Guinea Pig Storybook Castle – Progress Since Design Preview

For my project I am 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 during the summer. My progress from Spring Break to now is outlined below.

Front-left view of guinea pig storybook castle


Material Procurement and Prep

Using my Solidworks parts, I first laid out all the pieces I would need for my design on a model of the wood panels I would be purchasing (1” x 12” x 36”). This would help me determine how I could more efficiently use the wood panels and reduce waste and costs. After this step, I determined that I would need 11 panels, and priced at about $8 each, my total came out to be $88.  

Layout of wood panel for guinea pig castle


Using the dimensions from Solidworks, I outlined the cuts I would need for each panel. While I planned to do the cuts myself, my stepdad’s tools were not equipped with any safety guards, so he ended up doing the majority of the cutting for me as he was concerned it was a safety risk. 

Spire Troubles 

While measuring the dimensions of the spire panels, I noticed that the dimensions were off by about 5 inches. To be honest, I chalked it up to being a perspective issue. Because my model was created from lofting between two profiles, so I did not know how to measure the part on a different plane. 

It was not until I cut the spire panels that I realized how low and wide it was, and that the angles on the part would not align. I went back to my model and realized that the way I used the loft tool did not make the perpendicular cross section of my model 1” thick, but actually only .76” thick. Therefore, my panels did not fit and were too small. 

I will be considering another way to decorate the top of the watchtower, as I have already exceeded $100 for supplies. However, I plan to repurpose the spire panels for my see-saw bridge so it does not go to waste. 

Wood Panel Troubles

Because I tried to purchase a relatively soft, light, and cheap wood, as my stepdad and I tried to make cuts, a lot of the pieces were splintering if the panel was not dense enough. This was especially troublesome when we used a handsaw to make the curved doorway cut. A couple of the panels split, but it was easily fixed with glue. I tried my best to sand down the panels and minimize the appearance of splintering.

Wood panels for barbican
Wood panels for bailey
Wood panels for watchtower


Barbican Built 

The first component of the castle I decided to build was the barbican, as it was relatively the smallest and easier. I started off by measuring how low I wanted the floor panel to be and marked the drill marks I would need for the L brackets. Starting with the floor, I made a loop attaching the side panels. At this point, the panels were not aligning right, and I realized that the 1” wood panels I purchased were actually only 3/4 “ thick. Despite this, I continued with screwing together the panels, and it was quite sturdy without wood glue. 

Constructed base of barbican
Underside of barbican

While it does not look as pretty or pristine as in my model, I’d like to think my guinea pigs are pretty forgiving. I may paint extra vines or flowers on the corners jutting out to make it look less awkward. 

Next Steps 

This week, I hope to order the remainder of my supplies to make the ladder, see-saw bridge, and swing, as well as wrap up the construction of the castle.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Jadin Zaccagnino
    April 15, 2024 11:31 pm

    This looks like such a fun project! Do you plan on applying a coating to these? I think a polyurethane or some other protective coating could help your castle stand the test of time. I look forward to seeing the whole castle!

    • Hi Jadin. Thank you and great question! I am planning to use a water-based coating or wood finish to waterproof the castle. It will be depend which one is safe for guinea pigs and more durable to the outdoors.

  • Kyle Hashiro
    April 13, 2024 5:27 pm

    Wow, this looks cool! I can’t wait to see Boba and Mochi in there. I like how you made something that both you and your pets can benefit from. Do you think you can share more about how you will decorate the castle?

    • Hi Kyle! So glad you think it looks cool. I was originally going to paint the castle to look like stone, but I got feedback that it will be very time consuming. Now that I am building the castle and it is larger than expected, I might pivot to just staining the wood and adding flower and vine details with paint on top to achieve a whimsical aesthetic.


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