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Old 02-10-2011, 01:12 AM
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Default Building A Glass Vivarium

So you want to build your own glass viv? It's easy! Here's how...

Materials:
Glass (1/4" thick for viv, 1/8" thick for glass doors)
Clear Silicone (I use GE Silicone 1 for Kitchen/bath)
Black Silicone
Silicone Gun
Blue Painters Tape
Duct Tape
Disposable Rubber Gloves
Razor Blades
Screen Window Frames
Screen Window Corner Connectors
No-Se-Um screen material (bought at Home Depot)
1/8" door tracking (from Outwater Plastics - Outwater Catalogs - 2010 Master - page 54)

Optional but Useful Tools:
Random Orbital Sander
Power Drill
Foot Control Petal ($10 at Harbor Freight)
Mini Cut-off saw ($30 at Harbor Freight)
Respirator
Safety Glasses


I have been making two sizes of tanks, one for tincs, and one for thumbs. Below are the pieces of glass you will need for each size of tank.

Tinc Tank (15" wide x 20" deep x 16" tall) (fits 3 to a 48" rack)
1/4" Glass
Bottom: 15x20
Side (x2): 19.5x15.5
Front: 15x5
Front Lip: 1x14.5
Top 1: 15x2
Top 2: 15.14.2
Back: 15x15.5
1/8" Glass
Doors (x2): 7.5x10 1/8

Thumb Tank (15" wide x 20" deep x 24" tall) (fits 3 to a 48" rack)
1/4" Glass
Bottom: 15x20
Side (x2): 23.5x19.5
Front: 15x6
Front Lip: 1x14.5
Top 1: 15x2
Top 2: 15x14.5
Back: 15x23.5
1/8" Glass
Doors (x2): 7.5x17 1/8

I get my glass from a local glass shop. They cut the pieces and can sand the edges for you if you want. It costs about $20 extra per tank for them to do that though so I sand the sharp edges off myself. I use a Random Orbital Sander with 80 grit abrasives. You really should sand the glass wet but I'm to cheap to get a wet sander so I just wear a respirator to avoid breathing all the glass dust I kick up. I plug the sander into a foot petal controller which you can get pretty cheap. This lets you control how fast the sander moves thus avoiding overheating/chipping the glass. Dont forget your safety glasses too!
Attached Images
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Last edited by Kaity; 02-10-2011 at 01:53 AM.
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:18 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Once you've sanded all the edges so they are not sharp anymore you can drill any holes that you need. I am not going to go into detail here as there is a really good tutorial on DB already. I drill one hole in the back piece about 1" from the bottom for the bulkhead and one hole in the middle and about 1" from the edge of Top 2 for the misting system. Below is a pic of the bulkhead I use. It is a mini bulkhead that only requires a 1/2" hole.

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...glass-diy.html

As a side note, I also like to plug in my drill to the foot petal controller and duct tape the trigger down while drill holes. This is mostly because it hurts my hands too much to hold the trigger down for a long time but also allows you to focus more on not breaking your glass!

Here is where I get the bulkheads - item #PHBBF-1/2
Bulkhead Fittings
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:28 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Now comes the fun part!

Clean all the edges and about 2" in around each side with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel. Silicone will not stick to grease so everything needs to be clean!

I silicone the Bottom, Back, and Left Side panel all in one step. Then add the Right Side, then the two Tops. I use blue painters tape to create an edge where the silicone will not go past. This helps to create clean professional lines at the joints. I tape 1/2" away from the edges that the silicone joint is on the flat surface of the glass and 1/4" away from the edges on the pieces that butt up against another piece of glass. Hope this makes sense.

The first pic shows the Left Side, Bottom, and Back taped up. The second is showing you how I tape away from the edge.

Here is a video on youtube showing the taping procedure a little better.

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File Type: jpg IMG_0072.jpg (90.0 KB, 261 views)
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Next you will add duct tape stripes that will act as supports for the tank until the silicone dries. I do not use anything to hold up the side or brace them other than the tape an it works great. In the pic you can see I put tape on the bottom piece as well as the back.

Next run a stream of clear silicone on all the places that will have glass butted up against them. For this first phase you will put silicone on the left side and rear edge of the bottom piece as well as the left side of the back piece. See below for amount of silicone to use.

Then you just stand up the back piece and tape it in place, then the left side. Once the pieces are aligned and taped they should not need any more support.

Run another bead of silicone along the inside joints. Go ahead and goob a good amount in the corners. Then with a gloved hand, run your finger along the seams to smooth out the silicone. IMMEDIATELY after you do that remove the blue painters tape. You do not want the silicone to set while the tape is still on.

The last picture is what it should look like at this point.

Do not try to clean up silicone that squirts on the outside. Let it cure and then use a razor blade to cut it off.
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Last edited by Kaity; 02-10-2011 at 01:54 AM.
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Hopefully by now you have the hang of taping and siliconing. You will add the Right Side next. Then the two top pieces. Below is a pic of the top. Align Top 1 with the front edge of the tank and Top 2 along the back. This will leave a gap in the middle for the Screen/Vent to go in.

Separately I will also silicone the Front piece with the Front Lip. The lip is what will hold on your sliding door tracking. I attach the Lip to the Front and allow it to dry for 24 hours. Make sure to leave a 1/4" margin from each side of the Front so that the Lip can slide into the Viv. I like to tape the 1/4" on each side just to be sure. I then attach it in place using the same methods as the rest of the tank.
Attached Images
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:48 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

In the end what is the cost of materials to build one of these tanks?
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:52 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Now for the sliding glass doors. When you order your tracking you will get two different heights. For instance, if you order 10' of track, you will receive 10' of the shorter one and 10' of the taller one to make a set. You will use about 3x as much of the taller one as the shorter one so keep that in mind when you are ordering. The short one goes along the bottom of the doors. The tall one goes on the two sides and the top.

To cut the track I use a Mini Cut-off Saw from Harbor Freight (about $30). This allows you to make 45 degree cuts as well as straight ones.

The bottom piece is just straight across...no angles needed!

The side pieces will fit flush against the bottom but have to have 45 degree cuts at the top.

Remember, measure twice cut once!

Once the pieces are cut and you know they will fit right I like to tape them in place just to double check.

Then I use a bead of black silicone and attach the bottom and top piece first. Then add the two side pieces.

Don't worry if silicone squirts out the front. It's easier to cut it off with a razor blade after it has dried.
Attached Images
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:58 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

I'm not going to show how to make a vent because Pumilo so graciously did one already! Here is the link.

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...ction-how.html

Once you have that made just use the black silicone along the edges and push it in place.

Once everything is dry and ready to can put the doors in. Just tilt them and insert the top in the top track. Then straighten the door out and rest it in the bottom track.

Done!

Hope that wasn't too confusing. I'm not a very good descriptive writer obviously.
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:06 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Alex: As far as costs go I think making one yourself makes a lot of sense if you are making multiple tanks, want something custom, and it also helps if you have the tools already lying around.

Shop around for the cheapest glass shop. I found they vary quite a bit. The cheapest place I found in Portland is Wright Bros. Glass. The glass for the Tinc Tank costs about $65 and the glass for the Thumb tank costs about $75. I also priced out a 15gal equivalent vertical tank and glass would be about $55. If you bought large glass panes and cut them yourself you could probably cut this cost WAY down but I haven't totally committed to learning to cut glass yet. But I hear Pumilo is working on a tutorial.

The tracking is cheap. Something like $0.53 per foot.

You will use about 1/2 a bottle of clear silicone and only a tiny bit of black silicone per tank. The silicone is $5 a tube.

Gloves - $2
Tape - $4
Razor Blades - $2

Screen material costs are detailed on the Screen making tutorial. But after you buy the No-se-um fabric and the frames each one you make feels like it's free. The insect fabric I got will probably last me a life time.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:15 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Nicely done Kaity! I like how you took the time to tape your edges for a crisp clean edge. I must admit mine are just freehand. I'm making breeders rather than displays so my lines are not as neat as yours. Hope you don't mind if I link to your thread when I get to that point on my viv build thread. Did Outwater have any kind of minimum order for that track? I've thought about doing a really tall pumilio viv with tracked doors.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:18 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Thanks Doug! Outwater does not have a minimum order to my knowledge. My order only cost like $40 and I have made 9 tanks and have enough for another two maybe....
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:18 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Great tutorial quite detailed! Except, how are the side,back, and front glass pieces positioned to the bottom piece when siliconing? For example, are the side, back, etc. glass pieces cut to all fit sitting on TOP of the bottom piece? or do some get positioned on top and others on the side of the bottom piece? I hope Im making myself clear.

The way you explain it, it doesnt really seem that hard to make! Genius!
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:20 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Good Question. All the side and front pieces sit on top of the bottom piece. Basically the bottom and top pieces sandwich in the walls.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:29 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Quote:
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Good Question. All the side and front pieces sit on top of the bottom piece. Basically the bottom and top pieces sandwich in the walls.
and the front and back pieces sandwich the sides or...? sorry Im being so meticulous...
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:58 AM
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No problem...ya, the front and back sandwich the sides as well.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:00 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Great info Kaity. Thanks. Where do you buy the bulkheads?
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:04 AM
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Jeremy: the link is on my second post of this thread.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:42 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Nice work, love those tank designs.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:47 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

It funny because I swear I have seen that exact design from someone else that builds vivariums. They look like class A vivariums to me tho
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:48 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Looks just like a lot of tanks I've seen recently, Kinda like the euro glass, but more like a Protean Terr. viv.





Looks ok tho.
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:41 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Very nicely done, Kaity. I may just try this approach over the summer in redoing some tanks. Very DIY.
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:41 PM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Quote:
Originally Posted by dom View Post
It funny because I swear I have seen that exact design from someone else that builds vivariums. They look like class A vivariums to me tho
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccfrogbreeder View Post
Looks just like a lot of tanks I've seen recently, Kinda like the euro glass, but more like a Protean Terr. viv.





Looks ok tho.
That is exactly what I was thinking....Looks just like a Protean viv....

A nice design for sure right there.....
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:39 PM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Nice job! I know I'll build my own from now on.
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:34 PM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Show us some new shots as the tanks grow in.
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Old 02-13-2011, 03:12 PM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

outwater has a min. order of $25 without the shipping. The track comes in 12 foot sections. I had to order 3 12 foot sections for 1/8th in glass to total $24.80 plus my shipping came to right about $40.
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Old 02-14-2011, 01:53 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

I agree with some of the others... this looks Identical to proteans? did you get the design from them? if not where?
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:26 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

I would just like to point out that a "protean" design is not really an original design. Type in European Glass Vivarium in google and you will find many tanks that are basically identical. It is a common style. That being said, without giving feedback to anyone, I enjoy making my own vs. buying them from some vendors because of past experiences. If you would like more details please feel free to PM me.

Terrarium, gifkikkers, fruitvliegen, sproeiers - Dutch-Rana Online - PRIJSLIJST TERRARIA

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...step-step.html
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:38 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Nobody is giving Protean a hard time for a borrowed design! These were being used overseas well before he borrowed the design from them. Seriously people! Give her a break.
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:52 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Quote:
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I enjoy making my own vs. buying them from some vendors because of past experiences. If you would like more details please feel free to PM me.

You may like making your own vivs but its pretty obvious you copied Jason's vivs as you physically bought two of them and picked them up not too long ago. Needed a hands on template huh?
Be original!
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:55 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

WOW, actually picked them up from protean.....


I guess pictures from websites were not enough....
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Ok guys i'm going to ask that everyone take it easy. If anyone has a issue please contact me directly.
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Yep, you're right. I did buy some recently. As I said before, that experience made me want to make my own. I did not buy them to copy the design in the first place. As I can not give vendor feedback on this forum I can not go into details as to why I decided to make my own but please feel free to PM me and I will tell you.

Also, I never claimed the design to be my own.
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:08 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Funny that people aren't complaining about folks copying Dane's vert fronts by making their own... C'mon, this hobby is about learning from others, refining designs, etc. If people want to make their own tanks all the power to them. And if they want to utilize designs from others, well, that's their prerogative.
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stemcellular View Post
Funny that people aren't complaining about folks copying Dane's vert fronts by making their own... C'mon, this hobby is about learning from others, refining designs, etc. If people want to make their own tanks all the power to them. And if they want to utilize designs from others, well, that's their prerogative.
Also there are only so many ways to make a cube. There is bound to be overlap, if we judge by the same standards then anyone who has ever made a basic aquarium DIY has "copied" someone else's design. As Charles Caleb Colton once said "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." So I would take it as a compliment.
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:43 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

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Originally Posted by stemcellular View Post
Funny that people aren't complaining about folks copying Dane's vert fronts by making their own... C'mon, this hobby is about learning from others, refining designs, etc. If people want to make their own tanks all the power to them. And if they want to utilize designs from others, well, that's their prerogative.

Vert fronts have been around since the 90's. I made them as did many herpers keeping ETB's and GTP's. Doors that opened down and even to the side.

Michael
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:49 AM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

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Originally Posted by poison beauties View Post
Vert fronts have been around since the 90's. I made them as did many herpers keeping ETB's and GTP's. Doors that opened down and even to the side.

Michael
My point exactly.
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Old 02-14-2011, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

Kaity, thanks for the tutorial! I might even give it a try.

For your next project, would you please use 80 degree angles when building your viv, to avoid any patent issues?
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Old 02-14-2011, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

I know it's been said, but,

Jason makes a great tank (I own 7), but did not invent the glass box. Nor did he invent the European vent, nor the sliding door, nor the drain/misting hole, nor is he the first one to put them all together. He also builds custom tanks to any dimension/configuration so any tank that anyone builds probably looks like a protean tank somewhere.

People have been building glass pet boxes for hundreds of years and very few variations are unique enough to warrant any kind of "me first" claim, legal or otherwise.

Nice job, BTW.
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Old 02-14-2011, 05:43 PM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

I built my first tank with sliding glass front a couple of years after the May 1995 National Geographic article on Poison-Dart Frogs. There was a tank photo of Robbert Kurpershoek's from the Netherlands on page 110. I had the local glass company cut the glass and sell me the tracks for the doors. It even has a glass shelf that the track is siliconed to and a screen top. My design is from what I saw in National Geographic at least 14 years ago. Here is a photo I believe that I have posted before. You can see the track/shelf in the bottom left.
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Old 02-14-2011, 07:33 PM
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Default Re: Building A Glass Vivarium

kaity, do you think you could get a clean cut on the tracking with a regular miter saw, either electric or hand?
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