How To: Diy Tank Stand And Hood


Fish Herder
Mar 19, 2005
Reaction score
uk, lancashire, burnley
How to build a tank and hood that will impress with basic tools and know how, for the anyone that's interested.


The type of materials used depends on the style of cabinet you want to achieve, this is just a basic outlay.

2" * 2" softwood for frame (larger for bigger tanks)
3/8" (10mm) tongue & grove cladding (for the back and sides)
1/2" (12mm) ply/mdf (for top and shelf)
1/4" (6mm) ply/mdf (for doors)
4" * 1" softwood (for doors)
3" * 1" softwood (for trims/mouldings)
6" * 1" softwood (for hood frame)
1" * 1" softwood (for hood batons and glue blocks)
8" * 1" softwood (for hood top)
7" * 1" softwood (for hood flap)

1 Tin of natural wood filler,
Sand paper,
masking tape,
1" panel pins,
1 1/2" panel pins,
3" 8 gauge screws,
16 mm 2.5 gauge screws
1 1/4" 6 gauge screws,
4 flush fit hinges 2 1/2" to 3"
piano hinge (a piece long about 3" longer than your tank)
2 handles (personal chose)
2 magnetic door catches,
Silicon and gun,

Below is sketch of what we hope to build, the pic is added for effect and wishful thinking lol.

This article is only a rough guide and the design can be modified to suit tank dimensions, and taste.

Its designed it in such a way that it can be made with basic tools and know how, if done in sequence each piece will cover the next, until you finish up with a professional looking piece of furniture that you can be proud of.



Just a few word to keep you on track.

Measuring; always measure the tank you intend to use and alter all measurements to suit, as the measurements in this article are only a guide, and
the dimensions of glass tanks can vary as much as 1/4" (6mm) so check! check! check!!!

Cutting square; bit of extra time spent at this stage will make the following stages run a little smoother.

If you have access to a miter saw, power miter saw or a combination saw, then your on a winner, you could even ask you local timber yard to cut it all for you sometimes for a small charge.



FRAME; The hood frame is constructed of 6" * 1" soft wood.
Measure and cut 4 strips, *2 2" longer than the tank and *2 2" deeper (ie 48"*12"*18" = 2*50" & 2*14") this is to allow for the miter, if not mitering cut the front and back 2" longer and the sides just slightly wider than the tank to give clearance.

Once you've mitered the edges, cut 4* 4" glue blocks out of 1"*1" softwood and drill 4 offset countersunk holes as diagram below.

Tear some 8" strips of 2" masking tape off ready for gluing.

Stick the masking tape onto the tip of the miter on both sides of the front and back, lined the tip of the miters up so it looks something like below.

Glue up frame by pulling together and taping, see diagram below.


Once the frame is dry take off the masking tape, take some more 1" * 1" and cut some strips to make a frame inside the the hood this is to sit on the tank, this is simply glued and screwed with 1 1/4" 6 gauge screws (see diagram below no (4)

If your measurements are right you should have a 1" rebate that will sit over your tank.

The next step is to cut out a slot/hole for your wires/pipes you can do this with a jig saw or saw and chisel just cut two slots down the same depth at what ever side you wish and use the chisel to part the waste off so you end up with a u shape opening.

LID AND HINGE; take a strip of 8" * 1" and a strip of 7" * 1" softwood and cut them 2" longer than your frame (ie tank 48"*12"*18" = 52").

Take a length of piano hinge (you can use other hinges, ie plum, fancy butterfly butt, but piano is stronger) and cut it to the same size as your 2 top flaps (diagram below (7) & (8)

Fold it back on its self to 90' place it on the top edge of the 7" strip and mark the two outer holes with a bradawl or something sharp (this will help you when you come to line it up after) then place the hinge in the same way on the 8" strip and screw it in place (see hinge diagram below).

Take two 4mm spacers and place on the 8" strip, then place the 7" flap and on top of the 8" piece and line the two holes up you made previously (check the two pieces line up when the flap is folded down before screwing) then screw.




This is a guide based on a standard 4 foot tank measuring 48" * 12" * 18", but it can be modified to suit all sizes of tank, a standard height for a fish tank stand seams to be about 720mm (just over 28")

Cut; 4 rails at 1210mm, 6 uprights at 620mm, and 6 stretchers at 310mm.

You will need a screw driver, a drill + 3mm drill bit, glue and 3" screws 8 gauge.

First take 2 rails and mark center on each (this is to line the center upright) drill a pilot hole an inch in from both sides and center on both rails.

Lay flat on floor or bench, glue and screw the uprights to the rails as shown in diagram below (front view), repeat this stage again for the second frame.

Next drill a pilot hole in at each join to the uprights, glue the end of the stretcher and screw at the top of each upright, turn over and repeat with the other side.



Once the glue has dried on the frame cut 2 pieces of 1/2" (12mm) plywood or mdf the same size as your frame take one and simply glue and screw or nail onto the top of the frame.

Mark in 2" from each corner and in the center, then cut out with a saw, this is the notches to fit around the 2" * 2" frame, again simply glue and screw in place.

At this stage it might be an idea to fill any holes and cracks with the filler and give the frame a general sand in preparation.



You could use the following materials for the back;

3/8" (10mm) softwood cladding,
1/8" (4mm) hardboard,
1/8" to 1/4" (4/6mm) plywood or mdf

It all depends on you and the look you want, my preference would be 1/4" (6mm) plywood or mdf as it will add a lot more strength and rigidity to the finished article.

Simply cut a piece of plywood/mdf the same size as the back of your frame, you will then need to cut a hole out at ether end for cables and pipes, to do this you will need ether a hole saw or a jig saw and a drill.

JIG SAW; measure and mark out the size and position of your hole, then take your drill with a 1/2" (12mm) drill bit and drill 4 holes one in each corner, then simply follow the line and connect four with the jig saw.

HOLE SAW: mark the center of the hole, find a piece of scrap to stop it splintering and cut with hole saw in the drill.

CHISEL: you can cut the hole out with a sharp chisel as well, mark the hole as before and line the chisel up with your markings and hit your hammer, keep going round until you cut through the back, the clean up with some rough sand paper.

Once finished glue and nail on with 1" (25mm) panel pins to the frame.
(diagram below)



The material I have used for the trims is just simple squared edge 3" * 1" softwood, as I like that simple look, they are many different moulds for you to chose from as the trims and moulds diagram below shows.

The best joint for these is a miter as shown below, but you could butt joint them and sand off the excess, it's not the best way if you intend to stain, but is fine if you want to paint the end product.


Remember all measurements when using a mitered joint are measured from the inner edge see diagram below.


Below diagram shows how the trims/moulds line up on the cabinet:
The top trim/mould lines up with the bottom edge of the 2" frame creating a rebate for the tank to sit in.
The bottom trim/mould is flush with the bottom edge.



The diagram below gives a quick break down on how to construct a miter block, if you have not got access to a miter saw be it power or hand.

with sharp saw and a little care good results can be had, (how do you think they did it in the good old days)



The doors need not be as complicated to make as you might think, below is three types of doors to chose from depending on the style of cabinet you have gone for.



This door can be modified to suit you decor it could be plain painted for that clean modern look, or you could add pin moulds and carvings for a that regent or neo classical look, it's your chose go as wild as you want its all down to personal taste.

It's quite easy to make, simply measure the openings in your frame and cut a 2 blank out of plywood or mdf to fit you can plane or sand them to fine tune.
You can buy pin mouldings and carvings from you local diy and timber store, which can be glued and pinned on.


This is the traditional country style door, and would go well with a cladded cabinet

To make these you will need to lay out your boards on the floor or bench and work out how many you will need, as you will probably have to trim the two outer boards to fit you opening in the frame so it is equal, (see sketch bellow)



This type of door would suit most styles, from stained and waxed country to a painted sleek modern finish, you can be as bold or as plain as you like, it all depends on personal taste.

To make this door you will need cut 2 backboards of 1/4" (6mm) plywood/mdf cut to fit the openings in your frame.
Then cut 4 styles out of 3" * 1" or 4" * 1" softwood (depending on the size of your door what ever size gives you better proportions) to the length of the backboard you just cut, then glue and pin these from the back flush with the top side and bottom (see diagram below).
Cut 4 rails of 3" * 1" or 4" * 1" softwood to fit in between the styles you have just glued onto the backboard and glue and pin as before (see diagram below).



Now you got this fare its time to put it all together and see what it looks like.
You should have a cabinet with all its trims and mouldings, a hood with the lid attached and two doors.

You will probably already tried the tank and hood together to see if it fits.

Now is time to fit the doors, for the type in the drawing you will need to plain or sand to fit the opening of the frame, try and aim for a 2mm gap all around.
Below is a few hinges and a brief sentence on how to fit them.


Plum hinge: the type used on your kitchen door.
You would have to modify your doors to use these, by increasing both the height ans width by about 36mm as the doors will fit on the out side of your frame.
You will need to buy or borrow a 35mm forstner bit, measure 100 120mm from the top and bot of the door and 22mm in from the edge.
Holding the drill as square as poss to the door (get some one to help you line it up) drill down 12mm, deep enough to take the hinge.
Now screw the hinge in using some 1/2" 12mm 6gauge screws and also screw the back plate onto the hinge.
Hold the door up to the cabinet equal the distance at the top and bottom and mark the holes in the hinge back plate with a bradawl or pencil.
Take the back plates off and screw to the cabinet lining up with the pencil marks just made.
Then push the hinges back onto the back plates, secure with the screw .
The adjust with the adjustment screws on the hinge until the doors line up.

Flush fit hinges: These are one of the simplest hinges to fit (diagram below shows a flush fit hinge).
You would have to plain or sand the door to fit in the frame opening in your cabinet, making sure of a 2mm gap all round, once this is done measure 3" (75mm) from the top ans bottom of each door and mark with pencil.
Now line your hinge up with the pencil line on the door and screw, and then line up the hinge with the pencil mark on the frame and put only two screws in this is in case you have to adjust it.

"T"/gate hinge: "T"/gate hinges will probable look the best on a cladded country style cabinet.
To fit them you will need to plain or sand the doors to fit the frame opening in you cabinet leaving a 2mm gap all round.
Take the doors out and and lay them down and line the "T" hinges, one over the top and bottom part of the "Z" brace, so the barrel of the hinge is flush with the outer edge of the door, then screw.
Put back into the frame ans line your gap up again using spacers and screw into the front of the cabinet.

butterfly hinges: these hinge come in loads of styles, modern stainless, black wrought iron effect and brass.
Fitting is easy and can be done in a similar way to "T"/gate hinges.

Handle: personal i would use a couple of stainless steel "T" bar handles, you can put any type you want on its down to personal taste.
Measure down and the centers of your handle and then measure in from the side and drill.



If you've got this far your sitting there with a brew or beer in your hand looking at your master peace and feeling pretty smug lol

Don't be tempted to rush it, and slap on a coat of paint or varnish, strip the cabinet down take the doors, hinges handles off ready for prep and finish.

Filling and sanding: This can be the worst bit but don't be tempted to skip it, fill all the holes gaps cracks and such on your cabinet, leave to dry and sand with a 100 to 80 grit sandpaper until flat and the excess filler has been removed.
Then go over the whole thing again with 120, and down to 150 then 220 until smooth.


There's loads of different finishes on the market to chose from here's 2 basic ones, paint and varnished.

Painted finishes are simple to do, they will give you a tough water proof finish, and can be done in any colour to fit into your rooms decor.
First apply a coat of primer, this will seal the timber and help fill in the grain, once dry a light sand with 220 sandpaper then dust off with a damp rag, sometimes you might have to apply 2 coats of primer.
Then a base coat of the color you want, once dry sand again with 220's until smooth and wipe dust off with damp rag.
Then the top coat, depending on the type of paint you use ie sprays, acrylics, gloss etc. you might want to water down the paint slightly to smooth out the last coat.

Varnish finishes can be applied in a similar way, but without the primer, after applying each coat sand with 220's and wipe the dust off with a damp rag.
The more coats you apply the solider the colour will become, if you wish to see the grain you might be better off staining the cabinet with a wood stain first then use a clear varnish to seal and finish.


once you have finished painting etc your stand and hood, its best to leave it to stand for a few days to for it to harden and the fumes to dissipate.

Now its time to put the jigsaw puzzle back together.

When screwing the hinge back to the hood and flap use a little blob of silicon on each screw to seal it so condensation doesn't penetrate the wood.
Also run a small bead of silicon on all joints inside the hood, this is to stop condensation getting into the wood if any cracks should appear over time.

All that's left now is to attach you light reflectors and lights, and your ready to do the bit you've been waiting for:)

I've been looking around on the www for plans, and not found to much that might be helpful to people with basic skills that would like to have a go at making a stand and hood for themselves.

If i have missed anything or you would like something explaining, feel free to PM me and I'll try my best to help

have fun



Fish Maniac
Mar 4, 2005
Reaction score
Excellent Simon.
You should print those up and spiral bind them as Aquarists DIY Manuals.
You must have spent a great deal of time on this and I say it again, it is threads like yours that stop this forum from going stale.
I've printed it out for future reference. Although I do not need it now, I know I will use it in some shape or form in the future. And I got it for FREE!!!! (before you start selling them)
Nice one mate


Retired Moderator
Aug 12, 2003
Reaction score
Warm and Sunny Arizona
Wow!!! All I can say is, Wow! What a write up. You make me want to run out and build one. If only I wasn't terrified of power tools..............

I'm adding this to the Pin Me thread myself I like it so much. Keep up the great work!!!

Do you have any pictures of the actual stand you built??


New Member
Sep 21, 2005
Reaction score
Wow!!! All I can say is, Wow! What a write up. You make me want to run out and build one. If only I wasn't terrified of power tools..............

I'm adding this to the Pin Me thread myself I like it so much. Keep up the great work!!!

Do you have any pictures of the actual stand you built??

I have 2 quick questions:
1) If i build a tank from scratch (about 150cm by 45cm by 60cm ,does it need to have a "case"or something to hold it together ,or is silicone good enough to keep the pressure in ?
2) If the Hood is made of wood ,isn;t that bad for tha aquarium ,i mean it is not supposed to get wet !


Fish Herder
Mar 19, 2005
Reaction score
uk, lancashire, burnley
Sorry no pics of this type yet, i,ve only recently started keeping a picture's records since i got the digital camera.

I built my TV stand in a similar way, it a simplified way of making furniture, without fancy joints

The back and sides are TG boards as the tank stand design, but the top and bottom are mdf panels with a 1*1 pine edging just glued and held in place with masking tape until it drys.
The legs are 2*2 softwood which are screwed and glued into the mdf, the most complicated thing is cutting the mdf and you could do that with a hand saw and plain the edges up to square them.

back to the days of old before power tools, it can be done if your willing to spend the time to do it right.



This is my breeding tank, it's a different design, its made out of mfc chipboard, you would need a proper table saw with a scribing blade to cut the stuff.


I'm making stand and a 7*2*2 plywood tank early next year, so i will keep a photo diary and post it for all to see.


Fish Herder
Mar 19, 2005
Reaction score
uk, lancashire, burnley
As a rough idea to price, this would depends on a few things;

What you have to hand, or can beg steal or borrow lol (ie sand paper, glue, screws and all that malarkey)

The style your going for ( modern, country, classical)

The fitting you chose (quality and type)

Where your from, America, Asia, Britain (If in Britain everything is ten times more expansive due to tax)

Where you buy your materials from ( if you get your wood from do it all it will cost you an arm and a leg, although some things are cheaper as they buy in bulk)

In Britain around the £70 mark for a 4'*1'*1.5' but that's just off the top of my head.

If anyone dose have a go at making a tank stand and hood post some pic or start your own thread up and let us know how you went on.


Fish Herder
Mar 19, 2005
Reaction score
uk, lancashire, burnley
which of the styles would be cheapest and how much do you think it would be for a cabinet to hold a 5ft by 2ft by 2ft tank?


A clean strait modern look would be the easiest and cheapest, it probably best done in MDF but can be done in ply, with all the edges and corners sanded with a small round and painted to fit the colour of your room.


It would depend on the set up underneath ie cupboards shelves etc.
For a 5' with 3 * 500mm doors, i would say about £150.....
But i think the smug factor is worth twice that:hey:

£20... 16mtr 2"*2" softwood
£5..... 5mtr 1"*1" softwood batons
£30... 2* 8'*4' sheets 6 to 4mm MDF or ply (MDF gives a better finish plus its easy to work with)
£50... 2* 8'*4' sheets of 18mm MDF (MDF gives a better finish plus its easy to work with)
£20 ish for misc ( hinges nails etc)
£30... for finishes Paint + filler.

Your wood yard will cut it up for you if you give them the sizes which you will, only be able to be sure of once you have your tank.

A cutting list would work out like this assuming the tank was exactly 5'*2'*2' (1500mm*600mm*600mm) And the tank stand is a standard height of 2'4" (720mm) but like i said check check check again:

6mm MDF
1* 1500*720mm back
2* 1500*600mm top and bottom shelf

18mm MDF
2* 750*606mm sides
1* 1580*660mm hood top
2* 1545* 200mm hood front and back
2* 605*200mm for hood sides (add 40mm if mitering)
3* 695*500mm doors
2* 750*65mm side uprights (styles)
1* 1410*50mm bottom rail
1* 1410*80mm top rail
2* 590*45mm center uprights (styles)

2"*2" softwood
4* 1500mm top/bottom front and back rails
8* 630mm uprights (styles)
8* 510mm stretchers

1"*1" softwood
4* 150mm glue blocks
2* 1500mm front and back battens for hood to sit on tank
2* 560mm side battens for hood to sit on tank

These are a guide and not a absolute, dimensions can go as much as 10mm ether way.

Any problems give us a bell
Have fun and keep us posted i'd be intrested to see the pics as you go along :D


Fish Herder
Apr 16, 2006
Reaction score
Keighley, West Yorks, UK
Has anyone built a stand to this plan yet? I'd love to see pics of anyone's? We're looking at getting a 5 x 2 x 2 tank in the new year and this would certainly cut costs I think :)


Gun Toting Lunatic
Sep 30, 2003
Reaction score
I've built stands & racks for tanks, but not exactly to this design. look at
Click on the diy folder, they have an excellent program for stand building. You will save some big money building your own, as well as having a better stand. I can't believe the cheap garbage they pass of as stands at the lfs.


~ I learn something new ~ ~~~~ every day ~~~~
Mar 31, 2005
Reaction score
Norfolk, UK
Has anyone built a stand to this plan yet? I'd love to see pics of anyone's? We're looking at getting a 5 x 2 x 2 tank in the new year and this would certainly cut costs I think :)
Do a search in some of Simon's threads - he has some other threads with photos too where it shows tank stand building in the making.

Ah I think this is one of them :)


Fish Fanatic
Dec 16, 2006
Reaction score
Banbury, UK
Just completed my hood!

Really should of took photos!

Looks good (i did have use of a electric mitre saw which helped)

I get some pics before and after staining etc!

The cost of making one is so little compared to retail, only thing that is required is time!

Thanks Simon for your direction!



Fish Fanatic
Dec 16, 2006
Reaction score
Banbury, UK
Pictures of the hood and sideboard that I built/reconstructed based on Simon plans!

Thing i found the hardest was the timber, trying to find stuff over 3ft was hard, ended up in Jewsons buying 8ft planks and cutting them in half. Think the wood wasn't the best I could use. Wanted some softer pine but didn't find that until after I built it. B&Q Coventry seem to cater for all my needs.

Anyway I was lucky enough to use a mechanical bench mitre circular saw, so once measured it was fantastic. Also had a circular saw on a bench to cut the lengths, only problem is that the top part was cut to 50' but once the sides and end were in place it was about an eighth under on the ends :(
Next time I wont cut the top till after the the side and ends are fitted together and accurate measurement is recorded.

It took me about 9 days to stain and varnish it. Right pain, started off with 16 hour re coat stuff, then realized that you can get 4 hour re coat. I had bought a sideboard of Ebay which matches the rest of the dinning room - Indian Rosewood. So both were sanded down (sideboard took me 2 weekends to get it right down - then someone showed me paint stripper which took it off within minutes grrrrr)

Once all varnish was removed and sanded down I then stained with a base colour - Indian Rosewood, after that I used the Rosewood varnish to finish the job, I put at least 3 coats on both items and left in garage. Once in the house it was a little tacky for a few days while items adjusted to temperature. But it all seem ok now, wish I took photos as I built to give people a different angle on the build side of it.

I am building a different one soon, and have noticed that if you buy the cheap B&Q pine shelving it is the correct hight and nice presented wood, very cheap as well. Only problem they seem to stop at about 3ft in length which would mean a join somewhere, but 'Homebase' do furniture board of all sizes, if you are lucky and there is a timber merchant nearby then order near as damn it the stuff and sizes you want.

Once again thanks Simon for the inspiration and saving me some cash :D


You can see the lift here:


Fish Crazy
Jan 7, 2006
Reaction score
i have built a simlar hood and have a simlar problem to you?
my front flap doesnt close all the way lol! it was a problem when i fited the hinge it just wouldnt sit right and i found that prolly the hardest part

yours looks better than mine tho =p

Most reactions