When my husband, Danny, decided he wanted a “man cave” with an aquarium, that meant I was tasked with building him a new DIY aquarium cabinet stand.
He was eager, so he quickly cleared out the back bedroom, painted it, and bought a large used aquarium tank from a Facebook For Sale page.
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 aquarium cabinet stand. 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 fish 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 Aquarium 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 of Aquarium Stand
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 stretcher 2 ¼” from the bottom. Assemble this using pocket holes and screws.
Step 3: Assemble the Aquarium 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 of Cabinet Stand
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 to Aquarium Cabinet Stand
You can see my post here on how I build these simple Shaker style doors. Or if you want to get a little fancier, I’ve got a tutorial to make another style cabinet door here. 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 Aquarium Cabinet
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 aquarium 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 aquarium cabinet stand I built him, but I know he appreciates it 🙂 Well, I THINK so anyway haha.
We ended up moving into our garage apartment before Danny completely finished his man cave, but whenever we build our future home, he will redesign himself a new man cave so stay tuned for that. In the mean time, check out the DIY couch I built him for his man cave here.
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!