There are many hidden costs that most of us do not think about when starting a rabbitry. While most of them are small and insignificant on their own, they can quickly add up to become quite a tidy sum. One of the things we do here at TAP rabbitry to cut down on costs is to make as many of the items that we need ourselves whenever possible. If you have read my series on cage building on our blog, then you will note that the one thing that I did not cover in that three part series of cage building was the making of the cage door latches.
A cage no matter how well it is built is not very secure without a good latch. Now there quite a few cage latching options available on the internet, some are better than others and the prices of such latches is somewhat variable. Although cage latches are not overly expensive $0.85 to $1.50 a piece, if you need say 30 latches this small price could easily cost you a cash outlay of $25.50 to $45.00 depending on the type of latch you are buying. The great thing is that you can make your own cage latches for free in just a few minutes using materials that most of us have around the house.
The focus of this article is to show you how to make the most common form of cage latch available for purchase on the internet for free. That's right, I said for free! Today, I am going to show you how to make the same sturdy and secure cage latches that we use here at TAP rabbitry out of ordinary metal coat hangers that most of you have hanging in your closet. Now, the type of hanger we will be using is the full metal coat hanger, not the type you get from the cleaners with the cardboard tube at the bottom. In order for this to work, you need a one piece complete metal coat hanger. Once cut and straightened, each coat hanger will produce two complete cage latches.
There are a few items and or small tools that are not totally necessary, but they will help make this process quite a bit easier. The first is a 1 inch scrap piece of PVC pipe in which to wrap the metal wire around. A small bench vise makes it easy to hold the PVC in place, but if you do not have a bench vise, you can screw the PVC pipe to a bench or scrap piece of 2x4 then clamp the 2x4 to your bench or table. In addition, you will need a pair of vise-grip and needle nose pliers.
Before we can begin to start making the latches, we need to cut and straighten out the coat hangers. You want to cut the coat hangers near the neck (see picture above) then straighten them out as best you can. You should have a semi-straight piece of wire approximately 34 inches in length overall. Take this wire and cut it into two equal parts (each should be about 17 inches long). Once you have all the wire cut for the number of latches you need, you can start making your latches.
Step: 1 – Take your 17 inch wire and make a small hook in the end about ½ to 1 inch in length with your needle nose pliers. Then place the wire with the hook about 1 inch past the edge of the PVC pipe and clamp it into place with your vise-grip pliers.
Step: 2 – Then bend the wire around the pipe to make a U-shaped bend.
Step: 3 – Remove the wire from the pipe and then move your hand down the straight end of the wire until it is even with the hook above and make a 90 degree bend in the pipe.
Step : 4 – With your vise-grip pliers, clamp the wire to the PVC pipe at the 90 degree bend. Then take the straight end of the wire and wrap it around the PVC pipe twice to complete your latch. When done the straight end of the wire should be pointing downward.
Congratulations you have just made your own cage door latch in four easy steps. That's all there is to it, now when you attach the latch to your specific cage door you may need to make a slight bend or modification here and there depending on the type and size of the cage wire that your cages are made of. This simple latch can be used on either the top of the door or the right side. If you have a door that swings open to the left, simply flipping the latch upside down and it will still work perfectly. I know because we had to do that to one of our cages.
I realize that cage latches are relatively cheap, and feel free to purchase commercial latches if you want, know one is going to beat you up for it, at least not us anyway. However, if you want to save a few dollars, there are few latches easier to make then this type. Having said all of that, these latches are made from hanger wire, and if they are on an outside hutch, they will eventually begin to rust. On our outside hutches, our original latches are about three years old, and I made new ones for this article to replace a few that have become pretty rusty. Making these latches only cost me 30 minutes of my time, and heck it was raining outside anyway, so it was a good time to do some cage maintenance. As always, we ask that if you find this information interesting that you please share it with your friends on Facebook and Google+. Don't forget to send us a friend request on Facebook and Google+. You can also subscribe to our blog so that you do not miss any of our new articles or our notices regarding new rabbit's that are for sale.
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