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DIY Tank Stand (36"L x 18"D x 30") for 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

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I was originally going to purchase an All Glass tank stand for a 40 gallon breeder aquarium (36"L x 18"D x 16"H) that I am putting together.

I went to the local pet store to order one, since most places don't carry a stand with those dimensions. I decided to take a look at the build quality of the stand and was pretty amazed that there were no studs for a frame. It was basically a bunch of 1"x4"s stapled together. I put some weight on it and tried to move it side to side and it swayed slightly. :eek3:

Since I have two small children (that are constantly running around the house), I need to be careful that the tank will be able to withstand one of them falling into it by mistake while they are playing.

So after looking at some great threads on this site, and gaining some confidence from their results, I decided to go out on a limb and have a go at it.


This thread is meant to document the process for any others that dare to follow in my (amateurish) footsteps.

Legalese: Please note that I am not a professional carpenter. On the contrary, I am a computer professional that sits in front of a monitor for most of the day. So if you use this thread to build your own tank, and it falls apart, then don't blame me.


I started out by searching for plans on the Web. Many of the plans seem to offer a strong design for vertical strength, but most seem to lack any strength if a torque (twisting or side to side movement) is applied.

Since I am not a professional carpenter, I went a bit overboard on the design to make sure it was strong enough (sort of like how the guy (Tim Allen) on Tool Time builds his stuff) and could withstand any sort of torque.

I didn't want legs in each corner of the stand, because I didn't want a lot of pressure on each leg or the carpet beneath. If I ever decide to move the tank, I don't want four indentations in the carpet that will never come out. I wanted to distribute the load as much as possible, hence the horizontal 2x4s.

I built two of these. One for the bottom and one for the top.

Here is a view of the inside corner. I used stainless steel angle ties to connect the inside of the 2x4s.

Here is a view of the outside corner. I used 4" nails to connect the outside of the 2x4s.

Here is a view after I added the outer "leg" supports. I only used stainless steel ties to connect the legs to the bottom base and nothing else (no nails or screws).

I was originally thinking that I would use nails or screws to connect the "leg" supports to the base, but they would have needed to be at least 6" or 7" long. The longest nails I could find were a little over 4", which wouldn't be long enough (since a 2x4 is 3.5" wide). I could find lag screws that were longer (up to 7" or 8"), but then I would have needed to drill countersinks for the large lag screws heads (which I thought was a little too much work). So I decided to try stainless steel ties. I'm glad that I did, because this thing is built like a rock.

Here is a view of the inside corners after I added the "legs":

Here is a shot of the outside corner after I added the "legs":

Here is the stand after I added the top support:

You'll also notice that I decided to add some more strength to the center supports as well:

Stay tuned: More to come...


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WOW! Very over built! Great work.


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nothing like over-engineering! Looking good.

What kind of finish?


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What kind of finish?
Sorry that I never replied, but I guess that I didn't have an answer at the time. I never thought about the finish before making the frame. I first wanted to make a sturdy frame (which it is). But after I built the frame, I realized that it would be difficult to put the finish on (since the stainless steel angle ties and screws were another 1/8" to 1/4" above the surface of the frame).

After talking this over with some friends, the two choices seemed to be: (a) add strips of wood on the exterior (between the steel ties) to "raise" the surface so that exterior pieces could be added, or (b) route the back of the exterior wood pieces where the steel ties exist. I chose the second option.

I have added some pictures below...


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Sorry for the delay, but I have been quite busy in the last few months and it has been brutally hot here (over 100 degree days) making work outside almost unbearable.

I added a 1/4" piece of lauan plywood to the bottom of the frame to act as a shelf.

I then decided that I wanted to waterproof the frame so that it wouldn't rot (and weaken the structure) from any water or moisture that was spilled onto it. As a first step, I applied wood putty between all of the cracks to seal the frame tight. I then applied two coats of stain and two coats of polyurethane to the entire frame.

Here is a shot of the frame after those steps.

This shot was taken just after I added the sides (which are made from 3/4" plywood w/ an oak finish) and front pieces (made from (2) 1"x6" red oak pieces). I cut down the bottom piece on the front so that it was the size of a 1"x5" (or 4.5" high).

Here is the back (which I plan to leave open).

Here is one of the sides.

This shot shows the back of the side plywood piece with the area above the steel tie routed out (so that it would fit flat onto the frame).

Here is another shot that shows the wood routed out above the steel ties. This is the bottom horizontal piece on the front.

Here is a little trick that I learned from a magazine that I subscribe to that shows how to protect wood while hammering in finish nails. It is a small round rubber piece that normally goes under the legs of a piece of furniture or couch. I drilled a small hole in the center to allow the nail to go through. This helps protect the wood if you miss the nail or when the nail gets close to the wood. I then used a 1/32" nail punch to set the finish nails under the surface.

Here is a shot that shows the (3) 1"x4" vertical pieces that I added to the front.

Here is another shot that shows all of the external pieces added.

Well, that's it for now.

I plan on adding some trim pieces and then staining/polyurethaning the outside. Finally, I will be making the cabinet doors.

Hopefully, I can get to that in the next few weeks...
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very nice build.

looks great.


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Wow that looks really good.
Thank you.

What kind of doors are you going to put on the front of the stand?
The plan is to build doors out of strips of 1"x3" red oak (for the sides) and 1/4" plywood (either oak or lauan). But you know how plans go...


Looks good....

I think the only thing I might have done different with it is to make the front trim pieces cover the plywood sides raw edges in the front instead of letting them show. But I guess you could put some corner trim on the edges to hide it if you wanted.
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