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Bookcase and Built-in Aquariums

Almost every aquarist gets to the situation after a few years, decades or after a few months in some enthusiasts when he/she finds that he/she needs another aquarium to be happy. Then another one and more and….there is not enough room in the flat for anything else. And almost everyone gets the ultimatum. How to solve this problem to make everybody happy? Build the bookcase for your other half and slide an aquarium or two into it. :-)

The same was true for me, however, except the ultimatum but also without the space. As there was an acute insufficient room for growing amount of books and as the bookcase I wanted didn’t exist, I had to build one myself. Then there was not a big problem to conceive the plan how to find the place in it for one aquarium, or better two to make it symmetrical. :-) I will not give you the accurate dimensions intentionally as everybody has a specific conditions and room. I do not mention all the steps in detail like gluing an ornamental strips and frames. This is a rough idea how the bookcase building had passed and an inspiration. Anyone can adapt the dimensions and details for particular conditions and taste. I wanted to show that the building the furniture like the bookcase is possible in a very simple conditions at home in a small chamber and then every visit asks “Where did you buy that?” :-)

Obr. 2 - Spojenie bočných a hornej dosky Obr. 1 - Spojenie bočnej a hornej dosky After measuring the only free wall in the room, I drawn the concept of bookcase and started to find suitable building material. As I was not able to work the unprocessed wood (I have no place), I had to find boards planed off and cut to measure. I bought the deal boards which were accurately wide and I had to cut their length only. The gatefold has started.

The whole bookcase had to be composed of three basic parts with another two parts (CD panel in next text) inserted between them. All the parts will be joined together in the place where the bookcase will stay. Every of three basic parts were made of the 2 side long boards (2 m) and two shorter ones. The boards were screwed together with wood screws and glue. The boards must be joined at a 90° angle to form a rectangular corner (Pic. 1 and 2).

I screwed two narrower laths down between the side boards (Pic. 3, 4 and 5). hen the bottom board will be joined with the side boards with screws and fixed with clamps (Pic. 6 and 7).

Obr. 3 - Spojenie bočnej dosky a spodných latiek Obr. 4 - Spojenie bočných dosiek a spodných latiek Obr. 5 - Spojenie bočnej dosky a spodných latiek Obr. 6 - Spojenie spodnej dosky

The bottom board is connected with the narrow laths with the angle metal brackets (Pic. 8). This strengthens the base. Leave it fixed with clamps while glue dries. The basic frame of one bookcase part is ready (Pic. 9 and 10).

Obr. 7 - Spojenie spodnej dosky Obr. 8 - Spojenie spodnej dosky s latkami kovovými L-kami Obr. 9 - Spoje na bočnej doske Obr. 10 - Spojenie spodnej dosky s ostatnými

Very important part of the bookcase is the supporting board holding an aquarium. Even the tank is quite small (there was not place for a bigger one), it weights over 100 kg per tank. I used the 3.5 cm thick kitchen top board. It is a laminated and waterproof what is good in case of the tank failure or overfilling. This supporting board was connected with the side boards with angle metal brackets. The board was also sticked with wooden braces to be sure that the boards could not be moved even the metal brackets were ripped out of the side boards (Pic. 11 and 12). The deal wood is a smooth wood so it could be ripped but it is not an issue in this case, I think. Anyway, I don’t want to find the tank down and the floating floor everywhere some day. The parquet is enough. :-) The safe base for holding the tank is now ready (Pic. 13). Pic. 14 and 15 show complete bases of two side parts of bookcase which will hold the tanks.

Obr. 11 - Pripevnenie nosnej dosky akvária Obr. 12 - Pripevnenie nosnej dosky akvária Obr. 13 - Nosná doska akvária Obr. 14 - Hotový základ dielov nesúcich akváriá Obr. 15 - Hotový základ dielov nesúcich akváriá

These side parts will be connected to the narrow panels for CD’s. Both CD panels are made of two long boards joined with short shelves. Distances between the shelves match the CD box dimension (Pic. 16, 17, 18 and 19).

Obr. 16 - Spojenie CD dielu s pravým dielom knihovne - detail Obr. 17 - Spojenie CD dielu s pravým dielom knihovne Obr. 18 - Spojenie CD dielu s pravým dielom knihovne - zadný pohľad Obr. 19 - Spojenie CD dielu s pravým dielom knihovne - zadný pohľad

Obr. 22 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 21 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 20 - Výroba knihovne
The next work goes on to enhance the look of the bookcase. It means to add decorative mouldings, make a crown moulding etc. It depends on the individual taste. All is pictured below. First, I attached the middle and side part of the bookcase together temporarily to continue with the crown moulding. As the bookcase should be demountable, the crown moulding has to consist of three parts. The main parts of the bookcase had to be jointed temporarily to make the crown moulding levelled (Pic. 20, 21 and 22).

Obr. 24 - Výroba knihovne - rampa Obr. 23 - Výroba knihovne - rampa
The base of the crown moulding is made of narrow lath screwed to the top of the bookcase (Pic. 23 and 24). Over the top board another board was mounted to overlap the front and side edge of the top by a few centimetres. The L-shaped space was then filled with various decorative mouldings and the crown moulding is ready (Pic. 25, 26 and 27).

Obr. 25 - Výroba knihovne - rampa
Obr. 26 - Výroba knihovne - rampa Obr. 27 - Výroba knihovne - rampa

The baseboard is made the similar way. It covers the joints between the individual parts of the bookcase (Pic. 28 and 29). Next, the connection between the CD panel and side part of the bookcase is covered with a narrow lath (Pic. 30, 31 and 32) which will be decorated with a frame later.

Obr. 28 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 29 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 30 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 31 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 32 - Výroba knihovne

The next work will progress with creating the pilasters. They are made of the laths covering the vertical edge of the boards which compose the left and right part of the bookcase. The pilasters were then decorated with a frame (Pic. 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38).

Obr. 33 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 34 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 35 - Výroba knihovne

Podobne aj krajné zvislé dosky ľavého a pravého dielu knihovne sa ukončia na spôsob stĺpikov. Základ opäť tvorí krycia doska hrany knihovne. Dolu sa pripevní štvorcová doštička, tvoriaca pätku stĺpika. Všetko sa olištuje okrasnými lištami (Obr. 36, 37, 38).

Obr. 36 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 37 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 38 - Výroba knihovne

After the mouldings were attached, everything was rubbed and painted. I used the waterbased paint.he last step was to varnish the whole bookcase with clear waterbased matt varnish. After the varnish had dried, I placed the bookcase in the place. Then those so long awaited aquariums were then fit in place. The back wall of the bookcase is made of the plywood covered with wall-paper of the same colour like the bookcase. The shelves are made of the same wood like bookcase and their front edge is covered with mouldings. Both tanks are drilled and that meant to connect them to the sumps by overflows. I attached the doors in the bottom of middle part of the bookcase to make small cabinet. Two individual sumps with chambers and filtration foam were placed in the cabinet (Pic. 39). In the last chamber, there is placed JBL ProFlow Maxi 750 return pump. Pic. 40 shows the general view at the bookcase during the leak test. The tanks were reversed to see the water leak through the bulkhead. However, everything was right so the tanks were placed in their right position (Pic. 41, 42 and 43).

Obr. 39 - Výroba knihovne Obr. 40 - Hotová knihovňa Obr. 41 - Hotová knihovňa Obr. 42 - Hotová knihovňa Obr. 43 - Hotová knihovňa

Obr. 45 - Hotová knihovňa - príprava akvária Obr. 44 - Hotová knihovňa - príprava akvária he tank lighting is covered with the framed clapper board with two drawer pulls (Pic. 44 and 45). The tank has to be placed in the bookcase from behind as the front edges of the tanks are covered with the side pilasters and therefore it is not possible to insert the tank ahead. It is a little bit unpractical but how many times I need to remove the tank from the bookcase? I had to do it once because of the remake of the filtration. I needed to disconnect the bulkheads.

The last pictures show the bookcase during the evening (Pic. 46 and 47) and happy inhabitant in one of the tanks (Pic. 48).

Obr. 46 - Hotová knihovňa večer Obr. 47 - Hotová knihovňa večer Obr. 48 - Lamprologus ocellatus Gold

DISCLAIMER: By building this DIY project you agree not to hold the author responsible for any injury or bodily harm you may cause to yourself or others. Read all safety instructions pertaining to equipment prior to use.

Copyright © 2003 - 2012 Robert Toman

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