Plywood Stand Guidance - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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Plywood Stand Guidance

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I want to build a stand for my 21 gallon rimless long tank using only 3/4 inch birch plywood. The tank would be 36 x 36 x 13. I drew out the front of the tank. I think the vertical panels would hold up the weight but not sure if the design is ok or if this is doable safely in the first place.

Additionally, my skills are limited. I've built a 2x4 frame and skinned it before but thats about it. I would use a countersink and just screw and glue the panels together. Would this work? If not, can you suggest a viable option? Additionally, any ideas about how to keep some parts of the back open? I didn't draw in any shelves on the 1st and 3rd columns for my cannister and co2 system but I can of course add a shelf higher up in those columns as well.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-06-2017, 12:54 PM
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Your design is fine. Correct joinery will make it strong enough. You're basically building a box.
I use a tongue and dado joint on my cabinets whenever possible. I never count on screws.
The nice thing about using a tongue and dado instead of a simple dado for plywood is that you don't have to worry about the actual thickness of the plywood.

Google the tongue and dado and you'll see it's pretty simple and while it can be done with a circ saw a router in a table is faster.

If you simply use glue and screw you are pretty much gluing and screwing into end grain on the plywood. Never a strong joint. And not much surface area for the glue. Pocket screws would be a better option if you have limited tools and don't have, or don't want to buy a router.

Lastly, you've got .75 for the thickness. Plywood while described as 3/4 is not. It is always a tad thinner. Using a router bit for 3/4 inch solid wood joints will leave a sloppy plywood joint.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-07-2017, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help. I want to minimize costs so I'll look into a jig for pocket holes. As for the plywood, I'm having the lumber yard cut it since I don't have the right tools. Any idea of the exact measurement?
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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I've got a few details to iron out:

1) Countersink and screw or pocket joints? Which is better and why?

2) I've got a few plans drawn up. The back is the last piece since there are 3 ways to do it. Which option is best and is there a plan I should abandon due to any reason?



-New front view (the side panels go down to the floor in this plan)
https://ibb.co/ebPoNw

-Option 1 for the back (the back is on the “outside”)
https://ibb.co/ddJkkG

-Option 2 for the back (the back is sandwiched by the top and bottom
https://ibb.co/eXGhXw

-Option 3 for the back (the back is placed under the top panel as in option 2 but runs all the way down to the floor. The bottom is the same size as the shelves)
https://ibb.co/gD2T5G
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 03:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrutesFish View Post
I've got a few details to iron out:

1) Countersink and screw or pocket joints? Which is better and why?

2) I've got a few plans drawn up. The back is the last piece since there are 3 ways to do it. Which option is best and is there a plan I should abandon due to any reason?



-New front view (the side panels go down to the floor in this plan)
https://ibb.co/ebPoNw

-Option 1 for the back (the back is on the “outside”)
https://ibb.co/ddJkkG

-Option 2 for the back (the back is sandwiched by the top and bottom
https://ibb.co/eXGhXw

-Option 3 for the back (the back is placed under the top panel as in option 2 but runs all the way down to the floor. The bottom is the same size as the shelves)
https://ibb.co/gD2T5G
I think you're confusing terms. Countersinking means you drill out additional wood so that the screw will lay flush with the wood. Pocket screws screw in on an angle which makes it a very strong joint. You'd probably need 3 screws per joint but you wouldn't need glue at all.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 04:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrutesFish View Post
I've got a few details to iron out:

1) Countersink and screw or pocket joints? Which is better and why?

2) I've got a few plans drawn up. The back is the last piece since there are 3 ways to do it. Which option is best and is there a plan I should abandon due to any reason?



-New front view (the side panels go down to the floor in this plan)
https://ibb.co/ebPoNw

-Option 1 for the back (the back is on the “outside”)
https://ibb.co/ddJkkG

-Option 2 for the back (the back is sandwiched by the top and bottom
https://ibb.co/eXGhXw

-Option 3 for the back (the back is placed under the top panel as in option 2 but runs all the way down to the floor. The bottom is the same size as the shelves)
https://ibb.co/gD2T5G
Pocket screws and glue. Screws into end grain are not strong. Pockets screws don't go into end grain. I would use more than 3 screws per joint though.

I am never a fan of a full shelf right on the floor. I raise them about 3.5 inches up. If I am not making a toe kick I put some solid wood to cover.

The back should be rabbetted into the top, bottom and sides. Any shelves or dividers are cut shorter by the depth of that rabbet.

My problem with your design are the plywood edges being visible. I always make a face frame or use hardwood strips to cover.

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 04:46 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JusticeBeaver View Post
I think you're confusing terms. Countersinking means you drill out additional wood so that the screw will lay flush with the wood. Pocket screws screw in on an angle which makes it a very strong joint. You'd probably need 3 screws per joint but you wouldn't need glue at all.
Great. I'll learn more about pocket screws. I found a few vids on YouTube using clamps to hold wood but how do you keep big pieces square and at 90 degrees?
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 03:49 PM
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Great. I'll learn more about pocket screws. I found a few vids on YouTube using clamps to hold wood but how do you keep big pieces square and at 90 degrees?
The easiest way is to use a miter saw to cut the ends to square. Clamp the ends together while you drill the pocket holes (preferably with a jig). Also never screw into endgrain so make sure you're putting the pockets in the correct orientation. If each corner is square then the entire stand should be square. It's more important to keep the side that contacts the aquarium bottom to be flush all around than for the holder to be perfectly square though.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by GraphicGr8s View Post

My problem with your design are the plywood edges being visible. I always make a face frame or use hardwood strips to cover.
I discovered hardwood veneer tape, which can be applied to the edge of the plywood. I think its the same idea except you are actually cutting the strips.

OP....
I caution you to not "bite off more than you can chew." I made this mistake, started watching woodworking videos, built a table saw, all so that I can build a marginally better looking stand.

My advice is to stick to your design. To connect the plywood, use pocket screws. There is a tool that allows the screws to be drilled and inserted at an angle. With 3/4" plywood, you can do this from the inside without seeing any external screws. For the plywood edges, get some veneer tape which you apply to the edges. It hides the plywood and makes it look like hardwood. Or, you can get some edge trim to hide the joints and plywood ends.

Another strategy is to keep it simple. make it strong (screw and glue) then paint it black to hide the imperfections. Is this something for the basement, or is it in a finished area?
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 05:17 PM
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When tools and experience are short, go simple. Screws, done correctly, are great but they also take more experience and care. That leaves me recommending other ways to make the joint solid using simple tools. I often use it for my stands as I like simple rather than spend time on a stand which simply winds up being a tool.
Joining two pieces of ply together and strong is far more simple if you work an additional piece of wood into the corner and glue both sections to that. Think of a 1X2 in the inside of an 90? It can be glued very solidly to both sections and if it is not extended all the way to the front but stop short a couple inches, it will not show very much to the casual looker. It is there but when combined with dark colors, it is often in the shadows. A couple wood clamps and a bottle of glue will get you past a lot of really fussy work which may not turn out well on the first try. If you want to go more to hide this extra bracing as well as cover the edge grain, I might suggest gluing up a simple face frame to cover both the edge and braces.
Take a look at kitchen cabinets to see this idea. In most cases the sides are just cheap stuff with a face frame of better wood.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 06:01 PM
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Funny that you're talking about pocket screws for a tank stand. I just ordered a jig to do pocket screws for my stand build. And I've just wanted one for a while...there's been a lot of projects where I wish I had one. This is the one I ended up ordering after watching some reviews...seems as easy if not easier than the Kreg and a lot cheaper too...

Milescraft 13230003 Pocket Jig 200

I got the face clamp too...every video I've watched pretty much say it's a must have tool for using these jigs.

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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
When tools and experience are short, go simple. Screws, done correctly, are great but they also take more experience and care. That leaves me recommending other ways to make the joint solid using simple tools. I often use it for my stands as I like simple rather than spend time on a stand which simply winds up being a tool.
Joining two pieces of ply together and strong is far more simple if you work an additional piece of wood into the corner and glue both sections to that. Think of a 1X2 in the inside of an 90? It can be glued very solidly to both sections and if it is not extended all the way to the front but stop short a couple inches, it will not show very much to the casual looker. It is there but when combined with dark colors, it is often in the shadows. A couple wood clamps and a bottle of glue will get you past a lot of really fussy work which may not turn out well on the first try. If you want to go more to hide this extra bracing as well as cover the edge grain, I might suggest gluing up a simple face frame to cover both the edge and braces.
Take a look at kitchen cabinets to see this idea. In most cases the sides are just cheap stuff with a face frame of better wood.
That's how I usually do it. I'd do it that way this time too but I have a different idea for my stand that that wouldn't work...hoping my idea ends up working out...I'm not exactly a James Krenov when it comes to wood working.


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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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The easiest way is to use a miter saw to cut the ends to square. Clamp the ends together while you drill the pocket holes (preferably with a jig). Also never screw into endgrain so make sure you're putting the pockets in the correct orientation. If each corner is square then the entire stand should be square. It's more important to keep the side that contacts the aquarium bottom to be flush all around than for the holder to be perfectly square though.
Do you mean to use a miter saw to cut a block or something to use as a guide? I have a miter saw (only saw I really have) but it's only big enough for cutting smaller pieces. I believethe blade is about 7 inches. Can you explain more about the engrain? Having a hard time visualizing.

Now that I think about it, there are 4 ways to put in a pocket screw for each edge or corner..like this: https://ibb.co/i35N0G

...is this what you're talking about?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisX View Post
I discovered hardwood veneer tape, which can be applied to the edge of the plywood. I think its the same idea except you are actually cutting the strips.

OP....
I caution you to not "bite off more than you can chew." I made this mistake, started watching woodworking videos, built a table saw, all so that I can build a marginally better looking stand.

My advice is to stick to your design. To connect the plywood, use pocket screws. There is a tool that allows the screws to be drilled and inserted at an angle. With 3/4" plywood, you can do this from the inside without seeing any external screws. For the plywood edges, get some veneer tape which you apply to the edges. It hides the plywood and makes it look like hardwood. Or, you can get some edge trim to hide the joints and plywood ends.

Another strategy is to keep it simple. make it strong (screw and glue) then paint it black to hide the imperfections. Is this something for the basement, or is it in a finished area?
Yea I'm trying to keep it simple since I know that i don't have the skillss. A box with a few shelves is ismple right? The biggest concerns are figuring out how to join them properly to make sure enough strength. My plan right now is to make a box with the front open, 2 vertical panels to hold the middle and include a few shelves. I'm picking up a kreg jig for pocket holes and am just worried about keeping things square since I don't have a dedicated table for doing this kind of work.


Any advice about which back plan to use or about what direction to put in the pocket holes (https://ibb.co/i35N0G)?

Also, it's for the living room want to be considerate with my wife. she is all for having tanks so I want to at least keep the house looking nice. If I was by myself, I would just do cinder blocks pretty furniture + pretty tank = more future tanks
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SchrutesFish View Post
Do you mean to use a miter saw to cut a block or something to use as a guide? I have a miter saw (only saw I really have) but it's only big enough for cutting smaller pieces. I believethe blade is about 7 inches. Can you explain more about the engrain? Having a hard time visualizing.

Now that I think about it, there are 4 ways to put in a pocket screw for each edge or corner..like this: https://ibb.co/i35N0G

...is this what you're talking about?
Green or purple arrow would work. Purple hides the pockets on the inside. Red or blue would mean the tip of the screw goes into the endgrain of the wood. You should be careful with plywood though, some of them will expand and warp if they get wet. Personally I think you'd be best off framing with 2x4s which would be easy with enough with only your miter saw. Use your birch plywood to add trim to the stand.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
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Ok so this MIGHT be the last question until I go get my cuts tomorrow. I went and got a kreg jig for creating pocket holes, some screws, and a kreg clamp that supposedly holds pieces 90 degrees from each other.

I'm still trying to figure out the back. The top of the stand will be 36 x 13. The sides will be 35.25 (to account for the back) x 13 and will extend down to the floor to side plywood edges of the back and bottom plywood pieces.

Should the back piece be wedged between the top, side, and bottom as in the top drawing?

Or, should the back piece extend down to the floor similar to the sides and be wedged only by the top and sides?

https://ibb.co/daL8Pb


Or, are both plans equal in strength?
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 12-10-2017, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SchrutesFish View Post
Ok so this MIGHT be the last question until I go get my cuts tomorrow. I went and got a kreg jig for creating pocket holes, some screws, and a kreg clamp that supposedly holds pieces 90 degrees from each other.

I'm still trying to figure out the back. The top of the stand will be 36 x 13. The sides will be 35.25 (to account for the back) x 13 and will extend down to the floor to side plywood edges of the back and bottom plywood pieces.

Should the back piece be wedged between the top, side, and bottom as in the top drawing?

Or, should the back piece extend down to the floor similar to the sides and be wedged only by the top and sides?

https://ibb.co/daL8Pb


Or, are both plans equal in strength?
The back is often just a place to add wood that keeps the rest from "racking" or falling sideways like a stack of dominoes might. The wood sides are plenty strong enough to hold the weight when standing upright and braced so they don't warp outward. Not a big problem there. But to avoid them folding sideways if bumped, etc. something at the back or front is good. Whether this is added inside, flush with the sides so that it doesn't stick out to show the ends, or set inside, doesn't matter too much as there is not a lot of pressure put on that joint. Added across the back edges of the sides and bottom is okay as normal nails and glue is strong enough to hold most cases. But for the best appearance from the sides, setting the back brace inside looks nicer. It does require a bit more fine cutting, fitting to make it set really nice and flush without gaps at the ends. Really, truly square cuts for a really straight upright stand? Bit more trick as we can always sand the ends down to meet if they are laid on back and exposed.
One point to keep in mind is that it doesn't take a lot of wood at the back and the less wood you have to work around, the easier to place things like tubing and wires from under the stand to the tank. Fully covered backs often turn out to be royal pains to work around. I like a fully closed front to hide things but an almost totally open back to ease running things.
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