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Old 04-27-2006, 10:05 PM   #1
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How difficult is a DIY stand?

Hey everyone.

I'm going to be purchasing a 55g aquarium from walmart soon, and I think $70 for just a stand is kind of ridiculous.

I've read through all the DIY stuff on this site, seen the GARF site, and I have to ask: Is this a hard thing to build for someone with basic carpentry skills?

I have full access to lots of saws (no table saw though, unforunately) and other carpentry tools, but nothing I've ever made has had to rely upon being perfectly level and made to hold ~700lbs.

I have everything needed to build it on-hand except for the 2x4's, would it even be worth it for me to attempt building a stand?

Wherever I can save money, the saved money goes into goodies to keep the fish happy.

So could someone who has maybe built, or observed a stand being built provide some help? Maybe a list of some of the harder or more accurate aspects of it, things to watch out for, anything would be great.

I'm also really not concerned at all about finishing it, as long as I'm confident I can get the basic structure built to support the tank, that's good enough for me.

Thanks for stopping by

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Old 04-27-2006, 10:27 PM   #2
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Check out my new stand here for my 20G long. I took the DIY route and did it full up. Stain, trim and even polyurethane. I like the results and it just took a little time. You can do the basic stand out of 2x4s if you want. A 2x4 held together at each joint by some beefy screws is hard to beat and can hold up more weight than you would believe. Even my stand is WAY overkill. I used 3" outdoor screws for connectors, straight as I could find 8' 2x4s and did all of the work with a tape measure, carps square with a built in level, cordless drill, cordless circular saw, 2 rechargeable batteries, and a pencil--of course. If you have more or better than that, then you're well on your way.

If looks are not important, buy some cheap stain and coat it one good time to seal the wood. The stand should last for a long, long time--especially if you use those specially coated outdoor screws and do a really good job staining the stand for waterproofing.

Just take your time and don't rush through it if you do decide to go DIY.
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Old 04-27-2006, 11:17 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarEagleNR88
Check out my new stand here for my 20G long. I took the DIY route and did it full up. Stain, trim and even polyurethane. I like the results and it just took a little time. You can do the basic stand out of 2x4s if you want. A 2x4 held together at each joint by some beefy screws is hard to beat and can hold up more weight than you would believe. Even my stand is WAY overkill. I used 3" outdoor screws for connectors, straight as I could find 8' 2x4s and did all of the work with a tape measure, carps square with a built in level, cordless drill, cordless circular saw, 2 rechargeable batteries, and a pencil--of course. If you have more or better than that, then you're well on your way.

If looks are not important, buy some cheap stain and coat it one good time to seal the wood. The stand should last for a long, long time--especially if you use those specially coated outdoor screws and do a really good job staining the stand for waterproofing.

Just take your time and don't rush through it if you do decide to go DIY.

Well, that makes me feel a bit more confident. I've got all those goodies you listed above, not cordless, but I've got extension cords Ohh, and now that I think about it, I've got a few boxes of galvanized 3" decking screws in the garage too!

Looks are important, but "finishing" is on the back burner as far as I'm concerned. I thought I'd build the frame, then get my tank up and running, then go back after its cycling and do the finish work to my liking. From everything I've read and thought about in my head, there really doesnt seem to be any reason why that wouldnt work. Of course, I'm not going to be swinging a hammer near the aquarium or anything , maybe liquid nails and a nailgun if I can borrow it from my neighbor.

Also, one thing I've always had a problem with is getting joints to be square. When I was thinking about it the other day, all my assembly work is done in my driveway - which is flat, but not perfect. Is a perfectly level surface the ticket to getting everything flush and square (with the help of a level, of course)?

Also, off-hand, would you happen to know the current going-rate for a 2x4? (I'm doing pricing, and not having to make a run to home depot [even though its a fun store] would be great.)

Anyways, thanks for the quick reply, and may all your aquariums flourish for it
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Old 04-27-2006, 11:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exodus
Well, that makes me feel a bit more confident. I've got all those goodies you listed above, not cordless, but I've got extension cords Ohh, and now that I think about it, I've got a few boxes of galvanized 3" decking screws in the garage too!

Looks are important, but "finishing" is on the back burner as far as I'm concerned. I thought I'd build the frame, then get my tank up and running, then go back after its cycling and do the finish work to my liking. From everything I've read and thought about in my head, there really doesnt seem to be any reason why that wouldnt work. Of course, I'm not going to be swinging a hammer near the aquarium or anything , maybe liquid nails and a nailgun if I can borrow it from my neighbor.

Also, one thing I've always had a problem with is getting joints to be square. When I was thinking about it the other day, all my assembly work is done in my driveway - which is flat, but not perfect. Is a perfectly level surface the ticket to getting everything flush and square (with the help of a level, of course)?

Also, off-hand, would you happen to know the current going-rate for a 2x4? (I'm doing pricing, and not having to make a run to home depot [even though its a fun store] would be great.)

Anyways, thanks for the quick reply, and may all your aquariums flourish for it
For the screws, I used the dark gray coated ones and not the galvanized. Galv-ed are sure to work, though.

If you can, I'd recommend finishing the stand almost completely before putting the tank on it. It is so much easier to have nothing else to do but put the tank on and add water.

And ah, square joints. Yes I know what you mean. I tried to just get it as level as I could on my ungodly unlevel floors. If you spilled a glass of water on my floors, there is no telling which way it would run--glad it's just a rental and not my own property. Just try to find the most level spot and make it work for you. I think one of the keys to making something completely level is to find extremely straight building materials that are already dried--kiln dried maybe? Start with some sort of basebox and try to make that as square as possible so it will sit on your floor level--if you can find a very level spot. Spill a glass of water on your driveway and see where it goes--that test does not lie as to where the level spots are. Once you figure out a good spot to build, go slow and measure once, twice, three times, maybe even four, check the level and the square and then measure again. Just before you cut or put in a screw, measure and check the level and square again. Nice square, sharp edged cuts will really help with getting everything level and square.

I think I bought my 2x4s for around $3 a piece. They were standard studs and not kiln dried. YMMV--or your price that is.
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Old 04-27-2006, 11:42 PM   #5
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Oh and HD is a VERY fun place to go. It's kinda like a huge department store where all you do is window shop. You may not always have the money to buy anything, but wow is it fun to look and pretend you do.

Typical banter in a HD store from a young couple:
"I'd like one of those, and that, and three of those, I'd like those cabinets, that refrigerator, oooh that's a sweet looking toilet, wow look at those french doors, omg look how big this washer is!"
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Old 04-28-2006, 12:52 AM   #6
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Well, I guess for less than $15, even if I screw it up then it wont be a huge loss.

To Homies we go tomorrow

Thanks for the help.
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Old 04-28-2006, 01:43 AM   #7
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I always have had home depot do the big cutting for my projects. It's just so much easier to say "hey I need 2 3-foot pieces off that 2x4". I need a saw like theirs in my garage.
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Old 04-28-2006, 08:17 AM   #8
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do they charge you anything for making the cuts?
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Old 04-28-2006, 12:58 PM   #9
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do they charge you anything for making the cuts?
nope
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Old 04-28-2006, 01:02 PM   #10
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Moving to the DIY section.
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Old 04-28-2006, 09:17 PM   #11
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So I got to building my stand today, picking up the tank tomorrow.

I noticed the GARF instructions suggest to put down some plywood ontop of the stand. I wasnt planning on doing this but I've got 2 high spots where the center supports attach to the outer frame - would laying some ply down be necissary to keep the glass from cracking?

I dont think its more than 1/16" above the outer frame. I've never had an aquarium this size before so I dont know how paranoid I should be about the stand being perfectly flat.

TIA
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Old 04-29-2006, 09:41 AM   #12
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Can you trim those high spots down with a sander? It will take a little while but keeping everything as level as possible will be better. Or you could take the screws out of those particular vertical supports and cut 1/16" off of the end that needs it. Mark it with a pencil so you get the cut right.

On the sheet of plywood, it depends on if your tank will sit on the 2x4s of the stand. If it does then you'll be fine without it--unless you want to put it on for aesthetics. If it doesn't, I would go and get one of those 4'x2' sheet of plywood and put it on there. You might want to go with a 3/4" sheet if the tank will not be sitting directly on the 2x4s.

Looking forward to pics if you have a camera.
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Old 04-29-2006, 03:04 PM   #13
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Unless you are building the stand in place, a level is not the key to success. Think of it as building a box. It needs to be square and the top needs to be flat. When the stand gets into place it can be leveled. Keep in mind, that no wood is perfect, nor, will it necessarily stay straight while you are working on it. Dimensional lumber is known to warp. If there are discrepencies on the top after it is finished, such as not being perfectly flat, a 3/4" piece of styrofoam will take up the imperfections. While most homebuilt stands are overkill, the extra weight does increase stability. The one thing I see missing from most homebuilt stands is built in leveling capability. My purpose built steel stands all have leveling screws in each leg, which was an absolute necessity, with the radical slope in my basement floors. Steel can be worse than wood for trying to maintain flatness, so, all the tanks on steel frames have styro under them. If you are still concerned after you are done, go with the styro. A high spot in the top frame will stress the tank. I prefer the white styro as it is softer than the coloured ones. Good luck.
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Old 04-30-2006, 12:04 AM   #14
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Well, I broke out the belt sander and went to town on the top frame - it's now perfectly smooth, flat, and most importantly.. it's perfectly level! (I didn't sand it down to be level, it just happened that I did everthing right)

I really surpised myself. I took my time and did everything right, went to Homies and got some of the highest grade kiln dried 2x4's they had, and it seems to have paid off.

Of course my wallet is now $200 lighter, but it was a **** productive day.

Here's a picture, sorry for the grainyness of the darker areas, I had to lighten them up in photoshop.

Again, thank you so much for all the help.


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Old 05-14-2006, 12:03 PM   #15
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Looks good, except you may want to add some more supports as it looks like the entire weight is being supported by the screws.
Screws have a low shear point. If you glued it, you should be ok though.

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Old 05-14-2006, 12:27 PM   #16
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Please add at least 1 cross brace to that...you could push that over no problem.
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