Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
HOW TO: Build a plywood aquarium | Part 1 | Building the tank TUTORIAL

HOW TO: Build a plywood aquarium | Part 1 | Building the tank TUTORIAL

Hi everybody Joey here again and welcome back so in today’s video I’m going to introduce you guys to a new plywood tank build that I want to show you but before we move any further I’m sure many of you are not aware with what a plywood aquarium Even is in the first place, so let me break it down to simple terms apply What aquarium is simply a plywood box that is waterproofed? And it’ll have a front viewing panel to see into the tank now These are really popular methods of building aquariums because they are highly customizable Typically they are extremely cost effective as well and when it comes to building really big tanks these tend to be a popular choice Now the plywood tank that I’m building is going to actually go right here, and the tank is going to be 78 inches long It’ll be 38 inches front to back and it’ll be 29 inches tall giving me about 370 gallons of water now This is actually the bottom viewing panel so as you can see it basically fits this wall perfectly I just wanted to give you a visual example now I can also understand that a lot of you might have concerns in terms of How long does apply what aquarium actually lasts and are they safe well to be completely honest look at it this way? We’ve all seen acrylic tanks fail at some point even zoos have their front panels completely blowing off or a glass aquarium leaks or cracks or breaks However, when is the last time that you heard of a plywood aquarium failing The fact of the matter is this if a plywood aquarium is built correctly using the proper materials you’re looking at having an almost bulletproof Aquarium and with a little bit of patience you can make them look really good Now the one thing about plywood aquariums that I really like is that when you’re planning it out And you start to buy materials apply What aquarium you can buy the materials? Extremely slowly meaning that you don’t have to throw down a whole lot of money at once with a glass aquarium Really the most expensive thing you have to purchase is the actual glass and you have to buy it all at once Same goes for acrylic with a plywood aquarium. There’s three main components the plywood The viewing panel and then whatever you’re going to waterproof it with and the three of those are what’s gonna Cost you the most for your plywood tank however. It doesn’t matter. What order you buy them in or when so for me I wait till I see these things go on sale so ultimately because you can buy all of this very slowly it becomes even more Affordable to do with that said though plywood aquariums are definitely not cost effective with smaller sizes I typically see the biggest savings when the tanks get over 300 gallons So this build is going to be pretty unique for me for a few reasons one I’m building it as a full plywood aquarium with only the front viewing panel And I know a lot of you guys want to see that because there’s so many aspects that we’ve never covered before Second is I want to make it look Really good so while a lot of my energy Is going to be on making it extremely durable a lot of my focus is also going to be on making it actually look really? nice So let’s get started now in this video I’m going to show you how I built the shell of the tank and how I got to the point that you see here Obviously we need to start it with some plywood I went with 3/4 inch shop grade birch I chose birch for its strength and shop grade for its finish Meaning that it’s the cabinet quality and needs little to no preparation Which will save me a ton of time in the long run as well as look great The extra money that it costs is totally worth it for those reasons as for my own advice I knew what I wanted, and I simply waited till it went on sale I grabbed five sheets for a total of 250 dollars. This will be enough to build the tank and wrap the stand I Cut the plywood up with my own table soft the sizes. I needed and Cut the viewing panel hole out as well. We’ll come back to that in a minute though I decided that building the tank upside down was going to be my best option I started with the front panel which was 78 inches long by 29 inches tall and include the side panel to it with wood glue Wood glue is a must here the side panel was 36 and a half inches wide and 29 inches tall with the front and back panel on this would give me my 38 inches of width I Built this as I would any tank and place the side panels on the insides I then used some clamps and squared the corners off before screwing it together with one and a quarter inch self taping wood screws While these types of screws do tend to cost a bit more the fact that I don’t need to pre-drill a couple hundred pilot holes So the wood doesn’t split is totally worth it I? Basically repeated this step for all sides of the tank To attach the bottom piece which was 78 inches long by 38 inches wide I? First got it into position to in short lined up I then prompt the panel up with some spare wood and laid some wood glue down and lowered the panel in position Now if you use too much wood glue like I did just leave it alone you can sand it down later Then the same screws were used once again as with all of the panels I space the screws by an average of one and a half inch to two inches apart it doesn’t need to be exact, but that is the average distance that I use to I Then let the tank sit and dry overnight before moving on to the next step Now waiting is something you’ll have to get used to if you want to build a plywood tank Because of the height and size of the tank, I needed some external bracing to ensure the tank didn’t bow I Could have built the frame at a two by fours and saved a lot of money however I decided that I would build the frame at a plywood as I wanted it to look good, so I used the same design for a frame as I would for the two by fours and screwed and glued it all into position Ensuring that I overlapped the shell of the main tank to add extra strength This will now act as my support frame for the tank and add a finished look to it The bottom strip here was three inches wide and all the other strips were four and a half inches wide again You’ll notice that this frame overlaps all of the scenes of the original shell this is very important After the external frame was on I took some wood filler and covered up all of the screw holes as well as the seams Then I sanded it down From there I took my router and rounded off the top sides and viewing panel with a quarter inch rounded bit This would give it a softer look and feel I then took a half-inch beveled bit and ran it along the sides of the frame to give it a more polished and finished look Roading was optional, but it did give it a more finished look and appeal The last thing I did was on the inside of this tank I took some three-quarter inch strips of plywood and glued and screwed them in place on the inside of the viewing panel Well this was not really needed I did like the idea of having something for the glass panel to sit in and act as a guide for when I installed it the glass I will be using is six feet long by two feet wide exactly I Wanted a one in the half inch lip all around the viewing panel for the glass to sit in So the holy cut in the panel was 69 inches by 21 inches With the tank together in the strips installed this would give me a space of about 73 inches by 25 inches Within the frame. I created for the glass to sit in Which leaves me a half-inch around the glass to make room for a fiber glass epoxy and silicone So that’s where we’ve gotten so far the main construction of the aquarium is done now. I have to admit I’m getting really excited because this is coming out really nicely However, there’s still obviously a lot more to do now It’s going to be hard to imagine the overall outcome of what this is going to look like Based on what it looks like right now, however We still have a number of things we need to do including either painting or staining This aquarium and that will make it look a lot better We also still need to install the front viewing panel We also need to install the top bracing and then we need to also Waterproof the aquarium now waterproofing a plywood aquarium is arguably the most Important aspect to apply what aquarium and in next week’s video I’m going to show you exactly how to do it So until then I hope you’ve enjoyed this build as much as I have so far I also want to thank you for watching, and I’ll see you guys next week when we move on to the next step

100 comments on “HOW TO: Build a plywood aquarium | Part 1 | Building the tank TUTORIAL

  1. I was wondering if there is any extra water proofing that needs to b done for a saltwater tank or does it matter

  2. Hey I’m thinking of making one too with the same size.
    Am thinking of waterproofing with WPC board (wood plastic board)
    I think only the joints need to waterproofed. Am I right?
    Also is epoxy paint (paint with hardner) and epoxy resin same???

  3. Awesome job, just have to talk my wife into letting me build an aquarium; I have been out of keeping tropical fish for about 8 years.

    I come from a construction background. A couple of things that I noticed about your build and technique.

    1. Looking at the burn marks on your plywood it is generally an indication that the saw blade is dull and needs to be replaced or resharpened.
    2. When applying wood glue from a bottle instead of `pulling` the glue bottle – try pushing the glue bottle. This technique will result in two small beads of glue instead of one – it gives better coverage.
    3. Robertson screws are the only way to go!

  4. You have inspired me to do my own plywood aquarium. A little description for you, I’m going to build a 500 gallon in my basement. When I’m done it will look like it is in the wall. Thanks for your videos, very professional.

  5. could this be done with chipboard to make it cheaper if the chipboard was properly sealed with a few coats of pond sealer?

  6. Can I attach glass sides to a plywood bottom, as long as the bottom is pond shielded? I just think it's a waste of glass on the bottom since you aren't going to see it…

  7. sir if the water down 3mm for 24hours. it's the water will stop down or still continue? i try make make aquarium from plywood.

  8. great job….. but do consider using an impact driver…… it'll save your wrist and elbow from alot of injuries.

  9. You have changed over the past three years… from "teacher" to the regular guy showing how he's doing it and a friend of us all! It's you, no doubt, but your 2018 presentations are a lot better!

  10. How easy would this be to transport?
    Are there options you could change that would effect weight for an aquarium that is not used for fish and only filled with water for short times and not often?

  11. hey love all your tank builds s and other videos! I am planning a plywood build of my own and was hoping for your opinion on something. my tank dimensions will be 94x36x24 with front and side viewing panels. as of now it will be flat front but I was curious if you think I could do a box front at that size if I were to brace for it properly? do you think the plywood could hold? thanks!

  12. Just built a massive 7 ft long 5 high 3 wide big thanks your always a massive help and inspiration liked and subscribed 🙂

  13. How can I calculate glass thickness? I want to build a 4'x5'x2'6" tank. So I'm looking at a 4×5 peice I'm thinking minimum of 1/2 inch

  14. Great job, keep it up and don’t worry about the negative people have not something better to do. All the best.👍

  15. Hey i want some sujection from you i want to make 7ft long 2ft height and 1.5 ft width which glass is best for that can i use 12mm glass or more than that 12mm glass

  16. I’m getting ready to make a new one my first tank has been sitting in storage because I didn’t properly seal the rim of the lid. So it started to rot. But I’m gonna take this method this time instead of traditional fiberglass

  17. Just a suggestion. You could save yourself a ton of time buy first epoxy glassing a couple of layers of 6 ounce glass on the inside surfaces of all the wood exposed to water. Use epoxy, not polyester resin. When finishing the inside of the tank, then use fiberglass tape to tape all joints. Aquarium will then be waterproofed for basically forever.

  18. 🙂 I know I'm late to the party, but… How do you think this wooden aquarium would hold up outside, under a covered patio?

  19. How big of an aquarium can be built from plywood? I’d like to eventually do a 1,000+ gallon tank, but I’m not quite sure what route to take yet.

  20. The wood part with just a sliding or outwards opening plexiglass door would work perfectly for my leopard gecko, I'll have to talk to my mom about it. Ixve been looking to get Monty a nicer more aesthetic styled tank or vivarium.

  21. Well you did it. I now have 4x 30" x 90" x 1/2 Tempered glass sheets. Now I have to decide where I am going to build the tank. I am thinking of (back side measurements) 10ft – 16ft . Yea need to rethink that now. This could give me a 6ft front to back for the 10ft but only a 2ft on the long section.

  22. I am building a 956 gallon tank tank dimensions are width 96" height 48" depth 48" my glass size is 84"x36" what thickness should I use

  23. Will this still work for brackish or salt water? Or will the salt eat and destroy the pond liner waterproofing?

  24. Can you reuse the glass from a regular aquarium for a plywood aquarium? Would the glass be too thin?

  25. Can you use plexiglass for the viewing panel? Like I know you’d probably need a different adhesive instead of the silicone or whatever, but can it be done?

  26. More ideally use biscuit or domino joinery. ALWAYS pre drill when screwing into laminated edges. Just small advice from a Carpenter. 🙂👍And you might want to try to use router in opposite direction. 🙂

  27. i love the build, and there is some cost savings if you get a large enough tank in mind, but if you do not have the tools to do this prior to starting, its going to be a wash in costs. build it for the experience or the love of the hobby, not the cost savings

  28. J Why you always make me [us] feel that there is so much that can be done with aquariums and life?
    Great job. God speed!

  29. wouldnt it be amazing to watch this video and have to google every measurement. why are americans so adement on staying in the dark ages when it comes to measuring stuff. feet and inches..its a joke

  30. The tank I want cost $10,000 so building it with Plywood seems to be the best option, should be able to save at least $8,000. I really like this tank build but not sure if I would do it the same because I will be putting mine in the wall with a room behind it.

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