Guinea Pig Storybook Castle – Top 5 Specifications and Top 5 Constraints

For my project I will be making a storybook castle playground for my two guinea pigs, Boba and Mochi. My motivation was to give them a safe play environment when I take them out into my yard. As I am going into the manufacturing phase, my top five priorities and top five constraints are as follows: 

Front-right view of guinea pig storybook castle
Front-left view of guinea pig storybook castle

Top 5 Priorities

1. Functioning Dynamics Parts

I hope to make the dynamic play components (swing and see-saw) functional. Having these dynamic and interacting components is what I expect would be most mentally stimulating to my guinea pigs and benefit them during their outdoor playtime. 

2. Castle Form

The form of a medieval castle should be very distinct and clear. I hope that the individual areas of the castle stand out in their own way and make the playground look very grand, just like a castle. 

3. Aesthetic paintwork 

I will be relying a lot on paint to achieve the storybook aesthetic. It should be nostalgic, natural, and cohesive throughout all the different components. Even though the castle is modular, when each component is pieced together, it should look cohesive as a single castle.

4. Sturdy

After all of my hard work, I hope that my piece will last. While I know that it will eventually degrade from my guinea pigs using it, I hope that the work I put into water proofing it and assembling it to be sturdy would make it last longer than what I currently buy off of Amazon. 

5. Easy Assembly

It would be great if this is functional and useful for me to use this upcoming summer for my guinea pigs.  Most of the time, my guinea pigs go out to play for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. Therefore, assembly should be quick and easy, or I might be lazy and not want to deal with the hassle of setting it up.

Top 5 Constraints 

1. Angled cuts 

For the octagonal spire, I will have to cut the edges of the wood panels at specific angles. I am not really confident with machining, so this will be a major challenge for me. Having my angles wrong would not allow for the panels to properly line up and form the spire shape

CAD model of one of the eight panels that must be cut for castle spire

2. Bearing load 

I will be relying on wood glue and shelf brackets to hold up the weight of my guinea pigs. Because the equipment I use for them tends to wear out fast, I decided that making something with great craftsmanship might not be the most effective use of my efforts. The use of glue and brackets allows me to easily make the floorboards and piece together the panels, but it might be shoddy and fall apart. 

3. Time 

Since I will be cutting a lot of wooden panels that must be consistent, getting all of my materials ready for assembly will take a lot of time. In addition, in between each phase of gluing, painting, and waterproofing will need a lot of dry time, which would slow down my progress and force me to halt my work. 

4. Painting skills

I used to paint often in middle school, but have since not really practiced that skill. I hope that I still retained some techniques to be able to get a basic, gray, stone-like appearance on the wood with some detailing of vines and flowers. However, with the large surface area of the playground, this would be a big challenge to make it look pleasing and neat. 

5. Safety 

I have to ensure in my material procurement and assembly that there are no sharp corners or loose materials that could cut my guinea pigs or that they could ingest. With so many different parts that have to be pierced together, this could be hard to pay attention to. 

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Colton Huff
    April 7, 2024 4:18 pm

    I literally saw this post as I was scrolling and was so excited to see this come to life!! I totally believe in you to blast through these constraints and achieve all of your goals! I am curious if you have taken the time to think about the timeline of how long the painting and paint drying process will be and if you feel confident in making a design as big as your current render of it you could have a smaller goal design with a stretch goal of making the entire thing. I cant wait to see the result!

    • Hi Colton! Thank you for the encouragement and positivity. I did end up reducing the size so that the build would be more manageable. Because it is taking me longer to build than expected, I might switch over to staining the wood and then painting flower and vine detailing. Hopefully this will cut down my painting time.

  • Adlai White
    April 2, 2024 7:07 pm

    Hi Helen, I really love this idea. The 3D render gives the project a simple and easily understandable layout that will definitely help. I noticed that you said you would be cutting a lot of wooden panels, and I wondered if you could use this 3D render and potentially upload it to rhino so that most of your cuts could be done with a laser instead of manually. I also know there are websites like maker case (I believe) that automatically make “finger” jointed boxes those could also be used to help give the castle effect and potentially save a lot of time.

    • Hi, Adlai. Thank you for the suggestion to laser cut the panels! I wish I had thought of this before I scheduled my construction period to be during spring break. Therefore, I ended up cutting everything with the saws I have at home with the help of my stepdad. I had some issues with wood splintering and uneven dimensions, so I think laser cutting would have potentially avoided those issues. However, I ended up using 1″ panels, so I am not sure if they could be cut by laser.


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