Saturday, July 7, 2012

Stuffed Animal Zoo Cage

 Inspired by this pin, I finally got around to making a storage area for all of the many stuffed animals that my children have collected over the years. And I confess, it probably still wouldn't be done, except all of my laundry baskets had been stolen to hold their stuffed animals and my clothes pile was starting to rival Mount Everest.
I had some help.  They went with me to Home Depot to pick up the boards. They helped me screw them together, and they had fun playing in it until I evicted them all so I could stain it (I wanted it to match the girls' bunk bed cause I am like that). I think I am going to like it. Now, off to do some laundry.

or "How I Built My Stuffed Animal Cage"

2:2x2x8- cut in half, for a total of 4 2x2x4 (actual measurements of a 2x2 are more like 1.5x1.5. Lumber is silly like that)
3:1x2x8 furring strips- cut 6@1', 6@2'
Wood screws (as soon as I find the package, I will tell you what size they were. They were probably around 1 5/8"". I got them in a pack of 100 at Walmart for just under $5. They just need to be long enough to securely attach the furring strips to the 2x2 supports without going all the way through.
50' of rope (will have left over but that was the size the package came in. I bought a 1' nylon rope that was a pain to tie off, but it was the least expensive way to go- it was also the most expensive part of the project at around $13 at Home Depot).
at least 24- 1" cup hooks (this would have been better if I could have found full rings to run my rope through, but all the full rings I saw would have run clear through my furring strip. Because they are not, the ropes can come out. If it bugs me too much I may take some twist ties to it, but so far it hasn't been a huge deal)
sanding paper, wood filler, paint of stain, etc.

The guy at Home Depot was nice enough to cut my boards for me. I brought them home and screwed them together (I predrilled my holes to make sure they wouldn't split out on me). I started with the sides. For each side, I took two of the support posts (the 4x2x2's) and three of the 1' boards. The bottom and top I lined up with the support post, the middle one I measured 2' up from the bottom and then measured .75" down from that so that my board was centered. After I had my sides screwed together, I then attached my front and back boards, this time lining them up not with the support posts, but with the side boards (you can sort of see how in the pictures above- sorry, I didn't take pictures while I was doing it). Make sure to off-set your screws so that they don't run into each other. After I was all done with this part, I ended up putting in a second screw on the front and back going into the side boards (as pictured in the unfinished photo).

Then I started sanding. And did some more sanding. And then some more. This is where I wish I had invested in one of those little hand sanders. I think I have heard they are only like $20 for a cheap one. It might have been worth it. I rounded all the corners a little so that if a child bonked their head it wouldn't be quite as painful. I also filled in my screw holes and any other knots and dents with some stainable wood filler.
After it was all sanded down yet again (and my arms were good and sore), I stained it. Let it dry. Stained it again. Let it dry. Touched up some spots. Let it dry. Varnished it. Let it Dry. Varnished it again. Let it dry. Decided that was good enough.

The next step was to put the cup holder hooks in. Using a highly technical measuring method (I took my flexible sewing tape measure because that was the only one I could find at the moment, measured the distance on the inside between my boards, and folded my tape measure in half to get my center point) I found the center of all the boards and screwed the cup holders. Using that same measuring method on the front and back boards, I put in another cup holder centered between the center and the edge (that was a confusing sentence. Basically, it means I had three hooks in each board on the front and back, evenly spaced, and only one in the center on the sides).

The last step was stringing the rope. Because I didn't want to deal with cutting and tying my rope, I just ran it in a continuous loop (I started so that my knot would be on the bottom). At the top, I used some more hooks to tack the rope in the corners so that it would be open, but didn't bother doing the same for the bottom (see picture below). Then the only thing left was to toss all the stuffed animals in. 
It has been nice, because even the littlest one understands how to put the animals back. Sure they still get strewn around the room, but I can say "put the stuffed animals back" and they do. Now if I could only get them to do the same with the rest of their toys...


  1. Do you know the approximate cost you spent on the whole project. I know that a site sells them for $149 so I was wondering the cost to see if it's a good enough savings to do the work myself. Thanks!

    1. Less than $30. I think it was closer to $20, but will depend on what rope you decide to buy. The one on-line has a thicker wood on the top and bottom, which will cost a couple dollars more if you would prefer that look.

  2. Love this! Thanks for the detailed how-to! I have seen some others that use bungees instead of rope, but it seems that the cost goes up significantly that way. Do you think the rope will hold up as well as bungees?

    1. The nylon rope that I used has loosened, but I just need to go and tighten it again. The nylon was a bit of a pain to work with, because it doesn't really hold a knot- we had to use a clamp to get it to stay together. I think a cotton or other rope would hold up just fine (I picked the nylon because I wanted the white rope and didn't have many options where I was looking at the time).