Sorry, the instructions aren't quite finished yet. I will get around
to it eventually, but you get the gist of it from what's here...
What's it all about
These are instructions for building your own cage, made from
easy to find parts, easy to make, and quite cheap. Once the parts are
made, it can be built up or taken apart in about 10 minutes,
and could be stored in a cupboard or under a bed when not in use.
It's not the strongest of designs (perhaps more symbolic bondage
than high security) but much cheaper and easier to make than using
steel bars and a steel frame.
I've tried to make the instructions 'generic', in that it will fit
around whatever parts you can find in your local shops
(you'll need plumbing parts and gardening parts). In particular,
I've not specified exact sizes of the parts you need, since
if I did I expect your local shop wouldn't have the same sizes
available - especially if you're not in the same country as me!
It also gives you the choice of what size to make the cage, if
your local shops have a range of sizes.
If you follow these instructions and put your own cage,
let me know how you got on, how much it cost you,
whether any improvements could be made in design or
instructions, etc. If you have any pictures, I'd like
to see, and if you want I can add them to this page.
Click on any of the pictures on the right to get a close-up view.
What you will need
You will need to find the following:
White plastic (PVC) water pipe. You should be able to get this
from your local plumbing or hardware store, usually used for cold water pipes,
usually white, usually between 1 and 2 inches wide, in lengths of about
10 feet long. It's important that it's stiff stuff - the whole 10 feet
length should hardly bend at all. If you can curl it up, then it's the
wrong type of pipe.
Plastic covered metal mesh. You should be able to get this
from a gardening shop - it's used to nail onto garden walls to train
creeping plants to creep up the wall. It comes in different sizes of
holes in the mesh - from ½ inch to 3 inches. This will form the walls
of your cage, so choose the mesh hole size based on that. It comes in
rolls of about 3 feet wide, 15 feet long.
Nuts and bolts. The bolts should be about 1/8 to ¼ inch wide, and
their length should be something like ¾ of the thickness of the pipe.
At least two padlocks, for securing the cage.
A hacksaw for sawing through the pipe.
A drill (hand or power) and bit for drilling holes in pipe, wide
enough to put a bolt through.
Screwdrivers, pliers, spanners or whatever might be needed
to tighten the nuts and bolts.
A small piece of bent metal (no, really!)
Optionally, some paint if you want to paint the pipe.
The key to getting all the measurements right for the parts of the cage
is to know three key measurements, which I'll call X, Y and Z. The acutal
values will depend on what you can find in your local store, which is why
I'm not specifying exact sizes but using algebra instead.
X - the width of the roll of mesh. This will become the internal
dimension of the cage cube, so make sure it's not too small. For the examples,
I'm going to use X=3 feet (36 inches)
Y - the width of the pipe. For the examples,
I'm going to use Y=1½ inches.
Z - the thickness of a nut. Yes, very small, but some of the
measurements need to be accurate. For the examples,
I'm going to use Z=1/8 inch.
So the length of the bolts should be something like ¾ of Y.
How much of what will you need
There are several methods of making the cage, depending on how much
mesh you want to use. These measurements cover the 'standard' model,
and you can check towards the end for alternatives.
The standard model requires two lengths of mesh, each a little more
than 4*X long (actually 4*X+4*Y+a few inches). The secure model requires
another one length, the same size. For the example sized standard model, this
would be 2 lengths, each of 4*3ft+4*1½in+a bit=12 foot 8 inches.
You need 12 lengths of pipe, each of X+4*Y+2*Z long. For the example
sizes, that's 3ft+4*1½in+2*1/8in=3 foot 6¼ inches. That's a total
pipe length of 42 foot 3 inches. Watch out though - each pipe length
has to be a continuous pipe, so if you can only buy pipe in 10 feet
lengths, and your lengths need to be 3 foot 6¼ inches each,
you will only be able to get 2 cut lengths from each 10 feet section,
so you'll have to buy a total of 60 feet! You will also need an extra
few inches of pipe.
You will need 48 bolts (4 per length of pipe).
You will need 96 nuts, one per bolt to hold the bolt in place when it's
only bolted to one piece (when the cage is dismantled) and another to
secure whatever the bolt is going to secure (when the cage is built).
When I made mine, I purchased 6*3 metre pipes (around £1 per metre),
a 10 metre roll of 1 metre wide mesh (£15) and 20mm size M4 (suitable
for a 4mm hole) nuts and bolts (around £4) making a total of around
I'd love to hear from anyone in USA who can let me know similar standard
prices for these parts from Home Depot or wherever.
How to make it
Cut the 12 lengths of pipe to length - they should be approximately
the size specified above, but it's more important that they're all the
same length, so keep comparing them with each other as you cut them.
It's not necessary to cut the mesh to length yet.
Pick up a length of pipe. You're going to drill three holes down then
tube, at specific measurements and angles, called A, B and C.
This is a fiddly bit of the process of making the cage,
but once you've done it once, you get to
do it exactly the same another 23 times and then you're nearly finished!
Look at the end of a length of the tube, and imagine there's a
compass on the end. Mark the North, South, East and West points on the
the tube in pencil.
The centre of hole A should be in the side of the pipe, at a distance
½*Y (half a pipe width) from the North mark.
The centre of hole B should be at a distance Z+1½*Y (one and a half
pipe widths and a nut width) from the West mark, ie 90 degrees around from
hole A, and further along the tube.
The centre of hole C should be at a distance of approximately 3*Y (three
pipe widths) from the West mark, ie in line with hole B, and further along
the tube. The distance is not critical. These holes are used to secure the
mesh in place, so the ideal spacing would depend on the hole spacing of
Take a look at the picture on the right to clarify. Hole A is on the left, and
holes B and C, 90 degrees around the tube (at the top) have screws coming out of them
in the picture.
At the other end of the tube, drill the same set of holes. Make sure that
both hole A's line up, and all hole B's and C's are all in a line.
It can be useful to look down the inside of the tube, to make sure the
holes which should line up really do.
Now would be a good time to paint the pipes, if you want to (I didn't).
Poke a bolt through the holes to make sure they don't clog up with paint.
Put a bolt into both hole B's and both hole C's, with the bolt head on
the inside and the bolt shaft poking out. Secure them with a nut each.
If you find the hole C bolts difficult to get in, then try taping the bolt
to the end of a piece of bent metal, using that to guide the bolt into the hole,
then pulling the metal to snap the tape. I found the blanking plate from the back
of a PC (the metal you take out if you fit a new card into the PC)
is ideal for this job (yet another great use for blanking plates!)
Repeat the whole process for the other 11 lengths of pipe.
The next step is to make a cube out of the 12 pipes. In doing this,
you must remember only 2 rules:
Hole B bolts go into hole A holes. The hole C bolts are not involved
at this stage.
When you consider which way round to put a pipe, the hole B bolts
always point 'outwards', and the hole A holes point 'inwards'. This will
be explained later.
Choose a point on the floor, and imagine that this is the centre of
the cage, where the occupant will be. A teddy-bear is ideal for this
Lie one pipe alongside the teddy-bear, ½*X from it. Applying
rule 2, turn it so the hole A is facing upwards (sort of towards the
teddy-bear), and bolt B is facing away from the teddy-bear.
Lie another pipe alongside the teddy-bear, so that the two pipes
touch. Where they meet, you should put the bolt B of the 2nd pipe
into hole A of the 1st pipe (obeying the rule 1), but make sure that
the 2nd pipe obeys rule 2 by making sure hole A of the 2nd pipe
points towards the teddy-bear. That should make the end of the 2nd
pipe lie on top of the 1st pipe.
This is the clever bit. Put the 3rd pipe so that it's vertical,
and its bolt B into hole A of the 2nd pipe, and (as long as you obeyed
rule 2) you should find hole A of the 3rd pipe sitting next to bolt B
of the 1st pipe. Push those two together, and you have a corner.
Continue in the same way. Put a 4th pipe down on the floor, connecting
to one of the others to obey rule 1, but turned around so as to obey rule
2. Put a 5th pipe vertical to make another corner, and carry on with
the next pipe, and so on.
Eventually you should have all 12 pipes interlocked as a cube.
You may find the last set of bolts difficult to get into their holes - if
necessary you can remove a bolt before putting the pipe in place, but you
may then find it difficult to get back in once the pipes are together.
This process sounds complicated, but it will be second nature by the time
you've got the cube together.
Put a nut onto each of the 24 B bolts, to secure the pipes together
at the corners.
Take the roll of mesh, and put the two C bolts of one of the pipes
through holes in the mesh, so the mesh is draping over the cage.
Rotate the whole cage, so the mesh is wrapped over 4 faces. Each time
the mesh passes over a pair of C bolts, make sure the bolts hook through
the mesh. Once you get back to the start, so you've covered all 4 faces,
cut the mesh off.
Now you need to select one of the faces to be the floor. If you put
one of the faces on the floor, you may find the mesh not quite in contact
with the floor - if this is the case, turn the cage until the mesh is flat
on the floor.
One of the open faces will become the door. The idea of the door is that it's
made of two halves of mesh, joined with padlocks. Wrap the mesh around...