Swim to your local pet store and you might spot a lot of aquarium stands to choose from. But try to find one that will fit a sump filtration system, even a 10 gallon one, and you are likely to come up dry. Go online, and you can find lots of DIY aquarium stands. But try to find a set of instructions that do not involve 2 by 4s, cinder blocks, railroad ties or other unsightly materials, and your choices are very limited. It stinks... like a dead fish!
So that's why my 14 year old son and I decided to swim someplace else and come up with a design of our own.
Since this design, we have built another one with an improved design that allows you to place it anywhere, cabinet lighting, a power cord manager, and other additional features. Here is a link to it: Make a Better Than New Aquarium Stand
Step 1: Tools and Materials
This is the first cabinet I've made, so I don't have a lot of wood shop tools. Many of the tools we did not have we just borrowed.
Electric Mitre Saw with Finishing Blade
Router and Table
Table Saw with Finishing Blade
Drill and bits
Other typical tools (tape measure, pencil, brushes, etc.)
1x4 Pine (8 foot lengths)
1x3 Pine (8 foot lengths)
1x8 Pine (2 foot)
3/4" Plywood - full sheet
1/4" Plywood - half sheet
4 Cabinet Hinges (we used the hidden type)
4 Cabinet Handles
Waterproof Wood Glue
Primer and Paint
Step 2: The Secret
The secret to carrying that heavy load is in how the top and bottom frames are constructed. To make these pieces, we used a router and table that I borrowed from a coworker. Using the router, we took out the corner of our 1x4" pine boards. Since 1x4's are actually only 3/4" wide, we only needed to take out 3/8" (one half of the width). For those who have never used a router, keep in mind you'll want to route the wood a small layer at a time. It should take 3 or 4 passes to take off 3/8" of wood.
Then, we used the brand new biscuit joiner I got as a gift and sandwiched the boards together. This creates "rabbit ears" for another 3/4" board to slide into (called a "rabbet joint"). A downward load on that joint isn't going to give. A strong twisting load might easily snap the rabbit ear, but you won't have a twisting load when the stand is fully assembled.
Step 3: Base and Cap
To make the 45 degree angle cuts, you will need a mitre saw with a finishing blade installed. The regular blade that our powered mitre saw came with makes the edge look like a shark bit it off.
Before we got started with our first cut, we checked the mitre saw to make sure it was cutting true 90 degree cuts on the horizontal and vertical axis, and in the process learned how to adjust that.
After calibrating and practicing with the saw, we cut our 45 degree angles, leaving precisely the desired length. Doing this will give you a healthy degree of respect for people who make custom picture frames.
Keep on swimming... you have two of these to build.
Step 4: Join the Frames
Step 5: Clamp Together
Step 6: Cut Plywood Panels and Floor
Step 7: Look Mom, No Glue.... Yet
Once you get to this point, you can start to see how everything is going to fit together before you glue it.
Step 8: The Front
Glue the pieces together and clamp square.
Step 9: Cabinet Doors
We used tongue and groove joints to hold the panel frames together. We glued everything in place, then routed the outside edge.
Be sure you do not take off too much when you route the outside edge - if you go too deep, the holes for the hidden hinges will come through the front.
Step 10: Glue, Sand, Prime and Paint
Step 11: Hinge Installation
We needed a drill press to drill the 1 1/4" counter bored holes for the hidden cabinet hinges because we were afraid of drilling the holes too deep and ruining the cabinet doors.
Since I don't own a drill press, we went to my Dad's house to do that.
Step 12: Secret Panel
We used cabinet magnets at the top to hold panel. It snaps on and off just like we had hoped.