Tropical Fish Keeping banner

1 - 20 of 42 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
SKAustin's "Do It Yourself" 55 Gallon Tank Stand

Well, Ive decided to build my own stand for our 55 Gallon tank that we plan on converting to a marine reef. Since I've got a digital camera, I may as well take a few photos along the way and share it with everyone else. The total cost for this project was about $125.00 (about 1/4 the cost of purchasing a similar stand). I hope this will help at least a few people here. Feel free to post any questions, comments, or ideas for modifications to suit specific needs. So without further ado, Here is my DIY 55 Gallon Tank Stand. :D

Enjoy the show.

Thanks,
Steve
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Step 1 - Plan out the project

Step 1 - Plan out the project

Here it is helpful to know the standard sizes of the wood you plan to use. For example a standard 2x4 is actually 1.5" x 3.5", a standard 1x3 is actually .75" x 2.5", and a standard 1x4 is actually .75" x 3.5.
Measure out the footprint of your tank, and draw out your plans accordingly. The stand I am building will home a standard 55-gallon tank with a footprint of 48" x 12". I used Microsoft Excel to create my plans by simply reducing the cells to 6 pixels x 6 pixels and using borders to draw the lines. Here is a look at my final plans (note that some of my sizes were a bit off on the plans as I was using 1" increments).

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Step 2: Create a list of materials & tools

Step 2: Create a list of materials & tools

Create a list of all the materials you will need as well as the tools you will need to complete the job, and make the trip you your local home improvement store

List of materials: (note: the birch may be substituted with pine, oak, or poplar depending on the look/price you want)
( 1 ) 4'x8' sheet of ¼" Birch Plywood
( 5 ) 10' premium 2x4s
( 2 ) 8' Birch 1x3s
( 2 ) 8' Birch 1x4s
refabricated 1"x1" outside corner moulding
( 3 ) 4" x 6" metal braces
3 ½" deck screws
1" finishing nails
1 ½" finishing nails
1" sheetrock nails
5/8" wire brads
Wood glue
Wood Stain
Polyurethane
Wood filler or Stain Crayon
N scale Cork Roadbed (available at model railroad hobby shops) or ¼" foam board
Door hardware (spring hinges and handles)

Tools needed: (now is a good time to call any of your friends who have access to the tools you don't have)
Circular Saw or Table Saw/Radial Arm Saw (recommended)
Cordless Drill/Screwdriver (2 if available)
Hammer
Center punch
Clamps (the more/larger the better)
Fine and extra fine Sand paper
Orbital Sander (optional)
Router/Router Table (optional)
Square
Chalk line
Tape Measure
Pencil
Paintbrushes
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Step 3: Let the construction commence

Step 3: Let the construction commence

From the first two 10’ 2x4s, cut four 48 3/8” pieces. These will serve as the length for the top and bottom of the main structure and the length should be adjusted if your tank’s footprint differs from ours (48 ¼” x 12 ¾”). These are cut to the length of the footprint plus 1/8” (this allows 1/16” on either side to ensure a good fit as the tank will sit down into the stand)

From the remainder of the first two 10’ 2x4s, cut six 5 7/8” pieces. These will serve as the width for the top and bottom of the main structure and again, the length of these should be adjusted if your tank’s footprint differs from ours. These are cut to the depth of the footprint plus 1/8”.

From the remaining three 10’ 2x4s, cut ten 25” pieces. These will serve as the legs that will join the top and bottom of the main structure. The length of these may be adjusted as desired, based on the height you wish the tank to be viewed at. Keep in mind that the shorter the stand, the more stable the overall unit will be.

Once completed you should have a pile of cut pieces, a few pieces of scrap, which will be used later, and very little sense of accomplishment.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Step 4: Construct the top and bottom of the main structure

Step 4: Construct the top and bottom of the main structure

Cut the three 4”x6” metal braces in half. Line up two of the 48 3/8” pieces parallel to each other, and then place three of the 5 7/8” pieces between them, one at either end, and one directly in the center. Glue, check that they’re square, clamp, and attach the braces with the 1” sheetrock nails as seen in the photo below (note that I had attempted to use 1” drywall screws, but the head of the screws sat a bit too high. This was corrected later). This will be the top of the main structure.

Repeat this process to create the bottom of the main structure, this time without the metal braces. The metal braces are not necessary in this step because the base will have the added support of the floor of the cabinet.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Step 5: The cabinet floor

Step 5: The cabinet floor

While waiting for the glue to dry, cut the sheet of plywood (across the grain) at just over half (about 49”). From the longer section, cut a strip 12 7/8” wide for the Cabinet Floor. Then trim the length of this strip to 48 3/8” (if using a hand held circular saw, be sure to mark a line using a square or chalk-line). Once this piece is cut, and the glue on the base structure is dry, it can be glued and nailed to the top of the base structure created in Step 4 (this is the one without the metal braces). A visual reference for this can be seen in step 6. I have included a diagram of how the pieces were cut from the plywood as it is important that the grain of the wood be facing the right direction.

< ----- WOOD GRAIN ----- >
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Step 6a: Attach the legs

Step 6a: Attach the legs

Once the floor has been nailed to the base, we can begin to attach the legs to the base. Begin by marking the location of the legs on the underside of the base and drilling a piolet hole through the base. Now using two screws, attach a leg to the front corner of the base.

**IMPORTANT** This leg will be set in by the width of the plywood from both the front and the side. This will allow the sides and front panels to be flush with the edges of the base and provide a nice flat surface for the base and top trim. It is best to use a small piece of scrap ply to test the depth to ensure a proper fit. In addition to the photo below, this is explained on the bottom right diagram on the plans (see step 1).

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Step 6b: Attach the legs

Step 6b: Attach the legs

A second leg will be placed on the sides of each corner for added support and stability. These legs will be screwed not only to the base, but to the front corner legs and will form an “L” shape.

Now that you have completed the first corner leg, repeat the process for each additional corner, and then attach the center legs.

**IMPORTANT** The back legs will need to be set in by the width of the plywood on each side, however should be flush with the back of the base as there will be no plywood on the back of the stand.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Step 7: Attach the top of the main structure

Step 7: Attach the top of the main structure

With all the legs now in place, screw the top of the main structure to the legs. Remember to drill your pilot holes and test the distance of the in-set. You may find that, due to a warp in the 2x4s, the top of the legs will not line up the same as the bottom. This can be remedied by lining one corner of the 2x4, placing the first screw, then using a clamp to twist the leg straight. You will likely have to hold this in place while attaching the second screw, this is where an extra set of hands may be helpful.

Once this is completed, sit back and look at your work. You should now begin to have a small sense of accomplishment. Ok, that’s enough. It’s time to get back to work!

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Step 8: Cut the sides and front

Step 8: Cut the sides and front

Measure out the sides of the cabinet (12 5/8” x 25”), the front outside edges (3 ¾” x 25”), and the Front center edge (3 ½” x 25”) and cut them out from the ply (refer back to the diagram in step 5 if necessary). Test-fit the pieces and trim if necessary.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Step 9a: Attach the sides and front

Step 9a: Attach the sides and front

Glue and nail with 1” finishing nails, the sides and fronts. Make sure to keep the nails fairly close to the edge of the ply so that they will be covered up by the top and bottom trim, corner moulding, and hinges. It’s a good idea to plan where you want your hinges now, and then nail the front outer pieces accordingly.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Step 9b: Attach the sides and front:

Step 9b: Attach the sides and front

When attaching the front center ply, I recommend nailing only the top and bottom, and then clamping it down with a piece of scrap until it is dry. This will help to reduce the number of nails that will need to be covered up later.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Step 10: Time to add a decorative look:

Step 10: Time to add a decorative look

Cut one 55” piece, and two 17” pieces from each of the two 8’ 1x4s. This will leave two 8” inch pieces remaining, do not throw them away as they will also be used. Select one 55” piece, and two 17” pieces from what you have cut and mark them as “bottom”. Mark the remaining five pieces as “top”

**OPTIONAL** (depending on the look you want)

With a router, cut a decorative edge of your choice on the top outside edge of the three pieces marked “bottom”. Make the same router cut on both the top and bottom outside edges of the five pieces marked “top”.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Step 11: Cut and attach the trim

Step 11: Cut and attach the trim

Cut horizontal 45-degree angles on the trim pieces. It is best to start with the front, measuring each piece and test fitting several times along the way. I also recommend cutting each piece a bit longer than necessary, then shaving a small amount off at a time until you achieve a perfect fit. A good number of clamps will be very helpful during this process. Note that on the top, the two short pieces are used to wrap around the top, therefore they need only one 45-degree cut. Also note that there is no wrap around on the bottom, therefore the bottom sides also need only one 45-degree cut.

Once all of your pieces have been cut and fit properly, its time to attach them all. Starting with the bottom, glue, clamp and nail with 1 ½” finishing nails. Sink the nails a bit below the surface, as they will be covered up with filler or stain crayon when completed. Once the bottom is complete, repeat the process for the top.

**IMPORTANT** when affixing the top trim, you will need to allow enough overhang to cover the plastic frame of your tank (1 ½”) plus the thickness of your padding material. In this case, I have allowed 1 5/8” overhang (1 ½” for the tank frame, plus 1/8” for the cork).

If using wood filler, fill your holes now and remember to sand the filler and refill if necessary once dry. If you plan to use a stain crayon to fill your holes, that will be done after the stain is applied.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Step 12a: Creating the doors

Step 12a: Creating the doors

The doors are made by creating a frame from the 1x3s, with a plywood center. Make a measurement of the height needed for the doors (the distance between the top and bottom trim, minus 1/8” for clearance) and the width needed (distance between outside front and center front legs, plus 1”). Cut these pieces as necessary and router as desired.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Step 12b: Creating the doors

Step 12b: Creating the doors

Once these pieces are cut, it will be necessary to cut a ¼” groove along the inner edge of your door frame pieces in which the ply center will be seated. This can be done with a router table, but is much more easily accomplished with a Table Saw if available.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Step 12c: Creating the doors

Step 12c: Creating the doors

Once all of the door frame pieces have been cut, routered, and grooved as required, it’s time to cut the center of the doors. The measurements for these two pieces can be obtained by measuring the inside edge of the grooves cut in the previous step.

Once the pieces are all in order, assemble and glue the doors. Framing clamps are handy for this step, but if not available, a square will suffice. Use the wire brads to tack the center panel in place and provide added strength to the doors. Make sure to wipe up any glue that might seep out of the seams.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Step 13: Wrapping up the construction process

Step 13: Wrapping up the construction process

While the doors are drying, measure the distance between the top and bottom trims at the two front corners and cut the corner moulding accordingly. Glue it in place and clamp it down. Again, Make sure to wipe up any glue that might seep out of the seams.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Step 14: Sanding, and lots of it.

Step 14: Sanding, and lots of it.

It’s now time to go over your project with a bit of sandpaper. Check and sand every inch of your routered cuts with both the fine, and the extra fine sandpaper. Go over the corner joints, any sharp edges around the entire project, and just for good measure, have a few passes over the face of the trims as well. Make sure to sand down any areas where glue has seeped out and/or been wiped up as the stain will not absorb into the glue and will leave unsightly light spots

By now, the doors should be fully dried. Repeat the same process for each of the doors.

Ok, you’ve been working hard thus far. It’s time for a quick break. But first, grab a scrap of 2x4, tip the stand back a bit and prop it up. Now set the doors in their place. Grab a chair, and an ice-cold beverage (lord knows you deserve one), and sit back and revel at your accomplishment.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Step 15: Adding a bit of color

Step 15: Adding a bit of color

All right, break time is over, and just because we’re done building, doesn’t mean the work is finished. It’s time to add a bit of color to this masterpiece. First, wipe down the entire project with a clean dry cloth to remove any dust from the sanding. Grab your stain of choice, and start staining. Have several rags close by and a foam paintbrush in hand. Apply a nice heavy coat of stain to the to the backside center of one of the doors. Wipe the panel down with a rag to soak up any excess stain, and be sure to get in all of the grooves. Now go on to the backside of the outer frame of the door. Complete the same process and then move on to the backside of the other door. Follow up with the front side of both doors and then go on to the stand itself. Continue doing small sections at a time, apply, then wipe, apply, then wipe. Remember, haste makes waste. You’re not running a marathon so take your time and do the job right. Keep in mind also that you don’t want to apply wet stain to a section that has already dried, otherwise you’ll end up with visibly darker spots. An even steady pace is the key. It should take about 2 hours to stain the entire project. Keep an eye out for runs and when you’ve completed the staining, give the project a "Twice-Over" to ensure you haven’t missed any drips or runs in the stain.

 
1 - 20 of 42 Posts
Top