Presentable stand for a living room 55g. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Presentable stand for a living room 55g.

Hi guys, let me share my work in progress and ask for preferences around here. It's a 2x4 frame construction per community guidelines with plywood sides, doors and solid wood paneling.

Frame. I originally took the picture with my youngest one in mind, for a toddler she was too excited about the door jamb planks.


With doors and paneling installed, awaiting stain and finish.


What I'm still debating is how to finish. I bought cherry stain to somewhat match our hardwood floors, i have a good collection of other stains too from darker to clear. So I'm considering whether to accent the door trim in lighter shade. Given I used whatever leftovers I had the panneling and trim is select pine, the plywood door is oak, the sides are mapple plywood. If interested let m know how would you have finished it.


Some backstory for those who don't mind just a bit more reading:

My first aquarium was a 55g that was purchased from a friend who was moving. I threw out the old "Rome" decorations and printed background within weeks of setting up and slowly started planting. Year later as things grew and I accumulated experience it became the center piece of our living room. While I see much better scaped and kept tanks ours was really satisfying to us.


Unfortunately the cheap black stand that we never liked to begin with developed water damage. While it still had structural integrity perhaps sufficient to support the weight it became a big eyesore. I took the tank appart with the intention to build a new stand, completed the stand frame, sold the tank with intention to buy new one but other life events took over and that bare frame stood there for over two years (I still had my basement 125g to feed the aquarium bug). Recently wife's nagging about ugly bare frame escalated and that triggered the rebuild.

Brand new tetra 55g from Petco is waiting for the finished stand. I will be reusing the same substrate, media from fluval 306 is soaking in the 125g, inline heater waits for plumbing, 48" finnex planted+ is ready to go. Hopefully we will have a good looking aquarium once again!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 01:18 AM
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Nice enough, both build and tank itself. I am a firm believer in doing it if it fits what you want. I am also one who doesn't bother too much with meeting the critical folks! I assume they can go home and do their own if they want better.
But since you ask what I would do? I would not match the floor as it is really not going to look too much the same due to wood grain showing through. How much that bothers you is for you to decide but for my use, I like a contrasting color and love the look of grey! Two points that I normally go with are ease of doing the finish as well as how it lasts and part of lasting is being able to conceal any damage. Like maybe a trike hitting it? So I like oil base paint for durable easy finish. But back to you, what do you like?
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 02:36 AM
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Great looking start to the stand! Gotta ask, toddler needs to keep both steel toed slippers on when working construction ;-)
As for stain, I agree contrasting colors look best to me but YOU are the one that has to enjoy it. If interested, look at the first couple of pages of my build thread to see what I did. You might like it or hate it - but its the route I went with. The aquarium pictured above looks pretty nice!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 04:23 AM
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This stand is very similar to one ive been working on. I think it looks great! I will be lucky if mine looks so good. Making those 2x4 stands look good can be challenging.

I researched stain and wood to death. Pine is blotchy and difficult to stain. It will need a pre stain, and using a gel stain will give good results. If you are adding significant color then look into dyes.

I prefer same color. You used nice pine, i think with a good clear it will look great. Dont hide the wood imo.

Also, is the stand strong enough without a central upright?
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 05:10 AM
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As for the construction of the stand, it should hold up to anything you can put on it. The biggest problem you face visually is the three very different types of wood used for the exposed areas (white pine, oak and maple). You may be able to match the colors on all of the surfaces by using different stains on each one. One single color of stain will appear different on each type of wood. You might be able to use certain stains straight from the container, but more likely you will have to custom mix three different stains to get a match with all three woods. When I was doing woodworking in Florida, we had to try to match the "zebra mahogany" paneling for a project on an early 70's Hatteras yacht, but this was in the 90's, and zebra mahogany could not be obtained from any source--it simply was not available anymore. We did some experimenting and ended up closely matching the grain effect with teak paneling, which we had to bleach and then stain to match the color of the mahogany. A roundabout way to get there, for sure, but the result would stand up to all but the most knowledgeable and experienced of inspections--way better than good enough to pass under even more than casual observation. It would take a wood expert looking for it, to see the difference. Unfortunately, your challenge will be greater, because the grains of the three different woods are so different that making them "match" is far beyond getting the colors right. The oak is going to be the one that stands out most from the other two; even though the maple and pine are very different woods, with enough sanding of the white pine, its grain can be minimized to more resemble the fine grain of the maple. The color may be easier to match between the two, as well. The oak, on the other hand, is very distinctive with its deep, coarse grain and richer color, and will probably stand apart from the other two woods regardless of what you do, aside from filling the grain of all three and sanding smooth for a opaque lacquer look (which is probably near to the look your old, cheaply made stand was an attempt to emulate, and you didn't like it). Other than that, your best bet is probably to intentionally make the oak stand out from the other woods, possibly by leaving it with a more natural color stain while using an actual colored stain for the two whiter woods. I have seen some colorfully stained woods that looked absolutely gorgeous with their natural grains showing through rich green, blue, or even red stains. A dark silver or light charcoal grey would look good against the natural oak, as well. If you want to experiment, just remember to start with your lighter colored choices and move to the darker ones, keeping in mind that the next color of stain will have to either cover or blend well with those beneath it. Also, since we are talking about an aquarium stand, after you get the color scheme you want, finish it with something like you would use if you were going to stick it out in the yard, in the weather. That way, when (not IF!) it gets wet, it won't easily show water damage.

Olskule

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Originally Posted by ChrisX View Post
...Also, is the stand strong enough without a central upright?
That stand looks very strong, even without a center brace. Most aquarium stands that have a center brace are made with materials of much less strength (MDF or 3/4" very light and soft wood) than this solid 2"X~ wood. Most aquariums are actually supported by their corners/ends, anyway, and you can often slip a card beneath their frame in the middle span. The real tank-killer is twisting or torquing; as long as all the corners are on the same plane and every part of the support is even with or below that plane (no high spots), most any aquarium under 55 gallons should hold up like a champ. (And probably larger ones as well, but when you get over 75 gallons, that's a lot of weight and pressure to keep in mind, not to mention the bigger consequences of any lapses in judgement.)

Olskule

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-16-2018 at 02:07 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-15-2018, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olskule View Post
That stand looks very strong, even without a center brace. Most aquarium stands that have a center brace are made with materials of much less strength (MDF or 3/4" very light and soft wood) than this solid 2"X~ wood. Most aquariums are actually supported by their corners/ends, anyway, and you can often slip a card beneath their frame in the middle span. The real tank-killer is twisting or torquing; as long as all the corners are on the same plane and every part of the support is even with or below that plane (no high spots), most any aquarium under 55 gallons should hold up like a champ. (And probably larger ones as well, but when you get over 75 gallons, that's a lot of weight and pressure to keep in mind, not to mention the bigger consequences of any lapses in judgement.)

Olskule
On this point, the folks who wonder will be those who missed using the old metal angle iron stands! They were simply metal legs tied together with angle along the top and sides so that they did not fall over. Meanwhile the metal along the middle often hung way down. Support the ends all nice and level and the middle goes nowhere. Tanks are very close to being a box beam and very hard/impossible to bow in the center but they do pop very easily is they are twisted and that makes people believe they need support.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2018, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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thank you all for the responses.
PlantedRich, I can see how all gray cabinet would really help focus attention to the tank itself. but we do really like the wood look, so it had to be wood

ChrisX , yes, the construction is plenty strong to support a 55 and much much more. it is actually quite overbuilt, I would be more concerned about the construction of the house itself supporting the weight (should not be an issue in our case) before the stand. as for finishing , yes, I think it's the hardest part of woodworking altogether

Olskule, thank you for the detailed write-up. I hate when thoughtful advice given and is not followed by the asking person. but in this case the end the customer (wife) was approving the test patches . that's how things ended up as they did. absolutely agree on the water, it sure will get splashed some day, and should withstand.

after experimenting with scrap the stain was picked and applied. 2 poly coats.
finished stand. While the pronounced oak grain is really catching my eye the wrong way wife absolutely loves it. the grain and the direction, go figure as long as she is happy.

tried to embed the resized image but for some reason my image host is flaking out, so I will link to full size picture instead so not to break forum page layout. https://media.fotki.com/2v2J9LVW8xUHnUD.jpg
We already started messing with substrate and arrangement of hardscape, but those pictures probably should be in build journals section instead of DIY.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-16-2018, 08:27 PM
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No prob on not going with my grey suggestion!! Of the two to please, go with pleasing the wife every time!
What we like is so much effected by what we have done/experienced that there is really no reason to try to explain it at times. We just like what we like and nobody should question that too far.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-18-2018, 02:18 AM
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Wow, great job of matching the colors on the different woods, looks good! As for the strength of the house foundation supporting the aquarium, that was actually one of the main requirements I was looking for when I was house-shopping a couple of years ago. I was adamant that I wanted a concrete slab foundation, since I've always wanted a very large tank, and there's just too much shifting with a conventional foundation here (red clay) to not run into problems down the line, even if you add extra support beneath it from the beginning. A 200 gallon aquarium rupture is just too much to risk when the ground itself is prone to such shifting.

Olskule

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