2nd September : Blue Cross animal charity event

Hi all

As per the forum post linked below, I’ve been organising collaboration projects with the Blue Cross animal charity. I’m hoping to kick off us working together with an event similar to a hack the space day on Saturday 2nd September. This event will focus on the smaller projects aimed at animal enrichment

If I could ask everyone interested in attending to fill out the RSVP google form below it would really help me plan the day (takes about a minute). This is to ensure we have enough materials available on the day as Blue Cross will be paying for it. I’ve posted below a ‘wish list’ from the Blue Cross so if you have a preference or particular interest for any of the items listed, please let me know by putting the list number (1 to 7) when answering the ‘skills’ question.

Any questions feel free to message me on Telegram at @Marcus6275

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Maddy has now sent over their ‘Wish list’ of what animal enrichment things they would like us to make. Depending on number of people attending we should be able to complete a few of them. The number in the brackets is how many they’d like but since we wont get everything completed on the day, it means members will be free to make anything from this list and get the cost of materials reimbursed by the Blue Cross at any time. So in no particular order of importance:

1. Cat scratching posts (8)

A simple post wrapped in rope with the option to add/replace dangle toys. The blue cross typically expect to pay between £10 - 20 on ones from amazon:

I’ve put together this relativly simple design for us to build on the day:
Cat scratching post 1.docx (371.1 KB)

2. Cat scratching towers (4)

More complex tower with platforms and hidey holes for the cats. The platforms should be at a decent height so a cat can get some distance from people if its wants. The hidey holes should have two points of access to help carers get nervous cats into carriers. The blue cross typically expect to pay between £30 - 70 for a tower from amazon.

In the Blue Cross’s experience both the towers and scratching posts are made with cardboard structures so they tend to have short lifespans. As we’d be building them out of wood instead these should last much longer for them and be much better value.

Similar to the scratching post above I’ve put together this design for us to build on the day:
Cat scratching tower 1.docx (676.4 KB)

3. Rat hammocks (4 of each)

Maddy has shared this massive guide on making several different type of hammocks for rats (can be used by other rodents too). The guide looks to be very detailed with a complete list of material requirements for each type of hammock.

Sewing and fabrics is not in my skill set so I’ll need someone to help with planning these for making on the day, as well as advising complexity level, approx. time to make and cost of materials. Additionally these might be a great item to use for running skill shares at the space.

4. Raised garden planters (8)

The Blue Cross are looking at getting some raised garden planters for strong smelling plants that will give dogs something interesting to sniff. They’d need to also have a stand so they can be raised so that any large dog peeing on them, won’t kill the plants. Ideal dimensions are 26 x 100 cm

5. Multichambered hides for rodents (6)

A maze like structure for small pets that have dead ends and obstacles for animals to navigate/make dens in. If it can be customisable this would be great for adapting to cages / the animals needs. The image Maddy shared below is one made with plywood which suggests we could make something on our laser cutter (would need to be poplar).

I’ve drawn a couple simple shapes that when combined can slot together in a grid like structure by alternating the orientation so that perpendicular panels slot together. The centre of the large panel can be customised with either openings or engravings to add interest to the maze.
Maze panels.pdf (6.2 KB)

6. Climbing frames for rodents (4)

Another wooden project for the small pets are climbing frames. If these can be made to be adjustable this would be a big benefit. The image below is as an example, which I think might have been a wine rack in a previous life so the construction method can be really simple.

For anything made of wood that will be in a cage with rodents we need to consider the wood used as they will gnaw on it. Safe Woods for Pets - Crittery

7. Rope ladders for rodents (8)

Simple ladders and nets for rodents to climb. A short tutorial for example: DIY rope ladder (YouTube)

I have another obligation on the 2nd, so I don’t think I can make it to this event. But I’ve looked over the rat hammocks tutorials and I think you are right about it being a good skill share project. I’m interested in some sewing skill shares anyway, so I’ll try to arrange one to do this- unless someone else is doing that?
I think the space might have a good deal of the materials needed to make the hammock, but I will check on that and get back to you if I think anything needs to be purchased specifically.

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I’d be interested in helping out with those!

Having a look over these after speaking to Mark today, I think there’s a good amount in there to run a couple of ongoing skill share events potentially.

Maybe basic hammocks (flat square, flat corner) as a simple introduction to sewing, and then some of the more complex constructions as dedicated sessions (cube, corner hut, house, pumpkin) to introduce patterns and other construction techniques.

I’ll ping @TheNeonCaster @tomh91 in case they’d be interested in helping out as well? As we’ve previously exchanged ideas on sewing skill share ideas.

Worth getting together to discuss further ahead of Sept 2nd event?

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My availability is a bit hit and miss right now. My preference would be to calendar a low key skill share on the afternoon (2pm to 6pm) on 03 September, focusing on the flat square and flat corner hammocks, and asking for feedback from attendees on what can be improved on sewing skill shares going forward. I know the date isn’t great for people who have attended the Saturday event, but it’s what I can do.
I’ve pre-washed some fabric and ribbon that the space had, and I have some spare shower curtain rings, so there’s no need to buy anything beforehand. I can start a forum post and do an email to the trained users, explaining that this is sort of a skill share ‘test’ session rather than an ‘official’ skill share, and that feedback would be appreciated. This wouldn’t prevent anyone doing another skill share- I don’t want to stop anyone doing that!
If everyone is okay with this, I’ll do the post and email tomorrow.

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That sounds good to me @agray!

I’ll make myself available on the Sept 2nd event in case any attendees fancy having a go independently (i.e. without too much support), but will share the news of the next day’s test session and possible future sessions in case they’re interested in coming back for those.

@Marcus6275 Would that work for you and the Blue Cross folks do you think?

Thanks @agray. Appreciate you taking the time to check what materials we have in the space.

By all means feel free to run your own skill shares. This collaboration with the Blue Cross doesn’t have an end so don’t feel obliged to run it on the same weekend if another would suit you better.
I do want to make sure we have people & materials available at the event to run sewing projects on the day so if Rob & co. can help with that it’d be great.

I will put the fabric I’ve washed and curtain rings in a labeled bag in my storage, A1. Please feel free to use them on the 2nd if people want to make rat hammocks. If they can put any leftover fabric back, I will use that in the skill share on the 3rd. Hopefully, we’ll get some nice hammocks made for the Blue Cross to give to rat adopters.


I am planning to make planters and mazes for this event.

So far where I’ve got is that there are quite a few designs available for planters and less for mazes.

Simple Cedar Raised Planter Box | FREE PLANS - YouTube
How to Build a Wooden Planter Box - Jon Peters Woodworking Project - YouTube

Beat bunny boredom – Make your own rabbit maze| Petplan | Petplan

My plan is to take an off-the-shelf plan and follow it through as a group with reclaimed wood, dividing up the labour.

So far what I’m seeing is we’ll need:

pocket hole drilling
mitre sawing
hole sawing
glue up

If you’d like to put yourself forward for a specific task, please volunteer!

Quick update ahead of Saturday:

So far I’ve had 8 responses to the RSVP form with a few bringing along guests so it should be a good turnout. For anyone still undecided the RSVP isn’t a requirement for joining so feel free to just turn up on the day. There is a football game on Saturday with kick off at 3pm so if anyone is coming after lunch please be aware it will be very busy and parking will be very difficult.

I’ll be in the space on Friday to prep the wood workshop and fix any of our machines that are still out of order. I’ll be aiming to make some tip runs to clear the large pile of wood and metal scrap in the main area on Friday as well. In addition to all that I’ll be collecting the timber for Saturday from Emerge on Friday morning and hopefully taking delivery of material for laser cutting.

I’ve added a couple google docs to the ‘wish list’ above for the scratching post and tower. I’ve written them to mainly provide the Blue Cross with some reference of what we’re aiming to make. They are simple designs though we’ll aren’t beholden to them so can deviate if we want/need to. For the maze I’ve added a simple design of a panel that can slot together as an example of what we could make on the laser cutter.

If anyone has question feel free to message me on Telegram (@Marcus6275)