My husband, Danny, is so funny. He has always wanted an aquarium.
He bought a little one after we bought our first house, but when we sold the house and moved to our current home, there wasn’t a good place to put it and the idea of having one was kind of put on the back burner.
But over the last few months, Danny has decided he wanted a “man cave” with an aquarium. So we cleared out the back bedroom and he painted it (that’s another story for another day…I’ll reveal the room when it’s finished 🙂 ), and bought a large used aquarium tank from a Facebook For Sale page.
Then, it sat there for a couple months in the floor, empty. He wanted me to build him a cabinet/stand for it, but if you know Danny, he’s SUPER picky. So I asked him to draw me a picture of what exactly he wanted. Once he FINALLY drew me a picture, I added the build to the bottom of my to do list.
Then, because I’m a
busy horrible wife, TWO MONTHS LATER I got tired of him asking decided I loved him so much, that I carved out a Saturday and built him his cabinet. But, to see the smile on his face after he got everything in place was worth it…I think.
This cabinet could be used for just about anything…TV stand, console, whatever. But, I built it really sturdy to handle the weight of the tank. Danny was picky and wanted it as plain as possible, but have as much molding as possible…not really sure how that works, but I did what I could. Also he was determined to have overlay doors instead of inset doors…something else I didn’t really get, but the customer is always right, so I went with it. Side note: is he a customer if he isn’t paying???
Anyway, here’s the how to in case you need somewhere to set a tank full of 30 gallons of water and a few fish 🙂
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¾” plywood (1/2 sheet)
¼” plywood (1/4 sheet)
2 sets hinges
Step 1: Build Sides of Cabinet
Like I said, I built this sturdy, so the frame is mostly 2x4s. This cabinet ended up being 32” tall x 36” wide x 16 1/2” deep overall. If you wanted deeper or taller, change these dimensions as you wish.
But first, I cut four 2x4s at 30 ½” long and four pieces at 7” long. Then, I assembled two sides like shown using pocket holes and screws. I attached the bottom 2×4 an inch from the bottom.
Before attaching the other 2×4 in the frame, I added a piece of ¾” plywood to fit in the opening. It’s best to measure and cut exactly to fit, but it should be 7” wide x 22 ½” long. I attached using pocket holes and screws.
Lastly, I attached the last 2×4 to complete the two side panels
Step 2: Build Middle Support
To help hold the weight in the middle, I built another frame piece from 2x2s. The two legs should be 30 ½” long and the two “stretchers” should be 11” long. I attached the bottom stretcher2 ¼” from the bottom. Assemble this using pocket holes and screws.
Step 3: Assemble the Cabinet
Now, it was time to attach all three of these pieces together. I cut 4 pieces of 2×4 and 4 pieces of 2×2 all at 13” long and drilled pocket holes in both ends of each piece. . I used 2x2s in the back and 2x4s in the front and assembled as shown.
First I attached one side panel to the middle support, then attached the other side panel to that using pocket hole screws. I attached the bottom 2x4s in the front 1” from the bottom and the back bottom 2x2s 3” from the bottom. (Note: this view is looking from the back.)
Step 4: Add the Bottom
I cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood to fit in the bottom of the cabinet. This should be about 11” x 27 ½”. I drilled pocket holes in both ends and screwed it in place into the two side panels. It should sit right on the bottom piece of the middle support.
Step 5: Attach the top
I used a 2×10 to build a top for the cabinet. I made it 36” long and 16 ½” wide. You can use a circular saw or table saw to trim it down to size. See my post here on how I build table/cabinet tops.
Once the top was together, I screwed it in (making sure it was centered side to side) using 2 ½” screws through the back top supports, the middle top support and “toenailed” (drove in at an angle) through the front top 2×4.
Step 6: Add doors
You can see my post here on how I build these simple Shaker style doors. I made the doors 14” wide and 23 ½” tall.
Step 7: Add trim and moldings
Finally, I added crown molding around the top, base around the bottom, and cove to the insides of the side panels. (Note: I added the cove and base before the top…it doesn’t matter whether you do it before or after except for the crown molding.)
Step 8: Finish
I puttied and sanded where needed then, I stained the cabinet in Minwax Golden Oak and polyed with Minwax Polycrylic. I attached the doors with simple overlay hinges and added these pulls from D Lawless Hardware to the doors to match the black hinges I used.
Then, Danny took it from there and filled his tank with plants and fish…and water of course.
He requested that I didn’t add a back, because he wanted to hide the extension cord and power strip in the cabinet, but if you wanted a back, just staple or nail some ¼” plywood on the back side.
I catch Danny in here all the time just staring. I know he’s not staring at the awesome cabinet I built him, but I know he appreciates it 🙂 Well, I THINK so anyway haha.
He’s got big plans for his man cave, so be sure to keep an eye out to see the updates and DIYs.
But for now, I’ve got to get back to my to do list 🙂
Don’t forget to pin this for later!
Until next time, happy building!