Sunday, March 8, 2020

Building an Aquarium Stand - Step 1: Determining a Design

For several years, I've always enjoyed doing a little fishing during the warmer months.

I find fishing to be almost a zen-like experience.

Sitting quietly in a boat, watching the water ripple around me, focussing my senses on a thin monofilament line, trying to sense a bite. I often find the experience quite relaxing and even if I don't catch anything, I always come home rejuvenated. 

While what I may call relaxing, others in my house would call it boring, so my fishing experiences have more or less been done solo. So it was much to my surprise that my son wanted to try his hand at a fishing derby that I usually take part in during the fall.

I was even more surprised when he actually enjoyed it enough that he wanted to do a couple more fishing excursions before the snow started to fall.

Typically we fish for Smallmouth Bass or Perch, so when during our last trip of the season my son caught a rather small Sunfish, I was fully expecting him to let the little guy go and keep fishing for bigger quarry.

Instead, he slipped the fish into the minnow bucket and we ended up taking him home with us.

At our house, we have an aquarium that is currently home to a rather elderly Goldfish.  The plan was to put George (yes, that was what we decided to call him) in with the Goldfish and the two of them would cohabitate together.

Unfortunately, it appears that George was a bit of a bully, so we immediately needed to find him some new living quarters.

Luckily I found a pretty cheap 20-gallon aquarium at a local flea market, so we at least found a new home for George.

Unfortunately, this introduced another problem. With another aquarium, we just didn't have a place to put it. So with that need, the aquarium stand project was born.

The goal of this project was to create a stand for the tank that would be an attractive piece of furniture but at the same time be very strong (since the tank will weigh quite a bit when it's full of water) and inexpensive to build. 

To ensure that the entire structure of the stand was as strong as possible, I decided to build it using 3/4 inch furniture grade plywood and making sure that all critical parts of the stand were reinforced as much as possible.

In order to keep costs down, I wanted to make sure that I could make the stand out of only one sheet of plywood along with using common boards like 2X4 and 2X6 pine - which can be purchased very cheaply at any lumber yard.

With my build criteria established, I then set out to design the stand.

Off the bat. I decided to build the stand as a pedestal type with the top and bottom of the stand slightly longer than the body of the stand. The body would serve as storage for fish food and other supplies for the tank.  I figured that this type of stand would be the perfect combination of strength and attractiveness.

The stand could be constructed as three distinct pieces.

Doing some research on what was commercially available for aquarium stands, I determined that making the stand around 28 inches high was the optimal height.

With at all sorted out, I sketched out my initial design.

Initial Design

I wanted the stand to be a custom fit for the tank, with the aquarium sitting in a recessed pocket in the stand top. There would be 1.5 inch thick pieces of wood ringed around the outside edge of the top, surrounding the bottom of the aquarium. 

The idea of this ring of wood would be to serve two purposes. The main purpose of the ring would be to provide additional strength and rigidity to the top of the stand. Additionally, the ring would also secure the aquarium onto the stand, lest the fish get really rowdy.

At this point, the dimensions of the aquarium were still a bit of an unknown, so I wouldn't really be able to fully figure out the size of the top until I can get a chance to measure the tank.

Top of the stand

When it came to the body of the stand, I chose to make the body about a foot narrower than the top of the stand, leaving about 6 inches of an overhang of the top in relation to the stand's body. 

The body will effectively be a three-sided box with an opening on one side to accommodate the doors which would allow me to use the stand's body for storage.

I will be adding a shelf inside the body to increase the storage and to provide added strength. To add even more strength to the body I also plan to reinforce the inside corners of the body with 2X2 posts. 

The top and bottom of the body will also be capped with 3/4 inch plywood, again to provide strength but to also act as anchor points for the top and bottom of the stand.  

Body design

Finally, for the base of the stand, I plan on making it the same size as the top, however, I would be beefing it up substantially by utilizing common 2X4 studs as the main components of the base where a 2X4 border will be built with a 3/4 inch plywood inlay placed in the middle of it. 

Underneath the plywood inlay, I would have a support structure made from 2X4's

Stand bottom

With the basic design mapped out, the next step will be to start construction. Since I designed the stand as three separate parts, I would treat the building of the stand as three separate projects. 

In my next post, I'll set about building the top first, mainly because the top is dependant on the size of the tank. The size of the tank drives the size of the top, which in turn drives the size of the body and the base - it all interconnects!

No comments:

Post a Comment