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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have a new 75 gallon tank to replace a 40 gallon Long on a metal stand in the family room. To clarity sizes, the 40 gallon Long is 48 inches long x 12.5 inches wide x 16 inches tall and the 75 gallon is 48 inches long x 18 inches wide x 21 inches tall. The wife insist that any stand has to contain both tanks, as she doesn't want the 40Long taking up space in another room. I want something that looks classy, aka "furniture-like".

So design parameters are firming up; plan is to construct something like the typical metal stand, only looking like a wood table. Problems with the design, no place for filters underneath, bottom tank will be difficult to work on, not as nice a view as top tank. Can't think anything to change problems 2 and 3, but problem 1 could be simply constructing a cabinet to sit next to the tank stand to hide two canister filters and store whatever stuff accumulates for tank maintenance. Also, I hadn't join the CO2 world, these will be low-tech.

The idea will be to built the support "bones" with framing lumber, then cover with something a little better looking. To support the 75 on top, I decide to double up with 2x4 instead of a single 2x6 for the unsupport span in the front. The 40Long will require only single 2x4 frame to support it's weight.

What I put together as the bones:
Front view


Side view


There a mistake already, but nothing major. I am planning a solid 3/4" plywood back, and the 75 back frame was going to be supported by a single 2x4 and the plywood. Forgot and did front and back top rail both as doubled up 2x4. To fasten everything together I used 3.5 inch stainless steel deck screws. The square drive head and a drill make driving these long screw easier. The top rails were glued together with Titebond II, clamped, and then 3.5 screws driven in. The screws tips will come out the other side in the rails. I just filed the sharp tips flush with the wood and didn't worry.

Because of the single rails for the bottom shelf and double rails for the top shelf, I fill out the space with 2x2, as you see in the side view. The bottom rails are sitting flush on a second 2x4 so I get a little more elevation off the ground, while having the rail supported over its entire length. With the plywood shelf, the bottom tank will be 5.75 inches off the ground.

The cross pieces inside the vertical 2x4 legs are not touching the legs. They are spaced to be under the end of the 48 inch long tanks, and with the need to have legs out enough to allow a second 48 inch tank between them the top is about 55 inch long.

The three pieces making up each legs (two 2x4 and the 2x2 filling space between) are fastened together with the 3.5 inch deck screws.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Next is plywood for the sides, back, and the bottom shelf. Used birch, Home Depot's cheap C-3 grade. The 2x4 structure was already rigid, but added panels seem to tighten up the stand another notch.


The sides are nailed on with 2 inch finishing nails, the back is fastened with those 3.5 inch deck screws.

Notches were cut in the plywood for the bottom shelf to fit around the outside front and back leg pieces, then I used 2 inch finishing nails in just a few spots to hold it down. I seem to have missed taking a photo, but a second panel of 1/2" plywood covers the 2x4 on the inside. Just happen to have enough from a previous project that I didn't have to buy another sheet. That's about 50 pounds of plywood, this thing is getting heavy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Next is starting to cover the 2x4. I used poplar, mainly because it inexpensive, but with stain can look nice. Picking thru the boards at the store, I did have to settle for some green mineral stains. A tip if you find yourself looking a lot of ugly green poplar: the green turns brown if you set the board in the sun. Not too bad looking when that happens.

The legs covered over with poplar:


Using edge glued boards, not mitering the corners. Glue on the boards to secure to the 2x4, and finishing nails at the top and bottom only to fasten in place, so the nails will be covered by the final trim pieces.

The poplar in place, front view:


As you can see, the board covering the bottom rail was one of the pieces with mineral stains, as well as the top edge of the right leg. Hoping it finishes out ok with stain.

The legs have flutes routed into them to class up the joint. ;)

A view of the side:


I messed up the left leg's fluting. These were being done with a hand held router and edge guide after the board was in place. I got the router's cord in my way at the end of the cut and mess it up. Then, I proving I can always make things worse, I did it again and then allow the router to wander at the other end of the cut :frusty:

Was going to take it off and start that cover piece over, but attempts to ply the board off show I might tear everything up, so I decided it wasn't as bad as I thought. Will rethink this, as I might redo the fluting with a larger bit to cut out my mistake. That's for this coming weekend.

And for the record, this took 5 days over two weekend to get to this point.

The next items with be adding the top shelf, then final trim pieces, and lastly the finish.

And then I've got to do a light hood, and the equipment cabinet.

More to come!
 

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That is absolutely stunning work. Gives a little bit more nerve to try my own.
It also gave me an idea that if I want two aquariums in the style you have built to extend the stand out on each side enough to house a canister filter on each side.
The problem is I have the ideas but not the nerve or skill.
Can't wait to see the finished product.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That is absolutely stunning work. Gives a little bit more nerve to try my own.
It also gave me an idea that if I want two aquariums in the style you have built to extend the stand out on each side enough to house a canister filter on each side.
The problem is I have the ideas but not the nerve or skill.
Can't wait to see the finished product.
Thanks for the encouragement, mindnova. I'm only a middling carpenter, but have done some DIY furniture work in the past.

The idea you suggest with two outboard cabinets surrounding the bottom is very good and could work as well. I think having a wider tank on top would be better as to visual balance so the stand doesn't become quite wide in comparsion to the tanks it supposes. As it is, the top shelf will finish out extending about 6 inch past the end of the 75 gallon on either side just to accommodate the same width tank on the bottom shelf plus the legs and trim. I unsure just how that is going to look.

And now that I'm thinking of it, maybe increasing the base with cabinet areas and doors on the sides opening to compartments to utilize the area between the legs for canisters.....

I'll save that for another day. Thanks!
 

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The stand looks sharp, but it has to be heavy as a ...... I like the Birch and Poplar wrap, but I agree that you probably have way to much 2x4 framing. If you ever go to a 90 or 120, as long as it doesn't over hang, this stand would work too.

Looking forward to the finished project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Sorry, I've been leaving ya'll hanging. Still working on the thing, and will update the little more I done so far with a couple more photos, maybe tonight.

The framing really didn't seem that heavy; kiln dried white-wood stud is actually light. Now if it was yellow pine studs...

When I added the plywood, that when it got HEAVY. Got tired of dragging it in and out of the garage at the end of the day and it been sitting on the driveway under a tarp in-between work sessions. A furniture dolly will be a necessarity to get into the house without breaking my back.

I think I'm a couple inches short of 5 feet, but a 90 gal at 5 feet length on top and a 40 gal at 4 feet length on bottom could have worked better. No 90 gallons included in the $-a-gallon sale that started this thing. :)
 

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Yeah, but when you become addicted and keep wanting more, you'll know that this stand will be able to hold up. Looking forward to the finished piece.
 

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Yeah, they reel you in with the $-per gallon smaller tanks and then when you are hooked on the hobby, then they get the big $ for the larger tanks. At least you know you'll have a stand for the bigger tanks if/when you move up.

Can't wait to see the finished piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yeah, they reel you in with the $-per gallon smaller tanks and then when you are hooked on the hobby, then they get the big $ for the larger tanks.
Amen, brother. There is zero doubt in my mind that $-Gallon-Tank sales generate profits for stores. They might be just breaking even or maybe taking a very small profit, but then the lights, the stand, the filter, the plants, the substrate, the fish, etc. still need to be purchased. And at some point you go up in size beyond the on-sale sizes. Just surprised Petland in Pensacola include 75'er. The hobbyists luckey enough to get $-Gallon sales reported on the internet normally max out with a 55 gallon size.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Last weekend's work: adding the top shelf and trim.

Top constructed:


The top is basically a large frame. Poplar, of course, mitre corners, butt joints with pocket hole construct to hold together. Glue and screw. Use a Kreg Jr. jig for the holes. As you can see, it creates an open top that the tank conceals when it's in place.

Detail shot of three pocket holes in front board.


Top was glued onto the cabinet. Hoping I don't find this was a mistake later. Titebond wood glue is quite strong, but this cabinet is heavy and I know it going to get lifted by the top when moved.

Top clamped up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Clamps off, edge is routed, and a angled cut stock used as trim under the top.

I was going to use more trim at the base of the legs, but got too discouraged on getting the pieces cut and installed correctly. So, stopped that, declared victory and did some final sanding in prep for stain and varnish.

Unfinished build:


Closer look at the top edge and trim underneath:


View from above:


Forgot a back view for the earlier construction:


On the back, I attached using coarse thread drywall screws. I like the wide heads of drywall screws, but they aren't as strong as deck screws, I wouldn't advise using these drywall screw in place of the stainless screw deck screws for use on the 2x4 framing.

Just need to cut a slot in the back for equipment pass-thru, stain, and varnish. Did a coat of oil stain yesterday. That seem to take a couple of hours and I was wishing I had some spray equipment and knew how to use it. Could have made the job a bit quicker. Too dark for any photos when I finished the stain, so that will be posted later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
beautiful stand! looks really heavy.
Are you going to finish the poplar? I have built a few tank stands in my day, and I always do a poor job with the stain. :(
Got Miniwax Gunstock oil stain for a reddish brown color. Then a top coat of polyurthane. The finishing steps are make or break on just about every wood project. I sometimes get lucky and the results are good.

A lot of the problems with stains come down to the wood and how soft, open pore areas soak up lots and hard, closed pore area don't. I haven't figured out the best way to control that. Still learning.

I have started doing clear finishes without stain on some projects. Gone back to shellac, as well. It give a nice blonde finish over pine and poplar when you use the clear shellac. Love the quick dry time of shellac.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
First look of the stained stand in the morning light:





I can see a number of small spots to touch up.
 

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A lot of the problems with stains come down to the wood and how soft, open pore areas soak up lots and hard, closed pore area don't. I haven't figured out the best way to control that. Still learning.
Amen. I've been building furniture on the side for about 6 years now and this is by far the worst part of the project. It's extremely time consuming and it can be so touchy. There was one suggestion that was given to me, but I've been to hesitant to try it. Pending the type of wood (usually soft wood, not your nice grained hard woods), I was told to put a light coat of clear non-gloss poly down first. This would help seal some of the pours so as to more evenly coat the project. I see where this could work and where it could be a bigger problem if you were very even with you coverage.

In any event, I love framing of the top with the molding style routed edge. The poplar facing stained up well and the openness of the cabinet is very inviting. I'm curious to see it with the tank and all of the equipment in there. Are you planning on a door or anything? Could look really nice with a framed out door that just pressure fits in the opening if it's to cluttered. A+ all the way around though.

Kenny
 
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