Entertainment centers are the hearts of American homes, with 115.6 million U.S. households owning at least one television set. Those centers also house the DVD players owned by 253 million Americans, and the video games consoles owned by 162 million. Why spend thousands on a one-size-fits-all store-bought center when you can easily create your own customized entertainment hub?
Make a Plan
Before you start buying plywood or cutting it to size, make a plan. Measure your available space and the equipment you plan to store. For example, anyone living in one of the apartments for rent in Atlanta will likely have less space available than someone residing in a Hollywood Hills mansion.
Once you know your space requirements, search for a suitable entertainment center design. These are printed in home improvement magazines and on do-it-yourself websites. Adjust the design measurements to suit your requirements, but remember to scale all dimensions equally.
Cut the Pieces
Image via Flickr by Ben Ferenchak
Entertainment centers generally consist of at least three key components: the base, the sides, and the shelves. Once you know what pieces you need, mark the cuts you need to make. Use a tape measure to mark the top and bottom of each piece of wood, and a straight edge to connect the dots. Stick a piece of marking tape along the length of the line to prevent chipping when you cut.
Work in a well-lit area to make sure your cutting’s on track. Clamp down your wood to prevent slippage and use a circular saw with a fine-toothed blade to make the cleanest cuts. A blade with between 80 and 100 teeth is ideal. If you’re new to carpentry, you may like to use a straight piece of wood as a guide.
Put the Entertainment Center Together
Finally it’s time to put together your entertainment center. The way you’ll assemble the unit will depend on your individual entertainment center’s instructions and your own woodworking ability. You might attach the pieces using wood glue and nails, affix the panels with screws, or cut dados into the pieces and assemble them like a large jigsaw puzzle.
Whatever method you choose, it’s best to install the shelves in order from the unit’s bottom to the top. As you install each shelf, check it’s stability using a spirit level. If you own your own home, you might also like to secure your entertainment center to a wall for security.
Apply the Finishing Touches
By this stage your entertainment center is functional but pretty basic. The final stage will help transform your entertainment center into an eye-catching piece of furniture.
Before you pick up a paintbrush, sand all the edges with a fine- or medium-grit sandpaper. This will smooth out any rough spots.
You can enhance natural wood grain with a stain. Apply the stain to a soft rag and rub it into the wood, following the direction of the grain. Wait between six to 12 hours for the stain to dry before filling your entertainment center. Alternatively, dress your entertainment center up with a modern coat of paint. Remember to prime, sand again, and apply two to three coats for bold color.
With some basic wood working skills and a little patience, anyone can create a customized entertainment center.