View Full Version : Stand from Cabinet!

12-01-2003, 04:31 PM
Price for a new stand from Tenecor: $650

Price for stand that matches cabinets already installed from Home Depot: $125 (for corner cabinet)
$10 (reinforcing plywood)
$5 (Liquid Nails)
$20 (assorted other bits/trim to keep it pretty)

Total-----$160 Keep that $490 for the fish.

Pics and tips available if you want to see 'em!

12-01-2003, 09:03 PM
post them pictures man!!

Mr. Limpet
12-02-2003, 12:36 PM
Definitely post some pics. That sound like a quick and easy solution. Paul.

12-02-2003, 03:06 PM
OK. I'll try to put together some sort of article with pics.

To start with: Building an aquarium stand from a cabinet has lots of advantages and disadvantages. In my case, a great synergy of things came together to make this the perfect solution for my needs.

Cabinets in many styles, colors, and finishes are available in-stock at the local home supply store. Rectangles are usually 12" or 24" deep, and can be found in heights from 12"-42" and nearly any length. If you want something huge, you can buy several and strap them together so long as you're careful to make sure that they can't shift relative to one another. With a little luck, you may be able to find something in stock that matches your existing cabinetry, making for a very clean built-in look.

Doors are often sold seperately from the cabinets themselves, which gives you even more style options.

For a little more cash, you can custom order a cabinet from Mastercraft or someone similar. It costs more than the in stock versions, but still a lot less than your average tank stand. Mine was in stock, so I didn't do a cost analysis of this method.

Since these are pre-built, the hardest part of the assembly-- that is getting the thing together straight and square-- is done for you. Also, they are pre-finished so non-woodworkers like myself can have a professional looking stand without hours of finish sanding and varnishes. Very cool.

There's a very popular angled corner cabinet that just happens to match dimensions with the common 24"x24" pentagon corner tank, leaving a 3.5" shelf in front of the main viewing panel.

Nobody makes a cabinet that's designed to hold umpteen-hundred-pounds of water, glass, and gravel on top for an extended period of time. Major structural reinforcement is required to make them hold the weight.

The top and bottom usually have some sort of recess that gets in the way of setting a tank in place. This is especially true if you need flat-bottom support for an acrylic tank, which I do.

All tank stands are subject to problems when placed against the wall in a carpeted room. The tack-strip under the carpet up against the wall prevents the tank from sitting level. Since the cabinet carries the tank's weight around the outside edges, cabinet stands can't go right on the edge of the room either unless you do something to the bottom.

The Plan
Mitigate the problems while using the advantages! And when in doubt- overbuild for increased strength. The basic steps are here, more detail will come with pictures later (feel free to comment, as I'm 3 weeks away from adding water and would rather find mistakes sooner than later..):

1> To reinforce the cabinet so it can hold the weight, line the inside with 3/4" plywood. The ply is carefully cut to fit exactly along each side panel, so we can take advantage of the neatly square-build cabinet. It should be painted with some sort of sealer to keep water from spills and humidity out, but I expect high-gloss latex to be sufficient because we aren't trying to hold a tankfull of water with this. And, as a bonus- since it's inside the paint need not be pretty.

Judging by tank stands I have seen in the store, completely lining the interior walls is overkill- but my 24x24 is light enough to move myself even fully lines so there's no harm in the extra strength- and it all still fits in one sheet of plywood.

2> To deal with the recessed top, build a top from 3/4" ply. We'll need some sort of subframe to transfer the load out of the ply top, through the cabinet top, to the ply reinforcing walls. It's quite possible that the frame of the cabinet is sufficient to deal with this, but I'm not taking any chances.

3> Similarly, it's possible that the bottom frame is sufficient the take the load the short distance from the bottom of the reinforcing walls to the floor, but I'm not taking chances here either. The subframe is easy to construct, and has the side benefit of moving the load-bearing surface inward-- away from the tackstrip under the carpet, so I can put the stand right against the wall.

Mr. Limpet
12-02-2003, 05:07 PM
And when in doubt- overbuild for increased strength.

A motto to live by!

Nice explanation and description.
Looking forward to some pictures. Paul

12-02-2003, 05:34 PM
Great writeup, A lot of us have built ulgy stands then try to dress them up, why not start with something that looks nice then built that ulgy stand inside the nice looking cabinet.

Like you said when in doubt- overbuild for increased strenght.

12-04-2003, 09:53 PM
Unless you get a tank over 75 gallons there will be no need to reinforce those cabinets, they will carry the weight fine until you start to soak up the water when you overfill them. if you do that on occation and allow them to completely dry you will be ok. But if you get constant moisture on those low density particleboard(they now call it furniture board, which if you are a true piece of furniture is not a flattering thing)they will disintegrate and fail.

12-05-2003, 11:36 AM
Really? Given that the backing is 1/4 (maybe 1/8) inch paperboard I didn't want to trust it with anything, even given that there are parts of the frame that are true hardwood and thicker particle board. That and plywood deals with moisture better than particle or paperboards do.

Then again, looking at how little ply is typicly used in store-bought stands I'm quite sure that what I've done is overkill. With a tank/stand that has a more conventional shape I'd have used less wood. (And probably copied the measurements of a stand on display at the store...)

Ah, well- the extra few bucks and minutes for the ply didn't hurt me any. I've got pics taken- just need to find time to move them from the camera to the web. Hopefully this weekend.

01-19-2004, 01:40 PM
The tank is here!

In the mean time we've added some moulding to dress it up and bought some maple-faced plywood to build a matching canopy.

Just a little more plumbing to do, then find 18" lighting and we're ready for water.

Oh, I still owe you guys pictures! Whoops.. Soon, really...

01-19-2004, 03:37 PM
Talk, talk talk! All there is, is talk! LOL!

Glad to hear that you got the tank! Now pics are a must! ;) ;D
Sounds like a really nice stand!

01-21-2004, 10:55 AM
Current state pf the project:

01-22-2004, 12:27 PM
Looking good! Really good! I like the moldings that you use! Any more pics? Id love to see more detail!

Do you have some time to build me one? LOL! ;D

Thanks for the pic!

01-22-2004, 12:40 PM
hmmm I like that.

Looking good.

01-24-2004, 07:58 PM
The corner cabinet in its intended purpose.. I decided to forgo the glass door on the stand version.

01-24-2004, 08:06 PM
Here's the starting cabinet. Note the strips of particle board at the top and bottom- everything else on the back is 1/8" paperboard.

The plywood liner is screwed and glued to these boards from the inside.

Note also the depression on the top, we have to do something about that as well.

01-24-2004, 08:22 PM
This is the new table top for the stand. The boards are 2x2 glued to the underside so they distribute the load from the center to the edges. This is likely overkill, but acrylic tanks are picky about having the entire bottom supported, so I added this.

Besides, they are trimmed to fit inside the depression in the top. They will sit on the ledge provided by the plywood liner, passing the load directly through the flimsy cabinet top and solving the depression problem.

01-24-2004, 08:26 PM
Here the top is in place. You should probably glue or screw this in place, but I left it removable so I can get my trickle filter in and out the top when the tank is not in place.

The plywood edge and gap aren't pretty- they are covered by gluing a 2" moulding attached to the plywood later.

01-24-2004, 08:31 PM
The bottom has the same depression as the top, which means the load of the tank is transferred from the plywood liner through the screws and glue to the particle board at the bottom. I'd prefer that the plywood sat directly on something, and there's also the problem of getting 1/2" or so away from the walls to the stand isn't sitting on the tack-strip for the carpet (wich will make it lean away from/toward the wall, depending on carpet type).

Solution is a 2x2 frame again, cut to fit snugly inside the depression.

01-24-2004, 08:33 PM
The bottom frame slipped in place. It sticks out of the bottom about an inch- just enough to make the cabinet appear to hover off the carpet a little. Cheap trick, but adds a finished and professional look- especially in deep pile carpet. (-:

01-24-2004, 08:36 PM
The plywood liner comes from a sheet that is ripped 30" wide (inside height of the cabinet), the individual parts are cut the width of the sides to be lined with a skil saw, using the scrap ply as a rip fence to get the cuts straight. You want these to fit as closely as possible, especially in height.

01-24-2004, 08:42 PM
The stand rough assembled and in place. Tape measure is extended to 30" to get an idea of what it would look like with the tank in place.

Add the ivy moulding (picked out by my wife), polyurethane, and the stand is ready for equipment.

I'll post some more detail about the setup, canopy, and pictures once the dust in the tank settles- I didn't rinse the flourite before filling.

There's some more finish work on the canopy yet, and the lights don't arrive until Thursday.

01-27-2004, 11:04 AM
Very nice! Thanks for the pics and description!

02-10-2004, 11:00 PM
Canopy starts with a piece of plywood cut to the same size as the table top. Rip the maple ply that matches the cabinets to 9" strips, and screw/glue them to the top along the front three sides.

7" strips of the lower grade ply are screwed/glued along the two back edges, and a 1x2 is glued inside the front edge to make a shelf.

THe hidden edges, then, sit on top of the tank while the front edges hang down past the top of the tank to conceal the water line.

02-10-2004, 11:07 PM
Next, add the mouldings. The ivy matches the ivy used on the stand, and the crown was added to help conceal the light ballast and other items that sit on top of the finished product. Incidentally, in order to miter a crown mould correctly for a 45* joint, you set the miter saw to 15* horizontal, 15* vertical, and hold the moulding flat up against the fence. It's difficult to explain- just practise on some scrap first.

The cabinets I used have a peculiar overlap from the diagonal "front" to the sides. With a little creativity and some extra pieces of shoe mould I was able to mimic that look here as well.

02-10-2004, 11:12 PM
The ballasts for the 4 32w compact flourescents sit on top. Cords to the lamps run through vent holes drilled in the plywood. This makes for a LOT of light, but with a deep tank like this it sits right at the 2w/gallon rule of thumb. I may take some of that light out later, depending on how things go.

Cut and hinge an access door, finish in a clear ployuretyhane water sealant, add some fake plants for effect, and you're done with the canopy.

02-10-2004, 11:15 PM
In the spirit of cabinet reuse, we got some additional 18" high units to serve as toy storage and viewing benches for the kids. This turned out to be a fantastic idea, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

02-10-2004, 11:21 PM
Cushions for the benches are made from leftover plywood hacked to more-or-less fit inside the depression in the top of the smaller cabinets, 4" foam, and some heavy weight fabric.

The fabric is pulled over the foam and stapled to the ply with a staple gun, then the whole thing sets neatly into the top of the cabinets.

The tank is still dusty in this picture, but you can get an idea of the vertical themes we'll be using in the aquascaping.

Very Fishy
02-11-2004, 01:45 PM
Looks great... good job!!! ;D

02-11-2004, 01:48 PM
What a great idea!!! Extra seating, and toy storage combined... definitely a necessity with kids!!! It came out beautiful!!!


02-11-2004, 04:11 PM
The wall cabinets are only 12" wide, wich turns out to be a tad narrow for comfortable grown-up seating, but they're perfect for the kids. (And short enough the kids can safely stand on them- which makes life easier for the parents)

You could scoot them out from the walls a ways and make a wider plywood/cushion top, but you have to make sure you can still open the stand door to reach the mechanicals.