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Thursday, 9 January 2014


Welcome to Part 2 of 'Building a 72 gallon Bowfront Aquarium Stand.' In this wood working EduCast, I built the canopy support and 'skinned' the structure.
You should have the base structure already built from Part 1 of this series, which would look like this.
Completed Part 1
TIP - For the panels, try to orient the grain so that vertical pieces have vertical grain, and horizontal pieces have horizontal grain. It looks more pleasing to the eye that way.

1) I started by adding 1/4" panel board cover the bottom of the structure. This was the hardest part since I had to cut out the vertical support areas to fit in the panels. I measured the areas that had to be deleted from a rectangular piece and used a jigsaw to do the cutting.

I then added the back panel that was flush on all sides. Since this panel board I bought was good on one side, I put the bad sides where I wouldn't see them (when possible).
Add bottom and back panel

2) Next, I added the top panels. I made 2 of these 'D' shaped pieces by laying down rectangular panels and cutting them along the bow frame piece. By adding 2 of them I got a bit more strength even though they won't be carrying any weight.

Notice that I didn't go all the way to the back. I left this area uncovered for when I added the canopy support.Add top panels

3) I continued on by adding the sides.
Add side panels

4) Next, I added the front vertical sides to the stand. I made them high enough to cover top-to-bottom and wide enough to cover the supports.

I continued with the bottom horizontal bow strip. Since the panel board is only 1/4" thick, it's easy to bend. I cut a piece that was 1 1/2" thick to cover the bottom and used clamps, glue and brad nails to fasten the piece to the stand.

TIP - If you plan to stain wood, try to avoid getting glue on the exposed surface.

Add panel to bow on the base

5) I then added a strip to the top bow section to match the bottom from step 4.

The front vertical support was also added in the step.
Add top and vertical strip

6) Since the outer shell was done, I started to build the support for the canopy. I wanted to end up with a 7" high canopy. Since the tank is 23 1/2", I needed to make a support that was 30 1/2" high.

I cut 2 horizontal pieces to 48" wide. For the vertical pieces, I cut 2 studs to 27 1/2" (30 1/2" - 1 1/2" - 1 1/2"). Once cut, I screwed the pieces together as seen below.
Build canopy support

7) Once built, attach the canopy support to the base in the area that wasn't covered with paneling. I used 8 screws.
Attach canopy support to base

8) Here you can see what the unit looks like with the tank on it. Notice how the tank and stand fit together.
Tank on stand

9) I needed to add some holes at the base of the canopy support so I could feed the tubes and cords that run the tank.

I used a 1 1/4" hole saw and made 2 holes. Keep in mind that you have to remove the wood that gets jammed in the hole saw frequently since this is a thick hole that is being drilled out.

TIP - You can spray your hole saw with water if it starts to burn the wood.

Make holes for tubes and cords

10) Since the canopy support structure is complete, I started to add the paneling to it. I started with the top.
Add panel to top of canopy support

11) I continued onto the side panels. For these, I made them 1/4" wider so the back panel in the next step would be flush.
Add side panels to canopy support
12) I finished the paneling with the canopy support back.
Finished canopy panels
13) At this point the 1/4" paneling is done so I move onto the trim pieces. I wanted to add wainscoting to the tank for style, and hide the aquarium's black plastic (top and bottom).

Since buying the exact piece of wood is nearly impossible or is expensive, I opted to plane the pieces I needed. I bought a planer on sale to get this portion done.

I made two 3" pieces that were just under 1/2" thick. At this thickness I was able to bend them and not break them. These 3" pieces were made to cover the aquarium's black plastic.

TIP - Planers are awesome since you can make almost any rectangular shape of wood you want!!

Planed trim

14) Here you can see the piece once it was adhered. To begin, I wet the wood on moth sides and let is sit for 30 minutes. Then, I used clamps, glue and screws (piloted holes as usual) to keep this piece in place. For clamping, I alternated between both sides adding a couple of squeezes to the clamps so I would add too much pressure all at once.

Notice that I attached the trim piece 1 1/2" above the 'D' surface so that once the tank is placed into the stand, the aquarium's black plastic will be hidden.

TIP - If you wet the wood you want to bend ahead of time, it will become more pliable

Front trim added

15) This picture illustrates how I use scrap pieces of wood between the clamp and my finish piece of wood. This helps to prevent the clamp from marking the finish wood and it also helps to bridge the pressure evenly.
Clamping technique

16) Next I added the bottom trim. This piece was slightly thicker at 1/2" than the rest of the trim pieces used. This gives the stand a slightly heavier base appearance.
Add front bottom trim piece

17) Continuing on, I added the trim box to the bottom side portions. The thickness can me made to your preference.
Add bottom side trim pieces

18) I then completed the remainder of the horizontal trim pieces and filled in the vertical pieces afterwards. Although not completely shown, you can see the canopy support has similar trim on the sides as well.
Trimming completed
Next week I'll continue this project with Part 3 - Staining and Finish.
Happy wood working!!

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

NEXT UP: Building a 72g bowfront aquarium stand - p3 - The Canopy


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Whitney, I only ever made one and recently sold it. :(

  2. Is there a materials list available for this project?

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