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the_deeb 05-06-2013 06:15 PM

My knock-down/flat packable aquarium stand
I thought I'd start a build journal for my new stand. The stand is going to be for my new custom 150g wide tank and I had a couple of specific requirements for the build, which will hopefully make for an interesting journal.

Firstly, this setup is going to be the centerpiece of our apartment, so I want the finished stand to look like a nice piece of furniture.

Next, the aquarium itself is going to be quite shallow, so I wanted the stand to be quite tall to visually compensate for this. The dimensions of the stand are around 5ft X 3ft X 3ft, which is too wide to fit through the hallway/door for our apartment, so I decided to build it so I could easily disassemble it and flat pack it for moving. I put a lot of thought into how best to do this while still having a strong supporting structure, and I came up with a solution involving some sturdy joinery and some interesting bits of connecting hardware.

Another feature that is a little different about this stand is that I wanted it to have legs rather than sitting with its full length on the floor. I think this is more aesthetically pleasing and will make it easier to shim the stand and clean up potential spills in the future.

The final major limitation of this build is that I live in a small apartment and don't have any power tools (except for an electric drill), so I'm going to be building the entire thing using only hand tools. I'm only an amateur woodworker, and my tools and skills limit the kinds of cuts and joints I can reliably make.

Ok, with that background out of the way let's move on to the build!

the_deeb 05-06-2013 06:16 PM

First of a quick shot of my "work shop" :)

That's my dining room table with my trusty folding dozuki. It's a wonderful saw that cuts through lumber like butter leaving a paper thin kerf and a really smooth finish that requires little sanding. I built a little DIY miter box to assist with making good square cuts.

the_deeb 05-06-2013 06:19 PM

I'm building the stand primarily out of poplar 1x4s that I picked up from a local lumber yard. It's good quality wood with nice square corners and minimal warping and was relatively affordable. Doubling up these boards results in a board that's much nicer and stronger than a typically pine 2x4. The legs of the stand will consist of two or three of these boards laminated together. Here are the first set of boards cut to size...

and glued together

the_deeb 05-06-2013 06:22 PM

A lot of the joinery in this build will involve long 90mm bolts running through several pieces of wood so it was important to accurately drill straight holes and have everything line up. A drill press would have made this easier, but I don't own one, so I made do with a nice little drill guide from Lee Valley tools. This was easy to use and gave pretty nice results.

Here's the guide:

You start out by using a punch to mark the location of the hole

and then add a 3/16" bushing over that and use it to fit the guide in place and secure it

The you pull out the bushing and replace it with a new bushing sized to the drill bit that you're going to use (1/4" in my case). Using a high quality brad point drill bit also make it easier to get clean accurate holes.

the_deeb 05-06-2013 06:36 PM

The end result of all that drilling was a bunch of nice straight holes. This is one of two strips of plywood that will eventually be used to attach the top to the sides. It has holes for 4 connector bolts.

Here they are attached to the top and base of the stand using pocket hole screws.

I carefully lined up the holes in those pieces to make matching sets of holes through the plywood sides and into some 4 x 1.5 pine screw strips. These screw strips are a central part of the build - all the other parts of the tank will attach together using these strips. To provide an attachment point for the top and base to the sides, I'm using some threaded insert nuts.

I drilled and glued these into the screw strips using Gorilla Glue

I then drilled pairs of holes in the ends of the screw strips to accommodate cross dowel/barrel nuts.

the_deeb 05-06-2013 06:38 PM

I then attached the screw strips and the legs to the plywood sides. Here's a completed side panel:

You can see the "mortise" holes in the legs to allow for the long cross pieces to attach. I didn't have the skills or tools to cut out true mortises, so you can see I just accomplished this by leaving spaces in the center board when I laminated the legs together.

scapegoat 05-06-2013 07:00 PM

mmmm pull saw

the_deeb 05-06-2013 08:10 PM

I made the long cross pieces by doubling up the 1x4 poplar boards to allow for bridle joints/lap joints with the legs. Here's a shot of a test fit of the cross pieces and legs for the front frame with my little assistant helping to determine the spacing:

the_deeb 05-06-2013 08:25 PM

Here's the full sequence of assembly:

The cross pieces fit into the mortise holes in the sides

You can see that I opted for a protruding through tenon (or whatever the analogous term is for the insert part of a bridle joint). This is partly an aesthetic design feature and it also means that the joint will allow for a little expansion or contraction of the wood without leaving an unsightly hole or protrusion. It's hard to tell from the pic but I chamfered all the corners of the tenon.

Next, a 90mm connector bolt gets driven through the lined up holes in all the pieces and into the cross dowel in the screw strip, securely pinning the bridle joint in place.

Here you can see an inside edge of the leg with the strips that will support the base. The little notches accommodate the supporting strips that run front to back along the underside of the base.

The middle legs also have connecting bolts that screw into cross pieces that are fitted with cross dowel barrel bolts.

The top cross attach the same way as the bottom ones

These are the holes in the side panels which lead to the insert nuts in the screw strips that I pictured earlier

The top of the stand gets slotted into place and then the bolts get driven through into the insert nuts in the screw strips

And here's the (almost) complete stand structure. One thing that's missing is that the base isn't currently in place. Ordinarily the base would be fitted in before the top and attached to the sides in a similar way, but due to some minor alignment issues with the holes I needed to make some slight modifications so it's not included in this shot.

That's as far as I've gotten so far. Next up I need to build the doors, install some edging on the plywood top and then prime and paint the whole thing.

scapegoat 05-06-2013 08:50 PM

really beautiful job

NWA-Planted 05-06-2013 09:32 PM

Re: My knock-down/flat packable aquarium stand
I am beyond impressed, that is very nicely assembled and looks great!! Can't wait to see it finished out :)

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2

mistergreen 05-06-2013 10:14 PM

Nice job. Looks like an ikea design.

the_deeb 05-06-2013 11:02 PM


Originally Posted by mistergreen (Post 3305802)
Nice job. Looks like an ikea design.

Thanks. I was actually inspired by an ikea varde base cabinet/island that we have in our kitchen :)

alexei 05-07-2013 02:43 PM

great job working with minimal resources; this clearly shows the mind is our most important resource ;)

I was going to give you the idea to maybe mortise a small square and inset a small block to cover up the 90mm bolts a la Greene and Greene, just to hide the hardware. I was searching for a picture to link you when I found this:

Just an idea to fuel the fires, hope it helps.

alexei 05-07-2013 02:50 PM


Originally Posted by the_deeb (Post 3304818)

I love the scale of this design... one cat high and 3 cats long :icon_wink

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