Friday, January 1, 2010

Woodworking - A Pet Running Pen - Easy/Moderate

Free Woodworking Project - Animal Running Pen
Ages 5-16
For more projects see the e-book "Woodworking with Kids" at:
or the video "Woodworking with Kids" at:

Sunii and I finally finished the bunny running pen! We plan to let the bunnies enjoy the outdoors in the spring (with supervision) and we have been letting them out together once a day since we made it. They really like it! The instructions below are complete. Be sure to read them all before you start because some steps look easier than they are but if you don't use the "tips to make it easier" some steps could take you a half hour instead of 5 minutes. Seriously - we tried it :)

We also plan on using this for our rats to run around in and we plan on expanding it to 6 panels sometime soon.

Small Animal Running Pen

1. Purchase supplies or scavenge for supplies:

16 wood strips - all the same height and width (ours were 3')
Screening for screen doors (amount depends on your project - we needed two rolls of 3' high screening)
Hinges - 6
Screws for hinges (even if they come with screws - you will see why later)
Nails (depending on how thick your wood strips are - we needed smaller nails)

2. Get out/borrow or purchase the following tools:

Staple Gun & Staples
Saw (if you need to trim wood strips - we didn't - we had the guy at Menards do it for us ;)
Small bit for drill
Large heavy hammer
Scissors (to cut screening)
Measuring Tape

3. Lay out wood in square shape. Nail them together on all four sides. TIP: Be sure to use a large heavy hammer - your work will go faster and will be more accurate. TIP#2 - Be sure to hold the hammer correctly - at the end. The trick to hammering quickly and accurately is a heavy hammer and holding it at the end. You can even talk about hammer physics with your older child: Do this to all 16 panels - you will then have four wood squares.

5. Measure the screening to fit the square exactly

6. Lay the wood squares down and staple the screening to the squares.

7. When you are done with all the squares add the hinges to both sides of one panel.

8. Attach squares to either side of the panel by attaching the other end of the hinges to each panel. Be sure all the panels fold in the same direction as you are attaching the hinges. Use a drill to do this. TIP: Pre-drill each hole before you drill or screw the screws in - it will make the project go faster. TIP #2: Use screws for wood that you purchase separately. The screws that "come with" the hinges are never very good and take about 5 times as long to drill into the wood. Make sure you have good screws!

9. You will now have the gates attached on all but two sides. You can attach hooks to these and tie them shut with string, you can attach velcro to them or you can just put them against each other or a wall - it depends on how clever your pets are, how hard they will try to nudge their way out and/or how much supervision they will have. We used some eyelet hooks and some string (see picture).


Jenell said...

Cool project!

Kristie, just out of curiosity, how much did your supplies run you?

I've been entertaining buying something like this, and I think it's about $30.

Jen said...

Wow - great job Kristie & Sunii! It looks amazing and how fun that you did it together! I bet the rabbits and ratties will just love it. Will the rats be able to climb up the sides? I know first hand that they are mavelous climbers :D

Thanks for sharing yet another wonderful project! And happy New Year!


Kristie Karima Burns, MH, ND said...

Thank you Jen :) Yes, those rascally rats would climb up the side but we are planning on using it as a play-pen area to play with them in. Sunii likes to make mazes for them with blocks but if we don't have the area enclosed it is a hassle to play with them as they can dash off quite quickly :)

Kristie Karima Burns, MH, ND said...


The supplies cost us about $50.00 because we purchased the wood at the building store, Menards. If you use scrap wood or cut some boards yourself (instead of purchasing pre-cut strips) then the price goes down.

Tan Family said...

Wonderful project! It's great to see a woodworking project featured. :)

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Kristie Karima Burns, MH, ND said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for visiting and enjoying the new post :) I have to admit I am a bit inconsistent with the blog - some posts are short and others are longer and more inspired. I spend most of my time working on lesson plans and helping members of so I don't have a lot of extra time to do the blogging anymore. It is nice to know that is looks better - I always perceived it probably looked worse since I have less time lately :)

Sparklee said...

This looks like a great project for the whole family to do together. Our rats would really enjoy having a play area!

Love your blog, by the way!


Kristie Karima Burns, MH, ND said...

Thank you Sparklee :) How many rats do you have?