This was made as a Christmas gift for my wife. We had traded some things with a brother of mine for a used plasma TV, but needed a nice media stand for it to sit on.
I told my wife to pick any design she liked, and I would do my best to create one like it for a fraction of the cost. She looked at entertainment centers and media stands on some of the popular furniture websites until she found one that she liked and said, "There it is, make that one!"
I came up with a plan that required the purchase of one sheet of 3/4" plywood, along with about 60 feet of 1/4" by 1 - 3/8" lattice (from the trim section). A small amount of additional material was needed that came from my scrap pile. The finished piece appears to be made with inset framed panels, along with solid posts around all the edges. Not so, but you wouldn't be able to tell!
Including paint and hardware, I spent just over $100 on this. I used a lot of glue, nails, and sandpaper, which will add to the cost once they are replaced. This was a fun, challenging project, and my wife is very proud to display the end result in our living room. The finished dimensions are 28" H by 44" W by 20.5" D.
Thanks for looking!
Step 1: Break Down Plywood
I spent a lot of time working out the details and organizing a plan of approach. Looking back it all looks simple and obvious now, but it was a tricky plan to figure out.
I laid out a cut plan for the sheet of plywood (which I've included above), and the plywood was broken down into pieces according to the plan. All longer cuts were done with a circular saw and a straight edge, and shorter cuts were done with a miter saw. Some of these pieces were further trimmed as needed for final installation.
3/4" plywood is generally only 11/16" thick, which is important keep in mind.
I made all the vertical cuts first, beginning with the bigger pieces on the left of the plan and moving toward the right. About 1/8" material is lost with each cut. The last section remaining was for the drawer backs, and was about six inches wide.
The third and fourth photos show what was left over at the end of the project from the wood I had to purchase. Not bad!
I don't include many measurements from here on. If you're willing to tackle this project, this is the starting point. I've tried to condense this down as much as possible, as there are just too many details to cover everything. Please examine the photos throughout the build for more details, and to see some of the tricks I used to make steps easier and more controlled and precise. Please ask questions if anything is not clear.
Step 2: Build Shelves
I originally wanted to just cut solid shelves from plywood, but realized that would require more wood than I was willing to buy, and would have increased the weight of this considerably. I decided instead to build the shelves as frames.
The shelf frames were built using biscuits, glue, and clamps. The upper two shelves were covered with a skin of quarter-inch plywood from my scrap pile. The bottom shelf was not, as it is primarily structural and is hidden by the drawers.
Each shelf was slightly different and needed different details to make it fit into the cabinet as planned.
Step 3: Prepare Side Pieces
The side pieces are the key to the whole cabinet. I laid these out carefully, drawing out where material needed to be removed to create the legs, and then cutting it out with a jigsaw.
The inside back edges of these side pieces were routed out to make a space to attach the backing later on.
I used my circular saw along with a straight edge guide to cut shallow grooves into the outside faces of the top and side pieces. This makes the finished panels appear that they were made of randomly sized pieces of wood inside of a frame.
Step 4: Assemble Bottom Shelf, Sides, and Feet
I began assembling the cabinet from the ground up, beginning with the feet. It was easiest to glue and nail little blocks of wood to support the bottom shelf, and then assemble this section upside down, hanging from my work table.
Everything was put together with a combination of nails, glue, and screws. Glue and nails were used to attach things in their initial position, and screws were often added to give strength and extra clamping pressure to ensure a good glue bond. All screws were placed in locations where they were later covered up. This is a good method, and I used it throughout the project.
Individual foot pieces were cut out, modified to fit as needed, and then glued and nailed in place.
Step 5: Assemble Shelves
The two top shelves were built in place using scrap wood to hold up the shelves to the desired height prior to gluing and screwing them in place. Then the scrap pieces were just pulled out. Steps like this appear to be difficult at first, but there's always a trick you can figure out to make it easier. It almost feels like cheating for some reason.
The bottom shelf actually has these support pieces glued and nailed in place, which are used to attach the drawer guide rails to later on.
Holes were cut into the back of the top shelf for cables and cords.
Step 6: Add Top Piece and Front Rail
The top piece was added with nails and glue, along with the center rail. Prior to attaching the top, the inside back edge was routed to leave a space for the back piece to fit in later on.
The front center rail was also added.
Step 7: Add Back Piece and Drawer Guide Supports
The back piece was made out of 1/4" material, with grooves sawed into it with my circular saw to look like individual panels. This piece was glued and nailed in place, and provided a lot of rigidity to the cabinet.
Center drawer rail supports were added with glue and nails.
Step 8: Prepare Drawer Pieces
The drawers were made from almost all old wood scraps that I had in my garage. The pieces were cut to size and then routed on my homemade router table as needed.
The backs of the drawers and the front faces were all that came from the one purchased sheet of plywood.
Step 9: Assemble Drawers
The drawers were assembled with nails, glue, and screws. The bottom piece slides into place and is held with a single screw into the back piece of the drawer.
Step 10: Tip: the Best Way to Deal With a "shiner"
So you shoot a nail in crooked, and it blows out the side of your work. Ah, crud! This happens sometimes if you're not careful, but it's not the end of the world and it doesn't have to end in all sorts of unsightly gouges from you trying to get it out. There's a simple trick to solve this. (Don't do it in the first place!)
But if you do....
The best way to remove a nail that blew out the side of your work, if enough of it is exposed, is to grab the end of it with a pair of snips (yes snips, not needle-nose pliers) and gently wiggle it back and forth. If you do it right, it will eventually break off, just under the surface of the wood. The snips allow the nail to pivot where you are pinching it. Just don't put too much pressure and cut off tip of the nail.
I'm not sure where I learned this, but it is a great trick.
Step 11: Attach Drawer Guides
Drawer rails were added to the drawers and inside the cabinet. This is a tricky procedure, and may require a lot of careful planning, measuring, and some adjusting to make everything work the way it should.
It takes some practice and experience to make drawers that fit and actually work, and I'm still not the best at it. After a couple of mistakes, I got these in place and working smoothly.
Step 12: Attach Drawer Faces
With the drawer boxes in the cabinet and all adjustments made, the faces were held in place where they looked good, and then secured temporarily with a couple of nails. Each drawer was then removed and screws were added to secure the faces permanently.
Step 13: Add Trim Pieces
With the cabinet built, the lattice trim pieces were added all around with glue and 5/8" brads to give it the desired "old crate" look. Each piece was measured and cut individually.
The pieces of trim around the bottom needed to be cut down a little with my circular saw to match the face of the bottom shelf. These pieces of trim covered up the screws that were visible from earlier steps.
Step 14: Putty, Sand, and Prime
All of the nail holes and little gaps here and there were filled with wood filler and the entire cabinet was lightly sanded.
The entire cabinet, drawer fronts, and doors were primed and then sanded with 220 grit paper. Priming (or at least sealing the wood) and sanding are crucial steps to getting a great paint job.
Step 15: Paint
The cabinet, drawer fronts, and doors were painted with three or four coats of Krylon cherry red paint. My wife chose the color, but in the end I really liked it too.
Step 16: Antique It
This was my first time antiquing anything, and since I didn't do my research ahead of time there was some trial and error involved.
In the end I found the best way for me was to rub everything down gently with super fine "0000" steel wool. This removed the sheen from the paint and gave it an old barn-like, weathered look. I then used 220 grit sandpaper to knock off the sharp corners on the cabinet and all the parts.
When this was done, I rubbed the whole thing down with some dark wood stain, working small sections at a time. This darkened up the visible wood, and added some depth to the red paint.
The entire thing was then coated with a few coats of spray-on satin lacquer to seal and protect it. It ended up with an awesome, deep rustic barn-red color.
Step 17: Attach Hardware
Hardware was added to finish it off. After all the precise planning and careful work I was very pleased with the results, as was my wife.
Thanks again for looking. Let me know what you think!
Runner Up in the
Craftsman Tools Contest