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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Acrylic fabrication is something that I really enjoy. I am by no means an expert, but I have worked with it quite a bit. I have made calcium reactors, protein skimmers, overflows and sumps. This is an image of my calcium reactor that I later turned into a canister filter/CO2 reactor combination.

Anyway, following in the tradition of Dennis' great woodworking thread, if you have any questions or need help building things out of acrylic, please post them here. I and others will try to help. I'll post my work here as well. I'm currently working on a protein skimmer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It actually is really easy once you get the hang of it. Just need a few good tools. Specifically, a good router, router table and a table saw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dennis, I'll do that. Little later today though.

Bharada, most acrylic aquariums are made from 5 flat peices. There are a number of acrylic manufacturers that bend a piece of acrylic to create curved edges of bow fronts. I don't recommend that a hobbyist do that as it requires large ovens to achieve a bend in large 1/2 inch thick acrylic.

You can bend thinner pieces using a heat gun of heat tape, but this is more of an advanced technique.

To build an aquarium, use 5 flat pieces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
For those of you contemplating building something out of acrylic, here are some tools you'll need.

1. Router, router table, good acrylic router bits
2. Table saw with a good acrylic blade
3. Glue: Weld-on #4. No. 40 for certain applications
4. Pins or thin wire
5. Some sort of flat weight. I use bricks wrapped in duct tape.

That's it. The rest is up to your imagination.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dennis,

Really depends on how much acrylic work you're going to be doing. For a one off project, good carbide blade or bits meant for fine cuts would work.

If you are looking for a good cut that won't cause melting, you need to look for acrylic specific products. For blades, look for triple chip with a negative rake. I bought a Freud for about $90. It has a triple chip grind, 3-degree hook and .110" kerf. You are looking for 60 - 80 teeth.

Same goes for router bits. Carbid buts will work for one-off projects. Specific acrylic bits from Unsrud if you are going to do more than one project.

As far as speed is concerned, anywhere from 6,000 to 14,000 ft/min is what is required. Based on my blade, I'm at 9,000. However, I've found it just as important to feed the piece at just the right speed. Not to slow or too fast. You get the feel once you practice a bit.

At the end of the day, you want a good clean cut without chip outs or melting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Troy,

Depends on whether you will use a top brace for it or not. I would recommend 1/2 Acrylite GP from Cyro. Here are a few resources for you.

Check out the Cyro Website for good information on building aquariums and calculating thickness.

I've uploaded an Excel spreadsheet that will calculate thickness for you. You can download it at http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/files/tankthicknesscalculator.xls.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, I should have said, the tanks I've seen made. I've not made a tank. The tanks I've seen made are thicker so that you don't need the top brace.

The router is for everything- making holes, finishing edges, rounding over, making O-ring slots, slos for the tubes, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Great points.

If you can strike up a relationship with a local acrylic shop, they will usually give or sell you their scraps. Ebay and other portals also have excess items you can purchase cheaply.

For aquarium use, always go with cast acrylic. Extruded acrylic is cheaper but won't last in an aquarium setting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Andrew,

Thanks for the link. However, I would disagree with the tools and jigs used in that summary. If you are looking to build an acrylic aquarium, I would refer to ReefCentral's DIY forum.

Tools would include Weldon 4, wire, router, table saw with acrylic blade and assorted jigs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Acrylic tube would not work well for bending. If you need a clear bend I would suggest using clear PVC elbows.
 
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