Make Your Own Plywood Cross-Based Globe Terrariums

Hi again, Mindi here from MyLove2Create!  Earlier this week for Plywood Pretty, I showed you an easy way to use plywood scraps, and another one of my recent projects here was my Raised Planter Box
Today I am excited to share a very fun decorative project, made from 1/4” plywood scraps.  These Plywood Cross Based Globe Terrariums are a lot easier to make than you think, so lets get started!
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These cross-based globe terrariums, inspired by West Elm, are so easy to make using plywood scraps and inexpensive or thrifted glass bowls.
A while back I spotted these terrariums at West Elm and I fell in love, I knew I wanted to make them eventually…and I finally got around to it!  Let me show you how! 

How to Make Plywood Cross Based Globe Terrariums

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  • 1/4” x 2′ x 2′  Plywood project panel, or 1/4” plywood scraps
  • Clear glass bowls or globes, like this or you could use old light fixtures, fish bowls
  • Decorative rocks
  • Fake succulents
  • Copper spray paint (or color of preference)
  • Jigsaw or Scroll saw
  • Miter saw
  • wood glue
  • cloth tape measure (for bowl circumference) or bowls similar in size to your globe
  • tape measure
  • Pencil
  • paper

Step 1: Measure globe width

Measuring For Sides Of Bowl, MyLove2Create
So when it comes to circles and radius and all that geometry stuff my brains turns to mush…really.  If you are good at it then I recommend you take a cloth tape measure and wrap it around your globe to get the circumference and do your radius and pi magic…I am sure there is a website that will calculate it for you…I am guessing.
I am a more of a…figure it out the practical/cheater way, which is not always accurate…but for me, it works.  I gave up perfectionism in my projects a long time ago, because it doesn’t exist. 😉 Now I can enjoy all my projects with their imperfections, because they are more like me, imperfect!
Ok done rambling.   I used scrap plywood standing against the sides of my globe and traced two lines on paper to get the width (top photos).  Then I measured that width with my tape measure.  I added 1” to my globe’s width for my final measurement for cutting.  This way my sides will have 1/2” of plywood at the top on each side (this will make more since in a minute).

Step 2: Measure the height of the globe and cut plywood

Measure Terrarium Bowl And Cut Plywood, MyLove2Create

I also measured the height of the globe to get an idea of how tall to cut my plywood.

You can make your cross base as tall or short as you want.  I made mine 1” less than the height of the globe.  So my large globe was 8” tall and my cross base was 7” at it’s tallest end points.  You will need to know these measurements the height and width to cut your plywood.

For a recap:

  • Height of globe Minus 1”
  • Width of globe plus 1″
  • cut plywood to these measurements for each globe

Step 3: Mark plywood and trace semi circle


Measuring Where To Cut Semi Cirlces, MyLove2Create

Once your plywood is cut, you can mark it for cutting out your semi circle which will hold your globe.

I marked 1/2” on each side and drew a line down (top photos).  I also marked the center line, in these photos.  In hind site I would have marked center and then lowered the line 1” or 1 1/2” down, I ended up doing it later in the project so learn from my mistake, this makes the cross base section shorter, which I think looks better.

To measure my semi circle I grabbed round bowls/pans from my kitchen that were close to the globe shape (bottom photos) and traced them from the 1/2 marks down toward my center or just lower than center line.

*This is my cheater method, it is not totally accurate but works close enough, math people take over here and bust out your radius and compass and do it right!

Step 4: Cut out your plywood semi circles with a jig saw

Cutting Out Bowl Shape Into Plywood, MyLove2Create

I drew my cut marks on one board, you will need two plywood pieces for each terrarium that are exactly the same shape.  To make it easy I just clamped them together with the cut marks on the top and cut them both at the same time with my jigsaw.

Step 5: Measure and mark for notch cuts

Marking Cut Lines Of Where To Cut On The Cross Base, MyLove2Create

Find the center of your board (top left), then put your boards together and draw the center mark on the very bottom (top right).  Place one of the boards and center it over the center mark, then draw lines on either side of the board, to mark the notch width.

Step 6: Cut out notches

Cutting Out Notches For Cross Based Sections, MyLove2Create

Mark how high you want the notches to be, again this is personal preference, I think mine was approximately 1” tall, draw a line (top left).

You can cut your notches at the same time!  Yep!  Just take the marked board and place it on the top, turn the bottom board around so the semi circle is facing the other way.  Line up the ends and the bottom of the circles.  Then clamp the boards down and cut out the marked notch area.

*Cut on the inside of your marked lines, otherwise your notches will be a little too big. 

Fitting Notches Together, MyLove2Create

Fit them together!  At this point you need to test your globe and make sure it fits, if it is a little too big that is fine, if it is a little too small then you will want to put your boards back together and trim off where it is needed in your semi circle until your globe fits.  (This is where the math people are laughing and mocking…just smile and nod, smile and nod.)

Step 7:  Glue and shim (if necessary)

Gluing And Shimming Cross Based Terrarium, MyLove2Create

I decided to wood glue my cross bases together, if you wanted you could omit this step.  On my first terrarium I cut my notches a little too wide (which is why I said to cut inside the notch lines…learn from my mistakes!) so I needed to do some shimming.

I found little slivers of wood from my scrap pile, or my jigsaw cuttings, and used those to fill in any gaps.  This sturdied them up quite nicely.  If you cut your notches smaller you won’t need to shim or even glue for that matter if they fit nice and snug.  If you have gaps use wood filler.

Step 8: Spray paint your bases

Spray Painting Cross Base Terrarium, MyLove2Create

I choose a cool copper metallic color, and I really love it because it sort of changes color in different lighting.  You can do any color you want, or stain them, I debated doing that, but I took a chance on a new color instead. 🙂

Step 9: Fill your terrariums with rocks and succulents and enjoy!

Filling Terrarium, MyLove2Create

I went to the dollar store and bought decorative rocks, you can’t beat the prices compared to anywhere else.  They also had some succulents so I grabbed some of those, too.  Other succulents were purchased at a craft store.

Put rocks in the bottom of your globes and and then arrange the succulents as you desire.  I had some mossy looking ribbon that I threw in, but honestly you couldn’t really see it once the succulents were in, so I wouldn’t bother with it.

Large Terrarium, MyLove2Create

I love how they turned out!

Cross Based Terrarium Front, MyLove2Create

I may not be the best at succulent arranging, but they make me happy, and that is all that matters, right?!

Terrariums With Plywood Base, MyLove2Create

When my kids came home from school they keep saying, oooh cool!  So they approved as well. 🙂

Terrariums With A Diy Cross Base, MyLove2Create

The fun thing about these is that you can make several or one…they look good alone or with a friend!

Close Up Of Cross Based Terrariums, MyLove2Create

I love the height variation which is why I made three different sizes.

Close Up Of Terrariums, MyLove2Create

If I was brave I would do real succulents, but since I only have a few surviving real succulents from my Succulent Planters from Light Fixtures…I decided to play it save this time.

Top View Looking Into Terrariums, MyLove2Create

They look real enough to me…AND, I don’t have to worry about them, that is what I call a win win situation.

Small Terrariums, MyLove2Create

I am so glad I tried this knock off!  They were really easy to make and I saved a ton of money!

Featured Image Of Cross Based Terrariums, MyLove2Create

So what do you think?  Are you up for making your own plywood cross based terrariums?!!

Do it, it is so fun and easy!

Or, if you want more fun and easy planter projects you can check out my Hanging Hexagon Planter or my Old Drawers into Porch Planters!

Thanks for reading!

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I have a great love to DIY, repurpose, and create! I am constantly seeking to make things more useful, effective, and beautiful in my home one project at a time. My projects are done in tutorial form so I can inspire others to create too!
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  1. I love all your amazing projects-on-the-cheap and the great step by step instructions you provide, mistakes and all! I have been wasting too much time looking for a stool for under my desk to elevate my feet just a smidge.
    After writing up my plans and measurements for something larger than your plans, I am going to the hardware store to have them cut the plywood for me, then flip your terrarium stand over, add a top and a pillow, and wha-la! I can leave the stool under my desk when I am not using it, and stretch my legs out without smacking into stool legs.
    Thank you so much for being a part of my day. Blessings from Port Huron, Michigan.