Everyone kept telling us that when our son started crawling we were going to be in for it. I won’t say we didn’t believe them, it’s just that we sometimes get distracted with all of the other wonderful things he’s doing on a daily basis so that when something big like crawling comes along, we are woefully ill-prepared. Needless to say, one of the first things our little man discovered was the entertainment center and all of the wonderful buttons, cables, and loose CDs and DVDs we had neglected to move out his reach. So while my oldest brother was in town for a couple of days, he and I were just talking about solutions and we came up with the idea of moving everything above the TV. It would have to be a deep shelf and strong enough to hold my ancient surround sound receiver, DirecTV box, DVD player a pair of front channel speakers as well as a center channel speaker. None of it weighs a ton, but it weighs enough that if it falls on my son or out TV it would be very, very bad. This is what I started with; a couple of old, cheaply made modular pieces stacked on top of each other.
As you can see it is also a place to drop junk mail, receipts, knick knacks and any other stuff we don’t really have a place for. It was time for it to go.
I wanted to build something that would be strong enough to hold everything but be light enough that I could get it on the wall without killing myself. I took some measurements of the space and the components, drew up a very rough sketch and headed off to Lowes to lookk around for ideas. I looked at plywood, pressed wood, MDF, hard wood planks, pine planks…basically everything I could think of that could be used to build what I wanted. It all seemed too heavy. I even though about just getting some heavy duty shelf brackets and putting up a shelf, but that is not what I was looking for either. I walked around a little bit more, thinking and looking for ideas when I walked past the interior door aisle. It reminded me of a project I saw once in a Family Handyman magazine where they used a hollow core door to make a floating shelf. Hmmmmm. I knew I was wanted to build a box that was 58.5 inches in length with an interior height of 12 inches and 18 inches in depth. I pulled out my trusty tape measure and double checked the length and width of the largest door they had…36 inches wide would give me the width I needed and 84 inches long was more than enough to get the pieces I needed for construction. The price couldn’t be beat either, $24. So after picking up a few more pieces of wood, some stain and a few other odds and ends I was ready to go home and see what I could put together.
I started by ripping the door right down the middle.
Notice that I use a guide when ripping long pieces with my circular saw. If you try to free hand it you will mess it up. Save yourself a lot of frustration and use a guide. Anyway, here is what it looked like ripped.
Notice the cardboard in the middle of the door. It makes the door surprisingly stable, but doesn’t give you much to nail or drive a screw into. And the edges with just the cardboard support will not support anything without collapsing. So, I measured the distance between the two outside panels, ripped strips to the correct width, cut them to the correct lengths and glued and nailed them in place along the open edges. The first picture below shows a Star Wars trench type view looking down the length of the door so you can see how I cut the cardbooard and made room for the wood filler strips.
The next picture shows one of the filler strips in place. I glued them and then used a finish nailer to secure them in place while the glue set.
So after I got all four sides of the box cut to size and the open edges filled with wood strips, I was ready to begin assembly. First I set the bottom down and used 2.5 inch screws to secure the sides. I used decorative washers with the screws to dress it up a little bit.
For the back I actually used a 1×12 pine board which is actually only 10.5 inches wide. It’s a little shorter than I wanted the interior, but the speakers fit so it’s okay. To hand the box on the wall I decided to go with the cleat method. I took a 1×4 and ripped it down the middle at a 45 degree angle to give me too pieces that will fit together to hold the box in place. I glued and screwed one half of the cleat onto the back board and set it in place so that the cleat lined up with the back of the side pieces. That way when I hang the box on the wall it will sit flush. I added a strip across the bottom of the backboard for added stability. I also added ina couple of pocket hole screws for strength. the picture below was actually taken after the top was added.
After the back was in place all i ahd left to do was add the top and the face trim. For the face trim I used pine slats from the moulding department. They are very square and smooth and were a cinch to cut and nail in place.
I had planned to stain it, but after thinking about it for a while, I decided to paint it white to match the baseboards and other trim. I felt like a big, darkly stained piece of wood hanging up high would seem very obtrusive on our small living room. So primed it and painted it and waited for it to dry.
When it came time to hang the box above the TV, I knew I was going to have to remove the old doorbell box. This was not a big deal because I had switched over to a wireless doorbell when I installed our storm door anyway. What I didn’t think about was the electrical box and wiring that would be left after I removed the box. I decided it would be a great idea to install a couple electrical outlets and use that for powering my entertainment equipment rather than running a power strip from the outlet near the floor and giving my son one more cable to grab. Here is a picture of the outlet I installed in place of the doorbell.
You can also see how I mounted my Tv on the wall in that picture. I bolted a 3/4 inch piece of plywood to the wall, then hung the mounting bracket on that. After that it was just a matter of cutting some holes for cables as well as notching the back for the outlet cover to fit where they overlap. I screwed the other half of the cleat to the wall (making sure it was level) and hung the box.
I dressed some cables and moved the cable cover to conceal the surround speaker wires and cable. My wife added a couple of items to dress it up a little and other than painting the cable cover to match the wall I’m done. I can walk underneath the box without ducking and it seems to be extremely stable and secure. Now little man can crawl all over the living room and we don’t have to worry about him getting his little hands on all of the buttons and knobs that could make our next movie night an experience to remember.