related linksRead more about home improvement
FIND YOUR DREAM HOME OR APARTMENT
must-see on msn
By Alan Luxmore
The Taylors always wanted an entertainment room in their home that brought the whole family together, but somewhere between raising two kids and juggling busy schedules, the family room lost its identity and turned into a chaotic festival of toys. After assessing the 'disaster,' I suggested reclaiming the space by cutting 90 percent of the clutter and building a custom entertainment center to bring a focal point to the room. After a day of removing the room's contents, building the entertainment center and adding back elements that created peace and harmony, the Taylors finally have a space that both kids and adults will enjoy.
Sketch out a rough blueprint
Be sure to get all materials and tools before you start the project to minimize time-wasting trips to the hardware store. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, break down the entire project into smaller components. Start with the base, then move on to the top shelving unit. Identify and lay out a work area that allows enough space to work safely and comfortably. Set up the saws, plug in the extension cord and run it out to the work area, create a makeshift workbench with two sawhorses and a sturdy work surface (we used a sheet of plywood), and lay out all of the tools you'll need to get the job done.
Base: 84 inches wide by 18 inches deep by 27 inches high
Top: 84 inches wide by 12 inches deep by 46 inches high
Measure and make all of the cuts
Since you've sketched out the blueprint for your project, you can take the precise measurements to your local hardware store or lumber yard to have an expert make the cuts for you. However, having access to saws on site is helpful in case you need to adjust your measurements for any reason. Plus, you get to use power tools, which is always fun.
Make all of the cuts you need to assemble the base frame and top shelving. Use your tape measure and pencil to mark measurements on the top and bottom of the face of the wood. Snap a chalk line to create a straight line between the two marks.
The table saw is ideal for cutting the long plywood planks to length; the chop saw with sliding rail makes cutting shelves to size a snap. Organize pieces by base or top unit, grouping similar pieces together. Once all the pieces are cut, it's time to assemble. Remember: Measure twice, cut once.
Assemble the base frame
Lay out pieces of the base so you can see everything at a glance, stacking similar pieces together. Mark pieces lightly with a pencil to help you think through the order of assembly. Start by attaching one of the shorter sides to the top of the base. This will resemble an L shape if seen from above.
Apply a bead of wood glue to the butt end of the base top. The glue adds extra strength to the joint when dry. Line up the side piece so the end is flush with the top piece. The two pieces should feel smooth with no snags when you run your finger across the joint. Tack the top and the side together with the finish nail gun and finish nails.
Repeat this process for other side of the base, the bottom, the middle section and the narrow component shelf near the top of the base section. Use a level to keep checking that all wood pieces are straight and square as you proceed.
Cut, assemble top shelving unit
Repeat steps in Slide 3 to cut shelf and divider pieces. Assemble the top and sides of the top unit first. Then glue and tack on the top divider. Next, assemble the inside section, which will create two shelves at the top and one shelf on each side.
Once the inside section is completed, slide it inside the outer box with the top divider. Glue and tack the top first, then the sides. Now you're ready to apply the facing strips.
Add wood facing strips for a finished look
Add Poplar wood edging strips to hide visible end grain (sandwiched, thin layers) of plywood pieces for a more finished look. Measure and cut strips. Attach vertical pieces first and then the horizontal pieces.
Apply a bead of wood glue to the underside of the strip, apply to plywood end grain and tack on with the finishing nail gun. When all the strips have been attached, it's time to sand and stain.
Sand all surfaces to prepare wood stain or primer
Fill all finish nail holes and any other imperfections in the wood, such as knots and gouges, with wood filler. Be sure wood filler can be sanded, stained and painted. Let dry as instructed on the container. Try to find a quick-drying filler to reduce wait times between steps.
Attach 220-grit sandpaper disk to an orbital sander and sand all surfaces of the base and top shelving unit. Have a sheet of 220-grit sandpaper to get into hard-to-reach places such as the corners. Note the direction of the wood grain and always move your sander or sandpaper in the same direction in broad strokes for an even sand. The goal is to lightly rough up the surface so the stain or primer adheres to the wood.
Use a vacuum with a brush attachment to go over all of the surfaces once sanding is complete, then wipe down with a damp microfiber cloth.
Apply the finish coating
Use a brush that's designed to work best with stain and apply stain in even strokes. Start with the top and outside surfaces, then apply stain to the inside surfaces of the shelving and dividers, working from top to bottom. Keep stain ahead of the brush, pushing the stain forward. Blend stained and bare-wood sections together by overlapping your brush strokes.
Take a lint-free rag such as an old, white T-shirt and wipe it over the surfaces to soak up any excess stain. Doing this will help blend the stain into the wood further for an even, professional finish. Read instructions on the stain can for proper drying times. Let dry in an area free of sawdust or particles blowing in the wind. Otherwise you'll have to re-sand and re-apply stain. Apply second coat if desired.
Put the pieces together
Now that the base and the top shelving unit are stained and dry, it's time to bring the two halves together. First, move the two pieces to the room where the entertainment center will live. Dividing large pieces of furniture such as entertainment centers and bookshelves into two or more sections is a good idea for easy moving later.
Line up the sides and back so the back joint between base and top unit are flush (smooth). Take one of the L-brackets and line up the screw holes so there's an even number of holes on the top and the bottom. Mark holes on the wood with a pencil. Pre-drill holes to prevent wood-splitting when tightening the screws. Repeat three more time so all anchor points have pre-drilled holes.
Next, install the L-brackets by aligning bracket to holes and screwing in the screws. Screw in L-brackets to the top shelving unit and the wall for added support.
Interpret these 'how-to' steps in this slideshow based on your own skill level and expertise. They have not been validated by Microsoft or any of its entities.