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Building a 2 tier stand with beadboard and #2 pine boards.


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I thought I would provide photos and an explanation as I build a 2 tier fish tank stand using beadboard and #2 pine board.

This cabinet is going to hold a 29 gallon tank on top and the lower level will house a 20 high tank.

I bought four 8 foot Tongue  and groove beadboards from Home Depot for $8.97 each and a single 1x12 #2 pine board for $28.00.  I had glue, screws, stain and polycrylic leftover from prior projects.

wood cost for this project $64 ish…


This is three layers of paper. I can slide it back and forth under the frame with no problem.  There is no bearing under the center part of the tank, front or back. All bearing is under the two sides.  As such the spreader up front simply holds the side pieces stable. It does not bear a load.



The first step is to determine the width of your tank so that you can design your stand to have the side panels under the tank providing bearing surface.


I cut the four 8 foot beadboard boards into 32 inch lengths.  This gave me 12 boards 32 inches long. This will be the height of my stand.


Time to cut the boards, 30 minutes.


Next installment tomorrow.

Edited by Pepere
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On the second day Ispent a half hour to cut the crossbraces and trim the end boards of each panel to;

1.) get rid of the tongue and the groove, leaving a square edge for better appearance and fastening.

2.) make sure the beadboard has the two end sections uniform to each other.

I bet some pictures would make this clearer.



Here is a side panel. If you look at the front edge in the middle you can see the tongue and grooves.  They have been cut off the front and back end of the panel to reveal solid wood 3/4 of an inch thick. You can also see that both the front end and the back end has the width from the bead to the end of the board the same width.  This is much more visually appealing then having one narrow and the other wide.


The side panels are 14 1/4 inches deep.  The bottom shelf will be that depth with a front crossbrace flush with the shelf top yielding 15 inches of depth.  This will give the ability to have a 20 high aquarium in and accomodate a hob on the back if I ever decide to.


The back panels likewise has the end boards trimmed for even width removing the tongue and grooves.  The width of the panel is 28 1/2 inches.  It sets between the two side panels so you need to deduct the thickness of the side panels from the cabinets width. This positions the side panels directly under the tanks ends.

30” tank width less 1 1/2 inches, ( each side panel 3/4 of an inch thick.


i also cut top and bottom crossbraces.  The top are 2 inches tall, the bottoms are three inches tall. The side top and bottom cross braces are 3/4 of an inch less than the panel width.

The back panels top and bottom braces are 1 1/2 inches shorter than the panels width.

Cutting these pieces out took another half hour.

I tend to one 3 year old grandson weekdays so his parents can go to work.  I leave home at 6:00 in the morning and get home at 6:30.

I sneak in a half hour in the evening before taking a shower and visiting with my other 3 year old grandson, hence the short snippets of time building.

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The next step requires a carpenters square.  Is your square, square? Or is it out of square? An out of square square will leave your stand cock eyed…. I check my square for squarness every day I use it.  It is easy to do.



Set it alongside your panel and lightly draw a line with a pencil along an edge.  Sanding the panel before staining will remove this mark, just dont bear down hard to indent the wood.  Yes this is a completed panel. I didnt think to take a picture of checking the square ahead of time so took these pics this morning.


see your line?

Now flip the square to the other side and check that it is parallel to the drawn line.  If it is not parallel, you square is not square.  Squares go out of square if you drop them or hit them hard.  This Square is trustworthy for this project. We can move on….

If your square is not square you can get a new one, or you can try fixing it.  If you want to try fixing it do an internet search on how to do it.

If you did not cut your beadboard precisely 32 inches there will be offsets and they will not be flush at one end.  But this is a forgiving build and we hide our errors… The Difference  between a good cabinet maker and a not so good one is the good one knows how to hide their mistakes.  

Lets start with the left hand side panel firs. Align your pieces on a flat surface bead side down.  Make sure the bottom edge that will be in contact with the floor is near you and it is flush across the bottom and the tongue and grooves are firmly seated.  Use your square to mark a line three inches up from the bottom and a vertical mark 3/4 of an inch in from the right hand side.  Remember the cross braces was cut 3/4 of an inch shorter than the width of the panel.

Gluing the panel adds a LOT of rigidity to the structure preventing the panels from racking. Don’t be stingy with a quality wood glue, but don’t overdo it either. Put too much and it will squeeze out and leave blotches on the wood that will not accept stain well if you are staining and varnishing. If painting instead, all is good.  This is about right.  Align the bottom cross brace to the marks keeping the left hand side flush with the front and the right hand side 3/4 of an inch away from the back edge.

I like these screws they use a T25 bit that will not strip like a phillips bit and

The end of the screw thread has a slot that predrills your hole as you drive it. This prevents the screw from splitting the wokd near the ends of a board. While I like these screws, the ones I had on hand were too long.  You want Inch and a quarter screws.  This has the screw enter more than half way through the second piece of wood without coming out the other side.

By offsetting the screws top and bottom and either side of the vertical boards you distribute clamping pressure evenly. Screws primarily act as clamps for the glue bond to be strong, but leaving them in after it cures provides protection against shockloading.

Next use your square to mark a line 30 inches up from the bottom edge and attach the top cross brace in the same manner with glue and screws aligning the bottom edge of the brace with the line and offset on the right hand side. For the top, I use 1 screw per vertical board in the center of the crossbrace. 

Depending how well you cut your 32 inch lengths, you might have a board below the top edge of the brace or extending beyond it a bit.  Once the panel has sat for 24 hours for the glue to reach full strength you can cut off any excess and ignore the shortage. It wont affect strength any, and we will hide it with trim.



Repeat the process for the right hand panel but this time the offsets are on the left hand side of the panels.  When done your panels should be mirror images as above.


The back panel is assembled in a likewise manner though make sure you attach the crossbraces on the beadboard side, and there is a 3/4 inch offset on both the left and right hand sides of the panel.


Assembling  the panels took me another half hour. Much less time than writing the description and posting the pictures.

Set your panels on a flat surface and allow the glue to cure 24 hours for full strength.  If you are in a hurry to assemble the rest in an afternoon, give them at least an hour.

Next step is cutting the front crossbraces and assembling the basic case.

Edited by Pepere
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On 10/20/2022 at 9:24 AM, Mr Gumby said:

awesome stuff, I can see a few orders from other nerms coming your way lol

I think the cost would be prohibitive. It is very competitive with store bought doing it yourself and vastly better quality, but on a hired basis I would have to add in for fasteners, glue and finishing which would bring materials up to about $80-85.00.  Labor to build it alone would be $250.00 and shipping a finished case would not be cheap.  There is a reason most furniture ships knock down with all of those ridiculous cams and screws that strips out so easily from the plastic contact paper covered particle board that off gases formaldehyde for months.

I suspect the market would not support a $500.00 delivered price for unfinished sand stain and varnish yourself.

This build is really not bad for someone with not much experience to build. The toughest part is making the initial trimming cuts on the beadboard to have them line up right visually.  And if you don't get that quite right, the worse thing about it is it wouldn't look quite right to an experienced eye.  Most non craftsmen would never notice.  They might know something wasn't quite right, but most could not tell you what.

Perhaps a precut predrilled knockdown kit that someone simply glues and screws together and sands and finishes to save on shipping a bit. But then you have labor to dissasemble after assembly…


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On 10/20/2022 at 6:46 AM, Pepere said:

I suspect the market would not support a $500.00 delivered price for unfinished sand stain and varnish yourself.

I found an etsy type shop once for wood projects.  Be it a desk or whatever.  Needless to say it wasn't cheap.  There is totally a market for fish tank stands if you have the income, but not equipment!  I'm just saying.... it would have to be clear the cost, but people will always pay for quality work.


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Another day, another half hour invested in the build.

The top and bottom front crossbraces are cut out as well as the bottom shelf cleat that will attach to the front crossbrace, and part of the top and bottom shelf was cut out tonight.

If you remember I told you this build was forgiving.  If the initial cuts of the beadboard length are a hair too long or too short it is not a crises.  To prove that point I purposely made one an 1/8 inch too long, and a few too short in order to show you how to deal with that.


see that overhang on the bottom panel? The beadboard extends beyond the crossbrace. This is OK though as we used a square and located our crossbrace where it needs to be.  

simply cut the part that extends so it is flush with the brace.  Problem solved.

if the beadboard is short, no problems. You wont see that on the inside of the cabinet because the top will rest on the crossbrace, and we wont see it on the outside either because we will be covering it with molding trim.  You do know that molding trim was never intended as decoration.  It was intended for hiding imperfections and it was made decorative as an excuse….

so, my 29 gallon tank is 30 inches wide, and I am making the cabinet 30 inches wide so that the side panels bear all of the weight.


so the top and bottom cross brace are 30 inches long too.  The top one is 2 inches high, the bottom one will be 3 3/4 inches high.  If you remember the bottom cross braces for the panels were 3 inches high. By cutting the front one 3 3/4 high it will hide the front of the bottom shelf giving a cleaner look. I also cut a cleat 3/4 by 3/4 28 inches long that will glue to the back of the bottom crossbrace, 3/4 of an inch down from the top.  The bottom shelf will be glued and screwed to this cleat as well as to the tops pf the bottom crossbraces of the side and back panels.  If this description makes your head spin, dont worry. It will be more clear with the assembly picture in the next post.


here are the top and bottom cross braces and the cleat.

Now on the bottom of the front bottom crossbrace I cut out a decorative cutout so items that fall on the floor have a fighting chance of rolling under the cabinet out of reach as it is only fair to do so..


I drew astraight line about an inch and a half up from the bottom and two vertical lines about 3 1/2 inches from the ends. Then I look for a round container that is about the right size and use it to draw in curves because they look better than straight lines.

Now you have lines were you want your cut to be. Inused a power scroll saw. And when I start the cut I remind myself to cut outside the line because I am not good enough to cut right to the line.  And I have done this a lot.. I can guarantee you, your not going to be good enough either.. Cut about a mm or two away from the line and then clamp it in a woodworker vise and file down to the line and then sand away the file marks.78F56B60-DE29-410A-AC25-949559B10FC0.jpeg.81ea857aa37fa90c28a7fbb705ddb72b.jpeg

and, if you opps with the file and put a divot, that sticks out like a sore thumb…69224218-2872-4A39-98AA-58949E92C7A0.jpeg.180c1c626d84b1749670e70fe5088722.jpeg

You can flip the piece over and hide it on the backside… Nobody will see it, and I wont tell on you. But remember you can only do that once…


Finally I cut my 1x12 for part of the bottom shelf and part of the cabinet top.  I say part, because a 1x12 is really 3/4 by 11 1/2 inches wide and if you remember, I am making my cabinet around 14 1/2 inches deep.  It is ok, we will measure precisely and insert another piece later to fill in the missing piece.  The two 11 1/2 pieces are enough to hold everything solid and square it up.

The bottom shelf is the same length as the back panel is wide. 28 1/2 inches.

The top shelf however we will want to overhang the front and sides by 1 1/2 inches and will be flush in the back.  So the width is 30 inches for the stand, and allowing 1 1/2 for both right and left side we add 3 inches so that one is cut 33 inches long.

we overhang by 1 1/2 soas to allow the molding trim under it to cover our mistakes if we made them, and it looks better anyway and is decorative. And seeing as we are going to have somewhere around 300 lbs on the stand, we glue and screw that trim in place which further reinforces and makes the stand more rigid…


And that is that for tonight.  

God willing I will assemble the stand tomorrow and take more pictures abd shareit with you…


typing the description takes longer than the work…





Edited by Pepere
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Going 3D is always exciting.  The panels and pieces come together and the cabinet starts to take form.



The first thing I did was to glue and screw the cleat 3/4 of an inch down from the top of the bottom front crossbrace.  Yeah I forgot to take a picture until it was attached to the case.A8EDB0C4-93CC-43E5-8897-C9C9BFA8C27F.jpeg.6f29cdc44269f60f9eff9df0f5a55bd6.jpeg9EC0155D-375D-4FCD-8949-40FECE638684.jpeg.20c48359523df275e8f8a63d7ebe2e36.jpegD02902F1-167B-4E2F-B411-F86F67945E89.jpeg.3cfeaab58be516c8279d50e40acb4b79.jpeg


these are the trim screws I like to use to attach the parts thatwill be seen.  Stainless steel screws with ahead about the same size as a finish nail. Cut in the threads to predrill the hole and t15 star drive head.


the sides of the back panel have a thin stripe of glue and the screws go in from the outside of the side panel.  Make sure the top crossbraces of the panels are flush with each other.  

The tops of the bottom crossbraces receive glue, and the bottom shelf is put in all the way back.  Place a screw in each back corner about an inch from the ends and a third in the middle.  The bottom shelf, assuming you cut it square, will square up the cabinet.  All you need to do is pull the sides in so they toach the shelf side if they are bowed out and drive a screw at the front corners and again in the middle of the shelf width into the bottom crossbraces on the side panels.


Then you can attach the front crossbraces top and bottom again gluing and screwing.

Finally I centered the top panel, ensuring the top overhangs the front and sides by 1 1/2 inch, and draw witness marks for lining it back up after I applied glue to yhe top crossbraces.


Three screws to each side evenly spaced, and three additional screws into front crossbrace.


it is helpfull to use a ruler and pencil to mark where you want to sink your screws ensuring they are evenly spaced and will inter the crossbrace centers. Ie 1 7/8 inch back from front edge, and 2 5/8 inch in from edges.


set it on a level part of the floor and leave it a few hours for the glue to set up.

About a half hour spent on it.


Tomorrow I will measure and cut to ad to the bottom shel and top panel and install them, and then cut and fit the molding trim.. under the top panel.





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Another half hour of production, a fully built cabinet waiting for sanding staining and clear coat polycrylic.

The water based Polycrilic dries crystal clear which is a definite consideration with a color stain rather than a brown wood stain.  I am using the blue stain I have on my other stands because my bedroom is all a blue motif.  Using polyuerethane gives a distinctly yellow cast which just doesnt look good on the blue.




Icut a scrap of wood to fill in the bottom shelf.   Yes, it is dirty but a light sanding will look good as new.  Glue is applied to the cleat and bottom crossbrace tops and to both edges of the piece fitting in front and back. And a few finish screws are sunk.

likewise the topwas measured and glued down again putting a bead of glue on the front edge to glue it to the other board and set screw in below surface of wood.  Fairly straight forward.




Remember I purposely cut a few boards short and a few long to show you how to deal with it?  I trimmed off the long with a finish pull saw.  And here is the gap from the short boards.  Remember moulding was invented to cover mistakes…


with a miter box I cut a 45% angle to one side of the moulding and fitted it to the front of the cabinet under the top.



line up the angle on one side correctly, ie the entire cyt surface extends past the cabinet.  With a pencil mark where the cabinet ends on the other side.


cut a 45 degree angle on the other side.  The moulding top and back gets glue and three screws at an angle upward to enter the top at a shallow angle drives it home.


I cut another angle on the moulding and test fit it to the front, glue and screw it in place and then cut off the part hanging past with a finish pull saw.


repeat on the other side, and you have a fully constructed double tier aquarium cabinet. Let the glue dry and sand it and finish it whether you want stain and varnish or opt for paint..

when you sand do yourself a favor and lightly break all the edges,  round them over ever so slightly.  Hard corner abhor a finish.  If you put paint or varnish on a hard corner, capillary action pulls the finish away from the corner.  Round it over ever so slightly and you will get a thicker more uniform film.  And when someone rubs their hand over it, the finish is more durable.


Edited by Pepere
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If you wanted an enclosed cabinet below the top tank, one could simply frame out the face and add doors as well as add an additional inner shelf.


this same design can easily be scaled up or down to suit any tank size.

I plan on using roughly the same design when I add a 75 gallon tank sometimes next year.  

With  a 4 foot wide tank, I will add a middle panel bisecting the cabinet into 2 two foot wide sections.  I would also increase the top cross braces to 3 inches of width and double the front one gluing and screwing it together.

Likewise if I added a 6 foot tank I would have 2 full height dividers dividing cabinet into 3 two foot wide cabinets.  The potential weight of a 6 footer does give me some pause, and I might add a few diagonal braces to the back and side panels on the non viewed side, and potentially double all of the top crossbraces.

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I filled in the finish screw holes with late. Wood filler, let dry and sanded flush to the wood, and sanded all surfaces to remove dirt, pencil marks and planer marks.  The sawmill planes the wood and if you dont sand them away, the planer marks stick out like a sore thumb when you stain the wood.  60 grit, 100 grit and 150 with a random orbital palm sander.

As this is Pine, I hit the wood with wood conditioner before staining.  If you do not use wood conditioner some ares soak up copious amounts of stain that will be really dark and other areas not so much.  The conditioner gets soaked up so the stain acceptance is much more even.


I only use oil based stains, the water based stains are miserable to get good coverage.

Aniline wood dye would be a treat as it only dyes the fiber and does not cover, but this matches what I have already.


I will let oils from the stain application outgas for 2 days before starting to finish with water based crystal clear polycrylic.  I love polycrylic. It dries really fast and you can easily get three coats in a day…. But with babysitting every day, it will be 1 coat a day for three days.


It should come out of the basement and into my bedroom next weekend.B71A0595-F11A-4BFC-AB5B-8B940D499F1A.jpeg.baad7ee9a2832208f3663a71f89d45e3.jpegB12BBF54-9892-4867-A770-7154F612A4F3.jpeg.7b63884e57f70e0840b0afd37222d432.jpegE5D70311-E543-49E8-B4DB-4A8DBB861DA0.jpeg.0b7675e96ad3d72498b758a14d65fcd9.jpeg


Hole drilled in the back for airline tubing and power cords.


If anyone wants I can share the secret to making an oval hole…

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The wood conditioner is crystal clear. It imparts no color to the wood.  My guess is that it is little more than the oil carrier or an oil stain without any pigment.

you paint it on with a brush, let it set for a while and wipe off the excess just as you would with a stain, and then apply the stain within a few hours.  If the conditioner dries out too much, ie letting it sit for a day before staining it doesnt do its work.

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Brought the new stand upstairs.

new 29 gallon tank on top.  Getting ready to wash substrate.


20 high moved to bottom shelf.


Next project will have to be a cabinet to mount on the wall to house power strips, inkbird controller, and air pumps with cable and airline tender.

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The top extension is the function of the depth of the cabinet for the bottom tank.

I could have made this one a few inches deeper had I wanted to accommodate a HOB filter, but I have fallen out of love with HOB filters.

in my mind undergravel filters and box filters have a lot going for them.

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