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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Two days ago, I found out that Martin's Cages is no longer selling directly to the public, and that they will only be selling some of their prefabbed cages via Chewy. Which was sad because I wanted to custom order a cage from them (I just purchased an R-690 from them about 3 months ago).

So now, I'm building my own custom cage. I have ordered a 50 foot roll of 16 gauge galvanized steel welded wire mesh, that is 24" in width and has 1" by 1/2" bar spacing. It was $70 but should give me plenty of material to work with, and will be marginally cheaper than purchasing a prefabbed cage of this size. Here is the link to where I purchased it (USA): Fencer Wire 2 ft. x 50 ft. 16-Gauge Welded Wire Fence with Mesh 1/2 in. x 1 in.-WB16-2X50M1H - The Home Depot

It's basically the same material as my Martin's R-690 (which is 24" W x 14" D x 36" H). The cage I'm building will be 50" W x 24" D x 60" H. I've also purchased a 10 foot roll of 1/2" x 1/2" wire for flooring and ramps. I will be getting the panels powder coated by a friend of my dad's. My dad does custom welding and fabrication, and he will be making me a welded metal litter pan for the cage to sit in, similar to a Martin's Cage. The pan will also be powder coated.

I've made this very rough blueprint while I wait for the mesh to arrive. The very bottom door will swing downward and open like a ramp. I plan on not removing the cage from the litter pan except to deep clean; due to the bottom door being wide enough for me to spot clean and agitate the pine shavings in the pan regularly. One of the things I do not like about my Martin's is there's not a lot of room for them to dig at the bottom. This cage will give them lots of room to burrow and dig.



Here are swatches of the powder coat colors I'm considering. They're a metallic finish.


I'll update once I have the wire and start cutting/test fitting the panels :)
 

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That is really cool! It looks like a better cage then I could get anywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just ordered plastic door guards, a pair of handles, and three prefabbed 12" x 12" cage doors from KW Cages; and cage door latches from a seller on eBay, respectively. I should now have everything I need to build the cage except for the custom litter pan my dad is making for me.
 

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This sounds super awesome! I found a post here called ["Built a wire rat cage"] from user inod3 where they outline their process to make their own diy cage inspired by Martin's design. The images no longer load in Chrome, they might load with a different browser but I reposted the meat of the post at imgur [link here].

That post inspired me to make my own cage to go on top of my dresser [imgur link here].

303752


Cutting the wire really is the worst part about the project. If you can come up with a design that minimizes the amount of cutting and grinding/sanding that you have to do, you'll save yourself a lot of blisters.

The main issue I'm seeing with your design is your top level is 30" tall but the wire mesh you bought is only 24". I don't think that's going to work. You can seam the mesh on the walls but I only think it will work if they're seamed at a floor level where they'd be fully secured to a horizontal piece of wire mesh. I don't think you can have a seam going through the middle of a level (and through the doors).

I think it would work much better if you made the cage 48" tall and had a full floor in the middle. That way you would make the bottom section out of a 48" long piece of the 24 inch wire mesh and the top section out of a 48" long piece of the 24 inch wire mesh. At 48" x 24" x 48", the cage would still be absolutely enormous (32 cubic feet, or the equivalent of a triple unit Critter Nation). Maybe think about it like two R-680's stacked on top of each other.

As for the color, the darker the better. Lighter colors stop your eye and grab your focus. Darker colors allow you to focus on what's beyond the wire mesh. It's easier to see into a cage with dark colored bars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm going to make 2 long vertical panels and seam them together in the center, to make the front and back panels. As in roll out 60 or 55 inches of the wire, cut it, and cut another, and put them together. That way there will be two 24" wide panels coming together to make a single 48" wide panel, and 60-55" lengthwise going up will be uninterrupted. I can cut the top 3 door holes out with no issues or seams.

So only the wide bottom door would have a seam running down to it, but since it's the bottom of the cage it shouldn't matter as much. I could simply put two smaller doors on either end also.

But, I still have a lot of time to plan and change my mind, too

Sent from my KB2007 using Tapatalk
 

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I'm going to make 2 long vertical panels and seam them together in the center
Ahhh, the seam is vertical. I'm still a little concerned because the rolled wire mesh doesn't flatten out perfectly but I'm super curious as to how it will work out! Definitely post updates and pictures! I'm very excited for you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I've spoken with my dad about powder coating and he sent me the link for the manufacturer his contact uses. I'm now thinking this dark bronze for the cage (first photo), and a veined bronze/black for the litter pan (second photo). And then probably bronze or plain black for the door latches. The dark bronze comes in a high gloss finish, and the veined bronze comes in a satin finish, but I can have a clear coat applied for easy cleanup. They are polyester-based which is non-toxic and non-volatile; same thing as the black powder coating on Martin's cages.

303768
 

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I'll be documenting everything, including costs and materials, etc. and hosting it somewhere for future reference, if anyone would like to make a similar cage.
I can't wait to see the final product!
@CorbinDallasMyMan your cage is beautiful!!
 

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Checking in to make sure I watch the progress as you make this thing. That cage look amazing...both designs do! How many rats are you keeping in there btw? Looks like they'll have a ton of room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
My wire should arrive today, and I've gotten the door latches in the mail. Have to go pick up black zip ties as well. All I'm waiting on now is my order from KW Cages with the plastic door guards and the prefabbed doors. I might not end up using those doors, but I still want to see how they look on the cage before I send it off for powder coating. And the door guards will be put on when I do the final assembly.

If I get it built by Saturday I can take it up to my dad's this weekend and drop it off for powder coating. Hoping to have it back by the end of next week. But we'll see how quick the turnaround is at the powder coating shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Okay, I'm back and will begin outlining the cage build up to where I am now. Here's a list of the items I've purchased for this build:

2 ft. x 50 ft. 16-Gauge Welded Wire Fence with Mesh 1/2 in. x 1 in. - $69.99
Plastic Door Guard x 17 - $11.73
Vinyl Grip Handle x 2 - $2.18
Galvanized Steel Cage Door Latches x 6 - $7.68
Black 4" Cable Ties (zip ties) x 1000 - $22.32
Wire Flush Cutters (made for jewelry wire cutting, I bought mine at a store) - $17.00

Other items used:
Second set of wire cutters (more heavy duty ones for easier initial cutting, but not really needed)
Black Sharpie (to mark wire for cutting)
Blue painter's tape (to mark cage doors)
Plastic bag (to collect wire trimmings)
Folding table (to save my back from bending down lol)
A THICK PAIR OF GARDEN GLOVES! Do not start cutting wire until you have a pair. This wire is SHARP and will scratch/cut your bare hands!
Also wear jeans/a durable shirt, because the wire is going to brush against you and it could tear the fabrics on your shirt or pants if they're thin.

The work:

Here are the tools I used most. Only the orange pair of cutters on the left were really necessary, and honestly left a better cut edge on the wire.


Measure out your panels and use something heavy like a brick to hold the sides down. I left a half inch of wire panel just in case I needed more; you can always cut them down to fit later but it's better to start with more than less.


I purchased a 50 foot roll of wire, not just because it was cheaper than buying individual 10 foot rolls, but because it would give me more than enough material to work with in case of a mistake or defect in the wire. And boy are there defects. This stuff is welded by a machine and you're gonna see a lot of defects. Inspect it as you unroll it. I noticed as I got farther into the roll, the quality increased. After about 12 feet, I noticed no more defects in the wire. I think some of this is due to the impacts during shipping. Lots of bends and breaks at first. I scrapped the first two panels I cut out because of this.



After cutting you'll end up with a group of panels. Since my cage is 48"x24" they were all the same size. 4 for the front and back, 2 for the sides, and 1 for the top.



Take your flush cutters, and cut the edges of the panels down at an angle to leave a smoother edge. I strongly recommend placing a plastic bag under the wire panel, and then holding the top of the bag over your hand as you cut, to catch the little wire trimmings. You definitely don't want small sharp pieces of wire on the floor in your garage or in your yard!


Take the wire panels outside onto some grass, and lay one panel down and walk on it to flatten them out more. The softness of the grass will allow the wire to bend a little in the opposite direction but not kink it. Do this for all of your panels. Bending them by hand can lead to kinks and warping and is generally just more annoying to do.


After that I started test-fitting them together. I used little 4" zip ties. They're a bit of a pain to connect the panels together with, but they can be snipped off very easily which is why I used them.


I had to make the middle floor and balconies out of 1/2" x 1" wire, because the roll of 1/2x1/2" wire I bought was unacceptable quality for an animal cage. These parts will be covered by cloth anyway, so I am not concerned about it too much. It's just something to go under the cloth covers I'll be putting down anyway. And this has the added benefit of being able to use mini carabiners to hang things from underneath it, as opposed to the 1/2"x1/2" which is too small an opening for a carabiner to clip onto. This is something that always bugged me with my Martin's cage.


I took some blue painter's tape and marked out potential door holes. These are not finalized. I did also cut and attach one balcony in the top level to see how much room there would be underneath one. I'll be making a ramp up to that balcony from wire and plastic beads, kind of like a bird ladder but made of plastic for easy cleaning vs wood.

I think I'll keep the top doors as-is, but will make the bottom door wider but less high. Or, I might copy the top two doors and flip them on the bottom so the large door is on the left and the smaller on the right (this is what I ended up doing). Either way I need to be able to reach inside and scoop bedding out of the bottom level, which will be sitting in a 5" deep metal litter pan. I will be adding at least one balcony in the bottom level, with a ramp up to the middle level. I have not decided where to put it yet, though. Probably a balcony on the right side with a ramp going up into the back center of the middle level, similar to the Martin's R-690 that I have.



I had to stop here because I had been out in an unheated garage for over 4 hours, and I was pretty cold and tired lol. I may work on it more today or tomorrow. I'll post updates as I go, but right now I've got the big stuff out of the way and it won't be long before it goes off for powder coating!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
The cage is now done being built! Now it has to be powder coated, and the litter pan made, and then it will be done.

Photo with the finalized door templates. Small doors are 12x18 inches, large doors are 20x16 inches.


After attaching the bottom balcony and ramp. Balconies are 20x24 inches.


Used this ladder to decide how large to make the ramp up to the middle floor.


After cutting the ramp hole in the middle floor. The door openings and this ramp hole will have plastic edge guards along the edges for added safety.


Photo with 3 of the 4 doors open



Moved it outside and put the roof panel on. It'll be less saggy once it's held up by more clips.

 
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