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Old 01-25-2020, 05:08 PM
athiker04 athiker04 is offline
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Default Pair Of 80 Gallon Plywood Builds

2 tanks: Each are 26"x21"x34" (w,d,h)

I always wish I'd taken more pictures of the process once I'm finished with a build, but I'm not the greatest multi-tasker.

I've been out of the hobby for a few years but am looking to stick my toes back in with a couple of display vivaria for the living room.

I have a modest wood shop and very modest woodworking skills. I have built a couple of plywood tanks in the past and decided to go that route again. I have to say, from a practical point of view, it's really not worth it. The amount of time sunk into all the steps to get a wooden tank to reliably hold water/withstand moisture, and also look good, is huge compared to the time to silicone glass tanks together. However, I've never actually built a fully glass tank and for my first try in a while I decided to stick with what I'm familiar with.

The benefits of plywood are weight and cost savings. At these size tanks though, the cost savings is negligible. If I were going to build a 150 gallon or larger tank I would seriously consider plywood. For this size again, I would probably go glass. Having said that, it is nice to be able to pick tanks this size up by myself (even with background and hardscaping included) and move them around or put them on their cabinets. I don't think I could do it with glass - or at least I wouldn't try.

So... I started out with 3/4" (23/32) plywood. I use the sanded pine plywood from the orange box. It's not near the quality of baltic birch but comes in at around $30 for a 4'x8' sheet. Compare that to $60 for 5'x5' sheet for baltic birch and a 3 hour round trip drive to the closest place to me that sales it. This plywood has some voids and isn't usually perfectly flat but it does have a nice thick veneer. I believe it is a good value.

Here is a very basic sketch of the major components and their approximate dimensions:
IMAG0388 by Josh Yates, on Flickr

All of the joinery was done with pocket screws and Titebond II or III wood glue. Pocket screws aren't neccessarily the best method for this but they are easy, relatively quick, and more than strong enough.

Here is an image of the back of one of the tanks with all pocket holes drilled:
IMAG0297 by Josh Yates, on Flickr

The side pieces that will hold the side glass in place:
IMAG0299 by Josh Yates, on Flickr
If I didn't want these to have views from the sides or if I were doing full three sided backgrounds, I could have just made the sides of solid wood and saved a lot of time and more weight/money.

I used a router to make a 1/4" x approx 3/4" ledge in the side pieces. This will give the glass a place to rest during installation and plenty of surface area for silicone to stick to:
IMAG0300 by Josh Yates, on Flickr

Also, the router was used to create the ventilation along the top edge of the front piece of the tanks:
IMAG0301 by Josh Yates, on Flickr

This will not be as effective as euro style tanks where the ventilation is oriented horizontally so that the air can freely flow up into the vivarium. But I believe it will do.

Closeup of the inside of the previous piece. The 1/2" wide ledge will provide a place for the sliding door track to rest and be siliconed into place but still be hidden behind the wood when viewed from the front. The indention on the left (and right but not in the image) will allow the side glass to slide up flush with the sliding glass doors.
IMAG0303 by Josh Yates, on Flickr

All for now. If you read this much and found something helpful, then cool! I will get around to posting more very soon.
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