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Old 05-17-2008, 08:51 AM   #1
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55 Gallon Tank Stand (with photos)

55 Gallon Tank Stand (with photos)

Some time ago, I decided to build my own stand for our 55 Gallon tank that we planned on converting to a marine reef. Since I had a digital camera, I figured I may as well take a few photos along the way and share it with everyone else. The total cost for this project was about $125.00 (about 1/4 the cost of purchasing a similar stand). I hope this will help at least a few people here. Feel free to post any questions, comments, or ideas for modifications to suit specific needs. So without further ado, here is my DIY 55 Gallon Tank Stand.

Enjoy the show.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 05-17-2008, 08:52 AM   #2
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Step 1: Plan out the project

Here it is helpful to know the standard sizes of the wood you plan to use. For example a standard 2x4 is actually 1 ½” x 3 ½”, a standard 1x3 is actually ¾” x 2 ¾”, and a standard 1x4 is actually ¾” x 3 ¾”.
Measure out the footprint of your tank, and draw out your plans accordingly. The stand I am building will home a standard 55-gallon tank with a footprint of 48 ¼” x 12 ¾”. I used Microsoft Excel to create my plans by simply reducing the cells to 6 pixels x 6 pixels and using borders to draw the lines. Here is a look at my final plans (note that some of my sizes were a bit off on the plans as I was using ½” increments).


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Old 05-17-2008, 08:53 AM   #3
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Step 2: Create a list of materials and tools

Create a list of all the materials you will need as well as the tools you will need to complete the job, and make the trip you your local home improvement store

List of materials: (note: the birch may be substituted with pine, oak, or poplar depending on the look/price you want)
( 1 ) 4’x8’ sheet of ¼’ Birch Plywood
( 5 ) 10’ premium 2x4s
( 2 ) 8’ Birch 1x3s
( 2 ) 8’ Birch 1x4s
prefabricated 1”x1” outside corner molding
( 3 ) 4” x 6” metal braces
3 ½” deck screws
1” finishing nails
1 ½” finishing nails
1” sheetrock nails
5/8” wire brads
Wood glue
Wood Stain
Polyurethane
Wood filler or Stain Crayon
N scale Cork Roadbed (available at model railroad hobby shops) or ¼” foam board
Door hardware (spring hinges and handles)

Tools needed: (now is a good time to call any of your friends who have access to the tools you don’t have)
Circular Saw or Table Saw/Radial Arm Saw (recommended)
Cordless Drill/Screwdriver (2 if available)
Hammer
Center punch
Clamps (the more/larger the better)
Fine and extra fine Sand paper
Orbital Sander (optional)
Router/Router Table (optional)
Square
Chalk line
Tape Measure
Pencil
Paintbrushes
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Old 05-17-2008, 08:53 AM   #4
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Step 3: Let the construction commence.

From the first two 10’ 2x4s, cut four 48 3/8” pieces. These will serve as the length for the top and bottom of the main structure and the length should be adjusted if your tank’s footprint differs from ours (48 ¼” x 12 ¾”). These are cut to the length of the footprint plus 1/8” (this allows 1/16” on either side to ensure a good fit as the tank will sit down into the stand)

From the remainder of the first two 10’ 2x4s, cut six 5 7/8” pieces. These will serve as the width for the top and bottom of the main structure and again, the length of these should be adjusted if your tank’s footprint differs from ours. These are cut to the depth of the footprint plus 1/8”.

From the remaining three 10’ 2x4s, cut ten 25” pieces. These will serve as the legs that will join the top and bottom of the main structure. The length of these may be adjusted as desired, based on the height you wish the tank to be viewed at. Keep in mind that the shorter the stand, the more stable the overall unit will be.

Once completed you should have a pile of cut pieces, a few pieces of scrap, which will be used later, and very little sense of accomplishment.


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Old 05-17-2008, 08:54 AM   #5
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Step 4: Construct the top & bottom of the main structure

Cut the three 4”x6” metal braces in half. Line up two of the 48 3/8” pieces parallel to each other, and then place three of the 5 7/8” pieces between them, one at either end, and one directly in the center. Glue, check that they’re square, clamp, and attach the braces with the 1” sheetrock nails as seen in the photo below (note that I had attempted to use 1” drywall screws, but the head of the screws sat a bit too high. This was corrected later). This will be the top of the main structure.

Repeat this process to create the bottom of the main structure, this time without the metal braces. The metal braces are not necessary in this step because the base will have the added support of the floor of the cabinet.


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Old 05-17-2008, 08:54 AM   #6
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Step 5: The cabinet floor

While waiting for the glue to dry, cut the sheet of plywood (across the grain) at just over half (about 49”). From the longer section, cut a strip 12 7/8” wide for the Cabinet Floor. Then trim the length of this strip to 48 3/8” (if using a hand held circular saw, be sure to mark a line using a square or chalk-line). Once this piece is cut, and the glue on the base structure is dry, it can be glued and nailed to the top of the base structure created in Step 4 (this is the one without the metal braces). A visual reference for this can be seen in step 6. I have included a diagram of how the pieces were cut from the plywood as it is important that the grain of the wood be facing the right direction.
< ----- WOOD GRAIN ----- >
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Old 05-17-2008, 08:55 AM   #7
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Step 6a: Attach the legs

Once the floor has been nailed to the base, we can begin to attach the legs to the base. Begin by marking the location of the legs on the underside of the base and drilling a pilot hole through the base. Now using two screws, attach a leg to the front corner of the base.

**IMPORTANT** This leg will be set in by the width of the plywood from both the front and the side. This will allow the sides and front panels to be flush with the edges of the base and provide a nice flat surface for the base and top trim. It is best to use a small piece of scrap ply to test the depth to ensure a proper fit. In addition to the photo below, this is explained on the bottom right diagram on the plans (see step 1).


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Old 05-17-2008, 08:55 AM   #8
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Step 6b: Attach the legs

A second leg will be placed on the sides of each corner for added support and stability. These legs will be screwed not only to the base, but also to the front corner legs and will form an “L” shape.

Now that you have completed the first corner leg, repeat the process for each additional corner, and then attach the center legs.

**IMPORTANT** The back legs will need to be set in by the width of the plywood on each side, however should be flush with the back of the base as there will be no plywood on the back of the stand.


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Old 05-17-2008, 08:56 AM   #9
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Step 7: Attach the top of the main structure

With all the legs now in place, screw the top of the main structure to the legs. Remember to drill your pilot holes and test the distance of the in-set. You may find that, due to a warp in the 2x4s, the top of the legs will not line up the same as the bottom. This can be remedied by lining one corner of the 2x4, placing the first screw, then using a clamp to twist the leg straight. You will likely have to hold this in place while attaching the second screw; this is where an extra set of hands may be helpful.

Once this is completed, sit back and look at your work. You should now begin to have a small sense of accomplishment. Ok, that’s enough. It’s time to get back to work!


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Old 05-17-2008, 08:56 AM   #10
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Step 8: Cut the sides and front

Measure out the sides of the cabinet (12 5/8” x 25”), the front outside edges (3 ¾” x 25”), and the Front center edge (3 ½” x 25”) and cut them out from the ply (refer back to the diagram in step 5 if necessary). Test-fit the pieces and trim if necessary.

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