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How to make a cabinet incubator

Updated February 21, 2017

An incubator is a device used to grow birds, cell cultures or similar organisms inside, while maintaining an optimal temperature, humidity and various other conditions. Incubators are delicate features that need proper construction, maintainance and care to perform their task. The most common reason for making a homemade cabinet incubator is to grow chicks and hatch eggs. An avian homemade incubator is not very complicated to make, however, as long as you follow certain rules and tips.

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  1. Prepare the cabinet for the incubation role: clean it thoroughly using hot water and liquid antibacterial soap and leave it to dry completely. Place a layer of aluminium foil all inside the cabinet and secure it with glue or staples. Remember that an incubator has some features of a refrigerator or a Thermos and has to be, among other things, properly insulated.

  2. Attach a few rows of 50 by 100 mm (2 by 4 inches) boards on the back and the sides of the cabinet wall. These strips of wood will serve as a base for the chicken wire trays. The trays are necessary as chick will need somewhere to sit when the foil gets too hot. Use hammer and nails to attach the 50 by 100 mm (2 by 4 inches) boards firmly to the cabinet's back side. Cut the boards to the cabinet's width with a saw if needed. Sandpaper the edges of the 50 by 100 mm (2 by 4 inches) boards to remove splinters.

  3. Make a wooden frame for the tray by nailing four lightweight wooden boards together to form a frame. The frame needs to be slightly smaller that the inside of the cabinet.

  4. Place chicken wire over the whole wooden frame and nail it to secure it in its place. The chicken wire will secure the eggs and prevent them from rolling inside the cabinet and breaking.

  5. Connect wiring needed for your homemade cabinet incubator. Install 15-watt bulbs because the temperature inside needs to be between 36 and 38 degrees C (98 and 102 degrees F). Four 15-watt bulbs are sufficient to achieve the optimum temperature. Use a power drill to make holes on the top and the back of the incubator and position the bulbs. Make sure that the holes are enough only for the bulb so there is no space left around it.

  6. Attach a small fan on the back of the cabinet to control over the temperature and the conditions inside the incubator. You can use an old refrigerator fan or similar.

  7. Place a digital thermometer and a hygrometer inside the cabinet incubator. Keep it away from the bulbs or the fan. This device will help you read, control and change the conditions inside the incubator.

  8. Place a pan filled with water on the bottom of the cabinet incubator to provide humidity. Make sure to change the water and refill it every few days.

  9. Tip

    Depending on the egg size, you can use hardware cloth instead of the chicken wire.


    If you are not sure how to connect the wires and deal with electricity, consult a professional rather that to try and do it yourself.

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Things You'll Need

  • Antibacterial soap
  • Aluminium foil
  • Glue or staples
  • 50 by 100 mm (2 by 4 inches)
  • Saw
  • Hammer and nails
  • Sandpaper
  • Chicken wire
  • Power drill
  • 15-watt bulbs
  • Small fan
  • Digital thermometer / hygrometer

About the Author

Based in New York, Mary Gonzales has been writing computer- and technology-related articles since 1995. Her work has appeared in “Tech Trends” and “Mac Tips” magazines. Gonzales received the Lilly M. Fuchs Literary Award in 1999. She holds a Bachelor of Science in computer programming from New York University.

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