How to build aquarium stands & cabinets

Written by robert boumis
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How to build aquarium stands & cabinets
Aquarium stands are important to the look of an aquarium. (Jochen Sands/Photodisc/Getty Images)

There are many reasons to make aquarium stands. Store-bought stands are expensive. Off-the-shelf stands might not fit custom or nonstandard aquariums. However, creating a custom aquarium stand is not a light undertaking.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2-by-4 wood (exact size will vary based on your design)
  • Plywood
  • Circular saw or table saw
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Sand paper or sander
  • Clamps
  • Wood glue
  • Drill with screw attachment
  • 2 inch wood screws
  • 3D wood nails
  • 1/4 inch boards for trim
  • Wood stain or laminate
  • Premade cabinet doors (with appropriate hinges and screws)

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  1. 1

    Design your aquarium stand based on your aquarium. Keep in mind that for every 2 feet of length, you will need to add a cross-brace or a crossbeam. So, if your stand is 4 feet wide, you will have to add a vertical brace on the front and back of the stand.

  2. 2

    Measure out the lengths on your 2-by-4 wood, mark them, and cut. Sand the edges to remove burs. Cut plywood to cover the frame.

  3. 3

    Make two rectangular frames out of the cut 2-by-4 wood and connect them with vertical braces. Use clamps to hold the wood together and secure them with wood glue. Attach the boards to each other with 2-inch wood screws.

  4. 4

    Cover the frame with plywood. Use 3D finishing nails and wood glue to secure. Use thicker plywood on the top of the stand.

  5. 5

    Add trim around the edge of the top of the stand and around the bottom. You can either use a lap joint or a mitre joint if you have a mitre.

  6. 6

    Sand all wooden surfaces with a sander or sand paper.

  7. 7

    Add your final covering to the stand. You have a choice between wood stain, laminate or contact paper. Wood stain works well if your plywood, trim and cabinet doors have similar grain. Contact paper is cheap and quick, but wears out around the edges and needs to be replaced periodically. Laminate can be tricky to work with, but is one of the better choices.

  8. 8

    Attach the hinges to the cabinet doors and hold up them to the front of the stand and mark the drill holes. Attach the doors to the stand with the screws that came with the doors.

Tips and warnings

  • Using mitre joints on the trim gets the most professional-looking joints.
  • Try and get cabinet doors, plywood and trim that have matching grain.
  • It does not hurt to overbuild a stand (for example, using extra braces or thicker wood), but keep in mind that this will make the stand heavier.
  • Always wear eye protection, tie back hair and wear close-toed shoes when using power tools.
  • Wear gloves when handling unfinished wood.
  • If using Formica (a laminate), use caution as the edges are very, very sharp.

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