A tricky part in making the stand is that you have to have the height dimensions just right, or the tank itself will be supporting either the horizontal leg of the tank, or the column portion of the tank, and that will quickly cause a failure.
ps. wood will warp, shrink, expand with the seasons so something to think about.
Someone has recently turned me onto the idea of using high pressure laminate. As I understand, it'll be a lot easier to get a level surface, and it's pretty moisture resistant.
Does this increase your confidence at all?
I might consider making the top rim level all around. Both to ease the cutting as well as to provide a bit more "buffer" for any waves. Assume you might be planning something like turtles that might flop into the water at top?
I would really prefer to keep the water level pretty high for aesthetic purposes. Maybe around 2" from the rim.
No turtles. I'm really in the hobby more for the plants, and turtles are pretty limiting in terms of planting options. The terrestrial area is for riparian flora, maybe some crabs.
As so many people pointed out up above, the different leveled shape of that tank can pose some potential problems. Might be easier to make the whole thing a big 'L' shape the same depth/height as the front bit, and then fill the rest with dead volume. You'd spend a lot more on acrylic, and loose some of the shelf space, but it would probably make the stand/tank mating a non-issue.
Yeah, reading these comments, I'm definitely starting to feel for this position. The issue is that I live in New York City, where space is a little scarce. The goal of this project is to fulfill my desire for a shallow aquarium that does not take up a lot of space and yet does not compromise on water volume. Cropping out the shelves and filling in with "dead volume" wastes space. Cropping out the deeper 26 gallon section compromises water volume.
I'd just like to thank everyone in this thread for all the advice you have offered so far. I know this is probably a pretty hair brained idea, and I appreciate that you're all taking it seriously while offering practical, candid advice.