How to make a terrarium
Prerequisite for terrarium making:
First, I want to apologize for my bad English. Be indulgent.
I'm not pretending that my method is the one and only because there are lot of way for vivarium building. This is just one among the others. You mustn't forget technical nature of terrarium, paludarium or vivarium making because you could have some troubles. But if you are a bit DIY man and can access required tools, it is not very difficult but before starting you must think about all.
In the past I had standards terrariums for providing shelter for dart frogs or tree frogs but I decided to think about something taller and more adapted. By the way I decided to start construction of a terrarium/paludarium. I couldhave bought a turnkey stuff but it's not interesting. I want precise that at the beginning I wished just the tank, but I found that adding a cupboard for hiding technical stuffs such as power pump, filters,... was a good idea if we plan to place it in a living room. 3D -renders permits to visualize the what I 'm talking about. For more I want to precise some advantages of wood. First, it's a natural insulating which permits to keep required temperature easier than with glass. Second advantage is that our reptiles are visible only on front and permits to reduce the stress.
Before starting, be sure that you can do the terrarium building until the end. So be sure to have place enough et do some plans, sketch and if you can, some 3D visualizations (for example with the free software Sketchup). It permits to have a precise idea of what you want to get. Then you must think about how will assemble different parts. Finally, be sure to have required equipment, time and money (I will display a little quotation for supplies at the end). When you have all, let's get started with this very exiting terrarium tutorial!
1. A place to work:
The first step is to find a place to work. The ideal is to have a workshop but everybody hasn't this luck. For more you have to work in a well-ventilated room because some of chemical products we use are noxious and foul-smelling. In my case i did the main construction in my cave and i went to outside for some steps.
2. Some 3D renders which permits to see the expected result:
For the beginning I create the terrarium shape as precise as I can for better visualization of the final result. I create those pictures with a commercial software but you can create a bit more basic images with Google Sketchup which has the advantage to be free. It can't provide photorealistic results unless you install commercial renderer Vray for Sketchup. Another solution consists to add free open-source raytracing engine YafaRay renderer to Blender. I'll display at the end, various 3D visualizations which will permit to imagine shapes adapted to desert reptiles (bearded dragon, snakes...)
3. Shattered view of the expected result:
Then I created a shattered view of the mains parts (in my case, it is just a cell shading applied to the 3D model but if you work with a professional software such as Autodesk AutoCAD 3D, there are more adapted features). This views will permit to have in mind all parts at the cutting step.
4. Cutting up of panels:
I went to a DIY store for having panels at the requested size. I chose MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) because it's often less expensive than plywood and I think that it's easier to work with. In a lot of country we often see OSB (Oriented Strand Board) terrarium, but this material is expansive and not very esthetic. You can see below the chart with whole mdf parts and associated size. Those data are just for information purpose because I decided them in centimeters and if you want them in inches we obtain not precise lenght or width, so define your own. Feel free to use my free converter.