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Old 09-04-2012, 08:19 AM
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Default Custom Plywood corner vivarium

Hey guys, I have been tossing idea's up in the area regarding our next build.. whether it be the XXL large/tall Exo-terra, a protean corner tank or just going with a plywood build.. I think we may try the plywood option this time and really do something custom to meet our needs. I feel like the front door/viewing area will be very large. Possibly 48" long. and I am gonna shoot for around 36-48" in height. Depth will be determined during the construction but probably something around 24" to 30" deep. Couple questions before I dive into this head first.. hopefully someone with more experience will chime in here..

1) What should we use to secure the wood together and create a good bond?
2) Should we go with multiple coats of an epoxy resin? if so, what product has been proved to work well and long term

3) I planned to make this a dual sliding door setup with tracks and all that jazz.. Should we build this with a eurovent or is there another method to securing the tracls?

4) how do you secure your glass in place up front for the water tight seal? Just as you would do the glass bottom on a vert kit for a standard say 10g vert?

I have read over other threads with custom plywood enclosures and tried doing my homework up to this point. So hopefully more will jump on board for this project and help with my questions. Look forward to hearing from you guy! thanks
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:03 AM
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Default Re: Custom Plywood corner vivarium

In a former life, I was also a wooden shipwright, so epoxy runs in my veins..I'm a large user of West System epoxies, and favor it over other brands. There is a recently invented 2 part epoxy from West called 'G-Flex' which I would recommend..It's a thickened epoxy, so it isn't so messy, and stays where you put it better..Somewhat flexible compared to standard 2 part epoxies, and kicks in about 9 hours, as compared to 24...I would use it for all end joint glue up's, and a standard epoxy, like West 105-205 to coat all wooden surfaces before finish construction..If the front glass isn't the slider, I'd put a small wooden lip on the inside to support the weight, and add to the seal...A good silicone would keep the glass in place.
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Old 09-04-2012, 12:17 PM
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Default Re: Custom Plywood corner vivarium

You could also check out monsterfishkeepers.com They do massive builds with plywood and different sealents. That is where I have been doing my additional research at as well.
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: Custom Plywood corner vivarium

If you do go plywood the two options I used were

1. pondliner

2. pond coat by PermaDri



I'm more used to using pond liner since it's odorless and doesn't require safety precautions. The downfall is you really have to spend time and try and get the liner where you don't have a lot of folds around the corners. Once you get that squared away - place the panel of glass over the liner to secure it all in place and use marine adhesive sealant 5200. Silicone won't bond the glass to the liner and the downfall of the marine adhesive is it dries white. Usually plywood builds have a frame in front of the glass so you don't see the adhesive anyways. I think you may have seen that in my large paludarium when you were asking about it.

The pond coat is a new method to me I picked up from monsterfish keepers because pond liner does get heavy. It has a peculiar scent but isn't bad at all imo. Just install the glass panel first and secure it to the wooden frame with the marine 5200 (silicone won't bond to the liquid rubber). After the adhesive is dry and the glass is sturdy in place cover the glass with some plastic wrap just in case you spill some of the liquid rubber (except where the dried 5200 adhesive is). The reason I say cover the glass except over the 5200 is because you want to put a layer of the pond coat over the 5200 as a second barrier from the water since both materials will bond where silicone won't. I got the 3 gallon bucket for 2 of my newer plywood builds 3' x 3' x 3' and used the entire bucket on just those two vivs to make it water proof. Another tip I took from the monsterfish keepers was using drywall tape to add strength to the seams and corners of the viv since they were made of recollected lumber. My opinion - you should add enough layers of pond coat to the point you don't notice the drywall tape is even there (should be about 3 - 4 coats). Hope this helps.
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:15 AM
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Default Re: Custom Plywood corner vivarium

I have seen some resins eat away at foam. Is there a certain type of resin I should look for that will not eat extruded polystyrene foam and will still be safe for vivarium inhabitants?? I have decided I am going to do a plywood/foam build and have it completely sealed in resin. That is if I can find a safe epoxy resin
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:10 AM
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Default Re: Custom Plywood corner vivarium

i used the thin 2 part epoxy resin from us composites. it had low odor, relatively low cost, it was easy to use, it is compatible with the foam, at least after it is cured, and to end an entirely too long run on sentence, my frogs have been doing well in the viv. my take on the vent was to skip the euro and make a duct system using pvc piping and aluminum for the vent in front of the glass. the duct was then covered with fine ss mesh that i spray painted black. that was i could adjust my venilation by controlling fan speed. feel free to ask and questions and keep us informed on the build.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:46 AM
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Default Re: Custom Plywood corner vivarium

They dont specify a dry time on the 2:1 thin slow dry resin. Only that it needs to be kept around 80 degrees for optimal results. It is around 85ish during the day right now in Washington and dropping to high 60's low 70's at night. Should i go with a medium drying resin?? I want good working time so it doesnt harden up on me to quickly, and i guess its not a terrible thing if we have 1-2 days fully curing time if need be. I'd rather learn to be patient than rush and ruin the progress and waste a hundred bucks worth of material
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:19 PM
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Default Re: Custom Plywood corner vivarium

This is what I used on my plywood enclosure

Aquatic Eco-Systems: Ponics Supplies - Epoxy Paints

It has been up and running for 5 years now with no issues at all.

Troy
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:57 PM
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Default Re: Custom Plywood corner vivarium

i mixed up enough resin to coat about 16 square feet at a time. i was able to put more that one coat on a day without having to resand by being carefull about the timing of the coats. if you wait for full cure before the next coat then you need to sand between coats. at the size you are discussing i dont think you would have trouble coating the entire inside with the thin epoxy without it going to the gel state too soon. wear old clothes and have plenty of clean up items available. i used the disposable sponge brushes from menards to place the epoxy and had one of the plastic squeegees to spread it on the bottom. i would also recomment using at least one layer of fiberglass in the seams and on the bottom.
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