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Custom Oak Aquarium - Mount Worthington

maj74

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19 Oct 2008
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Well I'm returning to a new setup after several years away from planted tanks.

I've already been skimming through the fora here picking up ideas and asking some questions.

It will be a high tech tank that I'm building from scratch (including the tank itself) as, in typical fashion, I want something particular.

I have had a Fluval Edge 45L in the past and just like the look of the slightly undersized base and light arrangement - accentuates the tank.

However the biggest frustration with these tanks is the restricted access through the top 'opening'.

So I'm taking the Fluval Edge style and putting my own twist on it.

Using solid Oak worktops, I am creating a base, rear 'box' to contain all the pipework, to which the hood (also made out of oak worktop) will be hinged at the back so it can simply lift out of the way of the open topped tank.

Illustration attached below - Was going to use 3 x aquaray mini tiles until I discovered they were discontinued.

AD18801A-89DF-4299-AEF5-DB3655C176DD.jpeg
 
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maj74

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Dimensions 80 x 45 x 45 rimless open topped tank in 8mm glass. (Approx 140 litres)

Front and sides Optiwhite, rear and base conventional glass (to reduce cost)

Filter: Eheim Professional 4 Thermofilter with 16mm Aquascaper glasswork

Lighting: 2 x Aquaray Grobeam ND1500 tiles with Aquaray timer

CO2 injection through inline diffuser to reduce pipework into the tank.

TMC EasiDose for ferts delivery - starting with TNC Complete.
 
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maj74

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Rear glass drilled for water level bulkhead feeding directly into drain.

Sump water tank in cabinet pumping water into filter outlet (via tapped 'T' Junction) allowing semi-automatic water changes in conjunction with overflow bulkhead. (Will still do siphoning water changes to remove detritus when needed)

Woodwork:

Base: 18mm & 37mm Oak worktop board bonded together
Rear: 18mm board to make a box which all pipework will sit in
Hood: Hinged solid worktop (18 & 37mm bonded together)

Hood Construction: One board of the hood will have slots for 5mm thick aluminium bars routed into it. Bars added before two layers bonded together, encasing the bars. This, combined with the two layers will hopefully prevent warping.

Routed openings in the hood for the 2 x 1500ND Grobeam tiles to drop in. Leaves heat sinks open to air for cooling.
 
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maj74

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Pipework: This is the planned arrangement. Note the planned taps and 'T' Junction to allow Lily Pipe to be used for water changes.

The filter will actually be double tapped on both pipes so that it can be completely removed from the cabinet for easy servicing.

Water feed will be rainwater storage, pumped into the sump so it can get up to room temperature before being pumped into the tank.



IMG-0054.jpg
 
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maj74

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Slow progress - Just don't have the time I would like to dedicate to getting this done quickly!

Scale drawings to check dimensions of all the woodwork - Oak worktops are expensive, so it's about making every piece count.

The 29mm board is left over from another project - This is combined with the 18mm board to make nice chunky 47mm base and hood

Unfortunately my boards are just not quite wide enough for some of the widest pieces I need, hence cutting strips from the spare pieces to make that little extra width.

IMG-0096.jpg

Actually having to make the 2 pieces to add to the sides to make them full height, from the squares cut out of the hood to take the Aquaray tiles. All I'm left with from the 2440mm x 600mm x 18mm board will be a strip 5cm x 60cm - Can't complain at that!
 
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maj74

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First practical job was to make a solid support for the centre of the sideboard - it's already bowed from the weight of the Fluval Edge that's been on there in the past, and that's less than a third the weight of what's about to go on there!

IMG-0093.jpg

IMG-0094.jpg

IMG-0095.jpg

When it first went underneath, the worktop actually rocked from the bow in the centre, with neither end touching the floor! That has now dropped out and the top is flat again.
 

maj74

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So an afternoon out in the workshop has resulted in a pile of boards ready to be bonded and assembled. Will take a little while to turn these into an assembled base, back and hood.

IMG-0092.jpg

I had built a couple of circular saw jigs to guarantee perfectly straight cuts across the boards - Glad I did - All pieces have come out within 0.5mm of required widths, so once the base and hood are layered together, minimal sanding will be needed.
 

Deano3

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So an afternoon out in the workshop has resulted in a pile of boards ready to be bonded and assembled. Will take a little while to turn these into an assembled base, back and hood.

View attachment 155727

I had built a couple of circular saw jigs to guarantee perfectly straight cuts across the boards - Glad I did - All pieces have come out within 0.5mm of required widths, so once the base and hood are layered together, minimal sanding will be needed.
Wood looks very nice should be a great build

Sent from my SM-G970F using Tapatalk
 

maj74

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This afternoon, the big job I wasn't looking forward to - Cutting out the openings for the light units in the hood board.

There's still quite a lot of fettling to do in order to get the openings looking really good and smooth, but I'm fairly pleased so far.

IMG-0107.jpg

Still got to route the slots for the power cable and then slots for the aluminium bars that will be embedded between the 2 boards.
Hopefully the combination of two boards bonded together, along with the aluminium bars between the two will prevent any warping as it sits above the tank.
 

maj74

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Spent the afternoon sanding the base and routing all the slots in the hood.

Have managed to get all the slots for the metal bars into the hood before bonding the two boards together.

IMG-0112.jpg

The slots are sized so that the bars just drop in with no spare room at all. Hopefully this, combined with the two boards laminated together, will resist warping.

Also routed the slots for the Aquaray tile power cables, finished routing and sanding the edges of the lighting cutouts, and test fitted the tiles.

IMG-0113a.jpg IMG-0114.jpg

Pleased with the fit. Should be no overheating issues with the tiles completely open to the top.

Quite like the little edge glow around the tiles on the top once they're switched on.

IMG-0116a.jpg IMG-0115.jpg
 

Andrew T

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I’m in the wood finishing trade; I’ve seen quite a few solid wood tables warp from absorbing moisture over time through the unfinished side(usually underneath).
Wood , especially one exposed to moisture, should be sealed and finished with a solvent or water base finish on all sides to prevent warping.
Even a clear matte polyurethane like General Finishes high performance exterior polyurethane will yield great results without looking too shinny and distracting and it’s an easy to use alternative to solvents especially when you don’t have access to spray equipment and experience with those other products.

I like when people build stuff like this! Kudos to you!
 

maj74

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I’m in the wood finishing trade; I’ve seen quite a few solid wood tables warp from absorbing moisture over time through the unfinished side(usually underneath).
Wood , especially one exposed to moisture, should be sealed and finished with a solvent or water base finish on all sides to prevent warping.
Even a clear matte polyurethane like General Finishes high performance exterior polyurethane will yield great results without looking too shinny and distracting and it’s an easy to use alternative to solvents especially when you don’t have access to spray equipment and experience with those other products.

I like when people build stuff like this! Kudos to you!
Thanks for this. Was absolutely expecting to finish all the timber work in some way.
Was thinking about several coats of danish oil or equivalent, but could also wax or varnish,

I like the idea of oiling because I can add more coats as necessary. But maybe varnishing is better?
 

Andrew T

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There’s a product out of Germany that just recently made its way into the US called Osmo Poly-x oil.
It’s an oil/wax combo that’s easily applied by hand with a pad and just gives the wood a really rich look after buffing it out. Oil goes in the wood while the wax stays on top as a protective layer.
Here’s the product and some clear cedar T&G I’ve finished with it: a gallon is quite expensive but it goes a loooong way...a quart or pint is more appropriate for small projects .

A6EE7F0F-90D0-4CF2-ADA4-B52FB1C78DC7.jpeg
87F9FCF7-CB21-4008-825B-6ABD9F35DF8E.jpeg
 

maj74

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There’s a product out of Germany that just recently made its way into the US called Osmo Poly-x oil.
It’s an oil/wax combo that’s easily applied by hand with a pad and just gives the wood a really rich look after buffing it out. Oil goes in the wood while the wax stays on top as a protective layer.
Here’s the product and some clear cedar T&G I’ve finished with it: a gallon is quite expensive but it goes a loooong way...a quart or pint is more appropriate for small projects .

View attachment 155885View attachment 155886
That looks like good stuff, but crikey you pay through the nose for it in the States.
It costs only just over half as much in the UK. Makes a change for something to be cheaper over here. It’s normally the other way round.

Will seriously consider it. I’ve got to coat 3 boards about 75 x 50cm on both sides (plus a little more).

What sort of amount do I need?
 

Andrew T

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That looks like good stuff, but crikey you pay through the nose for it in the States.
It costs only just over half as much in the UK. Makes a change for something to be cheaper over here. It’s normally the other way round.

Will seriously consider it. I’ve got to coat 3 boards about 75 x 50cm on both sides (plus a little more).

What sort of amount do I need?
A quart will do 👍🏻
Yes shipping stuff across the pond isn’t exactly cheap:) ...limited availability from retailers drive the price up as well.
 

maj74

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A quart will do 👍🏻
Yes shipping stuff across the pond isn’t exactly cheap:) ...limited availability from retailers drive the price up as well.
My only question before ordering some of this stuff (it does look good) is if the wax stays on the surface, while the oil soaks in, then can you ever do an additional coat at a later time?

The attraction of something like danish oil, is that you can just whack on another coat at any time in the future if you need to spruce the finish up.

I don't want a finish you have to go through the hassle of stripping / sanding off in order to redo.
 

Andrew T

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Yes it’s very easy to just re-apply a coat or two on top of existing down the road.
No need to strip down the finish.
The nicest thing about it is no fumes or nasty smell while applying.
It has a faint smell of “something” but at least you know you’re not damaging your brain cells:)
I’ve had my fair share of conversion varnishes and 2k polyurethanes fumes over the years ; this product was a great breath of fresh air so to speak.
 

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