DIY construction ?'s for a chick not hot to "constructing" - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-20-2006, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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DIY construction ?'s for a chick not hot to "constructing"

Hey all, I wanted to see what all this nano fuss was about :-)

So drawing from the threads here on different DIY nano construction I decided I wanted to make one. So modeling after an idea on here using pre-cut glass window pane replacements from HD, I went there and there were none. So I went to the acrylic/pc/lexan section where I get pieces occasionally to make covers for my open tanks and picked up a few pieces pre-cut. Here are my construction questions thus far:

1.) sealant: I looked at pc/lexan silicone sealant and it said it could be used for glass. I compared it to the glass sealant and the ingredients were the same. So I found some non-antimicrobial silicon sealant for both glass and pc. Will this work?

2.) What's the easiest way to construct the seams? I do not have any of that fancy manly tool stuff. How do I join the sides and base, where do I start first, and how do I make sure the seams are made correctly?

3.) My home made acrylic tops are rudimentary at best and tend to bow. I know this is because of the light. Will the walls of a nano bow like this? I will leave it open-topped and place a light source above it.

4.) How do you cut acrylic properly? I have used a utility knife and it caused a crack once. I do not have any fancy tools for this and the HD guy didn't even have any suggestions. I have a utility knife, a hack saw, and some drills. ????

5.) Finally, I wanted to put a filter section on the back like most of the models I've seen. Like a sump chamber. I have extra acrylic from past projects. If I do not want to sacrifice the space of the nano as is without the add-on, can I fashion one from extra acrylic I have laying around and seal the added on sump filter to the back?

Thanks for being patient with my "girl speak". If I can make things clearer, I will try just let me know. Any suggestions/comments/do's or don'ts are certainly welcome.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-20-2006, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seastar0328
Hey all, I wanted to see what all this nano fuss was about :-)
So drawing from the threads here on different DIY nano construction I decided I wanted to make one. So modeling after an idea on here using pre-cut glass window pane replacements from HD, I went there and there were none. So I went to the acrylic/pc/lexan section where I get pieces occasionally to make covers for my open tanks and picked up a few pieces pre-cut. Here are my construction questions thus far:
1.) sealant: I looked at pc/lexan silicone sealant and it said it could be used for glass. I compared it to the glass sealant and the ingredients were the same. So I found some non-antimicrobial silicon sealant for both glass and pc. Will this work?
2.) What's the easiest way to construct the seams? I do not have any of that fancy manly tool stuff. How do I join the sides and base, where do I start first, and how do I make sure the seams are made correctly?
3.) My home made acrylic tops are rudimentary at best and tend to bow. I know this is because of the light. Will the walls of a nano bow like this? I will leave it open-topped and place a light source above it.
4.) How do you cut acrylic properly? I have used a utility knife and it caused a crack once. I do not have any fancy tools for this and the HD guy didn't even have any suggestions. I have a utility knife, a hack saw, and some drills. ????
5.) Finally, I wanted to put a filter section on the back like most of the models I've seen. Like a sump chamber. I have extra acrylic from past projects. If I do not want to sacrifice the space of the nano as is without the add-on, can I fashion one from extra acrylic I have laying around and seal the added on sump filter to the back?
Thanks for being patient with my "girl speak". If I can make things clearer, I will try just let me know. Any suggestions/comments/do's or don'ts are certainly welcome.

As for your question about bowing, that all depends on the length of the sides, the amount of water pressing on it, and the thickness of the acrylic.
A sheet of acrylic that is 10"x10" and only 1/8" thick will bow considerably under its own weight if supported only at the 2 ends, however a 5"x5" sheet won't bow nearly as much. Thicker acrylic like 1/4" thick also won't bow nearly as much.

As for cutting your acrylic, out of the tools you listed, the hacksaw looks like your best bet, just be very gentile take your time and don't apply much force. If you know someone with a table saw and a fine tooth blade, they should be able to cut it quicker, cleaner and straighter than you can by hand with a hacksaw. Fine sand paper polishes up the cut edges very nicely, although if you cut with a hacksaw you might have to start with coarse sand paper to clean up the rough edge, before going to the finer paper.

I prefer to leave the sticky paper on the acrylic while I'm cutting, drilling, and sanding to avoid accidently scratching it, then peal it off when I'm done.

I too have never built an entire tank, and would like to try one of these nano tanks myself someday. Please post pictures of how you make out with it.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-20-2006, 01:59 PM Thread Starter
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more spam? WTF?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-20-2006, 02:13 PM
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You will need a lexan bonding agent (The name isn't coming to me rught now) Silicone doens not bond well at all to acrylic, as I have found this out first hand. Your knife will work fine, but they do make cheap acrylic knifes that I have picked up at Home Depot before. Just have a strait edge and keep scoring the piece until you're about half way through and it should snap off.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-20-2006, 04:35 PM
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Acrylic is easily "glued" using solvent based cements that actually soften the acrylic so it welds to the other piece. You can get the cement thickened with acrylic dust so it is much more viscous and easier to handle. To make a joint, you clean the surfaces thoroughly with a bit of the solvent cement, apply a thin coat of the thickened cement, press the pieces together and wait a few minutes for the solvent to evaporate, leaving the pieces welded together. This is the neatest and strongest way to attach pieces of acrylic together.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-20-2006, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your help so far!

The sheets are acrylic .093" and 11X14''.

the sealant is GE silicone II for windows and doors. The back says for wood, metal, masonry, glass vinyl, drywall, and PC. I just read that it says it's water tight but not for aquariums. I don't know if this is just a disclaimer in case things go wrong etc. I have some aquarium sealant and glass glue too. Should I not use this sealant and should I exchange it? Or can I sand the acrylic first and add the shavings to the sealant like Hoppy said?
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-21-2006, 12:02 AM
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You can use acetone to bond the pieces.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-21-2006, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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any specific type of acetone (I don't know a thing about acetone except that it is in nail polish remover)? Can I find it at a hardware store if I ask someone who works there? should I use the syringe and needle method to disperse it/how do I use it? Should I seal it with silicone after the sides and bottom are bonded with acetone?

Thanks
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-21-2006, 04:09 AM
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.093 thick by 11 x 14 acrylic is going to bow out a lot with water in it. I don't think that thickness is good for anything much beyond 6 or 8" in any dimension. There are websites that give you that kind of information, but my memory is that it takes much more than .093 for the size you want. Acrylic cement is available at plastics supply stores - look in your yellow pages for one. The cement, as fshfanatic noted, is acetone, and the thickened or high viscosity is the same with crumbled or powdered acrylic dissolved in it. Yes, you could make your own, but acetone evaporates very fast, so it isn't an easy thing to do. You would need to put some acetone in a little bottle, add the acrylic dust, close up the bottle and gently shake it until the pieces all dissolve. You don't need to add any silicone for additional sealing. If it leaks, use the thicker stuff to mend the leak. A syringe works well to spread the acetone, and probably would work with the thickened acetone. Just remember it evaporates pretty fast.

I think you asked about adding acrylic dust to silicone??? Don't try that!!

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