Difficulties getting night box built

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
I'm going to begin by venting, then I'll pose my question.

The background: People on the forum pointed out to me a few months ago that both the indoor and outdoor enclosures for my 3 year old desert tortoise were far too small for her. I was ashamed and distressed to hear it, and ever since then, I've been asking my son-in-law to build a night box for her. (Building Cholla's large permanent enclosure is not a problem for my husband and me, but building the night box is beyond our skill and tool sets.)

The venting: So our son-in-law cheerfully agreed to build the night box, and as of last week the work was supposed to be already underway, but for one reason or another, the work keeps getting stalled. Also the son-in-lawkeeps coming up with "better ideas" than those of the experienced tortoise keepers on this forum, and my daughter, loyal wife that she is, keeps backing hm up, saying, "Those people know a lot about tortoises but not necessarily about carpentry." :rolleyes: The obvious response that you don't have to be a finish carpenter (as my son in law is) to build a good tortoise house; but you do need to know a lot about tortoises! Tom, for example, lives in our area, has been keeping tortoises for decades, and knows what they need in our climate. The young couple meets only the first criterion: they live in the SCV. They want to be helpful, but I don't want to be arguing with them every step of the way. End of vent.

The question:
If in six weeks time we still have no proper night-box, I'd like to know whether there is anyone in Southern California whom we could pay to build a safe, secure, insulated, set-up for our Cholla per Tom's instructions?
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
2,948
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
Oh my that is no good. Now I don't believe anyone 100% without doing some research first and dang if Tom isn't at least mostly right! But the catch is he learns and changes thus the knowledge he offers now is how he has evolved his tortoise care. So ask your son in law to give you a detailed build with his recommendations since he may have some good suggestions 🤔
 

Tolis

Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2020
Messages
81
Location (City and/or State)
Cyprus EU
Just saying in case you didnt know, there's a thread with renderings of Toms box thats extremely easy to follow but keep in mind they don't show clearly how the base is built, for that check Tom's photos of the double door box.

I built my box with my father in law a retired carpenter (he built I helped) and it was a good bonding experience. I suggest you save some money and do it with him. Just tell him unless he comes up with a clear plan you are buying the materials and start building next weekend.

As far as carpentry skills, my father in law is no prodigy but has decades of work experience doing kitchens and furniture and didn't have any upgrades to propose to the design. He couldn't even figure out how Tom's door opens more than 90°!
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
10,915
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
There’s nothing wrong per-se with using your own noggin and thinking out of the box (a bit) and modifying your build to fit your circumstances. I always use Tom’s ideas as the gold standard based on his torts, climate & budget. In turn, i always end up modifying/tweaking things a bit. Example - this summer i used a cheap HarborFreight waterproof “ammo box” to house my electricals & thermostat instead of Tom’s tupperware box. Same concept, just a different way to accomplish a waterproof box.

So, changing some things based on ur needs is good - just don’t build a totally new mousetrap. Maybe just use a better bait.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
51,340
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Example - this summer i used a cheap HarborFreight waterproof “ammo box” to house my electricals & thermostat instead of Tom’s tupperware box. Same concept, just a different way to accomplish a waterproof box.
And I tried to copy your idea, but this design had a basking lamp which needed a timer, in addition to the thermostat and extra wires. I couldn't fit everything into the Harbor Freight ammo box, so I had to buy a small plastic tool box instead. I still like this much better than the shoebox style I was using before. Your way is much more secure.
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Just saying in case you didnt know, there's a thread with renderings of Toms box thats extremely easy to follow but keep in mind they don't show clearly how the base is built, for that check Tom's photos of the double door box.

I built my box with my father in law a retired carpenter (he built I helped) and it was a good bonding experience. I suggest you save some money and do it with him. Just tell him unless he comes up with a clear plan you are buying the materials and start building next weekend.

As far as carpentry skills, my father in law is no prodigy but has decades of work experience doing kitchens and furniture and didn't have any upgrades to propose to the design. He couldn't even figure out how Tom's door opens more than 90°!
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Thank you, Tolis. These are very good suggestions.

It looks like the consensus is that I need to be less uptight about son-in-law's suggestions; give him room for some creativity, and perhaps work alongside him in a helping capacity. Actually, it's probably my husband who would do that. I think my s-i-l would get frustrated with me when I fail to hand him the right tool, etc. ` ;) That won't be a problem with my husband, who knows tools, and who is in general way less uptight than I am!

Yes, thank you for the info re: Tom's threads. Definitely. It's Tom's instructions that I want my son-in-law to follow--tl the letter! But following other people's instructions to the letter is not really my s-i-l's style.
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
There’s nothing wrong per-se with using your own noggin and thinking out of the box (a bit) and modifying your build to fit your circumstances. I always use Tom’s ideas as the gold standard based on his torts, climate & budget. In turn, i always end up modifying/tweaking things a bit. Example - this summer i used a cheap HarborFreight waterproof “ammo box” to house my electricals & thermostat instead of Tom’s tupperware box. Same concept, just a different way to accomplish a waterproof box.

So, changing some things based on ur needs is good - just don’t build a totally new mousetrap. Maybe just use a better bait.
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Thank you, Maro2Bear. The take-away
Oh my that is no good. Now I don't believe anyone 100% without doing some research first and dang if Tom isn't at least mostly right! But the catch is he learns and changes thus the knowledge he offers now is how he has evolved his tortoise care. So ask your son in law to give you a detailed build with his recommendations since he may have some good suggestions 🤔
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Oh my that is no good. Now I don't believe anyone 100% without doing some research first and dang if Tom isn't at least mostly right! But the catch is he learns and changes thus the knowledge he offers now is how he has evolved his tortoise care. So ask your son in law to give you a detailed build with his recommendations since he may have some good suggestions 🤔
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Thank you, Blackdog. The take-away I'm getting from you and the others who have responded to my post is that I need to be a less uptight about my son-in-law's suggestions for "improvements" to Tom's designs.

And I'm sure that's right: I need to give the young man space for problem-solving and creativity.

I just worry that some of those ideas might be good as far as carpentry goes, but not so good for my tortoise.
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
2,948
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
Thank you, Blackdog. The take-away I'm getting from you and the others who have responded to my post is that I need to be a less uptight about my son-in-law's suggestions for "improvements" to Tom's designs.

And I'm sure that's right: I need to give the young man space for problem-solving and creativity.

I just worry that some of those ideas might be good as far as carpentry goes, but not so good for my tortoise.
Ask him to spruce up the outside-some true carpentry flare! Moldings, trim, shingles, maybe even a met
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
51,340
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thank you, Tolis. These are very good suggestions.

It looks like the consensus is that I need to be less uptight about son-in-law's suggestions; give him room for some creativity, and perhaps work alongside him in a helping capacity. Actually, it's probably my husband who would do that. I think my s-i-l would get frustrated with me when I fail to hand him the right tool, etc. ` ;) That won't be a problem with my husband, who knows tools, and who is in general way less uptight than I am!

Yes, thank you for the info re: Tom's threads. Definitely. It's Tom's instructions that I want my son-in-law to follow--tl the letter! But following other people's instructions to the letter is not really my s-i-l's style.
There are certain design aspects that need to be followed for the box to work properly. Other aspects can be done any number of ways, and I'd love to see if SIL has ways to improve the design or teach me something. I've arrived at this design by lots of practice and frequent trial and error. My design has been evolving for more than 10 years. I like whee it is right now and it functions very well, but there is always more to learn.
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Oops, I mean, Thanks, Blackdog!:) I got muddled about which post I was replying too.

Your idea is a great one about asking my SiL to use his carpentery skills and creativity with decorative touches like the ones you suggest. I'd totally trust him to do any of that and more, and think the end product will be beautiful if he does.
What I'm still worried about is interior stuff that he proposes when it comes to elements that seem essential rather than decorative. Or that seem scary or bizarre to me: Such as not sandwiching the insulation btw inner and outer plywood sheets. I'm very inexperienced in this kind of construction, so it's difficult to question him. But I don't feel at all right about exposed insulation in the interior of the box. Or having the insulation on the outside, unsheathed, but
painted. ?????!!!!!

I admit these suggestions came from SiL through my husband, who may have misunderstood the young man.

But assuming that my husband understood him right, what do you think about those ideas? They seem unsafe and unsound to me.
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
1,251
Oops, I mean, Thanks, Blackdog!:) I got muddled about which post I was replying too.

Your idea is a great one about asking my SiL to use his carpentery skills and creativity with decorative touches like the ones you suggest. I'd totally trust him to do any of that and more, and think the end product will be beautiful if he does.
What I'm still worried about is interior stuff that he proposes when it comes to elements that seem essential rather than decorative. Or that seem scary or bizarre to me: Such as not sandwiching the insulation btw inner and outer plywood sheets. I'm very inexperienced in this kind of construction, so it's difficult to question him. But I don't feel at all right about exposed insulation in the interior of the box. Or having the insulation on the outside, unsheathed, but
painted. ?????!!!!!

I admit these suggestions came from SiL through my husband, who may have misunderstood the young man.

But assuming that my husband understood him right, what do you think about those ideas? They seem unsafe and unsound to me.
Not sure what insulation would be used, but if it is sheets of foam like blueboard or something similar to that, a tortoise will rapidly destroy the exposed insulation rendering it useless.
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2018
Messages
2,948
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
Oops, I mean, Thanks, Blackdog!:) I got muddled about which post I was replying too.

Your idea is a great one about asking my SiL to use his carpentery skills and creativity with decorative touches like the ones you suggest. I'd totally trust him to do any of that and more, and think the end product will be beautiful if he does.
What I'm still worried about is interior stuff that he proposes when it comes to elements that seem essential rather than decorative. Or that seem scary or bizarre to me: Such as not sandwiching the insulation btw inner and outer plywood sheets. I'm very inexperienced in this kind of construction, so it's difficult to question him. But I don't feel at all right about exposed insulation in the interior of the box. Or having the insulation on the outside, unsheathed, but
painted. ?????!!!!!

I admit these suggestions came from SiL through my husband, who may have misunderstood the young man.

But assuming that my husband understood him right, what do you think about those ideas? They seem unsafe and unsound to me.
HMM, ask him over to watch your tort eat so he can see how it chomps and uses it claws. Also suggest to him for an interior wall to use extruded PVC sheets instead of plywood to complete the sandwich. The PVC when sealed with a silicone would make cleanup a breeze.
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Not sure what insulation would be used, but if it is sheets of foam like blueboard or something similar to that, a tortoise will rapidly destroy the exposed insulation rendering it useless.
[/QUOT

Thanks.

HMM, ask him over to watch your tort eat so he can see how it chomps and uses it claws. Also suggest to him for an interior wall to use extruded PVC sheets instead of plywood to complete the sandwich. The PVC when sealed with a silicone would make cleanup a breeze.
Exactly re: insulation. Not to mention my worries that Cholla would poison herself and/or destroy her digestive tract by eating that stuff.

Thanks for the advice about the extruded PVC sheets!
 

mylittlecholla

Active Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Messages
170
Location (City and/or State)
Fillmore, California
Not sure what insulation would be used, but if it is sheets of foam like blueboard or something similar to that, a tortoise will rapidly destroy the exposed insulation rendering it useless.
Exactly. Thank you! Not to mention doing herself harm by possibly chomping on the stuff.
 
Top