DIY 125 Gallon Aquarium Stand

Today I started construction of the 125 gallon aquarium stand. Using plans I found online construction was actually quite simple, at least so far. There are a couple of snags but overall it is turning out well. The weather is fantastic this week so I hope to have the majority of it completed soon. Today I went from just a stack of raw lumber to a nearly completed frame.

The stand size will be 72 1/2″ long, by 18 5/8″ wide, and 30″ tall (30 1/2″ when the plywood top is factored in).

The first step, of course, is getting all the tools together. Take note of what’s pictured at the top, safety glasses and ear protection. Don’t skip on it, you’ll be thankful.


Basic Tools

First up was cutting the plywood for the top that the aquarium will sit on, and for the back which will provide extra support from the stand rocking. Pictured below is how I recommend cutting sheet goods, use some 2x lumber to keep the large 4×8 foot sheets straight, otherwise you’ll have a dip between the sawhorses making your cut less than perfect. I should of taken a picture of how I set up the actual cuts, but I forgot :S

An easy way to get a straight cut on a huge sheet of plywood is to clamp down a 1×4 or 2×4 that you can use as a fence, like you would on a table saw. In fact, instead of a circular saw you could use a table saw if, and only if, you have a fence that you can set wide enough for the cut.

Sheet Cutting

Plywood Sheet Cutting

Next up is cutting the 2×4 and 2×6 lumber. I happen to have a miter saw which makes easy work of this task, a radial arm saw can also do it quite easily. If you must, you can use a circular saw or table saw but that isn’t ideal. If I had an actual work bench I could have set up a jig to save myself substantial time, but I still got the job done in not too much time.

Miter Saw

Miter Saw

Cut Lumber

Cut Lumber

After that, it’s justĀ a mater of screwing it all together. I used 2.5″ exterior screws, with a square drive. In addition, I used a countersink bit before using the screws to ensure I would have a flush finish. This is particularly important because I plan on skinning this stand in oak to finish it and you do not want screw heads giving you an un-even surface.

Countersink Screws

Countersink Screws

Flush Screws

Screws Are Flush to the Wood

Below you can see several pictures of the frame as it progressed. Basically it is just a bunch of 2×4’s in a typical frame, however the top box is made of 2×6’s for added strength. The 2×4’s on the inside of each corner are only there as a surface to attach the corners to and keep everything square, they serve no structural purpose which is why they do not extend all the way up to the top. If they did extend all the way to the top, they would take a portion of the load and I really don’t want screws to be supporting part of the load, I want it all going into the 2×6 box frame, then the vertical 2×4’s, followed by the bottom 2×4 frame, and finally the floor.

Top Box Frame

Top Box Frame - 2x6's


Stand Legs

Starting to assembly the legs to the stand

Basic Frame

Basic Frame

The above basic frame picture is actually all you would need to support the 1400 – 1600 pounds. I know, it looks terribly open, but by the math according to structural engineers it’s true. At the very least you want to put plywood sheeting on the back and the sides to keep it from rocking, that will take the tank down to the floor in no time if it isn’t supported in left/right or forward/backwards directions.

To facilitate the addition of doors to the front, and to ensure more uniform load to the floor I added two more center supports. I also added some short pieces to the top that I’ll nail the top plywood to, and also ensure the frame dosen’t twist over time.

125 Gallon DIY Aquarium Stand

125 Gallon DIY Aquarium Stand

It’s far from completed but that’s where I am after day one, not too bad. I still need to put the plywood sides and top on, get the inside plywood shelf made and that will complete the frame. After that I need to skin it in oak to give it a nice furniture look instead of the utilitarian look it has now. I’ll be sure to post progress updates as they happen.

Thanks for visiting!

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