Sunday, February 26, 2012

Half done ain't half-bad.

Yay!  We have a mostly completed TV Stand! It's great not having to worry about Isaac shaking the TV off it's wobbly stand anymore.  To remind you, this was what we were making due with as our temporary TV stand:

I think the materials for this section totaled about $120.  I bought two sheets of purebond 3/4" plywood from home depot, and several maple pieces for the facing from Lowes (they seem to have a better selection for maple). I also bought two rolls of veneer for the edges, another box of pocket screws, two eurohinges and two handles. I'll do the final math when I'm done with the whole thing.

I borrowed one of my co-workers workshop and expertise, so I got to use real power tools on this project and try some more advanced building tactics.  I'm glad he pushed me out of my comfort zone a little to try different assembly tactics other than just screwing and gluing.  It did make my scribbling-as-we-go plans a little more complected though.  Making plans as we went definitely caused a couple 'oops' and pulled him out of his comfort zone (sorry Dan!), but I was a bit pressed for time in getting it done.  I was in it for speed.

I don't really like table saws much, and these were big boards, so he did all the ripping of the wood down to size.  BTW, for those using Lowes/Home Depot to cut wood for you, I'm gonna have to say, the cuts on the table saw had way less chipping than the rough cuts I had made at the store.  I'm glad I didn't just settle with the store cuts for such nice wood.  I was a big girl and used the chop saw to cut the small boards to size while he did the ripping.

I didn't take many pictures through the steps, as I couldn't find my camera and I needed my hands to help assemble.  But you can get the gist from what I took on his camera.

We routered out all a slot for the intersections of the shelves.  I'm glad we did, as it gave us a super precise location for the shelves, which will come in handy when we finish the drawers.  We also routered out a spot in the back for the backing board.  Routering accounted for the first 3 mistakes we made.  Two were in the back and easily fixable but one was right in the front center.  I'll get to that later.

Then we found my big calculation error.  I forgot to account for the width of the side boards- I only accounted for the rails.  Doh!  That either made the top and bottom 1.5" too short... or the shelves 1.5" too big depending how you look at it.  Since it's much easier to cut down rather than add on, we started cutting.  I made sure we could still fit two DVD's side by side in the drawer first, before making the whole thing smaller.

After all the cuts were made we glued the side and front rails on the side panel as shown above.  We sanded that corner joint until it was buttery smooth. You can't even tell it's two pieces, even up close. 

While those sides were setting, we also veneered the edges of all but one of the exposed sides.  I was slightly disappointed in the purebond plywood, as we needed to fill in a big hole just under the face on one edge with bondo before putting the veneer on.

I don't have many picture's on here because it was all hands on deck, but we first screwed the shelves into the grove with a couple pocket screws (and glue). The pocket holes were used mainly for clamping and a little support.  The routering made this things super accurate and square with complete ease.  Something you don't get when you only assemble with just pocket screws.

I had some nice thick maple around from when I made blocks, so we used that for the feet.  We screwed the feet on the bottom board straight through the bottom with regular screws.
After that, we glued the center divider in the shelf (no screws) and then screwed both the divder and the sides in into the bottom with regular screws.  It was a little tough to align the feet so as few screws were showing as possible, but we only ended up having to plug two holes (barely noticeable for now, and will be covered up later with drawers).

One other mistake can be seen in this shot here.  I had to cut out two notches in each shelf for the front facing to slide around.... and I cut it the wrong size.  'Measure once, cut wrong' is the saying, right?  So we just flipped the board around and cut again. (These slots actually came in handy a little later)

You can see we then put on the front facing board at the top and used a little extra support in the back to make sure everything stayed strong, and so I had a  nice spot to put a anti-tip strap on our TV (I still have to do that!).   I have the drawer face trying out it's home in this pic too, but it's not actually screwed on yet. Also in this picture, you can see the one edge we didn't veneer up front-center.  It was left until after assembly because the veneer needed to cover up the routered intersection of the divider and the shelf.

This image brings us back to that one bigger router mistake we had.  If you look at the bottom front overhang you can see that it's a stip of a different color.  That's because we forgot to stop the routered slot and cut straight through the overhang.  We ended up ripping that board 1/2" shorter and Dan used some spare maple he had, glued it on, and then routered that piece flush on both sides (all done prior to this stop)

After that, we clamped on the top.  With a lot of clamps.  We had all the pocket holes drilled out already, but we had to use a socket wrench and bit to actually get the screws in the holes, since there wasn't enough clearance for the drill.  That was a pain, and Dan did most of them after I left (Thanks again, Dan!).  I guess we could have waited on putting in that second shelf.

Jump ahead, and ta-da!  When I got home, I attached the front flip-down drawer, put on the 1/4" backing and loaded it up!  The front drawer is has too little clearance to be centered for the euro hinge, so I temporarily have it high until I cut it down more. I plan to cut that down later.  We still have the drawers to make so everything we kept out is still in bins like it was on the workbench. It's super disorganized, and half of our stuff is still in the porch... but just wait.  When the drawers are done, it'll be organization city!

(Oh and remember those holes I accidentally cut too big and put in the back.  It worked out since we have that CD changer down there temporarily and I needed a place to run the wires.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Out With the Old, in With the Temporary....

The TV came!  Woot woot!  No where to put it yet.  Boo :(  You can see in the picture that the spot in the old entertainment center wasn't wide enough to fit our new TV.  Still, the day the TV came, we took it out of the box and set it on the endtable just to make sure everything worked. We didn't want to find out later we have a big messy return on our hands (one of the reasons we went with a more expensive TV).  Everything worked perfectly and we even got to sit on our couch to watch TV!  Kinda funny, but I guess it wasn't just the kids that plopped down in front of the little TV for a bigger picture.  We were so used to it Jon couldn't shake his old habit just yet for this shot.  But even though our first big movie night went well, the TV went back in the box for a few days.  Toddler + precarious TV perched on an end table = Disaster.

That weekend though, I had inspiration - I could borrow my workbench!  This 'workbench' as actually lived in almost every room in our apartments over the years, now residing on our sunroom/porch as a workbench.  My mom made it for me back when we were newlyweds using old shelves she had laying around.  That's Isaac climbing up on it during the middle of the move.  Thankfully the big kids were spending the night at their Grandparents and most of the move happened during Isaac's nap.  Anyway, I knew the move would disrupt the norm for a bit, mess up parts of the house and make watching a toddler difficult but ::whiny voice here:: I want to see the super bowl.  So we made the swap and it was. a. mess.  Such a mess that I lost the camera for about two weeks.

We moved out both the old entertainment center and the end table so the workbench could be centered across from the couch.  That way we could get a feel for where we wanted to put the new one in the future.  It was amazing how much stuff that thing held, both intentionally and unintentionally.  It was overwhelming at how much stuff  'lived' both on top and below it, as shown when piled in the laundry basket above.  I hate stuff.   But that is a rant for a different day.  At least we found those missing pegs and socks.  

About half of the stuff that was being stored in the old TV stand got moved in bins (stolen from other parts of the house) and moved onto the porch.  Some stuff just stayed put in the old TV stand to head out the porch.  And only a couple containers of remotes and DVD's and the main consoles we used got put on the workbench.  Even with the few things left out, it's been hard keeping little Ike away from playing with everything.  I can't wait to get this thing done!

Unfortunately, we managed to break the door off the old one on the way out of the house into the sunroom.  Oops.  I think I can repair it, but having to fix something before donating always makes finding the time to donate so much harder.

 I would have posted a picture of the temporary set up in the livingroom, but this is where we lost the camera.  I may have even been brave enough to post the explosion of a sunroom if I had found it. After hastily moving everything from the workbench to the floor and piling in new furniture and media storage all around it we could even walk through it.  Then again, maybe I wouldn't have posted it....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Design Time

As mentioned in our last post - we bought a TV. Time to design a new TV stand! But first, lets look at our old one.

The old TV stand did its job.  It held the TV, Players , DVD's and a whole bunch of other crap.  But not well.  The TV (a $35 purchase 7 years ago) didn't utilize the allotted space, which always bothered me from both a waste-of-storage-space perspective and a dude-thats-ugly perspective.  Just below the TV is where several of our children decided to teethe, revealing the 'quality' of paper veneer on composite boards. The TV itself is on the wrong side and away from the center of the room, forcing us to sit on the floor a lot to watch TV and making it difficult for me to play just dance :(  

The child-repelling covers do a lot to make it ugly, as it did look slightly 'nicer' at before we had to toddler-proof, again (as seen in the picture above).  However, functionally those covers are a lifesaver, as they help repel our children from the magnetic attraction to all things electronic.  Due to this attraction, we're actually on our third cover for the bottom section. This one was built to last (and it did!), since the other two died after a few years in splintered failure.

Storage was also an issue.  We had the DVD's stacked three rows deeps so everything would fit, which made it a pain to get anything out. The baskets worked well initially, when there was no door, but once the door was on, they often just ended up on top of the whole thing. 


We also crammed all of our plugged in player/consoles/whatever you want to call them in one area.  The DTV converter box for our antenna isn't shown, but was normally stacked on top of the PS2.  The NES and SNES are not plugged in and stored with the 'modern' video games, which are only two rows deep.  In one of the bottom two drawers we keep a bin of retro video games and accessories.  In the other is our stereo (waste-o space-o).  We also have another bin of 'keep' video games floating somewhere in our house, in addition to the other 'get rid of' bin we have somewhere else around here.

And the top.  Clutter.  Big ugly speakers.  More clutter, and oh, yes, a constant stream of clutter I can't seem to keep up with.

So there's the history, which in the true engineering fashion, I can pull some specs from.
  1. Child resistant.  Even though our kids will outgrow this phase soon enough, I want to keep my home as baby friendly as I can for friends and fam.
  2. DVD's stored side to side, so the labels are up.  This seems like the most compact, easiest way to store them
  3. Easy access to put remotes/controllers away, as a future option, as it doesn't combine well with #1
  4. An area for baskets for a bit of color and variety to the whole thing.
  5. Try to fit as much stuff in as little space as possible.  No more giant TV stand stealing all the light in the room, or giving us a place to stash things out of the little kids reach.
So, as with most of my projects, the design stage is both one of my favorite aspects of a project, and one of my most dreaded.  I have a really hard time finding my style, but once I do combining it with the specs I want and coming up with a design is totally satisfying.  So after much 'research (googling): here's my design mock-up.

Not too shabby :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Living Room Chaos

Up next on my to do list... the living room.  Yep.  Pretty much the whole thing.  Shown below in it's typical state.

It needs some help.  It's been stuck in the college hand-me down style for the last 8 years.  Here's the rundown of our eclectic room.  (Actually, eclectic implies far more style than the eating-cold-pizza-for-breakfast decor we have going on.)
  • End Table.  Garage sale before we were even married.  The handle ripped off and we kept off so the kids can't open the card drawer.  Brown.  
  • Chair.  Free from a friend of the family.  Currently, pieces of foam fly out of the back every time we sit down.  Brown.
  • Couch.  Actually an upgrade from the $89 walmart futon we used to have for 4 years.  Brown.  
  • Entertainment center.  Bought at Big Lots, survived being moved 5 times.  Brown. 
See a pattern here?  Brown.  Lots of brown.  All over the place. Bleh!  Countered by the lovely white we have all over all walls, as seen in my last post.  Plus we have toys randomly scattered around with no real place to store them.  BTW, the lovely masking tape on the wall is sizing what size TV we think would be appropriate for our family.  Complete with a hand drawn Curious George for good measure.

But it's time for some change! I didn't really know where to start, but my husband helped to decide for me.  I had forwarded him an email I received from Best Buy showing him the TV that I was keeping my eye on was going on sale at midnight, after my bedtime.   I forward the ad to him with the idea that he could check out the price for me, and wake me up if it was a good deal.

The next morning I woke the next morning to the email "We received your order" from Best Buy.  (We paid $250, it was originally $350.)  One of the big reasons we wanted this particular TV was that this brand seemed to fail less frequently than the others I was looking at and it was higher quality w/ 1080p.  Also we (Jon) decided now would be a good time so we (me) could watch the Superbowl (GO GIANTS!!) on it.  So that settled it then- First up in our living room make-over, TV stand!

 (PS The top pictures were taken after the TV had arrived, you can see the box in the pic above.  We don't normally keep our Wii uptop either)

Keeping it real - junk and all!