DIY TV Stand/Entertainment Center, Part 2

My favorite part of doing this kind of project is using the compound miter saw. That makes it all worthwhile. Everything else just seems like work by comparison.

Here’s what I got done today, Day One…

I measured and cut the top. I’m planning on having the top overhang the legs of the TV stand by an inch except for at the back (where it’ll be as flush as my orbital sander can make it). Somehow that seemed relevant to mention. The only issue with cutting these boards is that my compound miter saw is a 10-inch saw and these boards are 12 inches wide — so I had to flip the boards over again and in effect make a couple cuts. It actually wasn’t hard to get the second cut to line up straight with the first.

With that, it was time to glue the boards together. For my writing table, I found a pretty helpful article about how to do that. For me, though:

Wood Glue on Table Top Boards

I just put a nice, even, stripe of glue onto one of the boards. Once glue was applied, I went ahead and but both boards together on top of the pipe clamps and gave a couple turns on the clamps to keep the boards together, but loose enough to adjust.

Gluing Boards Using Pipe Clamps

If you’ve never used pipe clamps before, they’re sort of cool. Like I’ve mentioned, I’m kind of a n00b, so the first time I went to try and buy these, it was a little confusing: the clamps are sold separate from the pipe. After about 20 minutes of stewing on this issue at Lowe’s, I *did* figure it out. And the pipe is just pipe. With the boards gently squeezed, no doubt some glue will have already seeped out between the cracks. You have to wipe this off (a putty knife is recommended), otherwise you’re setting yourself up for some heinous sanding action later on in the process after the glue hardens and it’s time to stain the top.

Per the instructions linked above, I then put on the C-clamps at the ends of the board where the two join together. The C-clamps cause the biggest problem in terms of glue, since, after you’re not done squeezing the boards yet and any additional glue that bubbles up is going to get stuck on the circle of the C-clamp and create a disc of hate for you come sanding time. (So once all the pipe clamps are in place, probably un-clamp the C-clamps, and remove the excess glue that has pooled there.)

The genius recommendation from the website linked above is putting the additional pipe clamp over the top of the boards. This keeps the boards from bowing up as you continue to press them together in an attempt to create the world’s most-adhered red oak planks. With all clamps attached and everything tightened up, the resulting contraption looks medieval:

TV Stand Top with Clamps

It still seems crazy to me that the glue is strong enough to hold these boards together. I’m going to leave the boards clamped up for a good 24 hours to give the glue the best chance of success possible. I’m also going to hedge my bets by eventually screwing on a brace underneath to try and keep some of the pressure off the glue. Last thing I need is my TV falling through the TV stand as the top of it breaks apart.

(That’s actually probably not the *last* thing I need, but it’s still undesirable.)

All that’s left to do at this point is more cutting, which, as stated, is the best part of the project anyway. Using the compound miter saw feels absolutely primal to me. In a good way. So, I measured out the lengths for a leg, then, primally, sawed it.

Compound Miter Saw and Table Leg

Again, as mentioned: Best Tool Ever. I’m not sure how people did this kind of cutting before the invention of laser siting, though. Once I had the one leg cut, I used it to cut the other three, i.e., I put the cut one on top of the uncut one, made sure they were flush at the end, then used the cut one as the guide to saw the uncut one in the right place. I’m sure that violates some sort of woodworking protocol, but it seems like a reasonably efficient way to get four legs cut to the same length without being subject to the vagaries of pencil lead.

Should also maybe mention that, so long as the legs are all the same length, it’s not all that important that the length be exact. What I mean is, per the plans, these legs are supposed to be 21 3/4 inches long. If they’re off by an eighth of an inch either way, it doesn’t matter — so long as they’re all the same length, no one will ever know to think to consider suspecting (except anyone who’s read this).

Legs done, it was time to measure and then cut the bottom apron.

Measuring Entertainment Center Apron Pieces

Measure, boy, measure. I’m using the tailgate of my pickup as a workbench. It’s sort of a ghetto way to go about things, but on the other hand, it’s pretty easy to put away when I’m done. I’ve thought about building a real workbench, but ultimately that’d mean having to rearrange stuff in the garage, which would mean having to clean the garage.

And some day I’m going to do a blog post about what a hassle it is getting rid of gigantic cardboard boxes. (Cuz I got a bunch of them in the garage.)

The side apron pieces are meant to connect the front and back legs and measure 18 1/2 inches long. This was sort of a crucial length in that my receiver is 18 inches deep and it’s possible that, depending on what else is on that shelf, part of it may need to reside between the legs. The front and back aprons were 33 inches long — the top is 38 inches, minus two inches for the overhang, minus 1 1/2 inches per leg = 33 inches. That’s why.

And the table top is 22 1/2 inches deep because a 1×12 is really only 11 1/4 inches wide.

So that’s it. I sort of did a brief sanity check and laid out the pieces of wood next to each other and made sure everything ended up the right length.

TV Stand Base (unconnected)

Note (a) the open truck door where I’m blasting Johnny Cash singing “Jackson” recorded live at Folsom Prison, (b) two giant cardboard boxes in the background, and (c) my oriental rug still taped up from last move, rendered useless by a condo that has carpet everywhere. I suppose you could notice the oil stains too. If you wanted.

More to come.



  • telkontar

    Pipe clamps — I have 2 in my garage left behind by the carpenter. Didn’t know what to call them (giant C-clamps?). Good move preventing additional bowing.
    Glue — It’s good stuff. Mr. Sainsbury (Jr. High Shop) said that the nails were just to keep the wood together until the glue dried. Still seems counterintuitive.
    Compound Mitre Saw — Quite possibly the 2nd best tool ever (after the hammer). Didn’t have laser sights in my day (hardwood floor), but pencil lead worked. Prior to the hardwood floor, I used a circular saw (blind blade) and a C-clamp to put a guide where I was cutting. Primal it was — in an archaic sort of way, not an efficient cutting through hardwood sort of way.
    Measurements — It is the optimal method to use your first leg as your jig/model/measuring rod. (Even if they do end up unequal in length, nail a small piece of metal or use a leg cap to lengthen the short leg.
    Tailgate – Good idea. Doesn’t work with an Explorer.
    Boxes – Fires illegal in California for Santa Ana reasons? Use an exacto (TM) blade to cut into strips and throw away. Doesn’t Calif. recycle, though?

  • bkdunn

    My recycling bin is only so big. And what with all the phone books I have to stuff into it… The exacto knife cutting takes *time*.