Cherry Bow Front Aquarium Stand

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Project by reedwood posted 766 days ago 2021 views 5 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Cherry Bow Front Aquarium Stand
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155 gal. salt water aquarium bow front stand made from solid cherry and maple plywood


This project took four years to build…..sort of.

It all started when a neighbor asked me to install a bay window in their kitchen. He had an Aquarium business where he built and maintained huge aquariums so I thought it was a good opportunity to make a trade.

Of course, the bay window turned out to be a bigger project. There was a 1” electrical conduit and a gas line in the wall for the HVAC in the attic which had to be relocated. They failed to mention that. After completing the work and several other honey do projects, I took delivery of the tank.

I had to build the stand before he could install the elaborate filter system so I bought prefinished clear 3/4” maple plywood for the casework and solid 4/4 cherry for the doors and exterior wrap.

I’ve built a lot of cabinets but never a bow front with bowed, raised paneled doors.

This was going to be a fun project and I couldn’t wait to get started.

The problem was, once the aquarium was full of water it wasn’t going anywhere.

First, the floor framing had to be reinforced and I had to run electrical and water supply
and drain lines under the floor.

Then the reclaimed 100+ yr. old oak floors had to be installed and finished.

For years, I collected this flooring from all these huge old mansions I remodeled on the North Shore.

Some of the flooring was hand nailed with square nails.

It’s made of oak, cherry, walnut, bamboo, maple, the center is reclaimed from a river flecked white oak,

The blocks are made from dark mystery exotic woods – Bazinga? Hubba Bubba?...who knows what’s in that box!

90% of the red and white oak is quarter sawn. much of it looks old growth…. But only I will notice.

There are hidden blocks that pop up and coins buried everywhere….. don’t tell anyone.


The 1942 refurbished corner hutches that I pulled out of a dumpster had to be rebuilt, refinished,

rewired re trimmed and installed… Big project.



The windows, walls and ceiling had to be painted.



Tess kitty loves to hang out and inspect the progress.

7/8/13 Update: RIP my little garden buddy.


The empty aquarium sat on the half completed stand while I slowly finished the other projects.

We love Halloween so, one year we had a party and filled the empty tank with skeleton fish! Ha!


I knew the cabinet and trim would be easy to build but the doors were going to be a challenge.

Lots of clamping jigs!


I discovered it was better to glue up four thinner veneers rather than only three in order to bend it this much.



I had two cherry 1/2 posts left over from a cherry kitchen remodel.

I figured they would look good on either side of the stand but they seemed a little plain.
I decided to carve them to look like sea weed, more abstract than accurately detailed.




The angled trim pieces were easy to make. Now it’s time to make the arched doors.


I glued 1 1/2” pcs. with a 1- degree angle, sanded the panels with a belt sander and finished with an orbital sander and an angled sanding block.


They weren’t that hard to make,.... don’t know why I was so nervous.

While I was sanding and fine tuning the inset doors which were held in place with little shims,

Everyone that came by just HAD to try to open the loose doors and touch it….. Geeez!
I caught a falling door just in time, twice!....Enough of that!

Stain and finish

I used a wood conditioner to prevent the cherry from blotching.


Zar Teak natural stain and 3 coats of oil base varnish.

Notice how I made the hood with the lip hanging down to cover the top band of the aquarium.

This also helps to keep the lid low and in proportion – not so top heavy.

You only need about 2 1/2 to 3” for the fluorescent lights.
I also cut 3 vents in the back by cutting 2 – 18” kerfs with a 60 tooth skill saw and a guide.


The fish guy was finally able to install the filter system and after waiting about 5 weeks for the water to cycle,

we filled it with beautiful salt water fish.

..... and an eel named Eli.

there’s Daisy and Dory….. neighbor’s kids named them.

And this is Little’ Buddy. What a personality!

Vinnie the spotted grouper – he’s da boss

and Spike – no one messes with Spike.

I have to be careful when I feed them, his spines stick out of the water …. Terrible sting!




So, now you know why it took so long to finish.

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude. - Malo periculosam

18 comments so far

View Northwest29's profile (online now)


731 posts in 1125 days

#1 posted 766 days ago

Wow!!! Now that’s one beautiful tank setup. Excellent craftsmanship.Really love the curved look – Thanks for sharing your 4 year journey with all of us.

-- Ron, Eugene, OR, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View mafe's profile


9492 posts in 1723 days

#2 posted 766 days ago

What a amzing work you have done.
What a wonderful workshop.
Best thoughts,

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Gshepherd's profile


1466 posts in 836 days

#3 posted 766 days ago

Persistants pays off….. Beautiful Tank, Good pictures, thanks for sharing…...

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Richforever's profile


739 posts in 2354 days

#4 posted 766 days ago

Outstanding! Thanks for posting. I love the way your creativity flows with the project.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View exelectrician's profile


1537 posts in 1062 days

#5 posted 766 days ago

Beaded frame and raised curved panels – you love a challenge and winning. I take my hat off to you!

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View syeret's profile


96 posts in 1951 days

#6 posted 766 days ago

Beautiful, you’re a craftsman blessed with golden hands.

View Schwieb's profile


1499 posts in 2096 days

#7 posted 765 days ago

Beautiful Aquarium. Incredible work on your home. Really awesome flooring. I acknowledge your persistence, workmanship, and creativity. Great post!

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View NormG's profile


4112 posts in 1638 days

#8 posted 765 days ago

Excellent workmanship, glad to see the end result, very nice looking piece for furniture. I am sure the cat was also pleased

-- Norman

View dpmeyer4867's profile


17 posts in 765 days

#9 posted 765 days ago

My tank was set up on fabric wrapped cement blocks. Great job. I love the floor. I like the calendar on photo 23.

View reedwood's profile


872 posts in 1310 days

#10 posted 765 days ago

Hey everyone,
Thanks for all the compliments!

Thank you Mads, just trying to keep up with your beautiful work. Say hello to your little friend, Shave. Will he be posting a new project soon – I hope?

exelectrician, you noticed the beaded frame. Yes, that was a fun detail to create but it was worth it, I think.

syeret, golden hands? More like beat up, covered in scars, and achey from years of hard work. But I still have all my fingers and I’m still making stuff so – no compaints.

normG, I think Tess liked the tank, hard to tell with cats but she was pissed when I put the ladder away. Ha!

dpmeyer4867 Hey bud, welcome to lumberjocks!
Glad you’re here and would love to see some of your projects. It sounds like there is a future aquarium stand project waiting for you too. Hopefully, it won’t take 4 years like mine.
Believe it or not, the construction girls calander was a gift from my wife. She’s so good to me. What a gal.

Thank you for sharing with me. On to the next project!

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude. - Malo periculosam

View JusticeBeaver's profile


26 posts in 1142 days

#11 posted 765 days ago

really impressive! and the four year process sounds familiar

-- Lonnie - Peachtree Corners, GA

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13337 posts in 2307 days

#12 posted 765 days ago

The aquarium turn out nice.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 1712 days

#13 posted 765 days ago

Gorgeous, beautiful . . . something to be really proud of, Mark.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3645 posts in 1799 days

#14 posted 764 days ago

I like it, hope the fish like it too! Never ending projects….....very familiar with that one….........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View oldnovice's profile (online now)


3715 posts in 2002 days

#15 posted 764 days ago

All I can say is WOW!

The detail of the posts really complements the design!

Four years and worth very minute!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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