- (5) 1″x4″x8′ Whitewood Boards
- (8) 1″x2″x8′ Whitewood Strips
- (11) 2″x2″x8′ Whitewood Strips
- (2) 1/8″x4’x8′ Sheets Expanded PVC
- (1) 15′ Roll of 1/2″x1/2″ Plastic Hardware Cloth
- (1) 1lb. Box #8 2-1/2″ Coarse Thread Drywall Screws
- (1) 1lb. Box #8 1-1/2″ Coarse Thread Drywall Screws
- (1) Box 3/8″ Staples
- (1) Roll Electrical Tape
- 1 Roll 4″ Galvanized Metal Flashging
- (1) Roll Rosin Core Solder
- (1) 1lb. Box 5/8″ Panhead Screws
- (1) 12′ Household Electrical Chords
- (15) Feet 3″ Heat Tape
- (10) IRIS CB-70 Tubs
- (1) Roll Clear Packing Tape
- Mitre Saw
- Table Saw
- Drill with #8 Countersink Bit and Phillips Driver Bit
- Tape Measure
- Staplegun with 3/8″ Staples
- Electrical Tape
- Razor Blade
- Soldering Gun
- 1 Case of Favorite Beer
Let me preface this by giving credit where credit is due. The original design for this rack was aquired from Sean at Exotics by Nature. This rack can be built to hold 11 tubs, if you just extend the height of the rack. I build it with 10 tubs because one more tub would be slightly to high for my comfort. Step 1 begins by cutting (2) 17 1/2″ and (2) 32 1/4″ pieces of 1″x4″ boards. These boards will be used for the base of the rack. I cut the (2) 17 1/2″ pieces off of two of the uprights, to keep from having to buy a sixth 1″x4″ board. Assemble these pieces together with 1 1/2″ drywall screws. Ensure that you put it together screwing through the shorter pieces into the longer pieces.
Next we cut (20) 2″x2″ boards into 17 1/2″ lengths and (20) 2″x2″ boards into 30 3/4″ lengths. I like to pre-drill my pilot holes before I start the assembly process. I drill two holes on each 17 1/2″ 2×2 about 3/4″ from each end. I then drill two pilot holes about 1 inch from the end of the 30 3/4″ 2x2s.
Now I assemble my frame pieces by screwing the short boards onto the longer boards using 2 1/2″ drywall screws. Make sure that the pilot holes on the long boards face inboard when screwing the frames together. If you look at the picture close, you can see the pilot hole facing inboard. You will see what this hole is for later in the project.
I used to build my racks with this plastic hardware cloth as the tops for each cage, but have tried something new for this rack. If you would like to use this, as it is cheaper than the expanded PVC and a little easier to work with, staple the hardware cloth to each frame at this time. You will need (10) pieces of 17 1/4″ x 33″ cloth. Refer to the next step to see what we did on this rack.
If you decide to use the Expanded PVC, we chose this in hopes of retaining humidity better than the hardware cloth, you will need to cut the sheets of PVC into (10) 17 1/4″ x 33″ pieces. This will require the help of another person, as they are very flimsy. Next, clamp all of the pieces together, and drill holes in any pattern that you would like on the PVC pieces. You could staple the sheets to the frames using a staple gun and 3/8″ staples, however, once again on this project we made a change. We bought an air operated stapler and drove 3/4″ staples. This is one finished cage top.
NOTE: You will need a special drill bit for drilling plastic if you choose to use the PVC.
This is a better picture of the design that we chose for our tops. We went for the personalized look.
Now, cut 4 of the 1″x4″ boards into 77-1/2″ lengths, not pictured here. These will be the side supports. I mark the boards prior to screwing the frames in place, but that is up to you. I also predrill my pilot holes about 3/4″ from the edge of the 1×4. The first thing that I screw on is the base made in step one. After the base is on, the top of the next frame will be 7 1/8″ above the top of the base. Each additional frame top will be 7 1/8″ above the top of the frame below it. I screw the frames to the side supports using 2 1/2″ drywall screws. Make sure that the hardware cloth or PVC faces the bottom of the rack, as it will be the top of the tubs once the rack is complete.
Next I screw the frames to the side supports from inside the frames utilizing the predrilled holes from Step 2.
This is a shot of the screws preset in the holes prior to screwing them in. At this time, flip the rack over and repeat Steps 8 and 9 with the other side rails.
Cut (20) 32″ slide rails form the 1″x2″ boards. Mine actually end up a bit shorter, so that I can get three rails out of each 1″x2″x8′ board. Predrill a hole on each end of the slide rails about 1″ from the end. Place one rail inbetween each shelf. We then place the 1 1/2″ screws into the holes before beginning.
Another shot of the above step showing the spacer that we use to attain the proper spacing between the slide rail and the cage top. This spacer is a piece of scrap 5/8″ MDF board. Any 5/8″ thich board will work. You will notice that the slide rails are not as long as the the rack. Make sure that when you are attaching the slide rails, you line up the rail with the back side of the rack. This will leave a gap in the front that makes it easier to slide the tubs into the rack if they arfe fully removed, say for cleanning.
I didn’t get real good pictures of this step, but if you refer to Step 23, you can see a more representative picture of what I am describing here, and I think you will understand it better. I now attach a 17 1/2″ piece of 1×4 to the backside of the front side rails at the top of the rack. This is what I attach my thermostat to
Your rack is not complete, and I like to test fit all of the tubs prior to installing heat to my rack.
The tub pushed all of the way into the slot. I failed to take a picture of theis part, but you should have (1) 1″x2″ whitewood board left. This board is screwed to the back of the rack and is used as a back stop for the tubs.
This is the step where my beer consumption elevates drastically. It is also one of the most time consuming parts of building this rack. I did not take pictures of each step of the heat panel fabrication, but I figure if you got this far, you are pretty good at building and can figure it out from the pictures. I use a homemade jig to mark, cut and bend the metal flashing and it would be extremely hard to describe on here. After I make each panel, I tape the inside ends of the heat tape with electrical tape for safety. I then tape each 18″ strip of heat tape to the panel using 2″ clear packing tape. Leave two full black stripes of the heat tape hanging out of the panel. You will understand this in a later step.
This is an underside shot of the assembled heat panels.
At this point, I install all of the heat panels to the rack. I place a piece of scrap 1×2 between the heat panel tabs and the front of the back side supports. This positions the heat slightly further into the tub so that the snake can lay on the heat easier. Attach the heat panels to the rack using the 5/8″ panhead screws. These are self tapping screws, and go through the flashing fairly easily.
All of the heat panels are in place now. I actually install the panels with the rack standing upright, but I laid it on it’s side in this picture in preparation for the wiring.
In this step, I use the staple gun with 3/8″ staples to secure the heat tape to the side of the rack. Ensure that the staple only touches the last black stripe of the heat tape, as we will be disconnecting this stripe from the conductive element in a bit.
This is a picture of all of the tools that I use in the wiring of the heat tape, and everything ready to go. The next step has a close up shot of how I cut the heat tape in preparation for soldering. If you prefeer, you can use the clips that can be purchased for heat tape to install your wiring. The razor blade is what I use for removing the insulation from the wire where needed. I have also already cut off the female end of the 12′ extension chord and seperated the first 6′ of extension chord. I use a 4″ paint scraper to place between the heat tape and the tabs that were made in the heat tape(see below). This helps from melting the heat tape during the soldering process.
Close up tabs made in the heat tape.
This is a close up of how we solder the connection going up the rack.
After all of the heat tape is wired, we plug the heat tape straight into the wall, to check all of our soldered connection. Then we install our Helix onto the front panel that we put on the top of the rack. Each rack, using the recommended heat tape will use a total of 150 watts. This will allow two additional racks to be plugged into this rack.
Next, we run the thermostat probe to the back of the rack and attach it to the heat tape. This is a close up of how we do it. That is a piece of plastic cut from the lid of one of the CB-70 tubs. We do that to help simulate the plastic that the heat will travel through when reaching your snake. This is not necessary, just how we do it.
This is just another shot of the probe placement.
A pic of a happy snake in its new home. She just moved in here from a nine quart baby rack.
Your Completed Rack. Congratulations.