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building an acrylic tank.

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jeffsreefdotcom

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Feb 24, 2004
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south jersey
Hi-

question for those with experience here. I want to build a large (300+) tank in the future, but I'm working on the design now. I can have the acrylic cut for me at a local plastics shop (www.e-tplastics.com). He's cut pieces for my sump in the past, and the price was very reasonable, and much more precise than I could do with a table saw. Anyway, when dealing with such a large scale project, I'm wondering if it is something I should leave to the professionals or if I should assemble it myself. My biggest concern would be keeping everything square. How would you go about making sure the corners are square with such large pieces? And once you apply the weld-on, that's it! I'm looking at a L-shape (similar or smaller than mojos) or a deep rectangle.

~Jeff
 
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big t

tankless
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Oct 21, 2003
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Denver
Well if your are confident and comfortable working w/ acryilc I am sure that you could do it yourself. As far as keeping it all square I would make some big 90° angle jigs to hold the sides squiare to the front while they are curing, It shouldn't really be very difficult. I know that Oregon Gorge here has build a large tank, so he might be able to give some helpful tips also. Have you worked thick pieces of acrylic before? With a large tank like that it would probably be advisable to use 3/4" material depending on how tall the tank will be.
 

jeffsreefdotcom

Active member
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Feb 24, 2004
Messages
25
Location
south jersey
thanks guys. I was looking for the tank to be 24-30" tall and was planning on using 3/4 - 1" acrylite for the job. As far as using the jigs, I was thinking along those lines, but have you ever seen the lumber at home depot? ;) This project is still a couple of years away, so I have plenty of time to figure it out.
 

DonW

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Dec 15, 2003
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Tacoma, WA
Personally I would waste two sheets of 3/4 ply cut them to the exact inside dimensions of yor tank. Then cut the center out to reduce weight. Then drill lots of 1" holes all the way around for clamps. Once its all clamped it will be square assuming that your work surface is dead flat. Should work but, I think I would just have one made to ensure that the sides dont fall off (just my luck).

Don
 

Scooterman

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Oct 30, 2003
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Louisiana
Yep, I'd go out the way to make one heck of a jig, out of plywood and 2by 4's whatever is necessary to fit it inside and support it all together perfectly. Remember to allow foe enough seperation to glue then form it up. Post thousands of pictures also, we could all learn for your do's and don'ts! :)
 

Zephrant

Engineer
Joined
Feb 13, 2004
Messages
120
Location
Spokane, WA
An L shape is far more difficult than a basic box. I understand the desire to build your own tank, but that is a pretty tough design.

I've not tried something like that before, so can't give much advice, but here are a few tips:
Use Weldon 40 glue- Nothing else is designed for the stresses involved.
Follow the directions for #40- That includes spacing the joints so they are not too "Dry". (The failure mode on Kevin's tank.)
Get perfect edges- In theory saw-cut edges might work with the #40, but I would go for routered edges all the way around. Find someone with a CNC that can cut all your pieces for you- Getting them cut square and true will be critical to an easy assembly.
As mentioned above, figure out your clamping needs in advance.
Give lots of thought to the assembly order, joints are far easier if they are horizontal.
Get a large, flat work surface. That L has to completely fit on the table to glue the base and top on in one whack.
Get helpers. Those large panels will get heavy, and the extra hands will help keep things moving.
Plan on lots of time to route/sand/polish the edges.

HTH-

Zeph
 

jeffsreefdotcom

Active member
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Feb 24, 2004
Messages
25
Location
south jersey
thanks for all the tips. I may leave this one to a pro, but since I have lots of time, maybe I'll try a really big turtle tank in the mean time for practice. The shop I get the acrylic from has laser cutting/polishing and CNC/5 axis routing. I'd have them cut everything, I was just thinking about putting it together.
 
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