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[HOW TO] Build a front-opening enclosure for terrestrial inverts

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Topic [HOW TO] Build a front-opening enclosure for terrestrial inverts

Post by DolbyR on Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:43 pm

[HOW TO] Build a front-opening enclosure for terrestrial inverts

Part 1 – Introduction:

This How To, is to show how you can easily make a glass enclosure for your invert.
The enclosure shown here is 25cmx25cmx25cm (10”x10”x10”) that I made for housing my Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula. It would work well for nearly any scorpion, except big burrowing species.
All you need is a couple of tools, materials, and some free time.

Part 2 – Tools and materials needed for the project:

1. Glass

Any glass thickness from 3 mm is fine for an enclosure of this size. My choice of thickness would be 4mm – it’s still pretty problem-free for cutting, while it also offers a greater strength than 3mm. I used for 5mm as that’s what I had laying around. Bit of an overkill for this small of an enclosure and it’s significantly more difficult for cutting too, compared to 4mm.

2. Glass-cutter and cutting-oil

Any cheap cutter is ok if you don’t go over 4mm in glass thickness. 5mm and over starts breaking easier with the cheap ones. If you don’t own a cutter and you are planning on making more than one enclosure, I would advise investing in at least a mid-class, oil-filled cutter. Makes it much easier for scoring the glass.

The trick for an easy, clean cut is the cutting oil. Even if you don't use an oil-filled cutter, make sure you tip the head of the cutter in oil before each score. It doesn't even have to be an expensive commercial oil for glass-cutters. Mineral oil is recommended but I've used even vegetable cooking oil with no problems.

3. Non-toxic (aquarium grade) silicone sealant for glass

You can find this anywhere, just make sure it is real aquarium grade sealant, as sanitary grade silicone has added fungicides which are toxic to our pets.
Würth and Ceresit make good quality sealants.

And of course, you will also need a silicone-gun:

4. Tape-measure

5. Thick metal ruler

You will need a ruler that is at least as long as the cut you need to make, and thick enough to allow the glass-cutter to slide on the side of it.

6. Masking/Packaging tape

7. Dremel tool, silicon carbide sandpaper or fine grit grinding stone

Any of these will work good enough for a slight grinding of the edges of the glass, to take away that sharpness after a cut. I used a dremel with a sanding wheel and only sanded the edges of the door.

8. Razorblade

9. Acetone or alcohol (70% )

10. Fine tipped permanent or CD marker

11. 90º aluminum or PVC corner profile (10x10mm)

12. Aluminum or PVC glass runners (4-6mm, depending on glass thickness)

13. Aluminum/Steel screen

Part 3 – Measuring & cutting the glass

For a 25x25x25cm enclosure, you should cut the following pieces:
-Top & Bottom: 2 pieces that measure 25x25cm
-Sides: 2 pieces that measure 25x24cm lower front piece (I used 10cm but it's up to you -
-Back: 1 piece measuring 24x24cm (more on step 3 about making the vent)
-Front & Door: One lower piece of your desired height (I made a 10cm high front, but you can make it lower or higher depending on the specie you are going to house in the enclosure). You also need one piece for the door (the height is dependant on the lower front piece. The total height of both pieces should be 24cm). Both pieces should be 24cm wide.

The piece of glass used in the project:

1. Measure the piece you want to cut and mark a straight line. The first pieces I cut were the top and bottom, so the line is marked at 25 cm.

2. Score along the line with your glass-cutter

3. And snap the glass to separate the pieces

4. Repeat step 1 to 3 to get your final piece

This is what you get when you use a cheap cutter with a thick glass

A family picture of all needed pieces

Part 4 – Making the vented back

1.Take the piece of glass you cut earlier for the back and mark a line 3cm down from the top edge and another line 4cm down from the first line.
In other words, the vent will be 4cm high, and it will be located 3cm down from the top of the enclosure.

2. Score and snap the pieces. I suggest you mark the glasses to make sure you will glue the glasses in the same positions, otherwise you might get gaps between the pieces.

3. Measure 5cm from the sides of the middle piece and cut out both pieces. These small (4x4cm) pieces are what you will use, the center piece you don't need, but you can use it as a template for cutting the screen later.

4. Match the pieces with the help of the markings you've made earlier and tape them on place.

5. Measure a piece that overlaps the hole by 2cm on each side. Our vent-opening was 4x14cm so the needed piece was 8x18cm

It is important that you do this step in a perfectly flat/straight surface. It is not a bad idea to put a piece of paper under the glass to protect making a mess as silicone can be hard to clean out afterwards.

6. Cut 2cm wide strips out of the piece you made. First cut the shorter (vertical) strips, then the longer (horizontal) strips. This way, the vertical strips will overlap with the seams of the main glass, thus making the whole back stronger.
Again, make sure you mark the pieces if you're after a nicer looking final product.

7. Cut a piece of metal screen that overlaps the opening by 1cm on each side (6x16cm in this enclosure)

- And the fun begins Smile -

8. Place a small amount of silicone on the back of the glass strips

9. And start pressing them on place, glueing the screen and all the pieces of the main back together - If you are worried about getting everything straight, you can improvise a guide like I did

It should look like this when you're done

The backpiece is now ready

Part 5 – Check that everything fits

Now that all parts are ready, it is a good moment to try that all pieces match like they should. You can skip this step if you wish, but I advise you do it, specially if it's the first enclosure you are making.

You can easily put the enclosure together using masking or packaging tape.
I actually did this already before finishing up the backpiece

Part 6 - Assembling the enclosure

Now that you're sure that everything fits, it's time to assemble the whole enclosure using the same silicone sealant we used earlier.

If you wish to grind/sand the edges of the glasses, do it now, before you start attaching them together.

1. Clean all the pieces of glass with either acetone or ethylene alcohol to remove any marks you've made earlier, as well as any grease/dirt from the glasses.

2. Place 2 strips of masking/packaging tape on each side of the bottom piece. Also prepare a couple more to use for the rest of the corners

3. Start with the backpiece and one of the sides. Place a thin line of silicone on the edge of the glass that is being glued down. On the back piece, you need to put silicone on the edge that will touch the bottom, while on the sidepiece you will need silicone where it makes contact with the bottom, as well as where it will touch the backpiece.

Attach the first two pieces and turn up the tape you attached to the bottom piece, to keep the sides on place. Don't forget to add 2 more strips to support the corner.
It should look like this after the back and one of the sides has been attached to the bottom.

4. Proceed with attaching the remaining pieces. First attach the frontpiece, then the other sidepiece and in the end, the top piece.

You should get something like this

5. There will be extra silicone on the seams and some may be on the glass. Remove as much silicone from the glass that you can - use acetone or alcohol for this. If there are stains left, they can be removed with a razorblade at a later time.

Part 7 - Assembling the door

Make sure you leave the silicone to cure at least 24h before assembling the door.

1. Cut a piece of the aluminum corner as wide as the front glass (24cm for this enclosure) and place a small amount of silicone on the inside. Leave the line of silicone at least 1cm shorter from the ends, as when you press it on place, it will spread.

2. Carefully place the aluminum piece on top of the front glass and press it firmly on place

3. Make and attach a similar piece on the front corner of the top glass.

4. Cut 2 pieces of the glass runners, according to the height of the door - keep in mind that the runners will be placed in a slight angle.

5. Attach the runners on place using the silicone. The bottom should align with the corner you attached earlier, while the top should come outwards enough to allow the glass to slide into the runners.

The enclosure is now finished. Let the silicone cure for a day or two and you can start decorating it. Make sure you wait at least a week or two before rehousing your pet, to make sure all silicone fumes are gone.

Part 8 – Simple decoration:

You don't actually need to spend hours of works or big amounts of money in supplies to get a decor that is nice enough to show off to your friends or occasional house guests.

1. Fill in the substrate you are going to use and pack it down well.
It's always easier to pack down the substrate if you use moist substrate. I also suggest you add it in layers of about 2-3 cm and let each layer dry out completely.

2. Add a hide of your choice (half-log, cork tube, cave, etc) and some fake plants.
You can attach the plants using the same silicone you used earlier. A drop or two in each piece of plant is enough.
And of course, a water dish, if your specie requires it.

I hope this guide was helpful for you.
Happy DIY'ing, your invert will enjoy your efforts - My rosie sure did:


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Topic Re: [HOW TO] Build a front-opening enclosure for terrestrial inverts

Post by LXDNG79 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:54 pm

Thanks man , this is just the tutorial I've been looking for like the longest time. Many tutorials out there didn't cover some of the finer aspects which you did... Particularly the one about cutting glass pieces for the back vent and the runners... That gave me a lot of ideas to supplement my future attempts in building Front-Opening Terrariums. Very Happy

Cheers and best regards
Scorpion researcher

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Topic Re: [HOW TO] Build a front-opening enclosure for terrestrial inverts

Post by DolbyR on Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:35 pm

Cheers bro. Glad you found it useful Smile


[ASA] Caresheets: Forest Scorpions | Bark Scorpions | Desert Scorpions ]

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Topic Re: [HOW TO] Build a front-opening enclosure for terrestrial inverts

Post by Gim0o on Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:50 pm

this tutorial is awesome. looking forward to make one of these in the future.

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Topic Re: [HOW TO] Build a front-opening enclosure for terrestrial inverts

Post by Mr.Invert on Sat Jun 15, 2013 10:55 am

Fantastic guide on customizing a front-opening enclosure!

I'm amazed at the detailed steps and the amount of pictures to demonstrate how it can been done.

Thanks the effort and time to share this DolbyR! cheers

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Topic Re: [HOW TO] Build a front-opening enclosure for terrestrial inverts

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