Brooder Box Plans: Build Your Own Brooder Cabinet

Need Some Chick Brooder Ideas? Try This Handsome Brooding Cabinet

Brooder Box Plans: Build Your Own Brooder Cabinet

By Ana White, Alaska — I never expected to need a set of brooder box plans, but in spring of 2012, I stopped by a local shop called the Chick Barn and brought home four new family members. Their names are Sunny, Easy, Scramble, and French Toast. (My daughter Grace’s favorite is Sunny. She’s very sweet.) After a few days in a plastic tote, it was time to build a brooding box. With temperatures still falling well below freezing at night up here in Alaska, it was too early to start working on my chicken coop ideas. I had originally set out to build a standard chicken brooder box, but after a few days of cleaning up poo and looking at all kinds of brooder box plans, I decided I wanted an open bottom with a tray underneath for easy cleaning. And then one “wish list” item led to another, and before I knew it, we were building this cabinet brooder from our own brooder box plans.

The final brooder cabinet is beautiful enough to take center stage in your home, especially if you paint it to match the room’s decor.

I figured that if I’m using up a sheet of plywood either way, why not make something pretty? Something I could maybe find another use for later? Why not build a cabinet with an easy clean out tray, doors so the kids can peek in and check on the chicks, and ample storage for keeping things like feed, newspaper, water, books and other chick nursery items on hand? Where else was I going to find any brooder box plans that offered me everything I wanted and needed in one beautiful and practical piece of furniture?

Practical Brooder Cabinet

We kept the doors low so daughter Grace could see the baby chicks and help with chores. I kind of wished we’d built the doors higher and put the storage underneath. That way the birds are at eye level, with storage down below. But the good news is you can alter the brooder box plans here to build whatever suits your needs. That’s the great thing about DIY!

Practical Brooder Cabinet

Ana White is a mother and homemaker in Alaska. Visit her website for more do-it-yourself projects:

Brooder Box Plans: Make Your Own Brooding Cabinet

Materials and Tools 

Shopping List: 

  • 1 – sheet 3/4″ plywood, ripped into 3 strips 15-1/2″ wide by 8 feet long (referred to as 1×16 in this plan)
  • 2 – 1×2 x 8 feet long
  • 2 – 1×3 x 8 feet long
  • 8 – 2×2 x 8 feet long
  • 1 – 1×8 x 3 feet long
  • 36″ wide hardware cloth or chicken wire – I used about 4 feet total
  • 3 sets of hinges, knobs, handles and latches
  • 1/2″ staples
  • 1-1/4 inch finish nails
  • 1-1/4 inch pocket hole (PH) screws
  • 2-1/2 inch pocket hole (PH) screws
  • wood glue
  • wood filler


  • measuring tape
  • square
  • pencil
  • safety glasses
  • hearing protection
  • drill
  • circular saw
  • jigsaw
  • sander
  • staple gun
  • level
  • Kreg Jig® 3

Cut List: 

  • 2 – 1×16 x 60″ (sides)
  • 4 – 1×2 x 15-1/2″ (side trim)
  • 4 – 2×2 x 66″ (legs)
  • 8 – 2×2 x 36″ (front/back trim)
  • 3 (or more) 1×2 x 15-1/2″ (for supporting grated bottom)
  • 3 – 1×16 x 36″ (shelves) – extra is optional shelf not shown
  • 1 – 1×16 x 39″ (top)
  • 2 – 1×2 x 39″ (top) 1/4″ plywood or other materials
  • 1 – 38-1/2″ x 60″ (back)
  • 1 – 1×8 x 35-3/4″ (bottom door tilts down)


  • 4 – 1×3 x 24-3/4″
  • 4 – 1×3 x 12-3/4″
  • Hardware cloth or chicken wire stapled to back
Practical Brooder Cabinet

The brooder box dimensions are shown in diagrams and materials list. The brooding space is approximately 4-1/2 square feet.

Brooder Box Plans: General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the “Getting Started: Tools & Tips For Newbies” section on my website at

Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always pre-drill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain.

Be safe, have fun, and enjoy your new brooder cabinet!

Start with the sides. Drill 3/4″ pocket holes (PH) along sides and top edge.

Step 1: Attach side trim.

Practical Brooder Cabinet

Step 2: Attach legs with 1-1/4″ pocket hole (PH screws through predrilled holes.

Step 3: Now join the two sides to start making the box.

Step 4: This is for the mesh bottom. If your mesh needs more support, add more boards to support.


Step 5: Build bottom shelf first, then attach in place.

Note A: This distance assumes you are using 1×8 drawer face, measuring 7-1/4″ wide.

Note B: Build bottom shelf first by attaching 2×2 trim to shelf with 3/4″ PHs and 1-1/4″ PH screws. Then attach shelf to sides with 3/4″ PHs and 1-1/4″ PH screws. You may also wish to attach 2×2 trim to 2×2 legs with 1-1/2″ PHs and 2-1/2″ PH screws.

Step 6: Follow with upper shelf.

Practical Brooder Cabinet

Step 7: Then the top.

Practical Brooder Cabinet

Step 8: Next add the back.

Practical Brooder Cabinet

Step 9: Build doors to fit openings. I stapled hardware cloth to back. Staple hardware cloth to bottom of middle shelf as well.

Note C: The optional decorative trim on both top and bottom can be cut from scraps and glued in place.

Note D: Drill shelf pins for optional shelves.

Finishing Instructions: Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.

Practical Brooder Cabinet
Attaching the brooder lamp can be done by cutting a hole in back wall. The bottom drawer is actually a space for droppings, with a removable tray inside.
The materials list includes a Kreg Jig. The jig creates a pocket-hole joint: a strong, simple way you can connect wood parts using just your drill. Learn more about the jig at

Originally published in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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