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Nice looking stand. Walnut is hard to beat.

Personally I would move the stand up to the location with a dummy ply side to check it out. With the color of the wood floors not so sure I would want to leave it natural.

Add the concrete top to the mix and I would be much more inclined to stain to match the walnut or maybe even match the floor. Contrasting woods are tricky in my opinion as often lose the balance/harmony of the piece and end up overpowering the initial intent.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Nice looking stand. Walnut is hard to beat.

Personally I would move the stand up to the location with a dummy ply side to check it out. With the color of the wood floors not so sure I would want to leave it natural.

Add the concrete top to the mix and I would be much more inclined to stain to match the walnut or maybe even match the floor. Contrasting woods are tricky in my opinion as often lose the balance/harmony of the piece and end up overpowering the initial intent.
Thank you!

The Wife has actually spoken on this issue :p

When I showed her the natural color plywood juxtaposed to the walnut (even with a bit of finish rubbed onto some scrap pieces) she immediately asked about the walnut plywood I had previously mentioned. I told her its still a possibility but this would save literally 100 dollars off the cost of the finished piece, she was unswayed. Soooo yeah need to get me some walnut plywood ;P

This has delayed me a bit because I need to go to a proper hardwood seller to obtain this and just haven't had the time. Meanwhile I have done some work on the new concrete top. I'll post that bit later today or tomorrow most likely.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Update!

So in a perfect world I would be doing a glue-up right about now. We sadly do not live in such a place. Due to issues mentioned in my last post I do not have the plywood but that does not mean I have been idle.

Once I knew it was going to be a week or 2 before I could get my hands on the plywood I shifted focus to the concrete top.

This top is a different size then the last one I made so I can't use the existing form. Instead I needed to make a new form 51" long and 22" wide.

Next problem was that I didn't have a piece of melamine (or even plywood) 51" long and 22" wide.... DOH

Instead I needed to create the all important bottom part of my form from 2 pieces. This matters because the concrete is simply going to create a mirror image of the form. So if there is a seam in the form that is not perfectly flush, that seam will be in the concrete.

I knew this, so I made darn sure that the seam was going to be perfect!

....


It totally didn't work.


So what went wrong?

Well here is a picture of my form:



It's hard to make out but the seam is on the left hand side. There was originally a noticeable difference of 1 mm or so in one side compared to the other. To solve this I sanded the area down and filled it in with silicone. I didn't need this form to be super strong, just be smooth so the concrete would cure flat.

The concrete used was the same stuff as before, Rapidset Motar Mix. This time I used the plasticizer (flow control) recommended for this stuff. I also used some charcoal cement tint as well to deepen the color. The pour this time went MUCH better.



In fact it was so liquidy that I found out my work bench is not completetly level ;P So Once it hardened I had to do a second pour. This time I didn't have any flow control.... so it was not nearly as smooth. But overall still happy with how the pours went.



When it came time to take it out of the mold, things were more difficult. The cement stuck very firmly to the area of the seam (where I sanded and applied silicone) causing me to destroy the form when removing the cement. Not a big loss but still.

The real trouble was that the seam was VERY visible in the cement. So much so that I surmise the form must have changed shape as the weight of the cement was added. Soooo yea, not great. I decided to try to fill in the resulting seam with more cement. This sort of worked... and sort of didn't. For one thing I couldn't get the tinting quite right so its obviously different stuff. For another, it did not adhere very well. In the end I got it partly filled in but its clearly a patch and aesthetically is noticeable enough that if people see it I will be forced to call it an asymmetrical artistic design..... which sounds better then a hot mess.

The good news is that all portions of the seam and repair will be underneath a 3 foot tall vivarium, so I should never see it again once there is a tank on top ;P







What I do like is just how smooth the top is. The plasticizer really did a good job making the concrete 'flow'. The vibration of the jigsaw clamped under the table also did a good job of getting rid of most of the bubbles. Soooo yea I'm going to call this a success. I may try to dye the concrete further now that its out but honestly I don't have much issue with how it looks, (the wife... well you never know ;P).
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Update:

Still not a glue-up but I am definitely getting closer!

I drove down to Annapolis earlier in the week and picked up a sheet of 1/2 inch walnut plywood. I had to cut it into approximate sized pieces to get it into my car but that is pretty normal for me.

Once back I trimmed it up a little more to get it to fit in the designated locations. The walnut ply ended up being slightly thicker then the birch ply I was using as a template so I needed to make my slots and mortises slightly bigger but that was easily done with chisel or table saw. At this point its all cut to size (except the doors) and just needs to be glued. Here is how my dry fit looked:













I am on vacation for a week so nothing is going to happen till after I'm back. But my next update 'should' be a glue-up, for reals this time ;P
 

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You're a pretty good carpenter, that all looks great.

While I've placed and finished my share of flatwork, I've never cast concrete or used a plasticizer. I'm planning to cast some raised-bed planters (four walls separately) as well as make a topper for my backyard block wall. So it's nice to see a viv guy taking a stab at it and doing OK.

Curious if you considered including perlite or something to reduce the weight of your sculpture? Instead of pre-mix, a DIY mix of Portland cement + "stuff". This guy is my inspiration for the raised beds plus wall topper:
He's got a little series of vids, various builds as well as some strength testing. He's pretty analytical, it's nice.

So sorry about all the do-overs! My wife is a little (OK quite a lot) like that - has abundant opinions but isn't very open with them up front. Just later, after I'm well into whatever the job is. Ha ha. Argh. I've learned to try harder to draw her out before I'm committed. Success still varies...ah, the human condition. Ha ha.
 

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This is great, minorhero! The birch would have been fine, but the walnut just looks awesome. I think you made the right call. Have a good vacation!

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #27
You're a pretty good carpenter, that all looks great.

While I've placed and finished my share of flatwork, I've never cast concrete or used a plasticizer. I'm planning to cast some raised-bed planters (four walls separately) as well as make a topper for my backyard block wall. So it's nice to see a viv guy taking a stab at it and doing OK.

Curious if you considered including perlite or something to reduce the weight of your sculpture? Instead of pre-mix, a DIY mix of Portland cement + "stuff". This guy is my inspiration for the raised beds plus wall topper:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBvPs7CBf5Q He's got a little series of vids, various builds as well as some strength testing. He's pretty analytical, it's nice.

So sorry about all the do-overs! My wife is a little (OK quite a lot) like that - has abundant opinions but isn't very open with them up front. Just later, after I'm well into whatever the job is. Ha ha. Argh. I've learned to try harder to draw her out before I'm committed. Success still varies...ah, the human condition. Ha ha.
Thank you! Casting concrete is both fun and a bit nerve racking given how fast the stuff I'm using starts to cure. You have a few minutes (as in less then 10 or 15) to do things and then you are losing viscosity and things are starting to set. Other mixes have working time measured in hours so something slower would probably be better.

I actually have seen some of this guys earlier work though its been at least a year since I checked in with what he was doing. I began my foray into concrete with the idea of casting 2 walls out of 5 of a 120 gallon aquarium. I originally wanted to know if I could get the same strength out of concrete that I would get out of glass. I ended up not pursuing it when my strength tests showed me it wasn't a good idea in the 1/2" thickness I was targeting. Anyway that's how I found his videos the first time.

I have been tempted by the idea of making a vivarium out of concrete instead of plywood but have been put off by the weight of the structure. I need the finished product to not weigh more then I can move by myself with a hand truck. Maybe this will offer another solution? Thank you for the link and update!

This is great, minorhero! The birch would have been fine, but the walnut just looks awesome. I think you made the right call. Have a good vacation!

Mark
Thank you! Its a pretty material to work with which is always fun.

And with that:

UPDATE:

After much ado, I finally am back and ready to do the glue-up. I used pocket holes to join the short side of the frame to longer pieces for both top and bottom frames:



Once that was in place I could glue the verticals and plywood in place and then slide the top frame into place. I practiced this maneuver once with everything just dry and clamps in place so I would know how to do it with the glue involved. I've found this is just good practice so you don't end up making a fubar as soon as glue hits the wood. I'm glad I did as well since the order of what I wanted to do needed to change because the plywood was simply too tight a fit to 'slide' down the channel I had created. Likely there was some swelling in the wood with humidity being high the last week or so.

Anyway here is how it looks now:



In 8 hours or so the glue will be dry and I can begin doing a LOT of sanding. Once the sanding is at a reasonable level I can add the bottom panel supports, bottom panel, and back panel. At that point I can start thinking about doors... since I plan to have a couple of those ;P
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Update!

The glue-up continued! From the last point I added the back panel after drilling two 2 inch holes to allow for cords and tubes.

Clamping something like this is mostly impossible using actual clamps so it comes down to finding heavy things to put on it ;P



The same process was repeated for the bottom once the back panel was dry:



This brings me to current. I have done a bunch of sanding to the stand but more is needed. I am now at the phase where I need to begin working on the doors. They are going to be fully inset into the frame using proper euro style cabinet hinges this time. I ordered from amazon two pair of soft close blum hinges earlier this morning since none of the hardware stores near me carry them. Hopefully today I can find some time to begin cutting the wood for the doors. Certainly at this point the light at the end of the tunnel is visible ;P

In related news I picked up two giant (for me) pieces of Malaysian driftwood at my local fish store. They were quite expensive but definitely worth it. Here are 2 pictures of possible configurations. The final tank will be taller then the under stand storage by almost a full foot but it gives you an idea of the kind of space I will be working with.



 

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Absolutely gorgeous stand! The idea of a concrete counter is wonderful, and I'm looking forward to seeing the vivarium come together too!

Now my only question - how do you get the curves of your sand so smooth in the sketchup model!? Any time I try, I get a horribly jagged mess :D
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Absolutely gorgeous stand! The idea of a concrete counter is wonderful, and I'm looking forward to seeing the vivarium come together too!

Now my only question - how do you get the curves of your sand so smooth in the sketchup model!? Any time I try, I get a horribly jagged mess :D
Thank you!

Ahh as for that its super easy, I design and build the stand in sketchup but for models like fish tanks, lights etc, I just download those from 3D Warehouse and let someone else much better then me make them ;P
 

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Discussion Starter #32
Update!

Since last time I got the wood for the doors milled, cut to size and then the little bit of joinery. Here you can see the slots I cut in the wood that would eventually go on to make up the sides of doors:



And here are the doors after all glued up. They are not actually installed in this picture, just sitting there to show approximately what they will look like:



After this was some more sanding. Here is one of the corners after a bit of sanding:



And then it was time for the finish!

The finish is Arm-R-Seal which is a urethane based finish so it should provide decent protection from water and from UV. Here is the stand when I was in the process of applying the finish, you can pretty clearly see the color change:



And here it is after I applied the first coat of finish:



Once dry I will be do some light sanding and then apply 2nd coat of finish. In total I will put down 3 coats of finish.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Small Update:

3rd coat for the stand main body and, 2nd coat for the doors. I am away this weekend so I won't get a chance to finish it up completely until sometime early next week, but baring something major I will be starting work on the actual vivarium sometime next week.

 

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Discussion Starter #34
Update!

After coming back I did some more sanding with 320 grit paper and then it was time to add the feet.



These are non-marking rubber feet that will serve the dual purpose of keeping the stand from rocking on my definitely not quite flat floor and also allow me to push the stand around without scratching the floor.

After this I finally attached the doors to the frame. The hinges I am using have some ability to adjust the door height and angle after it is attached which is pretty spiffy. Here is how they looked:





All that was left at this point is to move it into the house and put on the top.







Done!.........................with the stand ;P

Now I need to actually build the vivarium that goes on top heh. First step will be to make a 3d model which I will hopefully work on today.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Update!

Its time to talk about the actual vivarium in this vivarium build thread :p

Yesterday I used Sketchup to make a 3D model of the vivarium. I always find this step to be SUPER helpful when building something. Even when I feel like I have a very good idea of how to go about building something I am always surprised by small details that I forget about till I see the actual model and realize I can make my life a LOT easier by cutting a piece of wood a little shorter, or making mortise where I wasn't planning one etc.

Anyway after a bit of work I came up with this design:







Dimensions are 4 feet long, 20 inches deep, and 3 feet tall.

The structure would be made out of 1/2 inch ply and then the corners are doubled up. I would have 2 bulkheads in the bottom, with a sort of trough in the very front (not pictured). The bottom most bulkhead would go to a canister filter external to the tank, the second bulkhead higher up would go to a reservoir in the stand. A third bulkhead on the back wall near the top of the tank would let water back in for a minor dripping branch effect in one corner.

I had planned on this window like design because 1) I didn't want to mate 2 pieces of glass together with a silicone seam since I am not confident in my silicone abilities getting a perfectly clean joint. and 2) When this stand was significantly shorter I was planning on using pre-made glass windows available online as 'table tops' for relatively cheap.

I posted the design over on a facebook group and asked for feedback.
athiker04 responded to the thread and linked me to his build thread here. I had seen this build thread before and have always been impressed by it but his comments made me rethink my design. The way he built his tanks he did not have a glass to glass silicone joint in the tank. And since my tank was now so much taller then before I could no longer use the pre-made glass panels I was previously considering. Thus I decided to ditch my design and rethink my approach. This included aping athiker04's design quite a bit.

Here is my new design:





Essentially the same basic principles as the last design only this time it would feature 3 glass walls instead of sliding doors and 2 windows.

If anyone has any thoughts or feedback on the design I am definitely open to them. I haven't started cutting wood yet so at this point the sky is the limit on changes ;)

Meanwhile I have started calling around for glass quotes. I am always amazed at the wide disparity of prices on this front. So far I have two companies responding. One wanted 240 dollars for the glass sides the other wanted 90 dollars for the glass sides. These would be 1/4" thick annealed glass with a flat polished edge. I have another 6 or 7 or so quotes outstanding, hopefully I will receive most of those in the next day or 2.
 

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Greetings,

The overall design looks good. I wasn't sure, after reading your latest description of the glass configuration (3 walls, 2 windows) what you meant exactly. Are there going to be doors on this viv?
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Greetings,

The overall design looks good. I wasn't sure, after reading your latest description of the glass configuration (3 walls, 2 windows) what you meant exactly. Are there going to be doors on this viv?
Ah yeah I can see how that is confusing. I meant that the design would be similar to other build I linked with 2 fixed glass walls on either side and meeting those two walls would be a door. In my case using a sliding door. Definitely not trying to make a top opening custom viv ;P
 

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With all the effort you're putting into this, I would recommend two things. Either add a float valve in the trough area (hidden is fine) so you don't have to worry about evap causing your canister to suck air. Or the other option would be to sump the filter. With a stand being that size, you could easily fit a 10 gallon tank underneath and make your own wet/dry filter which would be chump to maintain and you can hide an ATO valve in the sump.

I can look up the place, but there was a glass shop in Rockville that I used to deal with back in the day. They were affordable and could cut whatever size glass you need at reasonable rates. They also would bevel the edges if asked for little to no charge if you asked. For sliding doors that would be ideal to reduce chipping and friction.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
With all the effort you're putting into this, I would recommend two things. Either add a float valve in the trough area (hidden is fine) so you don't have to worry about evap causing your canister to suck air. Or the other option would be to sump the filter. With a stand being that size, you could easily fit a 10 gallon tank underneath and make your own wet/dry filter which would be chump to maintain and you can hide an ATO valve in the sump.

I can look up the place, but there was a glass shop in Rockville that I used to deal with back in the day. They were affordable and could cut whatever size glass you need at reasonable rates. They also would bevel the edges if asked for little to no charge if you asked. For sliding doors that would be ideal to reduce chipping and friction.
Definitely interested in any suggestions for glass cutters if the information is easily found. I have sent out about 10 requests for quotes and so far have gotten back 4. I expect the others to trickle in over the next couple of days but they are all just shots in the dark. I have no idea if these companies are particularly good or cheap etc.

I have debated whether to go with a sump over a canister filter. I actually own the canister filter already (from a now defunct aquarium) so its a zero expense item to set it up. Since my trough area in the tank will be filled with calcined clay I won't be able to use a float switch. That means I could only use one in a sump. The problem there is the risk of it failing, my drain clogging and then I am in a potential flood issue onto my floor. The frogs would be fine because the front vents would drain water before the whole tank became submerged (I plan to build up the back layer), but I don't want to put myself in a situation where its possible (even though unlikely) that I dump a few gallons of water onto the floor, especially when I might not be around to immediately take action.

The accepted solution for this is to have enough capacity in the tank to have the sump run dry without flooding, but I don't know how to calculate that in advance given that I plan to have my 'false bottom'/trough area completely filled in by calcined clay. Does that make sense?

Anyway this is why I arrived at using a canister filter instead. The water volume in one is so small its my hope that even if my drain clogs I still won't have enough water to flood the tank, and if I do, it won't be by much.
 

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The perk of the canister is that currently it's a 'free to you' situation which is always good. The canister running dry will inevitably either overheat the motor head or damage the impeller then you have that cost. Overall a sump is just cheaper to repair in the future. With the dimensions of the stand, plus the low flow you're probably after, you're just after a pump that has the head pressure to reach the height of the outlet. As for calculating the volume of water, that's easy. Just go through and measure your calcined area and do the following:

L x W x H = (cubic inches)/231= gallons

ex:
48" x 12" x 6" = 3456 cu in / 231 = 14.96 gallons

Obviously you will have displacement of the calcined media, but if you get that total volume in gallons + what ever your top off reservoir is you should be more than safe. In my example above, that 14.96 gallons + 5 gallon reservoir would be just shy of 20 gallons. So a 20 gallon long should provide more than enough space since the area calculated to be 14.96 gallons will have displacement due to media which will reduce the volume of water. ATO's are pretty reliable these days, so if the mechanical float switch is not giving you the warm and fuzzies, a simple electronic ATO with water level monitoring (around $100) will be more than safe. I've used some simple ones for years with no floods. Only floods I get are when I forget I'm filling a tank and walk away during a water change... Yay fishroom with concrete floors!

I'm not only recommending this to save a pump, but in actuality you're probably going to be away from home at some point. Say a vacation comes up. Having this knocked out now means one less thing you have to worry about/train the pet sitter to do when they swing by. Perk of the ATO res is you can also use it as the same res for your auto misting system. Win Win.

Also, let me add that whatever you're going to stock in there has a chance of producing offspring... Couple breeder boxes in the sump = simple way to raise tads without setting up a rack or table for cups before they sprout front legs.
 
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