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Fort Hammy- Part 2. The Upgrade begins

Part 2 of 3:

My faithful steed (truck)

My beloved truck, she’s my “steed”, steady , and ready, and all mine. Her name is Michelle. Don’t ask me why, I simply signed the papers for her, got in, and thought “Wonder what I’ll name her” and instantly the name Michelle popped in my head. She did have a previous owner before me who died, maybe he named her? Don’t know but I LOVE my truck. Between hauling projects, hauling event gear for my Origami Owl Vendor events, hauling Girl Scout cookies, and camping, that truck is my life.

We need to do a heavy duty upgrade from our cage-bin, so me and “Michelle” headed off to find a bargain armoire that I could repurpose into a habitat fit for King Harry the Hamster of Fort Hammy. I sent this picture of an armoire in the back to my husband, no explanation. His response? “Need help?”  Bless him. 🙂

I got it for $25 but I’ve run up quite a bill on everything else I needed for it. It’ll be worth it though. Not having to worry about the cat knocking over the bin and killing my kid’s hamster is worth it alone but also providing a crazy fun place for Harry and when he passes on, we can continue to use this over and over again for future hammies. So here’s my list so far that I’ve picked up.


Supply List:

  • Bargain Find: Used Armoire
  • 1/4″ Hardware Cloth (48″ minimum width because of back of cabinet, I didn’t want to piece together screen)
  • Melamine boards (1) 2×4 sheet and (2) 1 ft by 4 ft
  • Plexiglass 48″ by 36″
  • Aquarium Safe Silicon
  • TSP Cleaning Solution (EXTERIOR ONLY- Do not use on interior of cage where hamster could lick/bite)
  • Iron-On Melamine Edging
  • Chalk Paint, Wax, & Chalk Brushes
  • New screws for drawer pulls
  • Medium Duty Painting tarp (I’m so sick of the plastic ones, I got a real one this time).
  • Staple Gun
  • Moulding (to cut down and cover hardware cloth from sharp edges)
  • Table Saw (borrowed my neighbors)
  • Miter Saw (for angled cuts on moulding)
  • Screws with caps for melamine boards
  • Small screws which I’m not sure why I bought but have a feeling I’ll need.

Here’s the breakdown of my plans for this project:

  • Strip off the doors and cut out the center sections. Replace with 1/4″ hardware cloth wire fencing. Secure with heavy duty staple gun and then put a protective piece of molding to cover the staples and sharp edges of the hardware cloth.
  • Remove back of armoire and replace with hardware cloth. Plenty of ventilation between front and back.
  • Create bin for the bottom made out of melamine board. (Waterproof, hamster safe). Plexiglass front. There’s a huge world of hamster DIY cages using IKEA products but unfortunately because of COVID, they’re pretty much out of stock of just about everything.
  • Chalk paint exterior (where Harry can’t chew on it). Eventually I will find a way to tile the inside walls above the melamine tray but I might just use plexiglass to cover the side walls. (I don’t want him chewing or licking on the wood, I worry about the varnish).
  • Building in shelf ledges which will have ramps and bridges. One of these will probably lead back over to the original Fort Harry Fortress as he seems to like to use it to hide in.
  • Plexiglass burrowing tower? It’s on the list but we’ll have to see.
  • Hoping to see if nut/bolt on back of his current wheel would be long enough for me to mount through the side of the armoire so that it’s not sitting on a shelf. He’s knocked his wheel over a few times so it would be nice if I could mount it direct to the cabinet but we’ll see.
  • Inside bottom bin- hamster sand pit and a seperate rock pit area.  Hamsters use the sand to bath in (and often one corner in the sand to pee). The rock area is to help him with his toenails as they need something that has a bit of roughness to grind them down on. Robos are way too fast and typically not hand tameable to be able to manage clipping their toenails manually.
  • Install lighting kit from IKEA in the top of the cabinet so that I can easily check his food/water dish at night when I do late night checks on my daughter.
  • Drawers will be lined and used for storage of food, bedding, etc.
My dog Arya checking out the newest project.

I’ve run into a few little hiccups, mainly I need to figure out a safe way to prevent him from getting up on the bin wall and then getting trapped between the doors. There’s a 3/4″ gap that I need to decide how to block. Originally I had planned to take that shelf out that you see at the bottom of the cage. Unfortunately, it seems that there must be dowels clued into the side panels and it’s impossible to get out without breaking and I don’t want any jagged edges. This is where the previous dilemma comes in. If I leave the gap, he could get down below and get under everything. I thought about making that a burrowing hole area but I don’t have an easy solution for covering the wood safely and I had already painted it before realizing the gap would be an issue.

All in all though, here’s a little sneak-peek of what it’s starting out as.



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