Monday, May 9, 2011

DIY Media Center

We looked high and low trying to find the perfect (yet reasonably priced) media center that was around 20" tall and 82" long (we wanted to cover the outlets and cabling for a more polished look), but we were unsuccessful. The dimensions were hard to find. If it was tall enough it wasn't long enough, if it was long enough it wasn't tall enough and if we did find the right dimensions the price was outrageous.

After reading a series of posts from regarding their DIY console table (here's their finished product), I was feeling inspired. I showed my husband and I immediately saw the wheels start to turn. He, of course, was enamored with the tools he saw YHLer John using. My John started sketching up ideas for his custom media center dream. Once he realized we didn't have to be limited by what's on the market, he let his imagination run wild with visions of cable management/concealment and organization/storage paired with his love of sleek simple pieces.

So, here's the story.... of a lovely media center:

John used google sketchup to bring his vision to life.

We let a couple weeks pass before moving forward with the project because we were timid on biting the bullet and buying the Kreg Jig ($140 at Lowe's). BUT I reasoned that we were going to attempt more projects (shelves, a desk, a console table etc) so I surprised John with it! As soon as he could, he went to Lowe's to find the wood and have it cut to his specifications (since we don't own a saw). He settled on using a combination of white wood and pine, purely based on price (wood cuts are listed below). He also picked up a Skil router tool that cuts edges and corners to make the piece more kid friendly.

He began by making the pocket holes with the Kreg Jig and then attaching the 2 sides to the bottom piece. At this point, he stood back with his fist by chin and his other fist supporting his elbow, and said he had some concerns about his design. So, we thought for a bit and I suggested having 3 sections in rather than 2. That we should have a center section to house the actual media devices with 2 sections flanking it. John agreed and adjusted his vision then headed back to Lowe's to get the additional wood needed for our changes along with some Kreg screws.

These are the wood cuts used:

2 pine boards for the top and bottom at 20"x 82"x 1"
4 pine side boards (2 outer and 2 inner sides) at 20"x 18"x 1"
4 white wood pieces to be used as facing attached to each of the 4 side boards at 20"x 2"x 1"
pine boards to be used as shelving in the center section at 20"x 18"x 1"
2 pine boards to be used as shelving in the 2 side sections at 28"x 18"x 1"

To prepare the boards, John used his router tool to cut the edges of all the boards that would be seen or touched by little baby hands. The facing pieces were attached to all of the boards that would be facing the television viewers. Here's the prepped wood:

First John attached the 2 side boards to the bottom piece, then attached the 2 inner side boards. He argued with himself about whether to attach the shelves by screwing them into the side boards or to use shelf pins and he chose the latter. The top piece was attached and then the shelf pin holes were placed and tested.

It was stained using Miniwax stain in ebony. In order to get the dark finish that we were looking for, the stain was left on for 15 minutes then wiped off. It was SUPER smelly so it was applied outside in open air with a mask. The next day the clear satin polyurethane finish was applied to protect the wood. After everything was dry, the shelves were placed felt feet were installed on the bottom to make it easier to move around on the tile floor and allow for any floor levelness issues.

Then, as John and I stepped back to admire his handy work, we envisioned baskets to help with organization and storage but still have a clean look. He headed out to Pier One after finding they were having a sale on baskets. We got 4 medium and 2 small.

Tah Dahhh!

I am so impressed with my husband I can't even tell you! He is not a carpenter or wood worker. This was his first project and we love it and really enjoyed the process as well. To add some finishing touches we'll be attaching some thick fabric (maybe canvas type?) to the back in order to completely hide the outlets and cabling and also adding some simple decorative grass in square vases on either side of the tv for some color. The baskets are holding the few DVDs that we own, controllers, remotes, Evan's toys and instruction manuals.

The finished product measurements: 22" tall and 82" long and 18" deep

Project cost (not including tools, since they'll be used in infinite projects to come):

wood $120
shelf pins $8
screws $5
wood stain $8
sponge applicators $2
polyurethane $8
felt feet $5

Total cost for a custom media center: $156
The boost in confidence: priceless!


  1. Wow!! awesome!! love it. thanks for stopping by so I could *find* you!



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