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Old 09-09-2010, 02:33 AM
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Default Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

Here is a simple and cheap custom glass top that I made this week. I am not a fan of the “sliding” tops that I purchased because:

- I will easily forget to close them fully
-The cut-able plastic piece will become dislodged from its normal position
-Feeders can easily get out through the cracks.

...So I came up with a silicone hinged glass top. All-in, cost me about 13$, and some time.

I used 2, 1/8” thick pieces cut from a glass shop, with one of the corners cut at a 45 degree angle to accommodate my pump cord. A good tip would be to take the maximum overall dimension of the tank top where the glass will sit, then to subtract ¾” off the front-back depth, and ¼” off the overall width. These measurement reductions accounts for the ½” silicone hinge, and a 1/8” bead to contour the outside edges. This bead will make a tight seal with the plastic frame attached to the tank. If you do not have the tank currently occupied, I would suggest putting a bead of silicone on the plastic top instead of on the edge of the glass, and ignore the 1/8” perimeter dimension. Also, if you plan on using thicker glass, use a larger gap distance for the hinge.

Setup is important. Ensure that both pieces are separated by ½”, and in-line with each other. I realize this is self explanatory, however, precision is KEY. I used electrical tape to hold the pieces together. If you are planning the 1/8” perimeter bead, then I suggest adding the tape around all the edges at this time also.

Next step is to apply a fine mist of water over the tape to help ease removing it later. Next comes the silicone. Try and apply it sparingly, but still make sure that the inner corners will be covered. Once the silicone is added, take a plastic card, a small piece of glass, or anything straight and stiff to spread out the silicone. In my experience, you will get a much smoother finish if you only make 1 good pass. So make it count! As you can see, I left small blobs near the edges of the glass to be removed later.





Once fully cured, flip the glass over, and slowly peel away the tape from the hinge and edges. Be patient, or the silicone will stick to the tape and take chunks with it. As far as I can tell, using the misted water didn’t make a huge difference, but it may have helped slightly. I received the mist tip from a glass worker, so I figured it would be worth a shot.



Next step is to cut the edges to the correct thickness using a razor blade, followed by a good cleaning and scrapping off the excess silicone ....



Then add some sort of sticky glass opener knob, and voila, your new 13$ top is finished!





Like a glove!!!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 09-09-2010, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

I believe they call that the 'living hinge'. You did a great job on it! Nice and clean!
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Old 09-09-2010, 03:26 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

Lol that would probably be why I didnt find anything similar to this searching for "silicone hinge" hahaha...In any case, hope this gives some people new ideas and a cheaper alternative to pre-made aquarium tops.

After a few months of heavy usage, I'll let everyone know how it holds up.
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Old 09-22-2010, 12:33 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

I am going to attempt to make a couple of these lids and I have one question that might be dumb...how do you over the back corner with screen? or did you just silicone it to the rim of the tank?
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Old 09-22-2010, 12:43 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

I actually left the back corner open....If you notice in the very last picture, you can see the white perimeter of the egg crate through the glass. The egg crate is only 2-3mm from the glass surface. After I took that picture, I removed the top, fliped it over, then "drew" the same perimeter on the underside of the glass using silicone. It basically acts as a gasket forming a tight seal over the egg crate.

Good question, not dumb

I'll post a picture of it the next time I whip out my camera for the froggies.
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Old 09-22-2010, 01:22 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

oh ok I know what you mean thanks for the quick reply ... no need posting a picture I know exactly what you are talking about ... I am not going to have a false column or whatever you would like to call it but I wish i had ... this is my first dart frog viv and I didnt discover that idea until I already started contruction...thanks for your help
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Old 09-22-2010, 01:56 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

I tried this with an emergency 10 gallon I had to set up for a frog that was getting picked on. I had a piece of glass that fit the inside rim, with a gap on one side. Used your method to secure the glass to a piece of screen. Secured the screen to the tank. Now I can open and close the glass with it hinged to the screen.

Thanks!!
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Old 09-22-2010, 02:29 PM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

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Originally Posted by frogface View Post
I tried this with an emergency 10 gallon I had to set up for a frog that was getting picked on. I had a piece of glass that fit the inside rim, with a gap on one side. Used your method to secure the glass to a piece of screen. Secured the screen to the tank. Now I can open and close the glass with it hinged to the screen.

Thanks!!
You are welcome! Glad I could pass some ideas around to you guys.

I'm actually really liking these tops at the moment. Specifically the silicone bead around the perimeter. If is is cut the correct width, you can get it to have a perfect seal around the plastic top. I was so anal about my 2nd top that it almost makes a vacuum when I try to open it Its perfect.
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

I made a couple more tops this week and figured out a good way to ensure the tape is easily removed once cured.

Dont bother misting with water before you put the silicone down...Gently run your finger along the sticky side of the tape a few times so it becomes cloudy. It honestly saved me 30 mins and it was all taken off within a few minutes, with no silicone tearing.

And my original tops are still looking like new 7 months later.
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

Thanks Grimm. I did this for a custom conversion kit of mine, on my 20l vert. I forgot to mist/"finger" (LOL) the tape. I just usedd scotch, couldn't find where I lost mine. I'll see how it turns out for a conversion kit. Thanks!
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

I should have mentioned the recent failure I had using clear scotch tape. Sorry bud. I ran out of electrical tape and decided to try it out....

The silicone pretty much forms a permanent bond with the tape, and the tape isnt strong enough for you to pull off without it ripping apart. I needed to cut away the tape and all the silicone, then redo it using electrical tape. If your tops havent had the chance to cure yet, I would definitely save yourself the hastle and remove the tape now!
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:15 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

I have had good luck using blue masking tape. It peels right off, no misting or fingering needed.

One mistake I have made was setting the glass too close to each other so the silicone bead is too thin, and when opening the lid up all the way it wants to tear the silicone. So make sure you use a good 3/16 to 1/4 inch of silicone bead. 1/8 was too small.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:28 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

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Originally Posted by GRIMM View Post
I should have mentioned the recent failure I had using clear scotch tape. Sorry bud. I ran out of electrical tape and decided to try it out....

The silicone pretty much forms a permanent bond with the tape, and the tape isnt strong enough for you to pull off without it ripping apart. I needed to cut away the tape and all the silicone, then redo it using electrical tape. If your tops havent had the chance to cure yet, I would definitely save yourself the hastle and remove the tape now!
I did actually right when the silicone started to cure a bit. I thought it might do that. Whew! Well it's cured, i'll post some pics if you wanna see it for a conversion kit, and unlucky me, I found the electrical tape shortly after siliconing it.Thanks for the heads up Grimm.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:29 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

this sounds like a good cheap alternitive i will have to try. any updates on some of the older ones made? what silicone r u guy using? has anyone used this meathod on verts? so i should space the glass 1/4 inche apart right?
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:38 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

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Originally Posted by coraltastic View Post
this sounds like a good cheap alternitive i will have to try. any updates on some of the older ones made? what silicone r u guy using? has anyone used this meathod on verts? so i should space the glass 1/4 inche apart right?
I'm using black silicone, and its a custom 20 long vert I made. So far so good. I placed the glass about 3/16 of an inch apart, I don't open it all the way just in case, when I got my glass cut I forgot to subtract 1/2 for spacing, so had very little leg room.
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Old 07-07-2011, 04:02 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

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Originally Posted by coraltastic View Post
this sounds like a good cheap alternitive i will have to try. any updates on some of the older ones made? what silicone r u guy using? has anyone used this meathod on verts? so i should space the glass 1/4 inche apart right?
My original tops are still in use. Almost a year later and show no signs of wear or silicone comming off. The center hinge should be about 1/2". You could definitely try this on a vert, however you would need to permanently silicone the bottom piece to the tank, and then use a latch at the top to ensure it doesnt fall back.
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Old 07-19-2011, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

After a few weeks of use i've noticed if you do this on a vert kit, make it a thin bead like 1/8 an inch. A thick bead causes the door glass to stick out so it's not FF proof. On a top this is great. But since of this i'm going to buy a plastic piano hinge.
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Old 07-19-2011, 07:45 PM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

1/8th bead is exactly what I recomended in the first post....Im guessing your tops arent precise enough, because I need quite a bit of force to open all of mine. The silicone grips onto the plastic trim like no other and forms a tight seal.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:09 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

Nice job, Grimm.
As always, your DIY skills are outstanding!
Todd
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Old 07-20-2011, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

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Originally Posted by GRIMM View Post
1/8th bead is exactly what I recomended in the first post....Im guessing your tops arent precise enough, because I need quite a bit of force to open all of mine. The silicone grips onto the plastic trim like no other and forms a tight seal.
It's a tight seal, but i'll have to post a pic to show you what I mean. I thought you ment 1/2 bead, whoops ^.^
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:59 PM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

this is an awesome DIY hinge.
I however like my aquarium hinge I have on my vert cause it allows me to pull off the top piece of glass whenever I'm gonna be in there working for a bit.
If I build a tank and I know it's gonna be permanent I will use the silicone hinge.
I will definitely be using this for reg vivs with the glass on top.
This is gonna be really useful for sealing the gap between the glass and the vent tho I have been wondering how to do it. i think I'm gonna go give it a go now since I have some cling wrap I can put on the front while I try this.

Thanks for this and all your other innovations Grimm
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Last edited by DragonSpirit1185; 11-28-2011 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 08-23-2014, 06:44 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

Can I use blue painters tape instead of electrical tape?
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Old 07-11-2016, 12:38 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

Quote:
Originally Posted by GRIMM View Post
1/8th bead is exactly what I recomended in the first post....Im guessing your tops arent precise enough, because I need quite a bit of force to open all of mine. The silicone grips onto the plastic trim like no other and forms a tight seal.

I know this thread is several years old, but how are these hinges holding up for you over the years
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Old 07-11-2016, 02:31 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

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Originally Posted by flyfshrmn98 View Post
I know this thread is several years old, but how are these hinges holding up for you over the years
I'm curious about this as well. I made a couple of these. Right at 2 weeks ago. Are yours still being used?

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Old 07-11-2016, 02:52 AM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

I made one, still holding up after many years. I think I even got the idea from this thread.
And painters tape works fine.
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Last edited by mark c; 07-11-2016 at 02:54 AM. Reason: Painters tape works fine
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Old 07-14-2016, 03:38 PM
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Default Re: Custom Silicone Hinged Glass Top

Grimm sold this tank a couple of years ago, last I saw it the silicone hinges were doing well.
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