This table terrarium is a fascinating alternative to a traditional flat-topped table and definitely calls for a new take on the old saying of ‘have your cake and eat it’ – we think something along the lines of ‘have your plants and watch them while you eat’ might do. Even when a meal is not being served the table will still be the centre of attention.
Legs and sides are pine wood, in mm
Legs: 4 @ 765 x 44 x 44
Sides 2 @ 1000 x 220 x 22
Sides 2 @ 985 x 220 x 22
Shutter board base: 1 @ 995 x 980 x 18
Sheet of glass: 1015 x 995 x 6 mm
2 litres a.b.e. Super Laykold
a.b.e membrane – 250 mm x 10 m
1 @ 22 mm plug
1 litre Hammerite hammered black
50 mm paint brush
Genkem quick-setting wood glue
70 full thread cut screws (4 x 30 mm)
tape measure, combination square,
pencil, electric hand planer, jig saw,
electric router, cordless drill and speed
bit 22 mm, carpenter’s square
Step 1: The legs are to be shaped as illustrated. Draw the shape on all four legs then use the planer to plane off the excess wood.
Step 2: Working with the shutter board, mark the portion of each corner that must be cut away so that the legs can be accommodated. Use the jig saw to remove the corners.
Step 3: Air holes must be drilled in the planks that will form the sides of the terrarium. Mark where the holes are to go and then drill the holes using the 22 mm speed bit.
Step 4: To build the frame that will hold the plants, start by attaching the sides to the legs, remembering that the legs will go on the inside. To begin, place two of the legs on a flat surface, position one of the longer (1000 x 220 x 22) side planks on top of them and glue and screw them together, ensuring that the side is 35 mm from the top of the legs and leaving an overlap of 22 mm to accommodate the other two sides. Repeat the process with the other two legs, and then join the two sides with the remaining two planks (985 x 220 x 22) to complete the frame.
Step 5: Slide the shutter board base into the frame. For drainage purposes, it must not be exactly level, so make it slope to one side by allowing a 5 mm fall. Secure it with screws then drill a 22 mm drainage hole into the board on the lower side.
Step 6: Using the router, cut a rebate 6 mm deep into the inside edge of the top of each of the four planks making up the frame. This will allow the glass to sit flush with the top of the frame.
Step 7: Apply two coats of Super Laykold and membrane to the inside of the frame to make it watertight. Paint the rest of the table with Hammerite ‘Hammered Black’, giving it two or three coats.
Planting up Your Table
For your table terrarium choose plant types that can cope with indoor light and require a humid environment. We used: Soleirolia Soleirolii (Peace-in-the-Home), Syngonium Podophyllum ‘Pixie’ (Arrowhead Vine), Hypoestes sp. Scindapsus ‘Marble Queen’, Nephrolepis hybrid fern and Davallia sp. (Rabbit’s Foot Fern).
Buy small sized plants in plastic pots, give them a good watering outdoors and allow them to stand for a few hours until all excess water has drained away, but the potting soil is still moist. Prepare the terrarium by putting down a layer of gravel and covering it with potting soil. Remove the plants from their pots and position them, filling in any spaces with potting soil. Top with bark mulch.
Clean the sheet of glass well and then carefully position it over the plants, making sure it rests on the rebate cut into the planks. Unlike a sealed terrarium, this table terrarium has air holes so moisture will be lost through evaporation. The types of plants you choose will determine how often you need to lift the glass to mist or water them, feed them, tidy up the foliage and replace plants that have outgrown the space. This table could also be planted up as a mini desert with succulents and sand dunes.