Building rimless nano tank, advice appreciated - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2010, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
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Building rimless nano tank, advice appreciated

I'm going to be making a 2.5 rimless tank from glass panels. 1/8" glass can be purchased and cut from Ace hardware for about $15 with pretty darn good accuracy (within 1/2 mm I think). Cost wise, it's cheaper just to buy a 2.5 from Petsmart already, but they don't make it how I'd like it.

The pieces needed to match normal 2.5 g tanks is:

One 12" x 6"
Two 12" x 8"
Two 5 3/4" x 8"

The pieces as cut aren't very sharp. There is no finished edge, however I didn't need gloves to handle the pieces. There are occassional chips 1/2 - 1 mm away from the edge. I tried various methods to finish the edge. My personal favorite has been to use a diamond knife sharpener. I only finish the top edges. I grind at a 45 degree angle for a few minutes per piece and then do a flat grinding with the diamond until the entire surface is uniformly matte and running my finger again it is satisfactorily smooth. I used water, although I don't think it matters. I don't think glass dust is the same danger as diatomaceous earth, and the quantities inhaled I don't think are likely to cause silicosis, and the quality of the cut seems about the same...

I then tried 220 grit and 500 grit wet sand paper. It clogs quickly, and the glass quickly wears down the sandpaper. It makes the matte finish a bit nicer and more uniform... Smoothing doesn't really seem to get rid of the chips, so I'm debating taking a belt sander and knocking down about a mm off the edge so that I can start with a pristine surface...

I might be able to start gluing it up tomorrow, but it seems a little daunting... The 5 minute working time on the silicone seems a little low to be able to get all the pieces in. I want to apply the silicone on the glass on glass surfaces only, and use masking tape outside of this area, so that I can rip up the masking tape immediately after setting a panel down and try to get as little excess silicone outside of the glass on glass junction. I'm trying to avoid fillets as much as possible, and getting rid of all squeeze out without having to cut it away.....

The only way I can envision doing all this is one panel at a time. Assembling the tank against a wall or some other surface with a 90 degree angle. Glue one panel, rip off the masking tape, let that one panel cure, and then add the next panel on the next day.. It seems that since most people do fillets, they just kinda lay everything in, run their finger on the seams and call it a day... I just can't find very much information on minimal silicone usage...

Am I crazy to try to avoid fillets? Is there an easy way to do all the panels at once instead? I feel that I'd have all the pieces slipping and sliding as I rush to tape them all together to form some semblance of stability.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2010, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by sparkysko View Post
The 5 minute working time on the silicone seems a little low to be able to get all the pieces in.
I feel that I'd have all the pieces slipping and sliding as I rush to tape them all together to form some semblance of stability.
I've only done this once so I'm definitely no expert, but this is what worked well when I assembled my 1G (assuming your sides rest on top of the base, and your ends are "inside" between the front and back panels):
  1. Get a piece of 1X2 longer than the tank, lay it centered on your base glass so it hangs off each end and make marks showing the length of the glass. Now make a set of notches at least 1/2" deep inside the marks, with the notch being just wider than the thickness of your glass (my table saw blade worked perfectly for my 3/32" glass). Verify that this jig will hold the end panels upright the correct distance apart (ie. just inside the length of the base). You can see the jig in the picture below.
  2. Clean the glass well with acetone.
  3. Mask off the areas you want free of silicone. I didn't and ended up spending a couple of hours making it presentable after everything cured.
  4. Place pieces of masking tape under your base glass in the center of each side, extending out 4" or so.
  5. Put all 4 sides in place, sitting on top of the base glass, one at a time and fold up the tape, adhering to the side glass. Then fold the glass down.
  6. Put a piece of tape on the edges of the front and back pieces, so that when you fold everything together, it's all ready.
  7. Make sure you have everything you need ready; silicone, helpers, paper towels, etc.
  8. Take a deep breath...
  9. Run a bead of silicone around top of the base glass and the inside right and left edges of the front and back panels.
  10. Fold up the ends carefully, seating them in the bead of silicone that is on the top of the base plate. Install the jig to hold them in place. You will still need to hold everything upright with one hand (I had my daughter hold it in place for me).
  11. Fold up the front panel, seating the 3 silicone beads (top of the bottom plate and 2 edges of the front panel). Fold the tape around to hold the panel up. The assembly should hold itself up at this point.
  12. Fold up the back panel just like the front, and attach the tape.
  13. Leaving the jig on is optional, but probably wouldn't hurt

Did any of that makes sense? I probably shouldn't try to explain things at 1am...

Good Luck! I was very happy with how mine turned out, and am considering making another just 'cause it was so much fun.

And of course, post pics so we can see yours come together.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2010, 08:16 AM
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You can make small professional inside fillets by first applying masking tape at the desired distance. Then after the silicone is in place use a finger dipped in soap water to smooth out the bead of silicone into a fillet. Then just remove the masking tape and allow the silicone to cure.

I tried it and ended up with very nice 1/16" silicone inside seams on a 12" cube. I had to remove and reapply the masking tape during the first attempt because I forgot to factor in the glass thickness the first time on one side.

There was a thread about this technique somewhere.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2010, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I'll do the fold up method.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 05:07 AM Thread Starter
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Hmm... Assembled it as per above advice, I had no fillets of silicone. Sides held fine, bottom had a few pinhole leaks. Decided to do just do a fillet all around. Oh well.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 11:23 AM
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Just remember once silicone drys it won't adhere to itself and will have to be cut and redone or risk a major leak later on.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 04:18 PM
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Robotguy did a very nice illustration of how it should be done. But if you are going to assemble bigger pieces of glass, you may not be able to tape them that way as shown. Masking tape is a good way to hold it temporarily but I suggest you buy a clamping tool like this to hold it and for the silicone to dry pretty tight and prevent bubbles. Try to buy 2 of the 12 inch ones or longer. They are available on HD or LOWES or any hardware stores in your area.

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