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Old 07-25-2007, 09:46 PM   #1
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Need help designing a stand and canopy for a 55 gallon tank

Hey all, I am in the process of designing a custom stand/canopy for the new 55g tank, but am a little lost about this. I know the dimensions, and have a basic idea I what I want in my head, but what materials would be good to use? I was thinking of using 4x4 post as the supports, since the tank is as heavy as it is. Then doing around the outside with a nice solid wood skin, either a cherry or similiar wood. I am wanting doors on the front that will have the ability to be locked, and a canopy that will also be able to be locked (those who have followed my string of luck will likely understand the reasons for the high security...LOL). I know that we will need 48 inches in length with 13 inches in width...are these measurements correct? I intend to build the sides up to cover the black trim, on both the canopy and stand. Also, the lighting will be attached to the roof of the canopy. Any help/input/advice/ctricism will be greatly appreciated. Any pictures, links, personal experience, and so on will be a major help

Thank you all in advance,

Bear
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Old 07-26-2007, 12:20 AM   #2
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Bear, I don't think you need 4x4's... I use them all the time in my line of work, and it just seems like over kill. 2x4's will work just fine. Something to think about is TWO 2x4's, when glued and screwed together are actually STRONGER than ONE 4x4. If a 4x4 has a weak spot and is gonna crack, it is gonna crack. When you put two 2x4's together, it is like having a backup system; one may crack, split or warp, but not both... like redundancy in the system.

Also, with the weight of 4x4's and half inch ply, that is gonna be one HEAVY motha-trucker! Here is a pretty good link to a site where the guy shows pics of his stand and canopy build:

http://www.cnidarianreef.com/capstand.cfm

I am about to do a stand for my 55 this way. One other thing: use Gorilla Glue, or some other polyurethane glue in your joints... it is waterproof and NO JOKE as far as bond strength on wood. Good luck, and have fun!
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Old 07-26-2007, 11:39 AM   #3
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This is one of those things I wished I had taken more pictures when I built my stand. I used 4X4 posts on mine. It is way overbuilt but ROCK SOLID and as Sicklid mentioned HEAVY (concrete slab placement for me). Let me state I am not a carpenter just read a lot and realize that I could have done some things differently to better make my stand. Bear covering the trim work is really just a personal preference. I bought my tank on sale and had the horrible faux wood finish. They had black trim also but of course these tanks also had the lovely black silicone seams. So I painted my trim work with Krylon Fusion satin black paint. To me cherry and black really go well together.

I don't see any need for Gorrila Glue unless you plan on leaving your tank stand submerged in water. As far as bond strength, edge to edge most glues if used properly will result in a bond stronger than the wood itself. However edge grain to end grain joints(the butt joints used in vertical braces for example) Gorilla Glue is one of the worst. PVAs and water resistant PVAs far surpase Gorilla Glue some double the pressure required to break the joint. Another key is to dilute the glue with water and paint the end grain first let dry then glue as usual.

Add a couple dowels to the butt joint and you will increase the shear strength considerably. If you aren't comfortable with dowel reinforcement the following are weaker but acceptable choices from next to strongest to weakest, pocket screws followed by biscuits and then the unreinforded butt joint.

Clamps, levels, squares are a must! A glue bottle with a roller and a brush is also very beneficial. Make the stand level and square and you avoid so many potential problems. A close enough mentality should be avoided.

I glued and used screws for every joint. I used dowels in my vertical braces for added strength. I also wanted to make sure I had no flex in the stand. I used 3/4 inch ply top and bottom. This was skinned in birch veneer for looks. The sides of the stand used cherry venered ply. I made all the trim work and door frames from cherry. Canopy was similar method. Lights will be supported by inner bottom brace running on the inside.

Included a few images. First basically the guts. Can see the bracing and overall support used. Second picture after skinning the tank with the birch and cherry ply (router is a must) and also shows why cherry is such a great wood when compared to last aged picture. Image three and four are the canopy and how it is constructed. A lip is created by the ply and cheery trim work that sits down around the tank.






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Old 07-26-2007, 12:35 PM   #4
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Lep, your stand looks great, but don't be dissin' G-Glue, now! :P
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Old 07-26-2007, 12:42 PM   #5
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I have Gorilla Glue in my stash also. Have used if for various outdoor projects and it has done tremendous. It definetly has it place.
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Old 07-26-2007, 05:16 PM   #6
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Lepomis, do you find it hard to reach into the tank with the canopy opening only at the very top?
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Old 07-26-2007, 05:54 PM   #7
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So far this is a work in progress. It will be my first salt water tank so no water in it yet. Still peacing together the system. However, I wouldn't be able to do much actual work inside the tank with the canopy on. It is 59 inches when open I can reach down about 6 inches into the front of the tank easily enough standing, add a stool and I can easily reach the bottom. I thought about front access but then realized I still couldn't reach much of the tank still so it wasn't much of an issue. I also wanted to make sure I didn't have light spillage and thought that top opening would limit the likely hood compared to doors on the front or a sliding mechanism. Luckily with construction and materials the hood lifts off easily with one person and if significant other around becomes even easier. I found with my freshwater planted tank that for me it is easier to remove all the lights canopy, etc... to service the tank, no wierd angles and not as many screw ups because I am trying to be a contorsionist.
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Old 07-26-2007, 08:46 PM   #8
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Another question Lepomis, hope we are not hijacking here... I don't think so since this all pertains to a DIY 55 gal stand/canopy like you want, Bear! But anyway, what is the height of your stand? I am guessing by the looks of it around 28"?
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Old 07-26-2007, 09:49 PM   #9
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My tank is actually a 75 gallon but as mentioned essentially a stand is a stand. The stand height is 31".
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