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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hellow fellows! Currently I'm in the middle of an aquarium stand build. The "bones" are made out of pine, for the side pannels, doors, bottom and top I figured I would go with poplar plywood. The tank is rimless glass and I am not sure if only the sides can support its weight. Eitherway the stand has to have a top because it is longer than the tank and I don't like to see it bare. The thing is actualy gonna be a cabinet from what I've described so far. So my issue here, believe it or not I don't have plywood supplier near me and I would like to avoid shipping. So my question is has any of you done a wooden top out of pine or poplar for a 40 gallon(148 liter) aquarium and what are your long term observations of it. My fear is warping. And I am worried of how it would affect the aquarium after it is all set and done. The weight of the aquarium pressing down and the woods natural movement of shrinking and expanding depending on the surrounding moisture. I would like to hear your thoughts on this.
 

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I've got a hood made out of poplar that has been up and running for over a year now with no issues. Mine is painted with a high quality cabinet paint and has slates to allow airflow to keep the lights cool and eliminate moisture build up. I chose poplar even though I was going to paint it because it is much harder than pine and hold up better in the long run. It's actually really good wood, I use it for a lot of furniture I make.
 

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First off for a glass tank you only need support around the edges. But what worries me is your comment that the top needs to be larger than the base. With this in mind I would want the material to be a little thicker than standard 1" lumber that is closer to 3/4" thick. f the edge over the stand is only 1/2 inch or less it should not be a problem. but otherwise I'd make sure the material was at least 1/2 the thickness of the overhang.

Using boards is not an major issue provided you use several boards that are grooved and glued together plus you use a good marine type sealer on all sides of the wood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks for your concern and suggestions but I have the side support covered. The short sides of the tank won't be resting on just the top. Below it will be a plank resting on the pillars of the stand. I went with the plywood sheets for the top and sides. Since I already finished the thing I can show you what came out.
This is the bare bones of the stand and even after finished can be taken apart because the panels are loosely fitted. The middle panel plays a supporting role aswell.


Here is the support for the short sides that I was talking about



Like I said all the panels are easily removable. This beeing wood and me beeing paranoid about moisture I can fit a small sump in one of the compartments with the back panel taken out so moisture does not acumulate.
I built the thing from scratch here is how it looked like before I process it



And the end result.


 

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So my question is has any of you done a wooden top out of pine or poplar for a 40 gallon(148 liter) aquarium and what are your long term observations of it. My fear is warping. And I am worried of how it would affect the aquarium after it is all set and done. The weight of the aquarium pressing down and the woods natural movement of shrinking and expanding depending on the surrounding moisture. I would like to hear your thoughts on this.
I've used an acrylic sheet to protect a laminate top from moisture. Worked very well. You could use glass for a nicer look.

Also, I put thin cork between the tank frame and the table top, for any leveling issues, but mostly to allow air to circulate and prevent moisture from accumulating between the tank bottom and the table top.
 

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Obi, very nice cabinet. Looks like a very sound build. Great craftsmanship.

What is the finished lumber that you used on this cabinet. It appears as Knotty Alder. If this is the case, just to note, this type of wood naturally darkens over time so if you choose to stain it I would go with something light as it will become darker after some time and dark stain will cover that wonderful grain structure. If you are going to only clear coat it or put a natural wax or oil based product over it for protection it will bring out a lot of really nice high and low tones in the grain. Again, really nice job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I think you missunderstand the situation k zeller, Obi is giving advice, I am the one who built the thing :).The structure is out of pine. The panels are poplar plywood with pine decorative bracing for the top because I wanted to hide the plywood layers and it fitted better with the entire look. Because I did not want any sort of nail or screw to be visible I used bamboo barbecue skewers as dowels at even lengths. It turned out nice. I picked the best boards I could find but they still had knots so atleast I picked them with the "live" knots as they say. It is still a weak link but they are stronger than the knots of former dead branches. I supported those where needed or turned them in a way so the pressure would be at the strong sides of the boards when the aquarium is sitting on top.
What you see in the last 2 pictures is the finished piece with 2 coats of boat lacquer.
 

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If the style of rimless tank you have does not have a plastic bottom brace either please please make sure that the top is very flat. It looks like you've done a really nice job on that. :D

Then you will need to use a thin sheet of foam rubber cut to the size of the top for the tank to sit on. If you don't then all of the little imperfections in the top become stress points on the bottom panel of glass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I plan on putting 2 cm styrofoam or fibran under it. Not even in my wildest dreams did I think of putting it straight on the top with nothing inbetween.
 

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Very nice work, most diy stands are heavily overbuilt. Just look at the commercially available stands, all 3/4" material

Sent from my XT1080 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you all for your kind words!
The problem with those overbuilt diy stands is that they are done by people with no woodworking experience. No offence intended. I myself got the design idea for my stand from those overbuilt stands and tweeked it so it feels right and every piece is there to serve a purpose. When you do something you subconsciously try to solve the problems that go with it. People are going by the tried design of just cutting 2x4 and scrwewing them together. I see that both as a waste and overkill of precious material. I am no carpenter but I've built a few beehives and gained enough confidence so when this particular tank came in my orbit I saw an opportunity to try and build my first piece of furniture with the hope that it will outlast me. Turned out great so far. Time will tell the rest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I don't like pocket screws. They take all the magic away.
Here are all the joints


I glued up the frames, put a few screws in them and clamped them for one night. Seeing that I don't have many clamps I made 2 wooden corners out of scrap laying around my small workshop and used them to make sure everything was square.



After that, I started thinking how to hide the screws and that is when I decided to make the supporting columns look the way they do. I made these squares with a router.

 

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If the style of rimless tank you have does not have a plastic bottom brace either please please make sure that the top is very flat. It looks like you've done a really nice job on that. :D

Then you will need to use a thin sheet of foam rubber cut to the size of the top for the tank to sit on. If you don't then all of the little imperfections in the top become stress points on the bottom panel of glass.
On a 40 gallon tank this is not an extreme of an issue as with some of the larger and heavier tanks. When I had multiple 40 gallon tanks on a home made rack they were only supported on the short ends and had no issues, other than the boards slowly warping from the weight after about 5 years. But that was a matter of using 2 X 6 over a 12 foot span with 8 tanks in row.

The rubber, cork, or some people use Styrofoam under that tanks though is not a bad idea for added safety.
 

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I plan on putting 2 cm styrofoam or fibran under it. Not even in my wildest dreams did I think of putting it straight on the top with nothing inbetween.
2cm sytrofoam is probably a bit overkill. The garden mats that ADA sells are about 3/16" neoprene and it's plenty of cushioning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
All these tanks? It's just the one. A 148 liter to be exact. I still haven't set it up, because I still don't know if I'll be moving to a new apartment. Rest assured, I will show my future biotope once it is up and running.
 
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