Ant Smith



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Ferret Enclosure; A frameless Modular Shed Construction Project

    This project creates a 6-sided enclosure providing 8 cubic meters of internal space, and explored:

  • Frameless construction, for flat-pack disassembly

  • Modular construction, for easy assembly or modification

  • Drill jig design for repeatability

  • QC (quality checking) during construction

  • Creating a dovetail template

  • Forces versus joint strengths

  • Managing uncertainty

image showing the finished enclosure in the garden

We needed an outdoor enclosure for 2 very energetic youthful ferrets, as the warm weather was upon us and we could no longer stand the sight of their plaintive faces pressed up against the living room window enviously espying the cats running amok in the vegetable patch. I would obviously love to give them free range, but this world doesn't really care for little lives as it ought and since ferrets can be only semi-domesticated they'd be missing and then dead within a week of free range living for sure. Plus our neighbours have chickens whom I don't think should be introduced to ferrets. So we needed a compound for them.

Ferrets though are both diggers and climbers, so it isn't just a matter of fencing an area of the garden off; we're talking total incarceration. The enclosure required not just walls, but flooring and ceiling too – in essence more a shed type structure than a simple compound (albeit skinned with wire mesh).

I also need to ensure that anything large I construct can be readily dismantled for transport, as life is a little more nomadic than once it was for us... well that's the romantic way of saying we rent our living accommodation these days. This means I wanted to avoid building overly large components. The most rigid (i.e. difficult to transport) component of any shed like construction is the framework, or carcass, on which the walls are hung. So I made a design that didn't need one, from a series of interlocking panels that would support each other.

Here's a view showing how three panels come together to form one corner of the…

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