DIY Aquarium Rack Build Journal

aquachris

Member
I am starting this post to be for my DIY aquarium rack build.

Here are the rough plans:

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Here is the supplies... gotta figure out how to turn below into above LOL! I have some gas cans behind it... Maybe if I get super frustrated with the build......

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Today (2020-08-22) I just worked on getting the area cleaned up and ready for building in my garage.

So did some cutting on Saturday night and got this much done...
Excuse the mess, but its in a garage LOL

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So here's my Sunday's adventure:
Cut rest of wood

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Built the first Shelf.. It was when I started this, I realized I messed up on the width.. I was going to make the total width 24", but the pieces in the middle I was short an inch (Was supposed to cut 21.5, but I ended up cutting at 20.5). All good though, still deep enough for most of what I want... I wanted to go 24.5" deep just in case I ever decided to do a 20 gallon sideways, but now my depth is only 23.5"... Oh well, I can still put 10's sideways, and still have tons of options for tanks in the future, or if I ever decide to custom size an aquarium.. who knows. Either way it was enough wood, and I was already committed and decided I'll be fine.

Took about an hour to figure it out.

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Built second shelf in much much less time

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And now third and final shelf.. definitely had it down by this one

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After that, I added the side braces, and started building up to the second shelf and put in the supports. By the time I completed it was time to call it enough for the day, so more in the future!

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Oh had to weight test it of course.. this is with the third shelf I used to make sure I was pushing down onto the support studs when I built it. Forgive my dirty knees and legs LOL - I had to get on the garage floor quite a bit to build the bottom up, and level everything.

1598229075890.png

I do have some supports to add to the bottom in the middle. Just ran out of time.
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
I think you need my Sasquatch/Yeti self to do the weight testing!!
 
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aquachris

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
I think you need my Sasquatch/Yeti self to do the weight testing!!
i intentionally left the weight load I tested lol. But no bowing whatsoever.

Rack skeleton completed (sort of).


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A few of my support/tie boards where the shelves are are not as even as I'd like, so I need to decide if its worth trying to reposition them, or just sand (will determine by how much it is off lol). Next is the plywood to go on the shelves.

Then on to full sanding, filling screw holes, staining and finally poly!

I'm not looking for perfection on this one.. just function, but I gotta make it presentable for wife approval status (to try to disguise the reality I'm a tank hoarder).
 

shrimpyay

Member
That looks great! Put some stain and poly on it and I can't see why your wife wouldn't approve.
 
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aquachris

Member
shrimpyay said:
That looks great! Put some stain and poly on it and I can't see why your wife wouldn't approve.
That's my goal to get her approval. I haven't had time this week to work on it, hopefully this weekend. I'm super excited to finish it up!
 

shrimpyay

Member
Drasi said:
That's my goal to get her approval. I haven't had time this week to work on it, hopefully this weekend. I'm super excited to finish it up!
I look forward to your update pics. Fingers crossed she likes it!
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
Either way...easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission!
 
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aquachris

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
Either way...easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission!
Can't dispute those results
 
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aquachris

Member
So this weekend I didn't really accomplish a ton. I adjusted some of the 2x4's where the shelves were to go (they were too high). I did manage to sand it down and patch up some holes, so the main base is ready for staining now. I planned on cutting the shelves from plywood as well, but somehow I managed to totally misplace the tools for changing the blade on my table saw (what a dope) - so I had to order those. There's a spot for them on the saw...


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I am debating on actually not securing the plywood shelves to the bottom or middle rack (but will the top since there's nothing to keep it there). That will allow some weight be be removed when moving it LOL.
 
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aquachris

Member
Stained today!!!

1599341251648.png

Not sure what happened with my pic, but it got out of whack when I rotated it from my normal tool, and I dont feel like messing with it right now LOL.

To Do:
Poly (maybe tomorrow)
Plywood shelves
Stain & Poly shelves
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
Looking good!
 

shrimpyay

Member
Looks great!!
 
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aquachris

Member
Some Updates

Final coat of poly on the front facing parts

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Also plywood is stained.. Went with a different tone.. Still needs poly, not sure what I think of it yet lol, but it will be covered with tanks...

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I did decide to stain out areas I know I didn't need to on the rack.. I decided to do it in case I decide I want to modify it later, at least it will be stained.. Probably will never modify it since I did that LOL.
 

JayAlva

Member
Awesome job, I love diy projects what kind of tank builds are you going to setup?
 
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aquachris

Member
This has been a crazy project for me. I have never built anything even remotely close to this... Most I've ever done is replace existing 2x4's or some plywood, etc. in things, and I've done some staining for floors or baseboards... So this, is a complete new stretch. I spent a lot of time on youtube - King of DIY definitely helped, another I really liked was Trafish aquatics (his rack build just hit home for me)

Bottom shelf will have 2 10's, second shelf will have a 75 marine tank (green spotted puffer tank), and the top is TBD - I have a 40 sitting in my garage, so probably that and if I can fit anything to fit on the side of it.
 

JayAlva

Member
Drasi said:
This has been a crazy project for me. I have never built anything even remotely close to this... Most I've ever done is replace existing 2x4's or some plywood, etc. in things, and I've done some staining for floors or baseboards... So this, is a complete new stretch. I spent a lot of time on youtube - King of DIY definitely helped, another I really liked was Trafish aquatics (his rack build just hit home for me)

Bottom shelf will have 2 10's, second shelf will have a 75 marine tank (green spotted puffer tank), and the top is TBD - I have a 40 sitting in my garage, so probably that and if I can fit anything to fit on the side of it.
Nice! Way to go. I went the same way, I just watched what seemed like endless videos. Can't wait to see it completed.
 

bamos1

Member
Drasi said:
Oh had to weight test it of course.. this is with the third shelf I used to make sure I was pushing down onto the support studs when I built it. Forgive my dirty knees and legs LOL - I had to get on the garage floor quite a bit to build the bottom up, and level everything.

1598229075890.png

I do have some supports to add to the bottom in the middle. Just ran out of time.
I love this. It shows you have confidence in your work. I’ve made a few things I’d never have the courage to stand on. I also have a table that I made in high school that I constantly use as scaffolding when I have to work on something too high for a stool and too wide for a ladder.

The rack looks really nice. It’s hard for me to believe that this is the first piece you’ve made.
 
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aquachris

Member
bamos1 said:
I love this. It shows you have confidence in your work. I’ve made a few things I’d never have the courage to stand on. I also have a table that I made in high school that I constantly use as scaffolding when I have to work on something too high for a stool and too wide for a ladder.

The rack looks really nice. It’s hard for me to believe that this is the first piece you’ve made.
Thanks. Yeah I haven't any other way to really weight test until it's done and actually put aquariums on it.

There are loads of things I see now I'd do different but nothing show stopper. Just little asthetic things but not structural.
 
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aquachris

Member
Well yesterday and today I got a bit more done for poly... I have the whole rack done at this point, now I'm working on the shelves... I have the last coat on the top of them, then hopefully tomorrow I can start on the bottom.

I'm starting to work on getting a dedicated circuit ran for the rack and aquarium stuff.. that circuit is shared with a lot of other wall plugs and makes me slightly nervous with the increased load I'm expecting. But man that's expensive for the special circuit tandem circuit breaker, I have a relatively old panel, so they jack up the price on it

I did get an opportunity to pick up a ton of rock for my future 75 gallon for my GSP... It is live rock, so I'm trying to get that situated.. the price was too good to pass up... I wouldn't call it the best live rock, but its got some life to it. So that means I had to get something setup for that as well today LOL.
 

JayAlva

Member
Would a 12outlet 4ft long power outlet work? Harbor freight sells a good one for about 20 bucks
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
JayAlva said:
Would a 12outlet 4ft long power outlet work? Harbor freight sells a good one for about 20 bucks
I was thinking of getting something like that to help organize things.. Have to figure out the logistics of that when I get there Wish there was a HF near me, they are quite a drive for me from where I'm at. But then again, if there was one near me, I'd probably be broke LOL. Overall your hitting my thoughts on the dedicated circuit, then to a strip like that.
 

StarGirl

Member
Drasi said:
I was thinking of getting something like that to help organize things.. Have to figure out the logistics of that when I get there Wish there was a HF near me, they are quite a drive for me from where I'm at. But then again, if there was one near me, I'd probably be broke LOL. Overall your hitting my thoughts on the dedicated circuit, then to a strip like that.
You could make it a two fer....Harbor Freight then Blue Fish.....see ...genious! Double broke! lol hilarious
 
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aquachris

Member
StarGirl said:
You could make it a two fer....Harbor Freight then Blue Fish.....see ...genious! Double broke! lol hilarious
Your killing me

I didn't realize there was a HF in Grandville... Hmm.. I think you may have solved something for me HAHA
 

StarGirl

Member
28th st & Michael in Rogers plaza is HF. Blue fish is 28th and Wilson. Couple miles if that.
 

JayAlva

Member
Drasi said:
I was thinking of getting something like that to help organize things.. Have to figure out the logistics of that when I get there Wish there was a HF near me, they are quite a drive for me from where I'm at. But then again, if there was one near me, I'd probably be broke LOL. Overall your hitting my thoughts on the dedicated circuit, then to a strip like that.
Home depot lowes most of them well those 4ft outlets I like them because they're spaced out to fit different types of connection this one has holes mount too I used magnets to mount mine.
 
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aquachris

Member
After last weekend of sickness and not getting too much done on the shelves... The rack is complete as far as poly/etc.


1600521197821.png

I know its not perfect and I see the mistakes I made and I know next time when I build how to avoid some of that now... This is my first build like this, I hve never even come close to building anything really. Most I've done with woodwork is baseboards - so some things I was able to carry forward. This thing is sturdy and I am proud of what I did. Its really not in a highly visible area, just needed to pass the WAF (wife approval factor) so thats why it got all the "extra" work. If it was me, I would have just poly'd the 2x4's & plywood and not cared about anything else LOL. But I am very happy with the end product (and totally agree it looks better). Most time was put in the finishing than anything else (probably 3-4x the time).

Next step will be installation. I need to break down a couple 10's, move my biocube and then run new electrical (putting on its own dedicated circuit and GFCI*). Based on load of my current circuit, I'm pushing it, and this will be running even more. Also still have to shop for some good surge protectors to run everything... Unfortunately to get the 10's broken down, I have to move them to a new tank, and where that's going I am putting in a 20 under an existing stand - but that guy also needs stain and poly, because naturally, to feed my MTS, I need to keep that tank there.

Overall, I'm excited and proud of myself. Glad I did this, it has actually been therapeutic - I've been going through some extreme stress at work, and having my fish, having this build, has been my relief.

*HIGHLY recommend anyone with tanks to ALWAYS run from a GFCI. I've had an accident recently that I was SO thankful I had it, where I sprayed water out accidently and it went over a power strip nearby (It went flying, I still have no idea how it physically happened lol). Thankfully the gfci tripped.
 

shrimpyay

Member
Sorry to hear you were sick, hope you're feeling better!

That looks fantastic, great job!!! I've really enjoyed watching your progress. Definitely, staining was worth it, because that looks 10000% better than just plain wood LOL! It is crazy how much time the sanding/finishing part of these things takes, isn't it? You should absolutely be proud, this is a great first build!!!

Looking forward to seeing your progress as you complete the setup--sounds like you still have a bit to go, but it also sounds like enjoyable work.
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
shrimpyay said:
Sorry to hear you were sick, hope you're feeling better!

That looks fantastic, great job!!! I've really enjoyed watching your progress. Definitely, staining was worth it, because that looks 10000% better than just plain wood LOL! It is crazy how much time the sanding/finishing part of these things takes, isn't it? You should absolutely be proud, this is a great first build!!!

Looking forward to seeing your progress as you complete the setup--sounds like you still have a bit to go, but it also sounds like enjoyable work.
It really is so much better looking.. I don't want to say she was right, but.... We'll leave it there. HAHA. Yeah, that part really took the most of my time, no doubt at all. But it was all good, right now I need that for me in my high stress time. It has given my mind something else that isn't stressful and keeps me busy.

So I put my 75g in it. Please pardon its yuck... it really needs a cleaning, that will be later. Also it was put in backwards, the part facing out is usually the part facing a wall...

What I learned? I apparently didn't have the extra space I thought I had on the sides... It is a serious snug fit in there, but it fit! Guess that's not bad really, just scared me for a second that I didn't make it wide enough.


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I did want to post that this rack build was really only came together by watching Travish Aquatics video he did on a similar build and may of King of DIY videos. But if you notice, my build is almost identical to the youtube video by Travish Aquatics - watching his video made it click, got the juices going perfectly for me, and voila.

 
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aquachris

Member
So during this week, I started the process of moving and combining 2 10g to a 20g tank... Starting to realize I have a whole lot of guppies... looking time to move them on to my MIL who has a big tank full of them - of course I'm keeping some select ones. But I'm using BDBS, first time ever trying that. Trying to decide what I think...

It does need scaping help. I plan on redoing up with a better setup after I get a bit of time to rearrange and move some stuff. I have a sword or two that need to move from another tank (overgrowing!) and a few Vals I'd like to pop in it. For now, its about function lol.


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BTW: This is my snail tank and my quarantine tank combined. I basically have the guppies for helping keep different tanks cycled, as I did a few other tank setups, and imagine I will need them again when I get my new rack done. Anyhow, I purposely over-feed for snails.

This weekends chores are to break down the old tanks the rest of the way, and clear that space so I can work on a new electrical run. Then move my biocube over - and finally install the rack! Lots of work still ahead of me. Not sure how much I'll get done this weekend.

In the meantime the 75 hasn't moved on the rack its on - has held stable as can be. Super happy.
 
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aquachris

Member
Alright, some more updates already today! I have broken down my 10's and their "stand", now its time to start working on getting into the wall and trying to get a new electrical ran! Going to be tough now because my "fishroom/office" is a bit of a disaster as I will need to wait until I get the rack in to find new storage spots for some things as the old "stand" was my storage!


1601131163257.png

Old stand sitting sideways so I can get to where I need to do electrical...
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Here's the wall for where the rack is going to go. and there's my biocube with its light working again - yay!

1601131344570.png
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
aquachris said:
Alright, some more updates already today! I have broken down my 10's and their "stand", now its time to start working on getting into the wall and trying to get a new electrical ran! Going to be tough now because my "fishroom/office" is a bit of a disaster as I will need to wait until I get the rack in to find new storage spots for some things as the old "stand" was my storage!


1601131163257.png

Old stand sitting sideways so I can get to where I need to do electrical...
1601131255749.png

Here's the wall for where the rack is going to go. and there's my biocube with its light working again - yay!

1601131344570.png
How did you get the light to work again? Kick it or hit it with a mag-lite?
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
How did you get the light to work again? Kick it or hit it with a mag-lite?
Sledgehammer works the best.

It got a little wet - I have a intank media chamber thing, rather than the stock one... There's a little "funnel" piece your supposed to put in the back, and I had it in the wrong spot (making it too high), which raised the water significantly. After a few days, my son decided yesterday to plug it in and it worked... I was going to wait a bit longer, but he's more impatient than me lol.
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
aquachris said:
Sledgehammer works the best.

It got a little wet - I have a intank media chamber thing, rather than the stock one... There's a little "funnel" piece your supposed to put in the back, and I had it in the wrong spot (making it too high), which raised the water significantly. After a few days, my son decided yesterday to plug it in and it worked... I was going to wait a bit longer, but he's more impatient than me lol.
Well, hopefully it works steady now and no more of that "maybe it works, maybe it won't" gremlin!
 
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aquachris

Member
Completed new electrical circuit today. This will be nice as it will no longer be impacted by other things on the already close to overloaded circuit.
 
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aquachris

Member
So my weekend plans is to work on my 75 for the rack. That's the first thing to go in it. Tonight I cleaned it out for a first scrub, until its basically too dark now. Will be working on more tomorrow. What sucks is its super cold in Michigan right now to be doing this outside with cold water!

My hope is to get the back painted and the trim repainted black this weekend. If things go smooth enough possibly bring the rack to its destination - but I'm not making commitments on that yet . Feels like this has been a real slow process, but its all been weekend work, in between other life stuff. But progress is being made!
 

StarGirl

Member
aquachris said:
So my weekend plans is to work on my 75 for the rack. That's the first thing to go in it. Tonight I cleaned it out for a first scrub, until its basically too dark now. Will be working on more tomorrow. What sucks is its super cold in Michigan right now to be doing this outside with cold water!

My hope is to get the back painted and the trim repainted black this weekend. If things go smooth enough possibly bring the rack to its destination - but I'm not making commitments on that yet . Feels like this has been a real slow process, but its all been weekend work, in between other life stuff. But progress is being made!
This cooler weather sucks but I love Fall. My fav.
 
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aquachris

Member
StarGirl said:
This cooler weather sucks but I love Fall. My fav.
I do too - Fall and spring are my favorite seasons. Probably wouldn't be so miserable if we didn't have the rain on and off right now.
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
Getting ready for plastidip. You can see the clouds so clearly on the glass, not sure I've ever cleaned a tank this well LOL

1601741048147.png

Unfortunately neighbor decided to burn stuff in their firepit outside... so got little ash parts flying around, gotta wait till that dies down.
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
Hope you get all finished before winter sets in!
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
Hope you get all finished before winter sets in!
Just really last step is getting this thing painted. Half debating on skipping painting the trim... We'll see how the weekend goes. I had hoped to get a coat on before running to the store earlier in town. Didn't happen.

But in the meantime I got myself some black mollies and my son got some Figure 8 puffers and bumblee gobies (He's been cycling his tank and it is finally cycled). My mollies will be transitioned to saltwater as they come out of quarantine. They will be part of my cycling process to help get the load and control potential algae during that process lol.
 
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aquachris

Member
So.. I thought 1 can would be enough of plastidip for the back of the tank.... I think I thought wrong

Problem is I cant find this stuff anywhere local on the color I liked (flex blue) so I have to order it. Guess I'll be ordering more and going through this again.

On the plus side, I guess it gives me time to paint the rim...
 
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aquachris

Member
More bad news today. But this is a biggie. I cannot fit it into my office. I have removed the door frame and almost can make it, like an inch or so
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
aquachris said:
More bad news today. But this is a biggie. I cannot fit it into my office. I have removed the door frame and almost can make it, like an inch or so
Uh...oh...

Any possibility you can take some of it apart to fit it in?
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
Uh...oh...

Any possibility you can take some of it apart to fit it in?
I should clarify, I cannot fit it in the door into my office. It will fit if I could get it in along the wall I'm putting it.

Really my only option is to make some cuts.. problem is with it stained filled the screw holes and finished, plus I've used wood glue during the build process, its not going to be easy.

I'm debating cutting the top part off, then reattaching it somehow. I'll have to try to get some really clean, straight, level cuts though. then try to find some way to reattach structural side runs on the outside of it (help prevent sway). Its real bummer though because its going to be hard/impossible to not be noticeable. I planned on putting stickers on my rack, might be the place the stickers go first...

Hardest thing is picturing myself cutting it now after all the work I put in it. Feels wrong.
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
aquachris said:
I should clarify, I cannot fit it in the door into my office. It will fit if I could get it in along the wall I'm putting it.

Really my only option is to make some cuts.. problem is with it stained filled the screw holes and finished, plus I've used wood glue during the build process, its not going to be easy.

I'm debating cutting the top part off, then reattaching it somehow. I'll have to try to get some really clean, straight, level cuts though. then try to find some way to reattach structural side runs on the outside of it (help prevent sway). Its real bummer though because its going to be hard/impossible to not be noticeable. I planned on putting stickers on my rack, might be the place the stickers go first...

Hardest thing is picturing myself cutting it now after all the work I put in it. Feels wrong.
Yeah, understand that. Hard to purposefully destroy a prohect like that for any reason.
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
Have an idea on how to make the cuts in a sort of like lap joints but using the two 2x4s to build it By offsetting the cuts. Might use bolts to make it able to be removed In the future again for moving. In the end I guess it will be a nice feature really lol.
 

Betta'sAnonymous

Member
aquachris said:
Have an idea on how to make the cuts in a sort of like lap joints but using the two 2x4s to build it By offsetting the cuts. Might use bolts to make it able to be removed In the future again for moving. In the end I guess it will be a nice feature really lol.
Was hoping you had already thrown in a feature like that. Ah well, live and learn i suppose!
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
Betta'sAnonymous said:
Was hoping you had already thrown in a feature like that. Ah well, live and learn i suppose!
yeah. Lesson learned for sure lol
 
  • Thread Starter

aquachris

Member
Well, I'm chocking it up to this project as a fail. Wont be happening even close to as I hoped. I'm going to have to cut off the top shelf. I thought I could try to get it apart somehow, but the problem is I glued 2x4's together... I have no way of breaking that glue . It really sucks, a lot of money and time, and it will be a basic stand in the end. Not total loss, but definitely not its purpose.
 

JayAlva

Member
aquachris said:
Well, I'm chocking it up to this project as a fail. Wont be happening even close to as I hoped. I'm going to have to cut off the top shelf. I thought I could try to get it apart somehow, but the problem is I glued 2x4's together... I have no way of breaking that glue . It really sucks, a lot of money and time, and it will be a basic stand in the end. Not total loss, but definitely not its purpose.
Sorry to hear that man it looked nice, how about you save it and maybe set it up elsewhere later?
Or maybe even possibly sell it if it's a last resort. Build something else that will be purpose built for that specific room?
I had smaller issues when I made my metal stand but it was much easier to fix.
Don't let it discourage you to try again.
If it were me I'd be start the negotiating telling the wife it doesn't fit and it's already built so might as well use it somewhere else.
 

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