx. 17'
a selection of used, refurbished, or recycled lumber
1 sheet of 1/4" plywood
a few handfuls of 1 1/2' roofing nails
a large handful of 1/2' roofing nails
2 hinges
a large mittful of 2" -3" deck screws
some music always helps
a dozen or so 1" screws

Tools required:
what I used is a bandsaw, skillsaw, cordless drill, hammer, and a 3' and 1' 90 degree square and also don't forget the ever important tinsnips or wirecutter whatever your prefference.

Step 1: Step One Gathering Materials

This is the portion of the job where you run around like a chicken with it's head cut off finding dodads and scraps. Luckily my shop happens to be where that's all stored.

Well, I started by buying a sheet of plywood, and putting that off to the side for now. And finding s bunch of old 2x4s and 1x6's which had been gently used as roofjacks or spacers on a ladder rack, so few nail holes and for the most part not very weathered. Also, because I'm a roofer and I do siding as well, nails fall on the ground alot, and never get reused. I started collecting them as a child cuz I was convinced I was going to save up a dump truck load full, recycle it and get enough money to buy the world. hmmf. So the nails are recycled. Back when i was in the treefort building age, I had a collection of door paraphenalia, so I have alot of old re-used and recylced hinges. The wire I had to buy.

So step one:
You're building a 2'x3'x6' bird cage, so the space inside the cage should be key. So i opted to do an overlap with my framework instead of butting the pieces up against eachother. All in all I lose about a squarefoot of cage if I wire it on the inside, but I want to be able to put other animals in the cage too so, I plan to wire the inside.

So to build the frame you need:
2x 6foot 2x4 or whatever you're using (back top and bottom)
8x 3foot 2x4 (standing sides)
2x 6foot 1x4 (front top and bottom)

and because I opted to center the door, I had to reinforce the front, which Is why I use 1x4 this way I can build the wire into the framework, it works great for having the door recessed into the frame, but if that isn't a concern I advice you use 2x4 for the front, it's alot stronger in case you want to put heavy objects on top of the cage.

You'll also need a few 1x4 pieces varying sizes but all less than 3' I prefer to cut these after the frame is assembled, because the wire tends to get in the way, and you are bound to lose a little bit... maybe even a half inch.

So start cutting.

Step 2: Assembly and Wiring

This is the step where you asseble to peices and wire them. Now this wire is a hassle to work with and the edges are sharp. I prefer not to wear gloves because they just catch and tear, and there goes a nice pair of gloves, and that wasn't very eco friendly now was it?

Now, as I mentioned in the last step, I notched the ends of the stick frames in order to overlap them, I chose to use a bandsaw for this. Mostly because I just love the bandsaw, but a 3 1/2" rip down a board can be dangerous to use a skillsaw, so if you don't have access to a bandsaw or jigsaw I don't advise you to notch unless you are comfortable.

First I lay the sticks on the ground and place one 1 1/2" roofing nail at each contact point (corner) then I flip it over use a large square to make sure it's proper. Then I place a second nail in each corner, this time from the other side, this should hold your frame sturdy for the time being. You don't need to add more, because the constuction will be sound once the wire is on and the sides are screwed together.

The I roll out the wire, tacking it with 1 1/2" nails in each corner and cut. Now, I start with the back, which doesn't need to overlap the sides, because the wire ends will be covered by the 2 sides. Then place nails every 6" to a foot apart until the wire is all on, on every side.

Quick note about wiring:
I angle the nails a little bit in order to keep the wire tight as illustrated in my pictures.

Quick note: the wire I am using is 3 foot wire, which is why I chose to make my cage 3' tall on the nose, however, it's actually 3' 1/2" because of the size of the plywood added to it.

The two sides, I wire with a little wrapped around the sides so that the edge of the wire is hidden in the crevace between the sides and front/back. I don't want my animals scratching themselves.

once the back and sides are done, I set them aside and grab a pop and enjoy, the majority of the hassle is gone.

Now the front I take the 3' sides and I place a 1x4 accross the top and the bottom and nail them in place, square them and nail them again, that's the structure of the front. Next is to measure out where you want your door to sit. As I wanted mine in the center I had to place 1x4's (I actually used 1x2's) where the door would sit, but hidden behind the door. This is where the wire is going to be nailed to on either side of the door. Then I wire both sides, but be sure that you're using the 1/2" nails on the 1x4/1x2's as that the nails don't go through. What you should have now is a wired panel front with a hole.

The door is next Build a door to fit in the hole. I didn't measure it, I chose to trace, this way I'd make the door tighter in the hole so i won't need a latch for the door. However, I used 2 methods of tightening the door's movement for this. The tracing is only the first you'll read about the next in the next step. then I built the front panel with 2 2x4's that I had left over, and I cut them exactly like the 3' pieces used for the sides of all the panels. I put a 1x2 across as top and bottom, which is on the inside. then i wired the door.

Now keep in mind you're building the wire on the front of the cage into the frame, so put the wire in the right spot. Also, I wrapped the wire around the outside of the fram a little bit just to be sure, so I had to bend it around the corners a bit. A hammer works fine for this. Lotech, it's good for the environment :p

now your front should be assembled. Now take 1x4 and fill in the 6 gaps where the wire is exposed over the frame. The top of the door, the bottom of the door, and complimentary on both sides.

should look pretty good.

Step 3: Adding the Final Touches

Ok this is where it starts to take shape.

You take the door and the recylced hinges, and place the door in the hole of the front panel. it should fit tight. place the hinges in position at the top and bottom on either side. This is where I like to avoid the latches. I angle the hinges ever so slightly. Almost not noticable unless you know where to look, but I angle them against eachother so that when you open the door it should be tight the entire way. The hinges I used are old house door hinges, so they're more than heavy duty enough. If you were to use craft hinges, this wouldnt be a smart thing. The angling would stress them into either bending or eventually breaking. So avoid that. So, i dug through some coffee tins and found a bunch of screws that fit the right size and there the front panel is complete.

After the hinges are on and the front is done, put the front aside for now, and grab the back and one side. You're going to screw them together with 3" wood screws if possible. Now keep inmind that the wireshould be on the inside. Screw from the back into the side, and repeat a few times. Then repeat with the other side. Now the back and sides are together, time to add the front in the same manor, screwing from the front into the sides.

What you have now is a box with no top and no bottom. Good you're with me so far. Now take the plywood and place in over the on the top. grab a corner of the plywood and line it up with one of the back corners and put a screw in, then run across the back making sure that it's lining up as you're going, and put screws acrossthe back, now the side that is -not- overlapping go there and screw that. The easiest way to do the next part is to use a chalk line, but I don't have one in the shop and I'm lazy. So i grabbed a 1x4 and just traced the lines where I wanted to cut, and did so with the everso neglected skillsaw.

Flip the box and repeat. making sure both top and bottom are thoroughly fastned in place. Now check if the door opens properly chances are if it is having more difficulty opening than it was earlier you tightened the plywood to the door top n bottom too much so just unscrew it a smidge. should be fine.

depending on where this cage is you might want to put a blind in it for your birds to get out of the sun. Mine is going into a shelter with atmosphere control for newly hatched birds, So there's no need for a blind. However, all birds require perches and feeder/waterrer. Also, to reduce the frequency of clipping your bird's beaks/claws, a cinderblock sidewalk pad would suit the floor nicely.

Plz rate and comment. This is my first instructable so any advice is more than welcome.
Earthjustice United States of Efficiency Contest

Participated in the
Earthjustice United States of Efficiency Contest