Stuffed Animal Zoo build

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My god daughter has a bunch of stuffed animals. She has so many of them that her mom has to keep them in two different rooms amongst three different storage bins.

She (mom) saw the Stuffed Animal Storage “Zoo” online that sell for $157 and was debating over getting it. She likes it because kids can see all of their stuffed animals. The problem was that kids only play with the stuffed animals they see, so many of the ones at the bottom of the storage bins get neglected.

With this “Zoo” design, you can drop the stuffed animal at the top. The “bars” are flexible so the stuffed animals can easily break free. She showed me the website and I thought “Hey, maybe I can build it.”

First, let me advise you that unless you already have wood-cutting equipment (like a miter saw) and an intermediate set of tools, then buying it online from that website is the cheapest way to go. They have a rebate program if you send them a picture of your child playing with the stuffed animal zoo. Shipping is also free. The final product will look better. I am an office worker and not a craftsman; I am definitely not taking any business away from them with my cruddy build explanation.

However, I thought to myself that I can probably do it myself. It’s for my god daughter so I was especially motivated to build her something that will last and that she could say “Uncle Terry built that for me.”

So here is what you need to get for the build:

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  • Miter saw (or jigsaw with a lot of patience)
  • Drill, drill bits, and screwdriver bits
  • 6-foot long 1″x2″ pine (buy 4)
  • 6-foot long 1″x3″ pine (buy 3)
  • #8 eye screws (1-1/2″), at least 24
  • #6 wood screws (1-1/4″), at least 36
  • 1/4″ bungee cord, at least 500″
  • Sandpaper block

The frame took me about 2 hours to cut, assemble, and affix the eye screws. It took me another half day to paint and thread the bungee cords. I think if I gotten the kit online and assembled it, I would have probably saved 30 minutes.

As to cutting the wood, take the 1″x2″ and cut it to five feet long, leaving 1 foot of excess. Then, take each of the 1″x3″ and cut into 22″, 22″, 11″ and 11″ sections, leaving about 6″ excess. Keep the excess pieces to help you as spacers and risers for all the drilling you need to do.
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The Joints

Most of the time putting together the frame was joining the wood. There is no elegant way of easily putting the joint together unless you have a pocket hole jig and are a master craftsman. I am clearly not.

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What I ended up doing was joining the broadsides first (the y- and z-axises) while allocating a little space for the wood pieces that give the unit depth (x-axis). Putting together the y- and z-axises first was the easiest way for me to assemble. I don’t have a workbench so I used an old coffee table and relied on the excess strips of wood to help me measure spacing and keep from drilling into the old coffee table.

 


How are the bungee cords threaded and held in place?

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A big mystery that I couldn’t figure out was what hardware works to keeping the bungee cords on. I have seen people get several bungee cords with hooks on them and just hang the hooks on the frame. That looked ugly and not to mention dangerous.

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I ended up finding a blog online where a woman explained how her husband put together a smiliar stuffed animal zoo. He used eye screws — brilliant!


The Bottom

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The one thing I did different from everyone else was that I continued the bungee cords on the bottom. This allows me some slack room in case I made the bungee cords too tight. Additionally it keeps the stuffed animals from the floor and allows you to lift the unit without any stuffed animals falling off the bottom.

Then add a coat of paint and you’re done — now enjoy the results of your labor!

ImageIt’s a Jailbreak!

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