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Thursday, 2 January 2014


Welcome to Part 1 of 'Building a 72 gallon Bowfront Aquarium Stand.' In this wood working EduCast I built the base of the unit.

The approximate dimensions for the aquarium are 48" wide, 13" deep where it is narrowest, 18" deep where it is deepest, and 23 1/2" high.

1) In the first step, I cut a few of the structural pieces. Starting from the left, I made 2 pieces from a 2" x 8" (48" wide) which were used to shape out the bow portion of the stand. In the center, I made 2 pieces from a 2" x 4" (48" wide) that will hold the back corners together. I also made the vertical pieces that will form the corners from 2" x 4" (25" high).
First cuts

2) Next, I sat the pieces used for the bow on top of the tank and traced the bowfront. I tried to use as much of the wood as possible.Trace bowfront shape
3) I used a jigsaw to cut out the bow shaped pieces. Use whatever you want but you don't have to be perfectly smooth since the piece will be 'skinned' later.Cut out bowfront pieces
4) Once the bow pieces were cut, I start putting the back corners together. I used 2 1/2" screws. 3 per side should do it. Keep in mind that if you're staining the wood, try to put any inked wood facing out of view. It makes for less sanding later.
Assemble back corners

5) Next, I attached the 48" wide piece from step 1 across the top lining them together.
Link back corners
6) I flipped over the back portion from step 5 and attached the bottom piece with another 48" wide piece from step 1.
Link bottom piece
7) Since this tank is large and will be heavy once filled, I added an additional brace in the middle using another 25" piece from step 1.Add support brace
8) Next, I cut 2 pieces from a 2" x 4" (11 1/2" wide). These will be used to link the front and back assemblies together.

If you've never made pocket holes, I'd suggest learning. Since I was shown how to make them from Master 'Hoot', I've used them frequently. For this step I used a Kreg Jig Jr and made 2 pocket holes on one side of each 11 1/2" piece.
TIP - Pocket holes are a great and easy way to hide screws
Make front to back connectors

9) Here you can see the 11 1/2" pieces attached that will link the back to the front. Repeat this with 2 more 11 1/2" pieces for the bottom as well.

Notice the pocket hole allow for the screws to be below the surface. Since I'll be adding another layer on top later on, I don't want any screw heads getting in my way.
Pocket holes
10) Once the front-to-back joiners are in place, I used 2 more 25" vertical pieces to make the front left and right corners using the bowfront pieces from step 1. The only thing to note here is that the corner pieces will only take 1 screw per corner and will overhang past the bow pieces.

Once the rectangle is made, you can fit in the front to the back. They should fit together like a puzzle, and the front corners should slide into the front-to-back joiners. You can add 1 more screw per top corner (where the vertical corners slid into the front to back pieces), then carefully flip the unit and repeat.

For extra strength, I piloted 2 holes on the face of each corner and counter sunk 8 more screws.
Assemble front
11) I added 3 more 25" braces. I butted 1 extra per front corner, and 1 in the middle to help support the weight.
Add front braces
12) So far we've made the outer structure. This will accommodate a backing piece later on that will hold the canopy in place. Until we get there, I'll fill in the remaining pieces that will help support the weight of the water, tank, and gravel.

I measured another piece to the bottom and top that were 41" (48" - 3 1/2" - 3 1/2"). I then added a 25" vertical brace (using 2" x 6") to each back corner.Add additional braces
13) I'm not often criticized for building things weak. That said, I finished off the corners with another 25" piece (using 2" x 4").Finish back corners
14) Now that the back vertical corner pieces were added, I screwed the previously cut horizontal 41" pieces to the top...
Back top support
15) ...and to the bottom. This thing is heavy so you may need help flipping it.Add bottom support
16) This is what your bowfront stand should look like so far.Assembled base

Next week I'll continue this project with Part 2 - The Back and the Skinning.

Happy wood working!!

(Don't forget to Pin it, 'Like' it, Share it, and comment below ;)

NEXT UP: Building a 72g bowfront aquarium stand - p2 - Back & Skinning


  1. thank you for posting this project. I will be following it to a 'T' in the next few days for my own 72 gallon bowfront! if there is anything you want to holla about this project that you would recommend to one about to build it, speak now, lol. i will check this comment board for reply every time i refer to instructions. gathering a materials list by reading it over now

  2. As there are hard and soft woods (e.g. oak vs pine, etc), does it matter what type of wood you use wrt structural integrity/strength? Thx!

  3. To be honest I used softwood (studs from homedepot/lowes) because it was cheap. I would think anything of better quality, like common hardwoods, should be way stronger and look far nicer.

  4. Exactly what I was looking for my VICENZA 260L's water damaged stand. Great job and write up

  5. What kind of wood did you use. I’m trying to make one but the wood split when I was putting on the screws