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designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

90 gallon aquarium stand build

I am developing a basic aquarium stand design to compete price-wise with the basic factory stands, such as those from All-Glass (AGA).  This post documents one prototype I made for this project. 

Factory stands for smaller tanks (up to 150 gallons) are typically constructed from particle board and plywood.  For my low-cost design, I chose premium 1" pine boards.  Pine is strong enough for tanks up to 150 gallons, but soft enough to making screwing easy and worry-free.  While many people put a premium on hard wood construction, I don't see the need for hardwood in painted stands, such as this one.

Unlike the AGA stands, my prototype is built using the same design as larger stands: top and bottom rings, connected by vertical supports that are "overlapped" to ensure accurate placement of the legs, and resistance to racking forces.  On this prototype, I also chose to include corner blocks.  These further reinforce the stand, making it extra-rigid.  For the prototype, I used a piece of curly maple to make the corner blocks, lending a bit of two-tone color to the finished piece.  Of course, these corner blocks are hidden in a complete setup, and the stand looks all-black from the outside. 

Magnets keep doors closed
I made the doors for this stand using a frame-and-panel method, as opposed to factory stands, which typically have doors made of narrow slats pin-nailed to thin nailer boards behind the doors.  I find that frame and panel doors look a lot better, and match the frame-and-panel construction of the main case, without adding much to the time or materials costs of construction. 

Finally, I added a couple of custom touches not found on factory stands: magnets to hold the doors closed, and a light-blocking flap behind the left door. 

curly maple corner blocks add color to the piece

keeping with the basic, low cost design, I finished this stand with black latex paint and a clear coat of polycrylic.  While such a finish isn't the most durable one in the world, it is the same finish used by many stand makers, such as AGA. 

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