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Old 09/23/2007, 07:42 PM   #1
RedEDGE2k1
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Custom Cabinet for 90g Reef (Build Thread)

I'm back!

I was forced to sell my 2yr old 30g reef during college when I took an internship in Florida and had to move away from Auburn for the summer of '06. I graduated the following fall, and moved to Atlanta in January of this year to start life in the "real world." My girl bought a townhouse, and with all that floor space it didn't take long for me to start pondering a new reef tank.

This time, it will be done right. I wasted a LOT of money on the 30g from impulse buying and a general lack of knowledge. Since rekindling my interest in reef aquariums I've spent countless hours over the last month or so reading up on Reef Central -- everything from T5 vs. Metal Halides to protein skimmers and UV sterilizers. The research is by no means complete, but in the mean time I bought a new Perfecto 90g Corner-Flo tank at Aquarium Showcase (great store) here in Atlanta, and started designing a home for it.

Here's my Sketchup model / design:



I modeled it somewhat after a custom cabinet I saw in Aquarium Showcase. It had a $3,000 price tag! No way I'm paying that.



I chose to keep the top shelves open (no cabinet door) to give the unit a less blocky appearance. I think it turned out nice.

I plan to setup the 90g reef in our living room, and I want a custom piece of furniture for it to rest in. I *hate* the look of run-of-the-mill aquarium stands & canopies that we've all seen a million times. IMO, 99.9% of the manufactured stands are cheap and cheesy looking...I can't put that stuff in a new house! So, I downloaded Google Sketchup (free), a program taught to me at Auburn as part of my building science curriculum. What an amazingly simple, powerfully effective, cost-saving piece of software Sketchup is. I was able to model the entire aquarium cabinet in textured 3D, without ever picking up a pencil (much less cutting a piece of wood). After about 9 hours of mouse-clicking on this lazy Sunday, I finished my design and exported a movie animation of the build sequence. The animation can be downloaded here:

90g Cabinet Build Sequence

Low Quality (12mb)
http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/f...abinet_LOW.avi


In addition to the cabinet itself, I also modeled our living room to scale, so I could get a feel for how big/small the cabinet should be. I didn't want to overwhelm the living room, but at the same time I wanted the tank to have a good presence. Sketchup allowed me to tinker with countless size possibilities.

I didn't show dimensions in the movie, but they are integrated in the model. So, from there I can get exact measurements of each wood component of the cabinet.

A few notes on my design:

1) For the most part, the entire cabinet will be constructed of 3/4" sanded plywood. This is sold at Home Depot & Lowe's for $35 per 4x8 sheet. I will be painting & faux antiquing the cabinet, not staining it, so I don't need the expensive wood grain of hardwood ply. This will save a lot of $$$.

2) The drawers are fake. The cabinet doors & drawer fronts are unfinished oak, and are available from www.cabinetdoorsandhardware.com

3) In certain areas, such as the rear structural panel and the side panels (the plywood parts directly supporting the tank), I used a solid piece of 3/4" ply, with rectangles cut out of it to reduce weight. This will make the stand stronger (no screw connections) and lighter (no wood where it's not needed).

4) The animation begins with the 2x6 header and 2x4 vertical/horizontal members being installed to support the tank over the 4' span @ the cabinet doors. Of course I will be using a sump, so I didn't want any obstructions when the two cabinet doors are open. The center piece (between the doors) is just for looks, and is removable.

5) The tank sits on a solid piece of 3/4" plywood, which spans the entire 7' width of the cabinet. Everything above this sheet of plywood makes up the top section of the cabinet, and is not attached to the bottom section. This will allow the two pieces to be built/sanded/finished/moved (up 2 flights of stairs!) seperately from each other.

6) There is a 3" gap between the sides of the tank and the cabinet. This will allow Vortech pumps to be used, with the motors hidden in the cabinet.

7) The tank will be maintained via an access panel on the front/top of the cabinet, which is completely removable. The seam of the panel is hidden by trim. The entire panel will be held in place with cabinet door magnets.

8) The 7' cabinet height allows an abundance of room above the tank for metal halides as well as room to work. I plan to mount 2x250 MH and 2x54w T5 Actinics to a light rack, which I will suspend above the tank with metal chains from Home Depot (attached to the "roof" of the cabinet). This will allow me to raise the light rack up high when working on the tank, and if the need arises, I can unhook the chains and remove the lights altogether, in one piece.

9) The bottom/side cabinets will house switches, ballasts, and other misc electronics. This will help keep them free of salt creep.

10) For canopy cooling, I'm going to install the quietest 4" fans I can find. One or two blowing in, and one or two blowing out.

I will begin the physical build as soon as I can gather the materials and buy a couple new woodworking toys. This build gives me a good reason to use my new garage and give Dewalt a lot of money!

I'll keep you guys posted. In the mean time, let me know your thoughts!

Take care-
Dustin



Last edited by bertoni; 08/02/2008 at 01:30 AM.
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Old 09/23/2007, 08:30 PM   #2
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Great drawing. Seems like a sound plan. Should look phenominal. Good luck, i'm tagging along.


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Old 09/23/2007, 08:53 PM   #3
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Yes, that will be one great looking stand. Good luck on the build. Please dont't forget those of us who are tempted to DIY need pictures!


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Old 09/24/2007, 07:12 AM   #4
RedEDGE2k1
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Here is another cabinet I found on Google's image search, which I used for inspiration:



I like the look of cabinets on bottom, shelves on top. Helps take away the bulky look of a 7'x7' cabinet.

If anyone is interested in playing with the Sketchup model directly, it can be downloaded here:

90g Cabinet Sketchup Model (Right Click, Save As)
http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/f...du/Cabinet.skp



Last edited by bertoni; 08/02/2008 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 09/24/2007, 12:09 PM   #5
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It looks good. Just remember to measure and make sure that it is going to fit through whatever door or window you will use to bring it in the house. I almost had this problem on my new tank, but for some reason I was messing around with the tape measure in the basement one day and measured the doors. If I had installed the shelf the way I was going to origionally do it, I would have been screwed. I had to make the shelf removeable. Keep this in mind.


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Old 09/24/2007, 12:36 PM   #6
RedEDGE2k1
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Quote:
5) The tank sits on a solid piece of 3/4" plywood, which spans the entire 7' width of the cabinet. Everything above this sheet of plywood makes up the top section of the cabinet, and is not attached to the bottom section. This will allow the two pieces to be built/sanded/finished/moved (up 2 flights of stairs!) seperately from each other.
Got it....it would indeed be a mess to build a 7'x7' piece of furniture before realizing it weighs a ton and won't fit through a door!


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Old 09/25/2007, 10:58 AM   #7
RedEDGE2k1
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I just uploaded a better version of the cabinet step-by-step build animation. Check it out:

(Right-click, save as)

http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/f...abinet_LOW.avi



Last edited by bertoni; 08/02/2008 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 10/01/2007, 03:00 PM   #8
RedEDGE2k1
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A materials & dimensions list can be found here:

(Right-click, Save As)

http://www.auburn.edu/~smithdu/90g/Materials.xls


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Old 10/01/2007, 03:09 PM   #9
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2x4 Vertical Supports. These will be located at the front of the tank.



2x6 Header. This will carry the load of the tank at the front of the cabinet, allowing unobstructed access to the sump, skimmer, etc. underneath the cabinet.



2x4 Horizontal Supports. These are probably not necessary, but will help keep the cabinet square during the initial construction.



Back support panel. This will carry the load of the back of the tank directly to the floor. Notice this is a single piece of 3/4" plywood, with rectangles cut out to reduce weight. The remaining sections are 4", with the ends a little wider to allow 4" of bearing directly below the tank corners.





Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 10/01/2007, 03:14 PM   #10
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Bottom inner sides. Again, these are made of a single piece of 3/4" ply with rectangles cut out, leaving 4" bearing all around.



Bottom front panel. This is a single piece of 3/4" ply, with the center portion removed to allow for cabinet doors. This is not a structural member, as the 2x4s and 2x6s header carry the weight of the front of the tank. I kept this at 3/4" thickness for ease of construction.



Tank base. One piece of 3/4" plywood, with the corners notched out for aesthetics. This member will be screwed to the "bottom" of the cabinet, seperating the "top" section of the cabinet from the "bottom" section, allowing the two pieces to be moved seperately.



Bottom outer sides.





Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 10/01/2007, 03:21 PM   #11
RedEDGE2k1
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Bottom side front panels. These have cut-outs to allow for 8"x30" cabinet doors.



Bottom Panels. These make up the "floor" of the side cabinets and sump area. These are 3/4" off the floor, because I have an A/C vent underneath the cabinet where it will be sitting.



Top inner sides. These are spaced 2 1/2" from the side glass of the 90g tank, allowing room for VorTech propeller pumps.



Top front panel. The bottom cutout is for the 90g tank, the top cutout will be the access panel (to be covered later). I sized the tank cutout so that the finishing trim will cover the silicone seams of the Perfecto tank. The upper cutout is sized to match the width of the tank cutout, once trimmed. Hopefully that will make sense to you later, when you can see what I mean.





Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 10/01/2007, 03:28 PM   #12
RedEDGE2k1
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Top outer sides.



Tops.



Top shelf "roofs."



Crown molding panels. These will provide attachment surfaces for crown molding.



Door divider. This is not structural, and only serves to block light from shining through inevitable gaps between the cabinet doors.



Bottom shelves.



Top shelves. The front of the shelves are capped with 1x2 oak stock for appeal and to cover the cut edge of the plywood.



Tank base trim. This will be 1x2 oak stock, mitered at the joints for a clean look.





Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 10/01/2007, 03:43 PM   #13
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Top shelf vertical trim. This is 1/4" x 3/4" pine trim I found at Home Depot with a fluted look. Simple, but attractive and will cover the cut edge of the plywood sides.



Oak cabinet doors and fake drawer fronts, to be ordered from www.cabinetdoorsandhardware.com for only $60 total!



3 1/4" Fluted casing trim, can be found at Home Depot / Lowes. Top and bottom caps to match.



Baseboard to match the base in my home.



3 1/8" Crown molding.





Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 10/01/2007, 03:44 PM   #14
RedEDGE2k1
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3/4" Plywood "access panel." This is the same cut-out from the front panel of the cabinet. This will be held in place with cabinet door magnets, allowing complete removal when needec.



Chair rail trim around the access panel, to hide the seam.



Pine stop trim around the tank cut-out.



Completed cabinet.



With Perfecto 90g Corner-Flo tank.



Back cover (1/8" paneling, to block light).





Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 10/01/2007, 03:51 PM   #15
RedEDGE2k1
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The completed cabinet in my living room. I plan on painting it an off-white color, with a faux antique finish, per my girlfriend's demands.





Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 10/01/2007, 06:41 PM   #16
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That looks amazing, good luck!


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Old 10/02/2007, 01:17 PM   #17
RedEDGE2k1
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Well I was planning on buying the cabinet doors and fake drawer fronts from the Reef Central forum-reccommended www.cabinetdoorsandhardware.com site since they sell pre-made sizes for CHEAP...but of course they have discontinued their 21x25 size doors that I had designed my cabinet around. This was both a positive and a negative:

::Negative::
I couldn't find premade doors anywhere else online, so I had to order custom-made cabinet doors/drawer fronts from www.advantagecabinetdoors.com for a grand total of $184.50 (shipping included). I ordered paint grade poplar, since I will be painting these white therefore wood species, grain color matching, etc. doesn't matter. To my surprise, this didn't do much to lower cost. Oak doors would have only been a few bucks more per square foot. (I ordered ~13 sf total) The site I ended up ordering from was the cheapest custom cabinet shop I could find online, some competitors were as high as $300 for the exact same thing.

::Positive::
Custom-made doors! Originally I wanted a 1" gap all around the cabinet doors, between the doors and the stand's trim. However, this wasn't possible given the premade door sizes available at www.cabinetdoorsandhardware.com . Going the custom-made route, I was able to order the exact size doors/drawers I wanted, down the the nearest 1/16". Also, I was able to match my kitchen cabinetry down to every little detail (stile/rail, panels, edging, etc). My kitchen cabinets are viewable from the tank's location, so I'm hoping this subtle detail matching will help the rather large cabinet blend in with our home.

Advantage quoted me a 7-10 day production time, and charged $40 for shipping via FedEx Ground in two seperate boxes. Seems pretty reasonable, considering their competitors were quoting a 4-week lead time. They were also pleasant to deal with on the phone, very friendly staff.

This weekend I'm going to buy new saws, nailers, and of course the plywood/2x4/2x6 components and hopefully get started with the physical build. I've spent enough time on Sketchup -- time to see the real thing come together!


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Old 10/02/2007, 03:16 PM   #18
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very nice, I'm tagging along as well.


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Old 10/08/2007, 09:26 AM   #19
RedEDGE2k1
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This past weekend I finally had the time to start physically building the cabinet for my 90g tank. After a $700 Saturday morning trip to Home Depot to buy a new jig saw, circular saw, cordless drill (all DeWalt), 2" exterior wood screws, four 4x8 sheets of 3/4" oak plywood, and misc trim pieces....I started the build.

First step was to test my new Perfecto tank for leaks. Thankfully this was uneventful.



I opted not to use a table saw for this project, since cutting 4x8 sheets of thick plywood on a table saw is very difficult, and to be accurate requires two people. Instead, I bought a $13 sheet of 3/4" MDF fiberboard, and used this as a cutting board. I layed it directly on the concrete floor of my garage, no saw horses. This way I can position myself anywhere I want while making cuts. I then made a 4' long and 8' long rotary saw jigs to make perfectly straight cuts with a handheld rotary saw. In the end, this process was MUCH easier and MUCH faster than fumbling with a table saw.



The 2x6 header screwed to the front panel of the cabinet. The 2x6 carries the weight of the tank, not the plywood. This allows the opening in the front panel to be unobstructed. I bought a $100 DeWalt jigsaw to cut out the opening in the front panel....but this resulted in a very sloppy cut, as the flexible blade of the jigsaw didn't leave a perfect 90° cut the way a rotary saw does. Also, the jigsaw refused to follow my jig; the blade would start to bend and the saw would then follow the blade. I ended up simlpy following the cut line with my eye, trying to be as accurate as possible. If I could do it over, I would use a rotary saw and plunge-cut into the panel, getting as close to the corners as possible. Then I would only use the jigsaw to finish off the corners.



These 2x4s carry the load of the tank directly to the floor.








Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 10/08/2007, 09:37 AM   #20
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The front panel butts up to the side panels. The cut edge of the side panels will be covered later by fluted columns.





The back panel has cut-outs to reduce weight.





The "floor" panels sit an inch or two above the bottom of the cabinet, to help with leveling issues later. I will add 3/4"x3/4" strips under the center floor panel, to prevent the panel from bowing under the weight of the sump.





Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 10/08/2007, 09:46 AM   #21
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The tank sits on a solid piece of 3/4" oak plywood, which is screwed every 6" to every panel below. Before screwing, the cabinet was squared up and held square while the screws were going in. This ensures 90° corners, making the miter joints to be made later for the trimwork much easier. This panel also divides the "bottom" (sump and cabinets) section of the cabinet from the "top" (display tank and shelves) section, allowing the two pieces to be moved more easily....and of course fit through doorways.





The front side panels are mitered at 45° along one side, to attach to the 45° cut of the outer side panels (below). This corner joint will not be covered by trim, so the plywood edges could not show. Any voids in the mitered joint will be filled with wood filler and sanded smooth before final priming/painting.







Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 10/08/2007, 09:52 AM   #22
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So far the build has taken approximately 16 hours total, spread over one weekend. Today after work I plan on trimming out the bottom section. With all the mitered joints involved, that will probably be all I have time to accomplish this evening. Hopefully I can post more pictures tomorrow.



Last edited by cward; 08/05/2008 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 10/08/2007, 10:27 AM   #23
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great job.....tagging alone


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Old 10/08/2007, 10:49 AM   #24
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very nice job documenting! I'm subscribed.


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Old 10/08/2007, 11:15 AM   #25
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nice woodwork and planning, that looks magnificent.


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