I originally made this greenhouse last year. But thought I’d repost it because spring is right around the corner and this little greenhouse would make the perfect place to start seeds or showcase some spring bulbs that still need a little extra protection from the cold. Plus earth day is coming up and it’s a great reuse project for old CD cases!
The tutorial is pretty long… but don’t get scared off because the greenhouse really isn’t difficult to make. There are lots of details I wanted to be sure were explained clearly. To do that I had to break this down into a bunch of steps and include a lot of pictures. The toughest part about the whole project is cutting the cases into angles- and even that’s not really hard to do, it just takes some patience. The rest of the project is just gluing!
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Old CD Cases- it takes 40 to make a greenhouse this size (about 11″x 18″ x 20″) but you’ll also want some extras in case a few break while being cut (I broke 2).
- Plastic Glue- that dries clear.
- Painter’s Tape
- Safety Glasses
- You’ll also need a craft knife, ruler and cutting board, and a large flat surface (that can get a bit of glue on it) for the cases to lay on while drying.
Step 1: Preparing The Cases
Start with clean cd cases. More than a few of mine needed a bit of dusting off and some old price tags removed. Since most of my cases also had black plastic disc holders in them, and I only needed the clear parts of the cases, I removed and discarded the black plastic. When you remove the disc holders you’ll notice it leaves an open space near the hinge. I’ll talk more about this in Step 2, I just wanted to point out that this is normal and nothing to worry about.
I also came across a few cases that had clear disc holders. The circular pattern reminded me of the fans you see in large greenhouses so I left those whole and used one on either end in the center of the wall’s peak.
Step 2: Making The Walls
You’ll need to make four walls for the main part of the greenhouse. The two end walls are each made from four cd cases. The side walls are made from six cases each.
Since the cases are rectangular, not square, it’s important that they are oriented the same way. All the walls have the hinges either on the left or the right, never on the top or bottom.
Before glueing anything lay the cases out and decide if the hinges are going to be on the left or the right. And remember the open space near the hinge I mentioned? Make sure on each case that open space faces down, that way you’ll have one side of each wall that’s smooth solid plastic.
For my end walls I chose to have the two cases on the left have the hinges on the left. The two cases on the right have the hinges on the right. I thought this arrangement made a nice pattern, but you could place them so that the hinges all meet in the middle- do whatever you think looks nice!
For the side walls I arranged it so cases on the left had the hinges facing left, cases on the right had hinges facing right. The cases in the middle alternated. On one wall the hinge for the case in the bottom row faced left and the hinge for the top row case faced right. In the second wall I flip flopped it, the bottom case had the hinge face right and the top faced left.
Once the pattern has been decided, the cases can be glued together.
Start by making the two end walls (4 cases each) then make the two side walls (six cases each). Apply glue to the edges wherever a case touches another case. Line them up carefully so the walls are even and leave them laying flat until dry.
Step 3: Attach The Center CD To The Wall’s Peak
The last whole cd case to go on the end walls is what I like to think of as the center or focal point of the peak. It’s where I used the cases that have the disc holders still in them.
Once the glue on the end walls has set enough that you can touch the walls without disturbing the alignment you can move on to this step.
Place the cd case in the middle of the wall- use a ruler to be sure it’s centered. Glue into place.
Step 4: Cutting Cases For The Wall Peak
Believe it or not you can cut cd cases with a craft knife (it just takes a bit of patience).
But first things first- before cutting any cases you’ll want to put on safety glasses. When the cases are being scored and snapped there’s always the possibility that little shards of plastic can go flying. Those little bits of plastic can be just as sharp as glass… and you really don’t want one of them in your eye!
The most important part of this step is getting the angles accurate. Starting with the right corner of the peak place a whole case in the empty space (with the hinge facing the left and the open space facing down).
Lay a ruler across the case so that the edges line up with the corner of the full cases next to it and below it. Use your craft knife to score a line across the case that’s going to be cut.
Once the case is marked, flip it over and line the ruler up so it looks like it matches the line you’ve already scored on the other side. Then score a new line on this side of the case. Now that both sides are marked with a line, open the case up so it lays flat and score matching lines on the inside.
Using a fair amount of pressure, repeatedly cut over all the lines on the front, back, inside, and outside of the case. You’ll also need to cut the plastic on the edges of the case, where the front and back lines match up. After you’ve gone over the lines several times the case will begin to cut all the way through in some spots. When this happens the case can be snapped. To do this, carefully apply pressure along both sides of the score line
until the case snaps cleanly.
It may take a little practice- I broke two cases before getting it right. The two most important parts were making sure the harder plastic on the edges of the case were scored enough and changing the blade when it got dull.
Once the case is cut you’ll notice that the two pieces don’t hold together very well and that there’s no support at the tip of the angle. To fix this, first take a leftover part of the case and cut a piece off the edge.
Go back to the angle piece that you just cut and glue the edges of the case together. Then, using your tweezers, glue the leftover edge piece in between the front and back of the case to support the top.