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Discussion Starter #1
The stand my 55 is on at the moment is a cheapy metal "make-do" thing. While it's reasonably sturdy to bear the weight, it's really alarming the way it will jiggle a bit when I'm cleaning or performing other chores. At least I think I've finally trained the cats to stay OFF the top of the aquarium! (Two boisterous 10.5 month old Maine Coon males, already pushing 15#. I can just see one of them deciding to "launch" from the top!)

Time to build my own :D.

I want it to be deeper though, a 55 is only 12" deep (front to back measurement) I believe, and I would like to make the stand 18" deep as I believe that would make it more stable with a larger footprint. Also I'll already have a stand if I run across a really good deal on a 75 or a 90 tall :wink: .

Has anyone had any issues with keeping a narrower tank on a wider stand? Thought I might throw an extra support across the top at the 12" mark, but to really carry the weight all the way down that would also mean an extra leg or divider on the inside which I would like to stay away from if it's not necessary. Thoughts?
 

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I have made a few aquarium stands, but always the same size as the tank. However, if you put a 3/4" plywood top on the stand a 55 gallon tank shouldn't be a problem on a wider stand. 55 gallons of water weigh less than 500 pounds, or less than two big men standing side by side. When you look at it that way the weight doesn't seem so forbidding.
The neatest design I have seen, and what I used for my current stand, uses 2 by 4's or 2 by 3's with half lapped joints to tie all the ends together. (At the corners the half lap joints go two ways, leaving each leg with one quarter of the material left at the joint). Then a 3/4 plywood top distributes the tank weight over the four legs. Where a shelf is needed at the bottom you half lap joint a ring around the legs. That makes a very sturdy, steady, no racking stand. For appearance purposes you then cover the outside with good looking plywood or hard board, if you paint it. Add a door or two in front and you have a very, very sturdy and nice looking stand. I have a link to an article by the designer of this somewhere if I can find it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great minds think alike :wink:. After much thought on the matter I'd finally come to the conclusion that glued and screwed half-lap joints would be the strongest, neatest way to go. At one point I was even considering mortise and tenon joints but since I no longer have access to a floor drill press with a nifty mortising attachment I don't want to go there. Also, for this application I think that the half-lap joints will have better weight carrying capacity. Although it shouldn't be a concern with an internal frame skinned with plywood, I'd always fear that the tenons would shear from the weight (I worry a lot :) .)
 

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i hate to disagree with Hoppy, but I would definitly put supports under the tank, not just plywood.
If nothing else, you'll feel better about it, and it will cost an extra $6 2x4.
Heres a pick of the stand i built, it 16" wide for a 12" tank, and I built it 48" tall so I don't have to bend over to look at the fish.
heres a pic of my stand http://www.imagebucket.net/images/gloriabills/pix294.jpg
you'll notice on the bottom (which is really the top before plywood) i have a 2x4 and a 2x4 leg. Thats the size of tank, the "outside" 2x4 is extra for pumps and things.
here a pic of the finished stand before i did the canopy.
http://www.imagebucket.net/images/gloriabills/pix317.jpg
Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Good grief, gloriabills! And I thought *I* over-engineered things :icon_lol:! Gorgeous tank stand. It looks like you skinned it with 1/4"? I'm planning on skinning in 3/4" oak veneer which should add that much more to the strength. Oak lumber face-frame on the front. I see you have that extra horizontal support which would be at the 11.5-13" mark assuming a 16" depth. Right under the edge of the tank. I've already planned definitely to cut that 4' span in half with an additional support in the middle. My main question would be if the additional horizontal support under the back edge of the tank would be totally necessary given cutting the span in half and covering the top with 3/4" oak ply. As you say though, it's only an extra 3-4 bucks ($6??? :icon_eek: Where the heck does your wood come from ?!?) Not worried about the stand failing, there's no way that's going to happen, but mainly about any possible deflection eventually causing a seam to pop on the tank. Thinking about it, for that top I may use SYP (Southern Yellow Pine) 2x6s and rip 'em down to 2x4 since SYP is an inherantly stronger and has less deflection than "whitewood". For some reason it's very hard to find SYP 2x4s (read: impossible) although I haven't tried a "real" lumber yard.

Thanks for the photos!
 

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Gloriabills, that is a glorious stand! But, what size train is it designed to carry?? (Just kidding - you should have seen what I built to hold a 125 gallon tank - the stand took three 250 pound men to move into the house!) Look at lfs stands, and note how little lumber is used to hold up the tank. That is an adequate amount, although, in my opinion, just barely adequate and not good for earthquake country. Peace of mind is the most important design criteria, so using extra bracing, etc. is well worth the cost and trouble. But, make sure you have access to an NFL offensive line to move the stand!!
 

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Yes, it's very heavy!
the reason i have so many 2x4's is actually to bring everything flush so i could cover with plywood.
Looking back, I probably spent way too much, but I can't complain.
BTW, I'm an engineer, so it's built in me.:)
Thanks for the replies.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Better over-engineered than under, I always say :)!

Finally came up with this design for the internal frame:



Sorry that it's a bit sloppy, all the free/shareware CAD programs I could find had such a learning curve on them that I would spend a week learning how to make a square! So I resorted to my imaging program (Paint Shop Pro,) at least I know how to use that, although that also means that things aren't to scale.

It will be skinned sides, back, and top with 3/4" oak plywood glued and screwed, and a dimensional lumber face-frame attached either with biscuit plates or pocket screws. I've got a plate joiner, if I decide to go with pocket screws it means a new toy :D. Therefore the face-frame really won't add much to strength.
 

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I think that looks great!
I hope you get to use pocket screws, because I've been eyeing those myself, and I'd love for someone to talk me into buying them.
Be sure to post pictures as the building gets going.
 

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RoseHawke said:
Sorry that it's a bit sloppy, ...
Just had to let you know I was marvelling at the quality of both the image and the planned construction - and only then scrolled down to see your disclaimer.
Nearly spewed my coffee. :D
Its a real kick for a hack amateur like myself to be able to associate with such skilled craftsmen as are on these forums.

We'll be moving in 3-4 years - when my kids get out of high school, and one of my criteria is to have space where I can get into woodworking! Of course, if I build tank stands, I'll need something to put on top of them...
 

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RoseHawke said:
Good grief, gloriabills! And I thought *I* over-engineered things :icon_lol:!
At first I thought the same, but then I realized how similar this was to mine...

Gloriabills used 3 2x4's on the corners. I used 2 2x2's and a 2x4. The net effect is that I have 4x4 corners rather than 4x6. My stand does not have a center brace (it is only 3" so I used a 4x4 across the front and back to keep it from sagging), and I did not skin mine.

In the end, while using the same ideas, mine looks light and under-engineered...

Oh, I used conventional dimensions above - in reality I planed down all the boards a bit - I would have to get a ruler out to give accurate measurements. It is amazing how shaving down a .5 inch makes things look less massive..
.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
gloriabills: I'll be sure to post pics of the pocket screws especially if I go that route :).

eds: Thanks for the compliment! The artist in me though just says "Dang, that perspective is off..." Hope you get your wish. With me the woodworking is mostly a case of necessity rather than pleasure. Almost invariably what I want either costs way beyond my budget or is not to be found. Like right now, I have to put the stand on a slight hold as I've got to build a platform for our chest freezer, and some sort of audio/video component stand as the stuff we're finding is again, either a) too expensive, or b) not to our taste.

jgc: I really don't know why it took me so long to think of half-lap joints. What I was thinking of originally was much like you describe (mostly to bring everything up level for a skin as I'm trying to make something "nice" that will be in the living room,) but most of that extra "baggage" is unnecessary IMO if it's going to be skinned. Especially with 3/4". The back will act like one huge brace to keep it square and stable.
 

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My 135 is on a true 1X4 mortise and tenon white oak frame covered with 3/4" oak ply mitered at 45 on the corners. The corner miter was a good idea but it is hard to get a clean consistant 45 over 30" so I keep bright lights on in the tank and the stand in the shadows. This has been set up and running for 4 years now.

YSP beautiful wood but hard to find up here, we are stuck with SPF.

Ever notice how all the flaws stand out to your eyes but no one else can see them.
 

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RoseHawke, using 2x6 is waaaay overkill, 2x4 will be enough to park a truck on. but if you feel better using a 10# sledge to squash a spider, who am I to say otherwise. But 2x4 are much cheaper. my $.02
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The main reason for using the 2x6 is to accomodate the 1.5" notch which the horizontal members will sit. Cutting 1.5 out of a 2x4 leaves only an inch or so to screw that front support to. Rule of thumb I've always heard is "1/3-2/3" for screws, that would be more along the lines of 2/3-1/3. The 2x6 just makes more wood available for the screw to bite, plus extra surface area for gluing the end panels to. True, I could make the whole thing out of 3/4 inch plywood alone (and thought of this, it's how most of the commercial stands are built,) but I decided I want something stronger and a bit heavier. The difference in price between 2-2x4x8s and 2-2x6x8s is only going to be about 4-$6

I'm not absolutely positive the cats won't get on the top :icon_roll , it will help to have more weight on the bottom to somewhat offset the 5-600 lbs of the tank.
 

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I am lost on your "southern yellow pine" comment. Yellow pine is the norm here for 2x4's. White pine is beautiful, but is selling at hardwood prices.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I really don't know why the BORGs don't seem to carry SYP 2x4s since that's what grows here. As I mentioned a "real" lumber yard may be more likely to do so. At least the Whitewood tends to be fairly inexpensive, the last 2x4s I got ran around $2.50 apiece give or take. You don't see much white pine in this area unless it's been planted as an ornamental, although I have seen it further north so I can only assume it's happier with a bit less heat & humidity.
 

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Anybody have a pocket screw jig? If so have you use it for stand construction. I am very interested in buying a jig and using it to build stands. It seems you can get them cheaper on Ebay. I have seen a few knock offs of the original on there. It looks like a great method to build a stand.
 

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Over in the swap forum, MiSo has a 55g and stand for sale.
Has one pic of the stand with the doors open.
When you compare that stand with the ones on this thread, it is hard to believe they are intended for the same purpose!
So - how under-engineered is a commercial stand, or how over-engineered are most DIY stands?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
eds said:
Over in the swap forum, MiSo has a 55g and stand for sale.
Has one pic of the stand with the doors open.
When you compare that stand with the ones on this thread, it is hard to believe they are intended for the same purpose!
So - how under-engineered is a commercial stand, or how over-engineered are most DIY stands?
Good question! I have heard of a commercial stand failing, although I'm sure it was one of the cheaper ones. In that particular case what happened was a lateral failure due to next to no bracing (and also the fact that apparently it was made from MDF :icon_roll .) My own stand is metal (like this one,) and has a very alarming sway side to side if joggled much while cleaning so that I try to make sure all my movements are up/down and front to back. It would have benefitted a lot if it had a cross brace designed into the back. Presumably for a wooden stand the 3/4" stock (either hardwood ply or dimensional lumber) is strong enough to carry the weight on its own. However, the thing is, for most amateur woodworkers, especially those with limited access to powertools, it's just easier to make a 2x4 internal frame and then skin it. One of the reasons that gloriabills' frame came out so hefty was just to get the frame up level to attach the skin. It could've saved a bit on weight by using 2x2s for that purpose, but 2x2s cost almost as much as 2x4s and ripping 2x4s dow to 2x2 is a pain (been there, done that, 30+ year old Craftsman tablesaw ... some day I will have a new tablesaw!!!)

There's no doubt that many of the amateur stands are over-engineered, but that's better than having a failure and umpteen gallons of water on the floor. Maybe I'll take up vivarium keeping. The most that can happen there is an escaped lizard!
 
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