How to Make a Manzanita Driftwood Centerpiece
Planted Tank Forums
Your Tanks Image Hosting *Tank Tracker * Plant Profiles Fish Profiles Planted Tank Guide Photo Gallery Articles

Go Back   The Planted Tank Forum > Specific Aspects of a Planted Tank > DIY


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-19-2012, 04:38 PM   #1
Complexity
Pelvicachromis Lover!
 
Complexity's Avatar
 
PTrader: (34/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 5,058
Default

How to Make a Manzanita Driftwood Centerpiece


When buying manzanita driftwood for aquariums, often what is found are groupings of single or double branches. It is hard to find pieces with multiple branches that reach up high enough to be seen above fully grown plants, and when those pieces are found, they are usually prohibitively expensive.

However, there are many ways in which the individual branches can be put together to create the look of a multi-branch centerpiece. This is one way to do it which I find rather simple to do while also being very stable and long lasting.

Materials Needed:
  • Manzanita Driftwood - 5 to 6 branches of varying sizes
  • Saw - to cut the wood
  • Slate Tile - I used a 6"x6" piece that was 3/8" thick
  • 1" Stainless Steel Screws - must be SS or they'll rust
  • Drill and Drill bits - for wood and slate
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue - your regular craft store stuff works fine

Instructions:
  1. Cut wood. Cut the bottom of each piece of wood so that it has a flat surface with enough space for a hole to be drilled into the center of the wood from the bottom. If the wood is rotten or split, either cut it off or build it up with wood filler so it can securely hold a screw.
  2. Prepare wood. Prepare the wood for the aquarium. Wash it, boil it, whatever you want to do.
  3. Drill holes in wood. Drill a hole in the bottom of each piece of wood. The hole will travel up through the center of the wood. It only needs to be about an inch deep and the diameter that fits the screws you are using.
  4. Drill holes in slate. Drill multiple holes in the slate tile. Make the holes slightly larger than the diameter of the shank of the screws so they can be pushed in and out without the threads getting caught. You can experiment with holding the wood in different positions to get some idea of where you want to put the holes, but to be honest, I found that it really doesn't matter at this stage. Just put holes all around the slate tile, and if you really need to change it, you can always add another one later.
  5. Screw wood to slate. Here comes the fun part. Start by screwing in the tallest piece of wood for your back piece. Keep it loosely attached to the slate bottom so it can be turned and twisted, but screw it in enough so that the wood is well supported. Repeat this with all the wood pieces. As you work with the wood, you'll probably move the pieces around until you get the look you want. When you finish, keep the screws loose so you can tilt and wiggle the wood.



  6. Use glue to shim wood. Use hot glue around the base of each piece of wood. This is when you will make the final decision of the wood's position. If you need for the wood to tilt a little, loosen the screw to give a little more wiggle room, then add more hot glue under the "gap" between the bottom of the wood and the slate tile. Hold this in position until the glue cools (you can lean the centerpiece over and let gravity hold it in place for you). Be patient at this point because the glue is needed to act as a shim. If you move the wood before the glue has set, you'll squish the glue and your "shim" will be flattened.

    Continue to glue each piece of wood. Each time, put a heavy bead of glue all around the base of the wood, then twist the wood so the glue can get underneath it, and then let the glue cool in that position.



  7. Tighten screws. Once all the glue has cooled, it is time to tighten the screws. You should be able to tighten them very securely so the wood is firmly attached to the slate. The glue itself does not actually attach the wood to the slate (hot glue easily comes off of slate), but it acts as a molded shim for each piece of wood so that there are no gaps between the wood and slate. When you tighten the screws, it applies pressure to the glue, and this holds the wood very firmly in place.

That's it! The centerpiece can now be placed in the tank! Be sure to protect the bottom of your tank from the slate and screws (I recommend using an egg crate under the substrate and driftwood centerpiece). The slate will keep the driftwood in place for years, and the substrate will hide the slate, screws, and glue.

I hope this method helps someone make their own driftwood centerpiece!

<-- Front View of Centerpieces

<-- Side View of Centerpieces
__________________
Vicki Rena Filstar pimp #142 (four XP4s/three XP2s/one XP1) Eheim pimp #301 (Pro II 2128) Victor pimp #27 (VTS-253B-320)

90g - Journal Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe' 75g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Lagos Red' Better Pics 8-24
29g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'unknown' -- 29g - Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe'
5g - RCS colony 2.5g - Journal Retired

Last edited by Complexity; 02-19-2012 at 08:24 PM..
Complexity is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 02-19-2012, 05:01 PM   #2
sick lid
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
sick lid's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 575
Default

This is such an awesome way of doing this
__________________
4/26/2012, lost the finest man. Rest easy Pops...
<--Great Danes are people too!
180g, Fluval FX5, 404, 128watts t-8, low tech, heavily planted, with Albino and reg bristlenose plecs, Congo tetras, Amanos, a herd of Corydoras Sterbai, Boesmanis, a big old common plec, & Otos.
32g tall eclipse3, fluval403, with a handful of bristlenose plecs.180gallon corner in-wall build journal
sick lid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2012, 05:20 PM   #3
Complexity
Pelvicachromis Lover!
 
Complexity's Avatar
 
PTrader: (34/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 5,058
Default

Thank you! It's an easy method, too. I had actually created this method when I made my first centerpiece years ago, but I couldn't remember how I did it when I wanted to make some more now. I tried two different ways before I finally took my original centerpiece out to see how I had made it. Once I remembered, it was really fast and easy to do!

I had tried to find methods of making these online, but I didn't see anything like this posted anywhere so I thought I'd go ahead and post it in case it helps someone.
__________________
Vicki Rena Filstar pimp #142 (four XP4s/three XP2s/one XP1) Eheim pimp #301 (Pro II 2128) Victor pimp #27 (VTS-253B-320)

90g - Journal Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe' 75g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Lagos Red' Better Pics 8-24
29g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'unknown' -- 29g - Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe'
5g - RCS colony 2.5g - Journal Retired
Complexity is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2012, 07:45 PM   #4
plantbrain
Planted Tank Guru
 
plantbrain's Avatar
 
PTrader: (256/100%)
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: The swamp
Posts: 13,369
Default

I posted some stuff, but more embedded without other threads, thanks, this will help folks to see things better. I think folks do not think about it and only want that one grand piece........they scoff at the little smaller branches and cannot see within those pieces the potential they offer.

the nice thing is that they can be modular: you can adjust and position each and every branch to suit whatever display goal or tank size restriction you have.

That makes doing this a huge advantage and it's also cheaper to ship small single type branches and they always cost less.

Easy, does not take long, cheaper, get a better fit in more tanks, etc.
__________________
Regards,
Tom Barr
plantbrain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2012, 08:21 PM   #5
Complexity
Pelvicachromis Lover!
 
Complexity's Avatar
 
PTrader: (34/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 5,058
Default

It's funny you should mention that, Tom, because I made those two centerpieces using my leftover wood. I had bought manzanita driftwood packages a long time ago and had already used up my "choice" pieces. All the branches in my new centerpieces were branches I kept turning away.

My original centerpiece finally decayed (after a number of years) so I started looking for more wood. Most of the really nicely branched pieces I found were either too expensive and/or too large to do what I wanted. I have canopies on my tanks so I can't put 35" tall wood in my tanks! So even if i did buy one of those fancy pieces of driftwood, I'd have to cut it down, making it into a bunch of smaller branches!

I tried the ziptie idea, but I never liked how it wasn't secure. I tried a few other ideas, but could never get it the way I wanted it. And now that I'm converting my 90g to a planted tank and redoing my 75g, I needed two centerpieces... so... I looked through my box of leftover wood, and what you see is what I came up with! I definitely saved a lot of money by using my "rejected" pieces of wood!
__________________
Vicki Rena Filstar pimp #142 (four XP4s/three XP2s/one XP1) Eheim pimp #301 (Pro II 2128) Victor pimp #27 (VTS-253B-320)

90g - Journal Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe' 75g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Lagos Red' Better Pics 8-24
29g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'unknown' -- 29g - Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe'
5g - RCS colony 2.5g - Journal Retired
Complexity is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 02:41 AM   #6
Hoppy
Planted Tank Guru
 
Hoppy's Avatar
 
PTrader: (74/100%)
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 18,782
Default

What kind of drill bits do you use for drilling the slate tile? Does the drilling tend to crack the tile?
__________________
Hoppy
Hoppy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 03:00 AM   #7
Complexity
Pelvicachromis Lover!
 
Complexity's Avatar
 
PTrader: (34/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 5,058
Default

I just used whatever old drill bits my husband had, but you can get drill bits for stone or masonry or something along those lines if you want. Slate is pretty soft so I've never had problems with it cracking. Sometimes I'll try to drill a spot that seems to be harder than normal, but it's not that big of a problem. In those cases, I usually try to drill a smaller pilot hole and then use the wider drill bits to finish it off. Soaking slate in water can also help soften it up.
__________________
Vicki Rena Filstar pimp #142 (four XP4s/three XP2s/one XP1) Eheim pimp #301 (Pro II 2128) Victor pimp #27 (VTS-253B-320)

90g - Journal Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe' 75g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Lagos Red' Better Pics 8-24
29g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'unknown' -- 29g - Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe'
5g - RCS colony 2.5g - Journal Retired
Complexity is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2012, 04:32 AM   #8
hydrophyte
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (141/100%)
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Posts: 9,561
Default

This also works great with single pieces of manzanita. I make these pieces with 1/4" plastic sheet, which might be a bit easier to handle than slate. I've been using these in my own setups for years. They make it so much easier to fill up the vertical space in the tank.

hydrophyte is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-18-2012, 01:52 AM   #9
Hyzer
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
Hyzer's Avatar
 
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Posts: 794
Default

This is an excellent tutorial. I wouldn't have thought to use hot glue for the final adjustments.

I'm heading out tomorrow to get a piece of slate tile and stainless screws.
Hyzer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-19-2012, 07:44 PM   #10
sns26
Advanced Beginner
 
sns26's Avatar
 
PTrader: (3/100%)
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Washington DC
Posts: 219
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyzer View Post
This is an excellent tutorial. I wouldn't have thought to use hot glue for the final adjustments.
Ditto - I too pieced together my centerpiece with stainless screws and drilled slate. But I had to do a lot of fiddling to get it to look right. Hot glue would have been MUCH easier.

One thing I would add is that a hand saw is a key tool in this. I see a lot of people trying to use the sticks they get "as is." It's wood, people. You can cut it to make it shorter, or to position interesting features wherever you like, or to get more than one useable piece from a single interesting branch.

Hoppy, just use a cheapo masonry bit--slate is very soft. It's easier than drilling hard wood like walnut. Just be sure to blow the stone dust out of the hole regularly or the bit will get awfully hot.
sns26 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-19-2012, 11:58 PM   #11
plantbrain
Planted Tank Guru
 
plantbrain's Avatar
 
PTrader: (256/100%)
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: The swamp
Posts: 13,369
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Complexity View Post
It's funny you should mention that, Tom, because I made those two centerpieces using my leftover wood. I had bought manzanita driftwood packages a long time ago and had already used up my "choice" pieces. All the branches in my new centerpieces were branches I kept turning away.

My original centerpiece finally decayed (after a number of years) so I started looking for more wood. Most of the really nicely branched pieces I found were either too expensive and/or too large to do what I wanted. I have canopies on my tanks so I can't put 35" tall wood in my tanks! So even if i did buy one of those fancy pieces of driftwood, I'd have to cut it down, making it into a bunch of smaller branches!

I tried the ziptie idea, but I never liked how it wasn't secure. I tried a few other ideas, but could never get it the way I wanted it. And now that I'm converting my 90g to a planted tank and redoing my 75g, I needed two centerpieces... so... I looked through my box of leftover wood, and what you see is what I came up with! I definitely saved a lot of money by using my "rejected" pieces of wood!
I'm not a fan of the zip tie either, but for smaller stuff, it's easy for some folks, I suggested using Epoxy paste and just sticking the wood tips in there instead.This is very effective for SMALL nano tanks etc where the wood is much to small, I suppose silicone can be used as well, but the epoxy works better over time IME.

Ceramic drill bits cost 2-3$ and go through the slate and most softer rock like butter.
__________________
Regards,
Tom Barr
plantbrain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2012, 03:28 PM   #12
acitydweller
ओं मणिपद्मे हूं
 
acitydweller's Avatar
 
PTrader: (174/100%)
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: New York
Posts: 7,683
Default

Thanks for the stainless screw tip. was wondering how i could affix the wood to the base without metal leeching.
__________________
"I am Groot", the faithful protector
acitydweller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2012, 03:47 PM   #13
Complexity
Pelvicachromis Lover!
 
Complexity's Avatar
 
PTrader: (34/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 5,058
Default

You're welcome! Be sure to predrill the wood so it won't split. I found some pieces to be harder than others. If you get a really hard piece, just use a small drill bit to drill a tiny hole. Then you should be able to drill it out with your desired drill bit to get the right size hole without any trouble.

I was also reading about using Gorilla glue on wood and slate. It's an expanding glue so it might be a good choice instead of the hot glue. It takes a long time to setup though so you'd have to brace the wood in place if the bottom isn't cut perfectly flush for the angle you're wanting, but it may hold the wood in place more security once it cures.
__________________
Vicki Rena Filstar pimp #142 (four XP4s/three XP2s/one XP1) Eheim pimp #301 (Pro II 2128) Victor pimp #27 (VTS-253B-320)

90g - Journal Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe' 75g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'Lagos Red' Better Pics 8-24
29g - Journal Pelvicachromis pulcher 'unknown' -- 29g - Pelvicachromis taeniatus 'Moliwe'
5g - RCS colony 2.5g - Journal Retired
Complexity is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-25-2012, 03:43 AM   #14
TheFoleys
Planted Member
 
TheFoleys's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: The Jersey Shore
Posts: 166
Default

Nice job took some scraps and made a piece that would sell for silly $ at a store.
TheFoleys is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2012, 02:01 PM   #15
nerdariostomp
Planted Member
 
nerdariostomp's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Newark, OH
Posts: 200
Default

Thanks! I used the idea to take some pieces of driftwood I had that were small and create one massive piece that looks way rad
nerdariostomp is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 10:50 AM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright Planted Tank LLC 2012