DIY Wooden Geodesic Biodome Construction
Here we see my good friend Kacper’s 40ft 3v biodome taking shape. The struts are made of plain old 2×4′s from Home Depot. There are no fancy clips, joints, bolt together widgets etc. holding the triangles together. They are simply screwed together with deck screws. And the cool thing about using “generic” materials is you can find them everywhere and they are cheap! The 40′ dome shown under construction here cost about $500 to complete.
The main part that is challenging is making sure the corners of the 3V frequency triangles meet at the proper angle to be screwed together evenly and make a strong joint. If one was concerned about extreme weather, one could use galvanized steel strapping across all the joints but unless you are subject to hurricanes or tornadoes, its not needed. Why not; you might be asking. Well wind tunnel tests have shown that the geodesic dome shape is incredibly durable. That’s why they use them for protecting equipment in Antarctica where winds have been known to blow up to 198mph! Yikes!
Anyway if you are going to build your own geodesic greenhouse or geodome of any kind you really should check out using wood as a base material. Besides being easy to get in most places. It is forgiving to work with, reasonably lightweight and its is very easy to attach things to it after the dome is built. I agree that metal or plastic can be more durable under some conditions but there are significant challenges creating weathertight openings and coverings for tube frame domes as its just darned hard to fasten to a hard round pipe! Unless of course you bolt some wood to it… And by that time you might as well have just made your whole dome out of wood in the first place.
So what are the drawbacks to wood? Well it is flammable, bugs will eat it in certain conditions, it might rot, and it is heavier than PVC pipe. The best thing to do is treat your lumber with any wood preservative that contains borax. First because it is very safe compared to zinc-napthenate or copper-napthanate preservatives and second because it actually helps make the wood fire resistant.
Another way of making your DIY dome better able to resist fire is to put your main electrical infrastructure well away from the wall and have the feed come in underground. This practically eliminates risk of fire caused by faulty wiring and if you use a properly designed rocket mass heater as I wrote about before, you should be very safe from fire even if you are burning wood for heat in your biodome greenhouse.
So there you have it. A few reasons to consider using wood for your DIY geodome project whether it is for a gazebo, play house or hot house, it is hard to go wrong using wood when doing your own dome building project.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me by email or here on the biodome blog and I will do my best to dig up the answer for you.