Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
No one wants to spend gobs of money on a simple rabbit shelter like a hutch and while it’s great to go to the hardware store and buy supplies new, it isn’t always possible. This rabbit hutch was built utilizing four recycled wooden pallets (picked up for free!), a roll of rabbit floor wire, wood screws, scrap plywood, hinges, and a latch. Using pallets for lumber was certainly a new experience and should I decide to build
another hutch, I don’t think we will be using pallets again. Although one saves close to $60 in lumber, it is a pain in the booty-cakes to pull those things apart. If you can spring for some 2×4 and plywood — go for it! If not, this tutorial is for you. The cost of all the materials needed was about $22 total.
You will need:
• Skill saw/radial saw
• Cordless drill driver
• (4) Wooden pallets in decent shape –mine were 48″x38″ with a few boards on the back
• 30″ wide x 10′ roll of 14 or 16 gauge rabbit wire in 1″x1/2″ (friendly size mesh for bunny feet)
• (1 box) 2 1/2″ wood screws (1 box) 1 1/2 – 2″ wood screws
• (1 box) horseshoe nails
• (2) hinges
• (1) latch –do not use a hook and eye; raccoons are smarter than you think
• A box of tissues for when you cry over pulling apart pallets
First off, dismantle all of your pallets while trying to keep all of your boards intact. I ran the radial saw
down the insides of the first crossbar to ease the bigger boards off. Give yourself a good, full day just to dismantle all four pallets… maybe more. Most pallets are put together with corkscrew nails, not screws. These corkscrew nails look like normal nails, but have grooves in the sides to prevent them from being pulled out easily. You can attribute the cause of your headache to trying to pull out these awful corkscrew nails all day.
Use this diagram provided as a guide in constructing the frame of your hutch. Please take your own materials and their size into account when building your hutch and adjust accordingly. The pallets you find may be smaller or larger than what is shown here. There are typically two types of boards on a wooden pallet, 2x4 boards and thin wide boards varying in width.
I built the frame for the floor using the same diagram illustrated above. The wood used was from the 2×4 crossbars of the pallets and not the wide, thin boards. The two long sides are 44″ inches and the two short sides and center crossbeam are 27″ inches (the thickness of my 2x4 boards ended up being 1 1/2″ inches). Screw the three 27” inch crossbars to the long 44” inch sides using two screws through the long side and into the end of the crossbars as shown.
Your finished bottom frame should be 44″x30″ inches. Next, roll out your wire flush with the 30” inch sides and overhanging the 44” long sides by an inch or so. Use the horseshoe nails to tack the flush sides down well. Then use a piece of thinner board to create a trim piece to fit on top of the cut ends of your wire. The wire should overlap your frame and then be covered by the trim pieces. Screw the trim piece onto the frame being sure to catch the screws in-between the wire squares. This will ensure that the wire stays taut.
Now build the same frame as you did for the floor to support the roof. Obviously the roof frame does not
need wire and the third, middle crossbar is not absolutely necessary.
Set your frames up and see how tall or short you would like your finished hutch. I wanted my hutch to have tall enough legs for a dropping pan to slide underneath and still have ample height inside for a comfortable living space. This left me with 38” inch boards giving me 14” inch legs and an interior height of 24” inches (measured from the floor wire to the bottom of the roof frame). Measure and mark your leg boards before screwing them to your frames.
If you’re with me so far, you should have a complete hutch frame ready for a roof, walls, and door. Mine will be a winter hutch so all three sides will be solid wood. If you are building a summer hutch or live in a mild climate, you can wire the whole outside and just skip to the door. Using more wire may require an additional roll of wire.
Screw the thin, wide boards to the frame walls leaving enough room to add a door later. Try not to leave too many gaps between the wall boards so nothing can escape… or enter. If there are any obvious gaps, just screw another board over it. Add a roof from scrap plywood pieces or even pallet boards if you think you have enough.
Door: Measure the hole you need to cover. I used a few boards for the front to make a more sheltered hutch, so depending on the size hole you left for a door; your door will be of a different size. Measure and create a frame using sturdy pallet boards. Nail together at the seams with horseshoe nails on both front and back. Then use horseshoe nails to nail the wire to your doorframe. Mount the finished door to the hutch with hinges and figure out where to put your latch.
All done! You may find that a few tweaks are needed depending on the size and type of pallets you are able to acquire. This tutorial is really just a rough guide, but considering we are using free pallets, it works well. If rain is in the forecast, just throw a tarp over the roof and call it good. I even went as far as stapling the sides and roof in tarpaper for winter to keep drafts out.
This is a hutch made from pallets people… it ain’t gunna be too pretty.
Sarah lives with her husband and young daughter in an old Californian gold-rush town and is learning to be more self-reliant though gardening, animal husbandry, and by making things from scratch. Join her journey from the very beginning and learn along with her on her family’s farm blog, Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm.