225 Gallon Saltwater Aquarium Stand

This is a mockup of an aquarium stand and canopy I am currently building. As of this writing the project is in the early stages. I plan to add more pictures here as work progresses.

The tank itself is six feet wide, two feet tall and two and a half feet deep. When completed, the entire assembly will stand 80 inches tall (the height of a standard doorway).


The client would like the aquarium stand to match their china cabinet, shown here. The decision was made to have the entire stand sit on the floor, rather than have feet similar to the china cabinet, due to the extreme weight the feet would have to support.

The aquarium stand is being made out of alder, which will be given a cherry / mahogany stain to match the china cabinet. Alder was chosen over cherry or mahogany due to its much lower cost and its ability to mimic other more expensive woods.








Shown here is my AutoCAD construction plan. AutoCAD is a great tool for planning all the construction details. It exposes design problems before I start cutting into expensive wood, and gives me precise dimensions for all the pieces I need to make.



Here you see six of the eight base posts. Each post is 3-1/4" square, which should provide plenty of support for the 1-ton tank. Two-inch-thickalder is much more plentiful and less expensive than thicker stock, so I made the posts by gluing two boards together. This "lamination" is alsostronger than a single chunk of wood. This picture shows the six posts after gluing but before they've been cleaned up and cut to final size.




Here are the other two posts. These will be the front corners of the cabinet. The outside corner of each post had to be "chamfered" (angled)to match the existing china hutch. If I had simply glued two boards together like the other six posts and then chopped off the corner, the seambetween the two boards would have been visible (and quite noticeable). To avoid this, I glued two wider boards together and then cut them sothat the seam intersects the corners instead of the sides of the post, as demonstrated in this AutoCAD drawing.











These pictures show the base frame during dry assembly (without glue). You may notice that there have been some deviations from thedesign shown above. The drawer slides I got for this project attach differently than I thought they did, so I had to make some changes.And the bottom rails no longer touch the floor, due to a mistake I made when buying the lumber. These things happen. Usually it requiresanother trip to the lumber yard, but in this case I could make do with what I had. The change doesn't reduce the strength of the piece,and the resulting gap will be covered with trim anyway.

The base was constructed using mortise and integral tenon joinery. Everything fits together nicely, so the next step is to take it allapart, cut the joinery for the plywood back and bottom, sand all the pieces in preparation for the finish, dry-assemble it again (thistime with the bottom and back in place), put masking tape around all the joints to catch any glue squeeze-out, take it apart again, andfinally assemble it with glue.

It will be a complicated glue-up, as you'll see in my next update....








...And here it is after glue-up. It will remain in the clamps for several hours while the glue cures.

I had intended to have a series of pictures showing the glue-up process, but I forgot to take the pictures. The floor of the carcase is joined to the posts, fitting into dadoes in each post, which makes assembly a bit of a puzzle. It had to go together in a particular order.

Since there are so many joints, I used a slow-setting polyurethane glue, which gave me a little more time to position each piece and get the clamps in place. Assembly took over an hour. This glue is also waterproof, although it's very unlikely that water will ever find its way into the joints.

I've added the corner post details, matching the china hutch. All interior-facing parts have been sanded to 180 grit. I now need to sand the exterior-facing parts, sanding the joints flush, and re-sand some of the interior parts which were marred during glue-up. Then I will add the plywood back panels and the plywood top (which is what the tank will sit on). Next will be the drawer and six doors.







.... More project details may go here someday ....






Final Pictures

Click on the pictures to open full size.