How to Build an Aquarium Cabinet Stand

How to Build a DIY Aquarium Cabinet Stand

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.

Danny with his DIY Aquarium Cabinet Stand

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)


(3) 2x4x8

(2) 2x2x8

(2) 1x3x8

Cove molding

Crown molding

Base molding

2 sets hinges

2 knobs/pulls

2 ½” pocket hole screws

1 ¼” pocket hole screws

Brad nails

Wood Glue

Wood putty


Miter saw

Kreg Jig for pocket holes


Circular saw

Nail gun

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.

Part of frame of cabinet stand side

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.

Middle plywood panel of cabinet side installed with pocket holes

Lastly, I attached the last 2×4 to complete the two side panels

Two side frame panels built for DIY aquarium tank cabinet

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.

Middle 2x2 support frame for aquarium cabinet to support weight

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.

Assemble side panel to middle support frame using pocket holes

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.)

Aquarium cabinet frame assembled using pocket holes

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.

Bottom of cabinet in place and secured with screws

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.

DIY Cabinet top glued up

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.

Attaching top of aquarium stand with screws from underneath

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.

Doors for DIY cabinet gluing up in clamps

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.)

Cove molding added to side panels and baseboard added to bottom of aquarium stand

Crown molding added around top of aquarium cabinet stand

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.

DIY aquarium cabinet stand finished in Golden Oak Wood stain

How to Build a DIY Aquarium Cabinet Stand

Simple DIY Aquarium Cabinet Stand with Aquarium tank stocked

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.

How to Build a DIY Aquarium Cabinet Stand

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.

Danny watching fish in aquarium tank sitting on aquarium cabinet stand

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!

How to Build a DIY Aquarium Cabinet Stand Pinterest Image

Until next time, happy building!

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6 Comment

  1. Rhonda Rogers
    June 21, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Love it!

    1. Shara, Woodshop Diaries
      June 23, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Thank you 🙂

  2. Build Your Own DIY Upholstered Couch
    October 9, 2017 at 10:01 am

    […] if you like that aquarium cabinet stand, I’ve got the how to for it here ?  AND, if you are eyeing that clock coffee table, I’ve got the how to for that, too, here […]

  3. ben
    October 28, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Looks prettyyy good, might use parts. But if your door tutorial says you need a table saw to make them then it would make sense to say you need a table saw to do this in my opinion.

    1. Shara, Woodshop Diaries
      October 28, 2017 at 8:16 am

      Thanks! Yes, a table saw would be necessary to do the doors the way I do them, but there are other ways to make doors as well (using routers, pocket holes, etc.) that don’t require a table saw, so you don’t HAVE to have one to complete the project. A table saw is a very handy tool to invest in, but a quick google search will show you many different ways to make doors if you don’t have one and don’t want to buy one 🙂

      1. ben
        October 28, 2017 at 9:45 am

        Thanks. A table saw is definitely what I’ve wanted for ages but it’s just a space issue since I live in a cramped city. I have a mitre and circular saw though and a few non powered ones so I have to make due. A router is probably what I’d probably get next until i have more space!

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