Tag Archives: fish tank stand

Fish Tank Stand: Bracing For 501 Pounds of Water

The project in the shop that moves the slowest is the Fish Tank Stand. GAKMAN and I are building it together for his house, and we only work on it when we can get together. We both have demanding jobs at Microsoft, so that’s not often. Well, the stand is done finally, but that’s not what this post is about. This post will deal with water. 501 pounds of water.

On the last day of the build, as GAKMAN and I were getting ready to begin spraying final coats of General Finishes Enduro-Var. He started to giggle, and it was evil. I knew what he was giggling about – he had remembered something else that we needed to do, and this meant that we had another project delay.

“How big is the tank?” I asked.

“60 gallons” he replied.

“How much does a gallon weigh?” I worried.

“8.3 pounds” he answered.

“501 pounds, let’s go!” I ordered.

Off to the big box store. I had a plan forming in my head to reinforce the case from the inside with angle iron. We did not want the top to sag and bind on the doors, and I didn’t want to build another stand – the first one took us a year.

The Angle Iron Beam

First, we bought a piece of angle iron and cut it to the right length.


The Bosch jigsaw came with a great metal blade that really made quick work of this.


We only had to cutoff about 3/8 of an inch.


I cleaned up the cut edge with a file.

Rust Prevention

After the angle iron was the right length, and all sharp edges were removed, it was time to prevent rust. Remember, the base of the stand will have a pump, a filtration system, and salt water. To prevent rust, as much as you can prevent rust on iron that is 12 inches away from salt water, we cleaned up the angle iron first with Simple Green, and then with sandpaper.


Shiny angle iron, with no muck.


And then applied multiple coats of lacquer. This should help protect the steel from rust, for at least  little while. I was surprised at how well this sprayed out of the can, how fast it dried, and how strong the fumes were even with the Spray Booth in operation.

Custom Posts for the Angle Iron Beam

Beams work by bearing weight, and transferring the weight to posts, so I needed posts to transfer the weight from the angle iron to the base of the case, and because angle iron has, well… angles, the posts would be custom.


Start by tracing the angle iron onto the posts, and cutting away the material with the jigsaw. Refine with a rasp, check the fit, sand, and lacquer.


Install the posts and angle iron with screws. I placed the angle iron about 1/3 back from the front of the case.


Ensure the angle iron fits into the recess in the post nicely.


Done. A cabinet that will stand up to a beautiful and heavy saltwater fishtank.

Note that the hole in the top is by design, it’s so that water can be pumped down from the tank into the stand, get filtered, and then return back to the tank.

Great Roundover Bits from Eagle America

To round over the trim on the Fish Tank Stand, I ordered some new bits from Eagle America. I am a member of the Wood Whisper Guild, so I get free shipping.

I ordered the four piece set (100-5625) which includes radius sizes 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" and 3/4” with 1/2” shanks. There are only three in the picture below because the 1/2” round over bit is in my router table. Thick carbide, great bearings, and they include a smaller bearing (3/8“) to convert these into beading bits. I like that these bits are made in the USA. They were packaged well and the cutters were coated in clear peel-away goo to protect them during shipping. These are very smooth cutting and my Porter Cable 7518 didn’t skip a beat as the bit cut through the trim.


Fish Tank Stand: Face Frames and Clamping Dry Runs

Today GAKMAN and I worked on the face frame for the Fish Tank Stand. For this face frame I did things a little different:

  • I used pocket hole screws and my new Kreg jig
  • I cut a rabbet along the back of the frame so it would fit in to the case work

The pocket hole screws helped create a strong and square frame, and the rabbet let me use glue to attach it to the case work. I’m not a fan of nails showing on face frames and trim, or the tell-tale wood putty filled nail holes. Gluing it up was a bit of a trick, but a dry run helped a lot. I highly recommend going through a dry run of you glue-up to figure out where and how you’ll clamp pieces together.

Here’s the piece with the face frame on and the glue dry, just the bottom piece is still in clamps with a sloped caul.


Check out the tight fit between the face frame and the case. My Stanley Sweetheart block plane really cleaned the case up well.


Here’s another shot. Don’t worry about that end grain at the top, the entire cabinet is getting a mitered maple trim along the top and bottom.


I did use nail along the top of the frame, since that will be hidden by the trim.


You can see that one of the nails unfortunately blew out through the top. Not sure that it need to be repaired because the tank will cover it. That’s why we used a secondary wood for the top.


It was good to get back in the shop, and I have a backlog of posts coming your way, including: