I've been wanting to make a piece of indoor 'garden' furniture for ages. Not only do plants help improve indoor air quality (see NASA study), they also are huge mood enhancers for me. So I finally got down to it and built a terrarium coffee table! It was a lot of work for my beginner self, but totally worth the math and effort.

Before getting started, I set some perimeters for myself: 1. I must use at least one recycled/upcycled item and, 2. The finished product has to be fun and cheeky. Plants on their own have so much personality (and I planned on adding in some little figures to add even MORE personality), so I wanted the table to be a very simple/minimal design.

The re-use item I chose was a simple wood and glass cabinet door from a really great used building supply store here in San Francisco called Builders Resources. As a result of my designing around this found item, it would be impossible for you to recreate this table exactly as shown, but what I will do in this Instructable is guide you through making your own version, no matter what the dimensions of the door you find are.

Print out the attached Supplies List and let's get started!

Step 1: Cabinet Door Hunting

When picking out your used glass cabinet door, try and find one that is made of solid wood with only a clear finish.*

*NOTE: Most paint used in older homes contains lead and it's not worth the health risk no matter how cool the piece is. If you think you've found a painted piece that might be from after 1978 (the year lead paint was banned), it's worth it to buy a lead paint test kit online or from your local hardware store and ask if you can check it first.

Also, you're looking for a door that's roughly the following dimensions:

40-46" x 18-24" x 3/4-1" thick

<p>Really neat piece of furniture. I love terrariums but a terrarium table? I absolutely looove it!</p>
<p>LOOOVE IT! &lt;3</p>
<p>I like the aquarium idea - kinda a box within a box. I am concerned that humidity and water will warp your beautifully constructed joints. There is no finish that I know of which is completely water tight on wood. Wood still expands and contracts with changes in humidity and temperature. This living quality causes finishes or paint to fail over time.</p><p>I love the beauty of your project and your incredible documentation. Personally, I have my doubts about the long term integrity of the project given the use of the table as a terrarium. Water + wood = instability.</p>
<p>I like crafting girls!</p><p>:-)</p>
<p>Absolutely incredible! This is my dream coffee table! I can't believe I didn't see your creatiosn sooner..they are all amazing.</p>
<p>Its brilliant but I don't get why you had to start out with a cabinet door? The skills required to make the rest of it are more than enough to make the lid? and you could definitely make it to 'whole inches'</p>
Great idea! Very well built.
<p>Wow. This is beautiful!</p>
<p>It is by far better than the old-fashioned &quot;closed&quot; terrariums, but how do you handle drainage and maintain soil quality? From my experience, tap water in many countries is &quot;hard&quot; (containing calcium carbonate and other salts) and the lack of drainage holes does not allow salts to be washed-away by excess water. Do you have to replace the soil every few months? How do you protect the wooden frame from humidity, is painting the inside enough?</p>
<p>Hi, Sorry for the delayed response. To deal with the lack of drainage I put down a layer of charcoal which keeps any excess water from getting funky. I also chose plants that wouldn't require much water, so there wouldn't be much need/opportunity for overwatering. You could also add a thin layer of rock in between the charcoal and soil if you wanted to incorporate plants that need more water. And regarding the wood, I sealed it with 3 coats of water-based polyurethane which is all you need to keep the wood protected from the moisture. </p>
<p>Wow. this is probably one of the best documented projects that I've seen in a long long time. great job!</p>
<p>Maybe this was covered already, but I missed it if so. What's the best way to clean this without harming the plants? Living in Florida, I imagine this would be filled with mildew in pretty short order. Love the look of it though!</p>
<p>I would try using something natural like my Homemade Glass Cleaner. (https://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Glass-Cleaner-Recipe/) It contains vinegar which is a natural and effective mildew/mold killer. It will also do an excellent job of cleaning the windows and shouldn't hurt the wood or the plants. Good luck!</p>
<p>Very nice!</p>
awesome design and one of the best instrucables I've seen.
<p>Very Nice .. Similar to the aquarium Table but Terrarium .. New idea ..</p><p>May be I will make one in desert type .. You can develop it more by putting lighting inside ..lighting is important for plants .. also I support Christmas S1 opinion below how we can handle the drain water ? In the other hand putting animals inside will disturb them .. </p>
<p>that's a good idea and very well presented, you could also make it a desert theme and keep your pet bearded dragon in there (adding a bit of ventilation of course)</p>
<p>you stole my idea.I was thinking about making one with an aquarium/terrarium.</p><p>But nice project, anyway.</p>
<p>SO CUTE !</p>
<p>Nice Ible one word of caution about the glass. Door glasses are not as thick as window glass and not normally safety glass. so placing heavy objects on or with children best to check. </p>
<p>Nice Ible, One word of caution about the glass,</p>
<p>Excellent project, thanks for sharing it...</p>
Awesome job
<p>mosz ciulowy pysk</p>
<p>Beautiful. Have always wanted to learn woodworking.Envy you!. At 73 it's not too late to start, is it? </p>
It's never too late!!! Woodworking is so satisfying, I highly recommend it.
<p>Delightful project, well done.</p>
<p>You could add an arduino controlled water pump and a moisture sensor to make the watering/misting automagical. This is an awesome project and a fantastic instructable. Thanks!</p>
<p>Great instructable and because i said that I now get to give my feedback. In squaring up old furniture (the door) I use my metal detector to see if there are any hidden nails, brads, etc. Don't want to destroy a saw blade.</p>
<p>That's a good idea. I didn't know that was a thing. Off to the hardware store...</p>
<p>Nicely done! Project &amp; video. Compliments to you and those you worked with in putting this together.</p>
<p>Thanks so much Warren! I'll pass your kind words on to our videographer. : )</p>
While I was in college I took a 3D art class that had us on the &quot;big dangerous machines&quot; (before that a progressive high school that had all girls in a wood shop, and before that, a dad who let me bang nails into scraps of wood). I love to go to Home Depot and pick out stuff for projects. Usually a nice man employee or carpenter type dude comes over to the &quot;little lady&quot; who clearly must be on some desperate errand for her sick husband who must have some wood or thin set or hinges that very day. When they ask if they can help, it gives me great satisfaction to say, &quot;No, thank you&quot; :)
<p>You're speaking my language e-beth! Sometimes I like to go in fancy clothes just to confound them even more. Power (tools) to the people!</p>
<p>A nice clean rachet strap also works, even better than the corner clamps. Just make sure your work is on a level, flat surface, throw it around all four sides with a piece of cardboard or thick fabric under the rachet and hooks, then crank it down.</p>
<p>Another great suggestion! : )</p>
<p>I like the whole project, but to make cutting your glass slotting easier next time, you could see if your wood shop has a dado blade and a couple thin-kerf blades (3/32&quot; kerf) or double up the regular saw blades. A standard full-kerf blade cuts 1/8&quot;, which doubled would give you wiggle room while keeping the glass fairly tight to avoid rattling so long as you're properly squaring your table box when you assemble it.</p>
<p>I totally should have looked into that. I knew as I was doing it my way that there was probably a better solution... Thanks for the suggestion and now I know for next time. : )</p>
<p>This looks amazing! With all the people I see trying to give away old fish tanks and aquariums all the time, I wonder if that might be a free/cheap way to get some glass for something like this. Actually, it might be an awesome way to alternately create a fish tank coffee table to complement your terrarium creation. Or maybe a fish tank end table and a terrarium end table combo!</p><p>Great work! Love your photos too!</p>
<p>Yes, absolutely! I made a terrarium using a 10 gallon tank, but there are some very large tanks that I've seen for sale at yard sales, which would be great for a table project...maybe even on wheels?</p>
<p>These are all great ideas!! The more nature in the home the better I say. And the more things on wheels... well, yes please.</p>
<p>Your workspace is amazing. Is it a maker space?</p>
<p>It's the Instructables wood shop! </p>
<p>Its probably at a art school</p>
<p>That was the most well-detailed instructable I've ever read. Very nice. It'd be cool to modify it sligthly so that it could hold a tarantula. </p>
<p>Thanks joshuallen. You could totally do a tarantula mod by making the lid risers much shorter so that there's only a sliver of space. If you make it, I'd love to see it! </p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design ... More »
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