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Topic: Need a wood-worker  (Read 459 times)

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Need a wood-worker
« on: April 06, 2019, 07:35:05 PM »
Ok, so I've found a bench on which I could place my soon-to-be-aquired aquarium. The bench is metal and sturdy, but the shelves provided are MDF and appear flimsy. The bench is supposed to hold about 250kg on each of two shelves, but that is assuming the weight is distributed evenly. (Which I assume means over the actual frame and not plonked into the middle of the shelf.) 

The aquarium would cover about just over half the footprint of the MDF board shelf and should weight about 200 to 220lbs (90 to 100kg)  when loaded with water and gravel. That is well under what they say the shelves should carry, but the MDF is only 5.8mm thick and really seems fllimsy. I have serious doubts about it being able to carry the aquarium without deforming/collapsing. Plus I'd have to seal the MDF as it doesn't handle water spills.

So, I have a space that is about 90cm x 60cm that I need to get a piece of wood to cover (the top of the frame, overhanging the metal supports a teenchy bit).  Would pine be strong enough to carry that weight without sagging? How thick would it need to be?  Something else I should investigate?


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2019, 08:38:13 AM »
Engineering quiz!!

I see your concern. You are proposing that the rating of the MDF is based on the load being spread evenly. The aquarium will apply this weight to just a portion of the board. I bet there are some formulae out there for this sort of thing.

How is the board attached/fixed to the metal frame?

I just hope that more people will ignore the fatalism of the argument that we are beyond repair. We are not beyond repair. We are never beyond repair. - AOC


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2019, 09:38:38 AM »
Engineering quiz!!

I see your concern. You are proposing that the rating of the MDF is based on the load being spread evenly. The aquarium will apply this weight to just a portion of the board. I bet there are some formulae out there for this sort of thing.

How is the board attached/fixed to the metal frame?

It apparently sits on a small lip of metal that juts out from the metal frame. It is not permantly affixed (as far as I can tell from the description) but just sits on it.  I suspect the MDF will warp under that weight, probably enough to make the end of the sheet slip off the very narrow bit of metal it is stitting on.  If there was another support or two running across the frame I think it would work ok, but it's just a big empty rectangle with some kinda flimsy MDF across it.

The top of the bench is supposed to be (per the advert) 900mm (90cm?) by 600mm (60cm?)

Ikea makes a pine shelf (we ordered some Ivar shelving for another room so I have it here with me). It is 83cm long, 50cm wide, and 1.8 cm thick, solid pine. So if I had the bench and set this on it, it would only make contact with the frame on three sides. (It has metal bits on the end, so I'm just using it for comparison here - the metal would look ugly.) It feels extremely sturdy. Ikea says that when it's installed on the four pins it uses to hook onto the shelving supports in the Ivar system it can handle 45kg of weight. So since the aquarium would be weighing 100kg, even this pine would not be strong enough?  Or would the fact that, if this actually fit across the entire top, the weight was also being directed down the metal frame make a difference?

I'd need to get several lengths of cross-brace (like 2x2 or similar) to go under it, fitted into the frame with the board on top? Probably would be stronger if they ran across the short way than the long? So like one at each end and two spaced evenly across in the middle? It would be much easier if I could just buy a solid top across it, though, so that's what I'm hoping to do. I don't have any of my tools anymore - left them behind.   (I am putting the hamster cage on the lower shelf, so I can't just stick a 2x4 pillar under the middle for support.) I am not sure what to purchase.


« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 09:40:52 AM by Nan D. »


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2019, 10:23:16 AM »
Is there a reason that you're not just going for an aquarium stand to begin with?

This one is attractive and inexpensive and comes in other sizes. https://www.completeaquatics.co.uk/ciano-aqua-60-stand-black?gclid=CjwKCAjwv6blBRBzEiwAihbM-fJfG_UJqd3ppdqFFG-oEzDvUQmnfWZy4c7U4_YZzQUziQtG7V1e3BoClB4QAvD_BwE
March 28th 2013-Moved to UK, husband on spouse visa.Oct 20th 2015-Applied by mail for FLR(M).Feb 1st 2016 FLR(M).March 7th 2018 ILR. YAY! March 21st NCS&JCAP appointment.


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2019, 10:32:27 AM »
I am hoping one our science people will jump in here.

I will say this: you and I may be from an era when "particle board" was viewed with suspicion. I bet there is an industry pamphlet out there somewhere with the phrase "Today's composite materials can actually out-perform many natural woods".

Moreover, this MDF is not the sort of fluffy thing you find on an IKEA night stand. 

I did notice this "get out" clause in the description: "and have a load capacity of 265kg per shelf when load is distributed evenly". 

While not exactly "pushing the envelope" you will definitely be operating this thing at the top end of stated spec.

My thoughts: Just go with it! You will almost assuredly not encounter a sudden failure. Any warping would develop over time (a gap would begin to appear around the edges). At that point you could replace the board. However, if you are a worrier, you may never be able to look at the damned thing without thinking, "It could go at any minute". In which case your enjoyment of the aquarium may be lessened.
I just hope that more people will ignore the fatalism of the argument that we are beyond repair. We are not beyond repair. We are never beyond repair. - AOC


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2019, 10:36:16 AM »

While not exactly "pushing the envelope" you will definitely be operating this thing at the top end of stated spec.

My thoughts: Just go with it! You will almost assuredly not encounter a sudden failure. Any warping would develop over time (a gap would begin to appear around the edges). At that point you could replace the board. However, if you are a worrier, you may never be able to look at the damned thing without thinking, "It could go at any minute". In which case your enjoyment of the aquarium may be lessened.


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(I am putting the hamster cage on the lower shelf, so I can't just stick a 2x4 pillar under the middle for support.)

If you follow this advice, whatever you do, don't put Thor underneath the tank!  8)
« Last Edit: April 07, 2019, 10:39:12 AM by larrabee »
March 28th 2013-Moved to UK, husband on spouse visa.Oct 20th 2015-Applied by mail for FLR(M).Feb 1st 2016 FLR(M).March 7th 2018 ILR. YAY! March 21st NCS&JCAP appointment.


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2019, 11:08:46 PM »
Is there a reason that you're not just going for an aquarium stand to begin with?

This one is attractive and inexpensive and comes in other sizes. https://www.completeaquatics.co.uk/ciano-aqua-60-stand-black?gclid=CjwKCAjwv6blBRBzEiwAihbM-fJfG_UJqd3ppdqFFG-oEzDvUQmnfWZy4c7U4_YZzQUziQtG7V1e3BoClB4QAvD_BwE

Yes, because they are ugly as sin.* And the bench allows us to have the hamster cage underneath.  If we get this one, I'll be putting braces (slats) on top of the MDF, and then a hardwood board over it.  ;)

I'm just hoping there's a woodworker (or engineer) who can tell me how thick the wood needs to be, and if one type is preferable over another.

I found a couple in the States that are not bad looking (and one I really liked -  in a kind of Mission style), but the shipping would be lethal. So something like the bench will have to do, until I get back there and can bring it home in my luggage. (Assuming it'd fit.) Thor is getting into middle age, so she probably won't be around when we make our next trip back.  :( At that point, the bench will go to a charity shop. Unless we get a Chihuahua and use the hamster's cage as a crate. :)

* The cheaper ones, anyway. There are some nice pieces of hardwood furniture available, but they are in the hundreds of pounds. The cheaper stuff has tended to be a step above Walmart and a few below Ikea. All seem to be MDF, of varying quality. (I've been to like four shops now, looking at them. Disappointing.)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 02:41:17 AM by Nan D. »


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2019, 07:17:43 AM »
Yes, because they are ugly as sin.* ......    (I've been to like four shops now, looking at them. Disappointing.)

Ahh, yes. Things can look very different in real life.

I hope you find something that you're happy with.  :)
March 28th 2013-Moved to UK, husband on spouse visa.Oct 20th 2015-Applied by mail for FLR(M).Feb 1st 2016 FLR(M).March 7th 2018 ILR. YAY! March 21st NCS&JCAP appointment.


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2019, 08:06:17 AM »
Nan, can't you just get 2 small pieces to become vertical supports for the middel, this would really bolster the weight bearing of a long shelf.
assuming it looks like this      |-------------|
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what you need is this              |---------------|
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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2019, 11:09:31 AM »
Then the hamster cage doesn't fit under. (Already went down that road.   :(  ) We have limited floor space.  And, really, I'm not too confident about the floor - it's laminate and when we walk on it in the hallway it has a kind of a spring to it. But it is holding the couch and our other larger pieces ok, and the weight of this build would be focused over a wide-enough area that I think it'd be ok. I'll probably have to put shims under at least two of the legs anyway, as this floor is not level.

What I am thinking of doing, and I'll need to measure carefully, is:

getting something like a 2x2 (or the UK equivalent = maybe bed slats?) and have it cut into short pieces to go across the top depth (60cm), then place the MDF on that (for the time being); and,

if it still allows for the cage to go in (and I think it will) have the same or slightly stronger lumber cut to size to fit in tightly along the inside of the legs, and then little pieces cut to go between the bottom shelf supports and the floor. That way the legs which are supposedly steel, will have just a little more vertical support.

As much as I don't care for the look, Ikea has pre-finished tabletops that I could also lay over the top, for five quid.  They have one that is long enough and exactly the same width, or one that is slightly larger that would overhang a little bit and hide most of the fiddly bits.  I'd have to paint all the lumber that showed to a mat black, which is easy enough to do. So at least it would match the aquarium (which will have black substrate). Or I could put the slats in on top of the MDF, and the Ikea on top of that, but that would show a bit more. We have some furniture which has sort of an industrial look going anyway in that room, so it wouldn't be too out-of-place with the black metal legs. I am hoping someone with woodworking or engineering skills can tell me if it'd be strong enough and what kind of wood to use.

I'm trying to do this as "on the cheap" as I can without resorting to MDF/particleboard furniture (which most of the stuff available here seems to be, until it goes way out of my price range).  And then when I go back to the States I can get a nice tank stand in a style I like. (And donate the other stuff to charity.)

If I had a pickup truck and the bench would accommodate Thor's cage, which it won't, and if I had any sort of refinishing skills, I'd love to have this. (Teak top!)   https://www.gumtree.com/p/tool-storage-workbenches/workbench/1335777912  It doesn't actually go with anything we have, in the way of furniture, but I bet it would hold an elephant!

There appear to be nine viable baby corys, all healthy.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 11:51:52 AM by Nan D. »


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2019, 11:50:00 AM »
You know if we consider all the options (and one should, shouldn't they?), if something were to happen to Mr Tibbs or whatever his name is, it would open things up a bit...
I just hope that more people will ignore the fatalism of the argument that we are beyond repair. We are not beyond repair. We are never beyond repair. - AOC


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2019, 11:53:08 AM »
You know if we consider all the options (and one should, shouldn't they?), if something were to happen to Mr Tibbs or whatever his name is, it would open things up a bit...

Yeah, Thor Hamsterdahl's housing is kind of problematic. She's in a really big cage. And there's nowhere else to put it.

And no, the Kon Tiki is not going to mysteriously sink in the bathtub. ::)

EDIT:  Ah, here is my answer - https://www.popularwoodworking.com/projects/aw-extra-3614-stronger-shelves/
« Last Edit: April 08, 2019, 11:32:46 PM by Nan D. »


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2019, 08:52:51 PM »
Ah, the bench arrived and has been assembled. They neglected in the advert to mention all the cross-braces it has. This is a seriously sturdy table - I can easily sit on it and wiggle around a bit and it doesn't wobble at all. (I weigh more than the filled tank would weigh.) Took the daughter four hours to get it put together, as it was one of those "slot piece A into space B" and things were not aligned properly. She managed it, though. Amazing how she's learned to swear in Glaswegian like that....

Off to Ikea tomorrow to get a proper tabletop for it, and then can start working on getting the aquarium set up.

The little aquarium has been moved to my bedroom. Of course, with all the new water changed in there, Big Bertha and the Boys (Thing 1 and Thing 2) appear to be at it again.  I fully expect to see many more eggs on the glass in the morning.

Have to see if the pet shop will work us out a deal. They sell Albino Corys for 3pounds 50 and can't seem to get them in stock, the guy says. I have Big Bertha and the Boys cranking out baby Albino Corys like mad. Maybe we can swap for fish food and some plants or bogwood. 8)  Corys sure do like Scottish water, I have to say! We never got them to breed in Cali. They can stop any time now. Really. Though.


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2019, 10:20:06 PM »
 ;D Nan doesn't need the blue channels way up on telly. she has a fish tank!! :o :o


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Re: Need a wood-worker
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2019, 02:00:35 PM »
One of the babies escaped our knowing about it and has survived in the "big" tank until today, when it was scooped into the nursery with the other babies. Apparently they should be with others of their kind at key developmental stages to learn proper swarming behavior, so hopefully it's not too late for the little thing. Got the Ikea table-top and it fits nicely on the frame of the workbench, leaving the MDF and a sheet of heavy-duty cardboard on the top under it. I sat on it while the Daughter watched for deflection in the bubble-level and it was minimal. So, we're good to go.

We are off tomorrow to discuss substrate with an aquarium shop owner, and the same will happen at a different shop on Wednesday when we go to see the Avengers. Hopefully we can start buying plants on Thursday and get the tank set up and cycling, as it needs to go for a few weeks before we put the fish into it. I hope the little guys will be happy in there! They will certainly have more room.  ;D


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