Let's talk DIY Plywood stands

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RocketEngineer

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My biggest issue with plywood is the impact of moisture on the lamination bond. Now, some places you can get very high quality plywood with glue that doesn’t react to moisture. Unfortunately, I live in an area where the only sources of lumber are big box stores. They do NOT sell plywood I would trust to hold up around a tank long term. Can you do it? Absolutely, as many fine examples show. But I trust a solid piece of clear 5/4x4 pine (my preferred choice) over a strip of plywood when supporting 800#s of water. JMO
 

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38bill

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I have built several plywood stands and never had a problem. Most all of my wood has come from Menards and I always use exterior polyurethane varnish in and out. The stand I built for my 215 still looked almost like new when I sold it 10 years later. Here's a photo of me load testing it with something over 3,000 lbs of patio bricks plus myself sitting on it. The other stand is another plywood stand that I just built last fall for my 60 cube tank. All plywood except the trim and the door stiles and rails. Plywood is incredibly strong stuff if used correctly.
 

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Sleepydoc

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My biggest issue with plywood is the impact of moisture on the lamination bond. Now, some places you can get very high quality plywood with glue that doesn’t react to moisture. Unfortunately, I live in an area where the only sources of lumber are big box stores. They do NOT sell plywood I would trust to hold up around a tank long term. Can you do it? Absolutely, as many fine examples show. But I trust a solid piece of clear 5/4x4 pine (my preferred choice) over a strip of plywood when supporting 800#s of water. JMO
If all you have access to is wood from big box stores then you’ll generally have problems with the lumber, too. Most of the lumber they sell is not straight, so unless you have a jointer getting a flat top can be quite difficult. Much of the lumber they sell also has twists in it, too.
 
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kcinnick

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BTW, if you wanted to build skeleton and then exoskeleton so that you can park a humvee on it you can do this, then wrap it for insane level of support.

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If plywood hadn't doubled in price the past year I might just had copied this from you, after sheeting that thing you could park the moon on it.
 
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kcinnick

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I have built several plywood stands and never had a problem. Most all of my wood has come from Menards and I always use exterior polyurethane varnish in and out. The stand I built for my 215 still looked almost like new when I sold it 10 years later. Here's a photo of me load testing it with something over 3,000 lbs of patio bricks plus myself sitting on it. The other stand is another plywood stand that I just built last fall for my 60 cube tank. All plywood except the trim and the door stiles and rails. Plywood is incredibly strong stuff if used correctly.
Are you just using one thickness of ply for the supports? I was going to double up the front supports but I won't if that picture with the bricks is a single thickness of ply on the supports!
 

38bill

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Are you just using one thickness of ply for the supports? I was going to double up the front supports but I won't if that picture with the bricks is a single thickness of ply on the supports!
I did double the front and back supports. I run the front, sides and back all the way to the floor. The inner supports only go to the top of the cabinet floor and are narrower than the face frame. If I was doing a fully closed back I probably wouldn't have used the extra supports at the rear.
 

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kcinnick

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I did double the front and back supports. I run the front, sides and back all the way to the floor. The inner supports only go to the top of the cabinet floor and are narrower than the face frame. If I was doing a fully closed back I probably wouldn't have used the extra supports at the rear.
Thank you. I want a full back, I plan on this thing being there for years and I want to keep all the salt creep inside the stand, also should help with strength. I am thinking about doubling up the front and doing a single in the back and I'll just cut a oval or drill holes for plumbing.
 

homer1475

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Curious....

Are you guys using marine grade ply? If not, how have you found water to be with the plywood? My current stand is OSB, and falling apart from water damage. I had planned to make a new one out of marine grade ply(It's expensive as all get out!!!), but if regular ply is good, I would rather not spend the extra money.
 
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kcinnick

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Curious....

Are you guys using marine grade ply? If not, how have you found water to be with the plywood? My current stand is OSB, and falling apart from water damage. I had planned to make a new one out of marine grade ply(It's expensive as all get out!!!), but if regular ply is good, I would rather not spend the extra money.
Well, honestly, I have no idea what I am going to use yet, plywood is sort of "buy what you can get" right now. I hadn't even considered marine ply, I don't think it is worth the upgrade. Exterior grade ply is going to have crappy faces and probably is full of voids. There are some cabinet grade and furniture grade ply woods that use exterior grade glue if you are concerned about delamination. I am just going to seal every thing really well.
 

schuby

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My DIY stand for my 5' x 2' x 2' glass aquarium is made of 3/4" (18mm) Baltic Birch plywood. I'll have to find some pics of it being constructed by my former boss (Structural & Mechanical engineer who'se also a Master Woodworker). I have a single post in the front, middle. I don't know about trying to make it removable. It's been in use for 27 months now.
 

Sleepydoc

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Plywood will be more sensitive to water than solid wood, but definitely better than OSB. Regardless of what you use you should have it sealed well but the edges are of particular concern.

My stand is solid wood, except the floor. I have a pond liner lining the sump portion up to about 1” up the walls, so that’s all covered. The rest is several coats of polyurethane. The front edge inside the doors I’ve had to touch up once.

For Plywood, I would use polyurethane at a minimum but an coat of epoxy on exposed edges that may be exposed to water might not be a bad idea.
 

homer1475

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I have a plywood supplier down in the city, I can get any type of ply I need, and in any thickness.

Just figured marine grade would hold up to the salt water better then regular ply.
 

homer1475

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Plywood will be more sensitive to water than solid wood, but definitely better than OSB. Regardless of what you use you should have it sealed well but the edges are of particular concern.

My stand is solid wood, except the floor. I have a pond liner lining the sump portion up to about 1” up the walls, so that’s all covered. The rest is several coats of polyurethane. The front edge inside the doors I’ve had to touch up once.

For Plywood, I would use polyurethane at a minimum but an coat of epoxy on exposed edges that may be exposed to water might not be a bad idea.
Yeah the edges is what got me. I caulked the interior corners, and did 3 coats of enamel paint which has held up great. The front corner where the edge is, even though it got painted, still absorbed water and is falling apart.
 
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Here's some pics. I never made a Build Thread. About a week after filling, the sides started to deform near the front. We added some angle-iron to both side-panels, right behind the door hinges for added rigidity. No problems since and sides are still straight.
 

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schuby

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The stand is deeper than the tank. This is to allow the plumbing for the three drains from the back, external over-flow (middle) and the two returns (far left and far right) to go vertically in/out of the stand rather than stick out the back of the stand. With this method, the stand (in my living room) is just a few inches from the wall. It makes it aesthetically more pleasing, IMHO.
 
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kcinnick

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The stand is deeper than the tank. This is to allow the plumbing for the three drains from the back, external over-flow (middle) and the two returns (far left and far right) to go vertically in/out of the stand rather than stick out the back of the stand. With this method, the stand (in my living room) is just a few inches from the wall. It makes it aesthetically more pleasing, IMHO.
How are the panels joined? I plan on screwing and gluing everything but the front center support, I don't want this glued in incase I need to remove it to get equipment out in an emergency... or well, ever.
 

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If you look at the first two pics, you'll see there are 1" x .5" strips of maple (not sure of exact wood except that it's a hard-wood). He used pocket screws and Titebond III Ultimate wood glue. All joints of the sides, bottom, top, and back use this method.

The center support is 2" x 2 ": 3 pieces of 3/4" plywood glued together with pocket screws at top and bottom.

There are also 2 beams going the full width of the stand, 60". One below the front edge of the tank and one below the back. Each with a thickness is 1.5" (2x thickness) and height of 6.5". I don't understand the structural purpose of a beam, but I believe it is for rigidity of the stand top and not exactly load-bearing.

Both sides and the back panel go all the way to the floor. They are definitely load-bearing.
 

schuby

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Here's a fresh pic showing front beam and one if the 2 pieces of angle-iron. Angle-iron was added due to insufficient rigidity of the front-side of each side-panel.
 

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