As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.  

TV Gear Cabinet

 
Here is the "before" photo:

About thirty years ago, my dad built this simple plywood cabinet for me to hold my stereo when I went to college. Since then it has served many purposes: stereo stand, bookcase, junk holder, TV stand, etc...

But the time had come for something bigger and better. In particular, after building the Under Stairs Storage Cart, this squat little cabinet is too wide for that location.

At the same time I was designing the under-stairs-storage project, I also worked on a rough design for a replacement media stand.

These were my design goals:

  1. It needed to be narrower, to give clearance to the under-stairs-storage-cabinet. The DVD player, my widest piece of gear, determined the minimum width.
  2. I wanted to add some storage to the unit.
  3. I wanted to have a place for everything, so all the gear had to have a place on a shelf, and so all wiring was hidden behind the cabinet.
  4. Related to the previous item: Two of the shelves would be shorter, so that there was room behind them to attach a power bar vertically to the side of the cabinet, to help keep cords contained and organized.
  5. The height should match the cabinet beside it (where the TV stands).
  6. A Light/Natural finish -- the dark stain had to go.
  7. Finally, I was aiming for a quick+fun project, rather than a complicated and involved one. So simpler construction techniques were my plan.
If you are interested, here on the left is a drawing with most of the dimensions I worked with when building my project.
Coincidentally, a few months ago I salvaged this table from the side of the road on trash day in my neighbourhood. It is likely an Ikea table, but that is just a guess. The top was solid pine -- laminated strips. The legs and understructure were painted hardwood.

I was pretty sure that the I could build this stand from the pine table top -- or at least build most of it. It's always good to use free wood! An extra bonus is that the cabinet beside the media stand is also a pine cabinet, so this would go well with it, versus using some other hardwood.

Next two shots show the table disassembled, and the two tops ready for cutting.

And yes, this of course means that I can honestly state that this is made with "Reclaimed Pine Boards"... :-)

Here is where having the project designed in SketchUp really helps me with planning: I drew two rectangluar pieces corresponding to the two large table top pieces, and then I laid out all the pieces of the project on top of them. This confirmed to me that I had enough wood to build the main sections of this project, and it helped me plan out the cuts that I needed to make. (The drawer bodies would have to be built out of something else, but everything else was coming from that one large tabletop!)
Step one was to rip the tops into pieces for the sides, shelves, and so on.

Step two was to plane those down to get rid of the old finish, as well as numerous dents and gouges. The table top was bit over 1" thick, so I was aiming for 7/8" thick for the top and sides, and 3/4" thick (roughly) for the shelves and drawer fronts.

But there was a slight problem when I tried to feed the 14" wide side panels through my 13" planer... Oops!

I considered just sanding off the finish, but in the end I had to admit that simplest solution was to just rip those pieces in half, plane them, and then glue them back together.

To make that process as painless as possible, I used my dowelmax jig to drill a couple alignment holes in the pieces before gluing them back together. People often use a biscuit joiner for this sort of thing, but I find the dowel jig to be quick and easy, and I'm just used to it. It makes alignment very easy, as the panels simply CAN'T slip when they're glued back together, so the joints stay perfectly flat.

So after a flurry of work I had all these panels glued up and ready for the next step.
I was leaving the back open on the top half of the stand, but I did plan for a back panel behind the two lower drawers. A back helps a lot with strength and keeping things square.

Here I am using a dado bade in an embedded fence to cut a rabbet just halfway in one of the sides. To do this, I run the panel halfway (to a mark) and then back it out of the cut. However the other piece is a mirror image cut, so I need to lower the blade (first taking careful note of the height!) then position the piece halfway over the blade, then turn on the saw and raise the blade up into the piece -- back to that same height setting!! -- and then finish the cut.

As stated above, I was sticking with simpler construction techniques, so I drilled pocket holes in all the shelves.

As a side note, If you have a pocket hole jig I urge you to get a dust collection attachment. I have one that clips onto the front of my Kreg jig and the vacuum attachment keeps the jig clear of chips, and makes this a very quick process. I used to not have this attachment, and I would have to stop every three or four holes to clear dust out of the pocket hole jig drilling holes, as they would pack with chips.

This is probably overkill, but oh well.
Measuring and marking the lines where I will install the shelves.
Here I am installing one of the shelves incorrectly... Don't do this!

I designed this project such that the top two shelves were not the full depth of the sides. In this way I could mount a powerbar along the inside edge of the back, to keep all the cords nicely tucked away.

BUT... during the installation I accidentaly lined up the shelf with the back instead of the front. Fortunately I caught this before I got too far, and could just back out the screws and break the shelf free before the glue set up. No one needs to know about that little goof!

The top is attached with screws, no glue, so it can move with the seasons.
By this point I had run out of pine pieces from the salvaged table. (That is not entirely true. I still had two pieces set aside for the drawer fronts) So I had to go digging for some other pine panels from my stash... this is another salvaged piece. I think it used to be a cutting board, hence the unique stains on it's surface!
Pocket holes are another quick and simple way to assemble drawers. The holes are placed on the outside faces of the front and back pieces. The front piece is covered by the front of the drawer, and the back of the drawer is hidden inside the cabinet, so you never see the holes.

(Note, this works best with 3/4" stock... I have done pocket holes in 1/2" stock, but then the screwheads can protrude. Not recommended.)

On another side note... if you do use pocket hole joinery, then I highly recommend that you get one of these clamps. It is known as a right-angle clamp. I had a pocket hole jig for many years before buying this, and yes you can just use regular clamps. However this clamp is much quicker and makes the process just easier.

I then ran 3/4" wide dados in the side of the drawers. The drawers would run on hardwood strips mounted inside the cabinet. This is one reason for using 3/4" stock on the drawer sides, so that there was enough thickness in the drawers to accommodate this.

In the next shot I'm screwing hardwood runners inside the cabinet -- no glue, as this is a crossgrain joint. I then test-fitted the drawers. I then moved on to working on the drawer fronts.

This is a fairly plain cabinet, which is fine, but I wanted to add a little touch of something to the drawer fronts, and not just have flat faced drawers.

I wanted to add a bead along the top and bottom edge of the drawer, but I don't have the right router bit. So I looked through my bits and was pretty sure I could get something similar with two operations, first using a small roundover bit, and then using a Small Drawer Lock Bit.

First I set up the roundover bit, and tested that on some scrap. (This photo is actually of routing the drawer later)
Then I switched to the Small Drawer Lock Bit, and used that with the piece on edge to route a groove to go with the roundover. Once I was satisfied with the results I proceeded to run the drawer fronts through.

They of course went through in the reverse order, since the router table was now set up with the Small Drawer Lock Bit, so I first made that groove, and then swapped back to the roundover bit. I am beginning to see the attraction of having multiple router tables as some others have done...

Here is a closeup of the resulting bead. I think it turned out pretty good, and it really makes the front of the drawers look better.
Finally, with the drawers finished, I could glue and nail the back into place and then move on to final sanding and finishing.

I started with a coat of blonde shellac to seal the pine and add a slight amber colour. I then brushes on three coats of waterbased polyurethane. Between each coat I gave a very light sanding with 400 grit sandpaper. After the final coat had hardened for a few days I buffed with some 3M pads (equivalent to #0000 steel wool, but you never use steel wool on Waterbased finish!) lubricated with a few drops of water.

 

Thanks for reading!