As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
Once you buy that monster 27-inch television set, you're going to need a place to put it. One option would be to go out to the furniture store and pick up an entertainment unit. Your choices there will range from something made out of particle board with stick-on-paper in faux grain guaranteed to sag within days, to something that will cost more than that big Sony you just took out of the box.
Alternatively, you could go back to the TV store and pick out the "matching stand!" for your TV. These days that usually means you're getting something in black and silver (chrome-look!).
The woodworker-hobbyist doesn't like any of those choices.
In this case, the TV belongs to my in-laws. They were leaning toward one of those "matching stand!" decisions before I offered to put together a modest stand for them.
The goal was something small, as they live in a seniors apartment bldg. They wanted a stand that could be tucked in the corner and was just big enough to hold the TV and the accompanying electronics: VCR, satellite receiver, and future DVD player.
When I start to plan a project I usually start flipping through the back issues of various woodworking magazines that I save. I also have a small collection of woodworking project books, and of course there is also Google. Like most computer-using woodworkers, I have built up a small collection of links to woodworking websites.
However, when I started my search, it seemed that the majority of what I was finding were big, large, wall-sized (or almost) entertainment-units. While these certainly would have room to hold all the stuff that we wanted -- and then some -- they were all much bigger than desired.
I was thinking of something more small and minimalist. I did find a few smaller TV stands. These were usually something that the designer had envisioned for a "2nd" or "bedroom" television. I don't recall exactly where, but I came across one very nice picture of a small and squat table, no more than 12" tall, with nice fat turned legs. It really suited my interests. But the problem with that idea, and the various other small stands that I came across, was that all of them were designed to hold no more than one additional component (typically, a VCR). As I mentioned above, we needed something to hold a VCR and the satellite receiver and a DVD player. We need to hold three componenets -- not to metion the VCR tape rewinder. There just wasn't anything that I found that suited.
Well, when you can't copy an idea, or adjust someone elses idea, you have to design your own. Or to put it another way, I tried to not reinvent the wheel, but in the end I had no alternative.
These were the design goals we settled on: It had to be fairly simple, since I wanted to complete it quickly (My in-laws already had the TV, perched precariously on a too-small old and wobbly particle board stand). It had to have three shelves for the components. It had to be big enough and strong enough to hold a 27" TV. It had to be on casters (watch the weight ratings). It had to be no bigger than necessary. It was to be made from Oak and Oak plywood (veneer core, thank-you-very-much!).
Additionally, I decided that the shelves
would be fixed rather than adjustable. With the amount of weight that
we are carrying, plus the lack of a back on the stand, I was concerned
about racking. Their present TV stand already leaned, and that was with
the old 20" TV. I wanted something solid and rigid. This also helped
keep the construction simple.
After setting the goals, the TV stand mostly designed itself. If you strip it down to the basics, what I needed here was an open-backed wooden box with three shelves.
Of course, you don't need to leave it as just a box! Many things that a cabinetmaker constructs are, at their core, just boxes. But there are many little design tweaks that can give the basic box some personality.
To give the top some visual substance, I doubled the thickness of the plywood at the edges, and wrapped the top in 1x2 oak edging. I also made the top larger than the rest of the unit, so it sticks out about 3-4 inches all the way around. To (mostly) hide the wheels, I wrapped the base of the stand in a 1x3 skirt of oak. The edges of the plywood were hidden with 1/8" thick oak edging.
I worked from a diagram much as this. For simple pieces, I don't usually put together more detailed or complex plans. I just work from some sketches, some scribbled numbers, and adjust things as I go along.
The two middle shelves were dado'd into the sides, for strength and rigidity. Remember, there is no back on the stand. The bottom shelf, which was also the bottom of the unit, was not dado'd in. Instead it was underneath the sides. This was a bit simpler to assemble, and it was also for strength, since the wheels under the bottom have to support the weight of the entire stand.
The finish was three coats of Waterlox. I brushed on the first coat of waterlox, and wiped on the next two with an old t-shirt rag. Between each coat I rubbed it out a bit with some 3M pads (equivalent to #0000 steel wool). After the final coat I buffed on some paste wax.
One unfortunate feature of the finished unit is the overall weight. 3/4" plywood is easy to work with and easy to come by. However, the weight adds up. This stand isn't that large, but it has approximately 80% of a sheet of plywood in it's construction, which makes for a pretty heavy stand. Casters were probably a good idea...