Making your own terrarium

Want to make your own terrarium? Or are you looking for inspiration for another animal enclosure or animal-related DIY projects? In this article, we explain how to make your own terrarium. We also share inspiration from other animal enclosures made by our handymen.

In this article:

How to make your own terrarium?

Making a terrarium out of wood basically comes down to building a closed container, possibly with a cabinet space around it. Of course, it is smart to think about exactly what you want to do with the terrarium beforehand. Will there be animals living in it? Will the terrarium be very humid? Then take this into account when choosing your materials, but also when choosing lighting and heating elements. 

Because you want to look inside a terrarium, make the front side out of glass or plastic. For example, you can choose a plastic sliding wall, so you can easily open the terrarium that way. 

You can easily order the wood material for your terrarium at We offer a wide range of wood materials, including MDF, plywood, triplex, OSB and more. We also cut this wood to size for you (mitred if required) and deliver it quickly to your home. That saves you a lot of sawing work and saves you mountains of sawdust. 

Later in this article, we also share with you some DIY projects by our handymen. These are not only terrariums, but also other animal enclosures and animal-related projects. Take a look at those projects at your leisure and get inspired by them!

What items do you need to make a cut-to-size terrarium?

If you are going to make a terrarium, you will need a number of items. Consider the following materials and tools:

  • Graph paper, pencil, eraser, ruler: for an accurate sketch of the terrarium
  • Cordless drill: to easily pre-drill holes and screw screws into your material
  • Primer and varnish: almost all wood from still needs to be finished - primer first, then varnish
  • Sandpaper: always handy to have with you, with a coarse or small grain
  • Tape measure: needed to measure and mark your wood
  • Screws and plugs: to connect the different wood materials to each other
  • Wood filler, putty: to smooth away screw holes neatly

Consider in advance which materials you will and will not need for your job. Don't have everything you need yet? Check out the accessories you can order along with your project.

What do you use the terrarium for?

The purpose of the terrarium largely determines what your project should meet. Are you going for a terrarium with a temperate climate, a desert climate, a tropical climate or a swamp climate? 

In the case of a very humid climate, plastic is probably the best material to choose. A less humid terrarium can easily be realized with a (moisture-resistant) wood type. 

As soon as you have a clear idea of the climate in your terrarium, you can start drawing a picture.

How to make a drawing or sketch for a terrarium

Before you start, make an accurate drawing of your terrarium. Exactly how big should the tank be? Do you want to keep animals in the terrarium? Then make sure you create enough living space for the animals. 

Also make sure there are some raised edges at the front so you can fill the bottom with sand and for example gravel or pebbles. 

While making the drawing, make sure you put your thoughts exactly on paper. That way, you will think out your ideas properly and know exactly which materials you all need for this DIY project. 

You make a drawing on a piece of paper, with pencil, ruler and an eraser. You can also use a 3D programme, such as SketchUp or FreeCAD

The result is an accurate drawing, including all dimensions and materials needed. Also remember to mark in which places you want screw holes and, for example, rails for sliding doors. 

With this drawing in hand, you can order all board materials exactly cut-to-size at 

Tip: give each board a unique attribute in our ordering process. That way, you know exactly which board has to be fitted in which place, after the wood has been delivered to your home.

How to create lighting in a terrarium

Research well in advance what kind of lighting you need in your terrarium, such as fluorescent tubes or PL lamps. This depends on the kind of animals and plants you want to house in your terrarium. 

Next, take a good look at how to attach these lights in the terrarium. For this purpose, it may be handy to cut an opening in the board material with a hole saw, in which you can mount lights or through which you can run cabling, for example.

How to make heating in a terrarium

Want to heat your terrarium? There are several options for that, such as heat mats, heated lights or heat cables. Research carefully which type of heater is best for your terrarium and the animals you want to keep in it. 

Before attaching the heater, it is advisable to let the cables run neatly, for example by making a hole in the sheet material with a hole saw. 

In a terrarium with animals, make sure no electrical cables run through the terrarium.

How to make doors in a terrarium cabinet

If you want to convert your terrarium with a nice cabinet, you can make neat doors in it. Make sure you have measured the exact inside dimensions of the cabinet beforehand and take a 1 or 2 mm tolerance. You can use these measurements to order precisely cut-to-size doors from 

You can then use a jig to mark the hinges on the doors and attach them with screws. You can attach handles to the outside of the doors to suit your taste.

What wood to use for a terrarium

If you are going to make a damp terrarium, it is best to choose a moisture-resistant type of wood. Think for instance of moisture-resistant MDF. 

Of course, you can also treat the wood yourself, with a good varnish or lacquer, to make it moisture-resistant.


MDF boards are ideal for terrariums because they are easy to work with. MDF does not splinter and you can finish it with a primer and top coat of your choice. MDF consists of wood fibres compressed under high pressure. MDF also comes in a lacquer-bearing and a moisture-resistant version.


Plywood panels are known for their structural purposes, making them very suitable for making a sturdy terrarium construction. Plywood is versatile, strong and easy to work with. You can easily order this material from, cut to the millimetre and delivered to your home with ease.


For a more daring look, you can opt for an industrial-looking wood with lots of character: OSB. OSB is a fibreboard made of glued wood splinters. This board material is increasingly used for decorative applications and can therefore also serve well as material for a terrarium.

Examples of terraria from our handymen

Looking for inspiration for your own terrarium? Check out the examples created by our handymen here.

OSB terrarium

Handyman Ralf made this cool terrarium out of OSB. It includes a handy workstation to store all his animal supplies and perform various tasks. He even made an extendable worktable in it. Handsomely done and very practical!

Cut-to-size terrarium cabinet made of OSB, by Ralf

Terrarium of plywood

Reptile enthusiast and handyman Anthony made this terrarium from plywood. He used a sliding panel of glass for the front.

Reptile enthusiast Anthony made this cut-to-size terrarium

Inspiration from other animal projects by our handymen

Looking for inspiration for other, animal-related DIY projects? We've prepared a mountain of inspiration for those too. Check it out below!

Wall unit with litter tray

wall unit in which you can work and also have a place for the cat's litter tray: handyman Sam thought of it and made it from cut-to-size birch plywood.

Multifunctional wall unit with sit-stand workplace and litter box, by Sam

Dog table and garden cushion storage cabinet

To properly groom the puppy and store the garden cushions, handyman Jacob came up with this dog table made of phenolic plywood. A clever combination!

Dog table and garden cushion storage cabinet, by Jacobi

Aquarium cabinet with litter tray

We doubt whether it is smart to put the litter box under the aquarium but handyman Artuur just dares to do it. We wonder if he still has all his fish.

Aquarium cabinet with litter box underneath, by Artuur

Cat tree or climbing pole made of MDF

A cat needs to be able to climb. But, resting and romping are also part of a cat's daily activities. That's why handyman J.J. made this climbing pole from cut-to-size MDF.

Soundproof aquarium cabinet

Handyman Vasilis' aquarium was making quite a bit of noise. So he built a soundproof cabinet underneath. Find out exactly how he did it in the project.

Soundproof aquarium cabinet made of MDF blank, by Vasilis

Dog tray for tricycle

Handyman Ellis likes to go out with her dog. That is why she made this dog bowl for the back of her tricycle. The concrete plywood used is sturdy and can withstand the outdoors. Have many safe kilometres, Ellis!

Cut-to-size container for dog made of concrete plywood for tricycle, by Ellis

Renovated rabbit hutch or chicken coop

Such an old, dilapidated rabbit hutch: it's no sight. So thought handyman Niels and so he decided to thoroughly renovate the hutch using the necessary cut-to-size phenolic plywood.

You can do the same with a chicken coop, of course.

Rabbit hutch renovation with weatherproof concrete plywood, by Niels

Eating and drinking bar for the dog

A food and drink bar for the dog, made of plywood. That was the idea handyman Birgit had and she made it very stylish!

Homemade plywood breakfast bar/dog drinker by Birgit

Guinea pig cage with lighting

A bit of a guinea pig lives in style. At least, handyman Mariella's does. She built a guinea pig cage from MDF in a nice L-shape, including lighting.

Okoumé rabbit hutch at height

Handyman Roy made a double rabbit hutch. He used various types of wood from, including Okoumé waterproof and Phenolic Plywood anti-slip. So Roy's rabbits will be fine for the time being!

Home-made double rabbit hutch at height, by Kim and Roy

Get started with your cut-to-size terrarium

In this article, we have explained what to look out for when you get started with a terrarium yourself. We have also shared with you inspiration for other animal enclosures. 

For the wood for this job, you can of course turn to We will cut the wood perfectly to size for you and deliver it quickly to your home. 

Have fun making your terrarium (or other animal enclosure) cut-to-size! 

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