DIY Plywood Aquarium Question - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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DIY Plywood Aquarium Question

I was wondering if anyone had ever heard of someone making a tank out of plywood and glass without the window method. What I am trying to say is, have you ever seen/heard of a tank with a plywood bottom and back (and maybe even sides) but with a solid piece of glass in front. So the front glass would connect to the plywood bottom/sides just like it would to the glass sides in a regular tank.

The reason I ask is that I have an idea in my head that I might try to build soon if it is feasible. I was thinking that a solid glass front and sides would make it seam nice like a regular tank. Hopefully it can be done to make it look like a nice all glass tank (with no top rim) when done (since you can't see the back and bottom anyway).

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcom. If you want, I could try to draw out what I have in mind. That might make it easier to see what I am thinking (be warned, though, my art skills are non existant).
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 06:20 PM
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Absolutely. A lot of people have made plywood tanks. These are saltwater tanks, but the construction is the same. Good threads:

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1663472

http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1749114

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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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The difference between these and what I want to build (apart from mine being much smaller) are that those are built using the window method. I would like to build mine just like you would build an all glass tank (with no top rim), but having the bottom and back "panes" made out of wood. These tanks use a wood front panel, with a hole cut in it and the glass applied to the inside like a window. They are nice tanks, but don't fit what I want to do.
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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 06:50 PM
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Ok, I get it. The only problem I see is actually connecting the full glass front to the plywood bottom/sides. I just don't see enough holding strength. The reason for the window is because the pressure pushes the glass against the plywood, making a better watertight connection.

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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 07:04 PM
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How do you intend to connect/glue the glass to the wood Smarty?


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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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I am hoping someone else has tried this before so I know it will work. The bottom of the front panel wouldn't be an issue. I can use a wood trim on the outside to help hold the bottom edge. It is the top I am worried about. I am sure I could do it with some bracing, but I would prefer it if I could keep it completely open top. It would look much better. When I get home after work, I may try to draw it out and post a picture of my idea. I think it would make for a neat tank.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 07:31 PM
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i dont see any way of successfully doing what you want. you could theoretically do something with a "low profile" frame made of metal on the front or even the entire thing, but you will need something to support the glass and secure it to the material that the rest of the tank is made of
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 08:25 PM
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The success of this idea would depend on the strength of the adhesive joint at the adhesive to wood and the adhesive to glass interfaces, and on the thickness of the glass vs the size of the glass. More important, I think, is that it will not resemble an all glass tank, because the wood sides will likely be at least 3/4 inches thick, which will be far thicker than the glass one would expect to see on the sides. It will look like a wood tank with a glass front. So, it seems best to go with the "window" design instead, but use furniture grade wood for the front frame, something that would take some very good engineering work to make work and look good at the same time.

Of course a hybrid wood/steel design could be used, with a steel frame around the front glass, that hides the edges of the wood sides, and prevents the sides from being pushed apart by the water pressure. Now, you are into a cost likely to be far more than the cost of an all glass tank.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 08:26 PM
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If you have a router it would be easy to route a grove in the side and bottom panels, fill the grove with silicone and insert the glass.
If you used high quality plywood and cabinet type joinery (no butt joints) I think you would end up with a very nice tank.
However you would still end up with a framing (thickness of the plywood) around the glass. Butt gluing the glass to the front would be a very risky undertaking.
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-27-2011, 01:53 AM
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This is why routing a groove and inserting the glass into it would be a bad idea. Plywood isn't very strong in shear stress.

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post #11 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-27-2011, 02:51 AM
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i agree with hoppy on shear strenth and also dont like the router idea as glass wood and glass will expand and contract at different rates and if the glass is captured in a groove there could be failure.
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post #12 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-27-2011, 05:32 AM Thread Starter
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The picture below is the idea I have. Excuse the bad 3D. I am not very good and I did this real quick. You should be able to get the idea though.

What I would like to build is a corner tank. All glass tanks that I have seen can be built with no frame. They are being held together entirely by the silicone. I was thinking of stealing some glass from a 40 breeder for the glass pieces. The front and back of the tank would become the two front sides, and the normal sides would stay there (using other tanks and dimensions could maybe work as well).

Anyway, I figured if it works for all glass, why wouldn't it work for a glass and plywood hybrid. That is if the silicone will stick as well to the plywood. If it doesn't stick as well (and I am assuming it isn't) but still sticks fairly well, I would still think this could work. By making the bottom and sides just a little longer than needed, I could screw/glue a piece of trim like wood to the plywood outside of the glass (the picure doesn't show the framing). This would create a frame around one side and the bottom of the sides, and a frame across the bottom of the front panels (since the front panels are attatched to glass sides, it should stil be just as strong there as a normal tank). The only issue, I think, is whether or not the water pressure would push the whole glass assembly loose. Again, the bottoms would be held in, but I just don't know if the silicon holding the side pieces would hook to the back wood well enough to keep the whole glass assembly from popping off.

I figure (with no proof to back it up) that the design should work no matter what if braces were added from the middle corner to both the back walls, but I would prefer that there be no brace at all, for ease of access and to keep light from being blocked.

SO, this was really long winded, but I wanted to make sure that you could see what I was talking about. Any comments/suggestions would be appreciated.

Last edited by im2smart4u; 04-11-2011 at 05:41 AM. Reason: removed pic
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post #13 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-27-2011, 07:41 AM
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That would be a cool looking tank...

i think you would be better off building it all glass, you could theoretically use timber if you fibreglass and epoxy coated the timber parts first and then machined the edges with a router or plane, to a perfect smooth edge then treat them as you would glass with just the silicon to hold it together...

but i wouldnt do it...

let us know if it does work.


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post #14 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-27-2011, 11:50 AM
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The only way I see it working is if you had plywood coming off the back pieces by about a few inches. That would give the corner strength, and would also give the glass a parallel connection vs a perpendicular connection (which I don't see working at all). Would make things a lot safer. You could then add some bracing in those corners to help with the pressure since you want to go rimless. Fiberglass/epoxy the wood and you might have a winner.

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post #15 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-27-2011, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VaultBoy View Post
That would be a cool looking tank...

i think you would be better off building it all glass
Agreed. The two outside corners appear to be a serious weak point. You need to frame them in somehow and I don't see a practical way of doing that.


Good Rule of thumb: Two different materials, twice the chance of failure.
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