little bug

Making The Planter Tray

February 11, 2013
Written by: admin

Well, today is the day to finish the skeleton of my project. I must build the planter tray. My plan was to use my zipsaw, aka: angle grinder, my tool of choice, and expertise. Hmmmm, after a week, I have no idea where it is. Boo! Now, never having worked with plexiglass, I must find another method for cutting a 1/4” thick sheet into strips that I can glue together to make this a transparent bed for the plants to grow and the kids to watch, as the water flows in one end, then drops back down to the fish tank.

Trying to score it with my Olfa Exacto Knife, and taking an attempt with my variable speed rotary tool, I really got to wishing I could find my angle grinder, and it reminded me about a motto I like: “Think smarter, not harder,” I was off to my favorite building supply shop, Home Depot, for info and possibly gear. I find that when I go there and talk to the staff, which are very skilled and knowledgeable, I still tend to do it my own way, but taking the information offered ensures that I don’t make a blind mistake. Still, I am not afraid to think outside the box, or just try something new.

At HD, I was told that an angle grinder would not be a good idea as the RPM’s are too high and it would melt the plexiglass. (I wish I could find mine, at least to prove that theory wrong..) I was then shown the scoring tool that is typically used for such an application. The max thickness of plexiglass that this tool, the only tool, was to be used on is 1/4”, which tells me that it was going to be a lot of work, in fact, the most work possible. So, considerations were evaluated, and my thought led to power tools. Apparently a table saw is used in large scale operations. This is not that big of a job. I thought of my jig saw. After a doubtful conversation I was taken to the finest, highest number of tooth/inch blade I could get for my saw and was left with well wishes.

Lets get dirty! Time to cut. I have a 17” x 48” hole from which I would like to inset the planter tray. I have decided to taper the tray to sit inside the frame that is already made. The plexiglass is 45” wide, perfect for this application. I need 1 sheet, the bottom, to be 16”, then to cut the strips for the sides to be 6” high, and cutting the ends to taper out from 16” to finish at 18”. This will allow the tray to sit just below the center point of the tray for stability.

The jigsaw has turned out to be a pretty good alternative to scoring and breaking off strips of plexiglass, thankfully. It did heat up quite a bit, and the plastic actually melted back together before finishing but taking cool-down breaks helped. It took about an hour and a half, but I’m happy with the product. Now, time for the silicon. I picked up some Amazing Goop: All Purpose Marine use. Yup, the same company that makes Shoe Goo. It is waterproof, clear, drys pliable and paint-able.

I have glued the inside of the tray, but tomorrow, will apply a second round. After which I will be ready to cut in my plumbing holes (intake, drain and overflow) and will start the wet run testing this week. That will be very exciting.

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