55 gallon custom canopy - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-22-2004, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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55 gallon custom canopy

I built a canopy for my brother's 55 gallon aquarium this past weekend. He is going to paint it black and install (4) 48" NO fluorescent bulbs. The following link shows 4 pictures of the canopy:

http://webpages.charter.net/striggs/...opy/canopy.htm
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-22-2004, 04:21 AM
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good job. i like the low profile. looks too nice to paint!
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-22-2004, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks.

I totally agree with you about the paint. But, since it is my brother's, it is up to him. His stand is black, so I do understand the reasoning. But yeah, I couldn't do it personally. If it were mine, I'd just put clear lacquer on it to bring out the natural beauty of the birch. When I was finishing it up and remembered that he is going to paint it, I got sad

Steven
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-22-2004, 04:20 PM
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Nice job. How tall is it? What kind of lighting will go inside?

I'm about to build a canopy, too, so I'm always interested in people's projects.

John P.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-23-2004, 03:22 PM
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Did you use 1x8's? I use them because 1x6 doesn't seem to give me enough clearance to install reflectors.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-24-2004, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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The entire canopy is made from 3/4" birch plywood. The only exception is the thin piece that makes the back of the narrower area is 1/4" luan to allow maximum clearance for light bulbs (every 1/2" counts with such limited space!). The overall hight is just 3.5", allowing .25" of overlap so it won't fall off, 2.5" of inside clearance for lights, and .75" for the thickness of the recessed lid.

We will be installing (4) 48" NO fluorescent bulbs with two ballasts mounted on the back of the canopy. We're using a sheet of mylar for a reflector.

Due to the mitered corners, the recessed lid, and the thinned edges where exposed, you don't notice it is made of plywood unless open, as you don't see the plys. For anyone with access to a table saw, I strongly recommend plywood as it is much straighter and more stable than solid wood of similar size, due to the criss-cross grain orientation of plywood. Also, you will find that a nice piece of plywood is no more expensive than an eqivalent amount of pine 1x material such as 1x4s or 1x6s.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-24-2004, 02:22 AM
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Great job on the canopy Steven !
It is a dang shame he is gonna paint it,that birch plywood sure is nice stuff, I built one myself using the same for a 56gallon. I stained mine, and that birch really looked sharp.
Spar Varnish is the best to use on the inside for moisture, Im sure your bro isnt going to paint the inside too right ? That would be disastrous... however a coat of the varnish (clear) on the inside will seal the wood from moisture and it makes it easy to clean. Without it the wood will mildew over years.

Here are a few photos to show your brother of that same plywood "stained"... maybe he will decide to strip the black panit from the stand and then stain it to match that beautiful top !! Very nicely done Steven

Stained Canopy Photos
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-24-2004, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, he is familiar with what the various hardwoods look like. I made my 125g stand and canopy out of oak. I made my 29g stand and canopy out of birch. And I am currently making my 75g stand out of walnut. All of these are sealed with clear lacquer. I really only use stain when using pine, as I love the natural color of hardwoods. Once you put a good clear coat over them, they look great.

He is just into "modern" looking furniture as opposed to "classic" stuff. To each his own I guess.

He took it home with him after I built it and he finished painting it today. I'll have him send me some pictures to post. Hopefully it won't look too bad
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2004, 07:44 PM
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Nice canopy, I build something similar but as far as tank access its still hard because once you get 4 bulbs in there it covers the lid opening. Still a nice hood. I like my way of making it better check it out here. This way is way more simple especially if your going to paint it black. Way less construction time too. Only took me 3 hrs to complete
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2004, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchell2345
as far as tank access its still hard because once you get 4 bulbs in there it covers the lid opening.

This way is way more simple especially if your going to paint it black. Way less construction time too. Only took me 3 hrs to complete
The bulbs won't interfere with tank access, as two will be mounted to the fixed portion of the top behind the hinges, and the other two will be mounted to the hinged portion. When the hinged portion is open, those two bulbs will be pulled out of the way by the act of opening the lid.

I agree that your method is simpler, but $45 is a lot more money than free (I already had the birch plywood, and even if you assigned it a value, I used less than 1/4th of a $40 piece, so it would only be worth $10). Also, since woodworking is my other big hobby, I enjoyed making it and never buy furniture that I feel I am capable of making. All of my aquarium stands and canopies are custom made by me.

Not only is this a great deal of fun for me, but it also yield some really nice pieces for very small amounts of money. For example, I designed my 125g hood and canopy after one I had seen in a few pet stores. The pet stores were selling the canopy for around $150 and the stand for around $500. I made both for a total investment of around $150, using oak plywood and solid oak for the trim. I'll post some pics some time, I think you'll agree it far exceeds anything that could be bought for the $150 I invested.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-27-2004, 04:22 AM Thread Starter
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I have added new pictures now that the canopy has been painted.
http://webpages.charter.net/striggs/...opy/canopy.htm
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-27-2004, 01:56 PM
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Great canopy, steven!!! When you gonna start on mine!! Its a 55g
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2004, 03:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by balasharkfreak
Great canopy, steven!!! When you gonna start on mine!! Its a 55g
Thanks for the compliment! If you weren't so dang far from Georgia, I'd actually be willing to make you one for some reasonable amount of money, but I think the shipping from GA to WA would be insane!
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-13-2004, 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by steven
Thanks for the compliment! If you weren't so dang far from Georgia, I'd actually be willing to make you one for some reasonable amount of money, but I think the shipping from GA to WA would be insane!
Well, bubba, I'm in North Carolina...and I wouldn't mind a quote on a 29-gallon canopy...stained, of course...
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-13-2004, 07:20 AM
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I like the look of the canopy but was just wondering about heat. The canopy is closed on all sides; must add a lot of heat to the aquarium no?
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