Building My 1st Rack

So there are so many resources online that i get extremely overwhelmed lol so i decided to just come to the community

Does anyone know a source for cut to size pvc for a good price?

Id really appreciate any tips or resources!


It really depends on where you live. Here in DFW, there are plenty of plastic fabrication companies that we use to cut pre-measured high density PVC. We made a series of racks that have a hinge system on the back, allowing us to easily set the thermostat sensor and change out the heat tape as needed.

Some hardware stores sell 4x8 half inch PVC or HDPE panels for walls, and places like Lowe’s have panel saws that they will cut stuff (free if bought from them) but if you have a bench or table saw pretty sure PVC or HDPE could be cut same way as Melamine MDF.

The latter is also an option, and can be sealed on the edge with silicon or something to keep moisture out, but get half inch. And casters. Melamine MDF is heavy lol. I got some 3/4 inch Melamine MDF and it’s just too damn heavy for a 4x2x2 enclosure imo.

Here in the Midwest, Menards has HDPE or PVC panels but won’t cut it, Lowe’s carries similar things. I’m in the same boat trying to build an enclosure and possibly a rack so I’ve looked into possibilities heavily.

Other than edge splintering, Melanine cuts very well. I made several of my own mely racks about 15 to 20 yeas ago that im still using today. Yes it can be very heavy, but depending on the size and shape some of it is very easy to manuver around or at least use a hand truck or 4 wheel dolly to move. I have a couple 4 ft tall units. Y 16 wide by 24 deep, one thats 4 ft tall by 24 wide by 16 deep, one 4 th by 48 wide by 16 deep and 2 that are over 7 ft tall by 24 inch wide by 16 inch deep. I used 1/4 inch thick peg board on the back side for ventalation and stability and cut my own Heat Tape for the shelves. Heres a picture of one of the baby units that even uses a slide fan control switch for heat control.

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If your going to use HDPE, dont forget that its a plastic. If your going to use a regular circular saw, the blade may be too fast and tend to melt it. Maybe opt for a jigsaw for cutting and follow with a router with a straight cutter to true up the edge and make sure you secure a straight edge on top of the piece your cutring for a cutting guide. I’ve worked with clear acrylic.a lot for doors on custom units usig this method and it worked very well. Even tounded the edges of the doors so they werent cant tell you how many custom acrylic enclosures ive.seen at reptile shows that had really sharp edges. Some people have no sense of saftey in mind when thaey mass produce those units thinking their gonna make a fortune at the reptile shows. Id never sepnd my money on a unit that had unsafe edges. Anyway, good luck with your builds. Here are a few picks of some of my own custom enclosures. 4 ft by 4 ft by 16in deep baby unit and 3 stack of 4 ft by 16 deep by 12 high custom enclosures. Worked really hard on weight reduction on these custom units. Can be picked up by 1 hand with the brace between the doors and easilly be lifted over you head by most people. Dont know the actual weight of them.but they are super light.


This is very informative. I’m planning to build a melamine rack in a couple weeks and I’m figuring out how I’m going to attach the shelves. Have you made any racks where the shelves are made of 1/2" wood? Do you think that would be sturdy enough to hold 2 28 qt tubs (I’m going to add a threaded axle in the middle for support)? I’m deciding between putting screws directly in the sides of the shelves or using 90* L brackets.