Help building a small/simple Entertainment Center

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Old 12-25-09, 07:47 PM
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Question Help building a small/simple Entertainment Center

hey whats up guys, this is my first post. I'd like to build myself a small 'entertainment center' if you will...but just would like to ask for a couple of pointers.

I plant to have a 40"x16" base on 4 wheels....then have the sides to close it in....having them 24" tall by 16" deep. Then at the top i would simply put another piece of 40" x 16" piece. Inside of the enclosure i would have my stereo/dvd/vcr components. Sitting on top i would have my 2 main speakers sitting on the far left and far right edges.

Attached to my top piece of 40" x 16" piece of wood I would like to add 2 vertical boards, but no on the edges...I'm going to put each board in 12" so the speakers would be on the outside of the boards. The boards will be 16" apart from eachother and measure 18" tall and 16" deep.

Then on the top of these 2 boards i will place my top platform board, measuring 40"x16" (same as the bottom 2 boards.

Here are my couple of questions.
First, i dont want to spend a bundle on this but want it to look nice and dont mind putting in the work to do so. I was wondering would it be cheaper to buy plywood that i can stain to w/e color i want...or would i be better off just buying partical board and putting some sort of a laminant over it (or paint it).

Secondly, as for making the cuts...i want to make sure my cuts are as straight as possible (duh! lol) and was wondering if a circular saw would do the trick. I'm ok at using one but i dont want any LITTLE waverance in the straightness of the board...so how can i be sure to make sure its totally straight? Could i buy a fairly cheap router to make sure they are all leveled off...i really dont want to have to get a table saw if i dont have to...suggestions?

Thirdly....would 'L's be ok to attach all the boards...and the maybe just drive 4 or 6 screws straight up into the 2 vertical 18"x16" board that ill have on the inside of the speakers or should i go about this another way?

Lastly, any other added suggestions for doing this. I dont think it will be too hard of a job but i wanna make sure i've got all my I's dotted and T's crossed before i get into it ya know? Thanks everyone!
 
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Old 12-26-09, 05:16 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

Plywood is cheaper and often easier to work with than real wood although you will want some wood moulding or strips to hide the cut edges of the plywood.

While a table saw is nice, you can clamp a straight edge unto the wood you intend to cut and hold the skil saw tightly to the home made fence and get a decent straight line.

You'll probably want a cleat under shelves to make them stronger if you don't have a dado for them to set in.
 
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Old 12-26-09, 05:40 AM
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Project

You will need some sort of back to stabilize the vertical pieces. I recommend 1/4 in. plywood.
 
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Old 12-26-09, 08:25 AM
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ok, so if i go with plywood i could just put a stain on it for a finish couldnt i? But if i did that what kind of strip would i use to hide the cut edges (i suppose id just put them on ALL the edges so they all match right?
 
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Old 12-26-09, 09:01 AM
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Whether you paint or stain, use plywood. Particleboard will not look good painted.

Use a straightedge for the cuts. Get the finest toother blade for your circular saw. If this edge still isn't smooth enough for you, then use a router to trim it back. you wouldn't want to use the router to make the full cut, just to clean it up after the circular saw. The cut on the edge will only be as good as the straight edge you use.

Screws are perfect to secure the vertical pieces to your top. You will need to predrill all your holes otherwise the plywood will split. For a 16" piece, 4 screws will be plenty. Don't put them too close to the edge because the plywood is more likely to split in that area even with predrilling.

You will need to make sure this thing doesn't rack. Putting a back on is a good idea. If you were planning on having the back open, you can put wide cleats at the top and bottom. Something about 4"-6" tall should do the trick.
 
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Old 12-26-09, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by drooplug View Post
Whether you paint or stain, use plywood. Particleboard will not look good painted.

Use a straightedge for the cuts. Get the finest toother blade for your circular saw. If this edge still isn't smooth enough for you, then use a router to trim it back. you wouldn't want to use the router to make the full cut, just to clean it up after the circular saw. The cut on the edge will only be as good as the straight edge you use.

Screws are perfect to secure the vertical pieces to your top. You will need to predrill all your holes otherwise the plywood will split. For a 16" piece, 4 screws will be plenty. Don't put them too close to the edge because the plywood is more likely to split in that area even with predrilling.

You will need to make sure this thing doesn't rack. Putting a back on is a good idea. If you were planning on having the back open, you can put wide cleats at the top and bottom. Something about 4"-6" tall should do the trick.
Ok I'll check out the circular blades for sure...probably grab a chalk line while im there so i can snap a straight line and see how my straight edge measures up to it too.

I know about plywood splitting ...been there lol...so ill go in a few inches for every screw.

what did you mean when you said "You will need to make sure this thing doesn't rack." ??? I'll still close the back up with the 1/4 and just cut wire holes in it, but just wondering what that phrase meant.

Last thing, as far as a router, im clueless! I get the idea of what they do, but what to look for when buying one...no idea at all...would i need any extra attachments or some kind of a fence that goes with it or what ...I dont want to spend a lot of money on it either, while i want something that will last, it wont get a TON of work put on it but im sure ill put it to good use. Thanks for all the replies so far, its been a great help!
 
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Old 12-26-09, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by MrWillsi3 View Post
ok, so if i go with plywood i could just put a stain on it for a finish couldnt i?
Not exactly, the stain needs to be protected by 2-3 coats of poly/varnish - but you probably knew that

I kind of figured a plywood back was a given although you will probably want to cut/drill some good size holes to accommodate the wires.
 
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Old 12-26-09, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
Not exactly, the stain needs to be protected by 2-3 coats of poly/varnish - but you probably knew that

I kind of figured a plywood back was a given although you will probably want to cut/drill some good size holes to accommodate the wires.
lol, yes sir i knew about the poly. ..gotta love that stuff.

Yeah the ply on the back kinda was a givin, just wasnt sure how thick i wanted to go with it...but i think the 1/4 will work nicely and i'll surely put big enough holes for all these damn wires!

Now that i think about it i'll probably add 1 rack on the top of the bottom section, have my stereo on the base and my dvd player on the rack
 
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Old 12-26-09, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MrWillsi3 View Post
what did you mean when you said "You will need to make sure this thing doesn't rack." ??? I'll still close the back up with the 1/4 and just cut wire holes in it, but just wondering what that phrase meant.

Last thing, as far as a router, im clueless! I get the idea of what they do, but what to look for when buying one...no idea at all...would i need any extra attachments or some kind of a fence that goes with it or what ...I dont want to spend a lot of money on it either, while i want something that will last, it wont get a TON of work put on it but im sure ill put it to good use. Thanks for all the replies so far, its been a great help!
When a cabinet is racked, it means it is in the shape of a parallelogram and not a rectangle.

For a router you will need something that's around 1 1/2 hp for this type of work. You will need a flush trim router bit to do the cutting. It is important that the straightedge you use to run the flush trim bit along to be smooth. The bearing on the bit will trnslate any bumps of the straighedge to the piece you are trimming.
 
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Old 12-26-09, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by drooplug View Post
When a cabinet is racked, it means it is in the shape of a parallelogram and not a rectangle.

For a router you will need something that's around 1 1/2 hp for this type of work. You will need a flush trim router bit to do the cutting. It is important that the straightedge you use to run the flush trim bit along to be smooth. The bearing on the bit will trnslate any bumps of the straighedge to the piece you are trimming.
AH gotcha. Well ones that are that kinda HP seem to all run around $100 or so ...my lil project price keeps increasing! Just for the record, for plywood, it is ok if i get a good grade exterior type of plywood...about 23/32 in thickness...rather than getting the 3/4 'interior' plywood (the expensive stuff!) isnt it? I want it to look nice yes, but i dont need it to be THAT nice.

So are there any brands you'd recommend for the router, or a particular router period that you can name off...or better yet a used one that you can hook me up with for a decent price lol.

I'm going to buy a new straight edge for the project, its only about $12 so i'll just get a new one. Now someone said earlier when i cut with the Circular saw, to use the straight edge. So would i want the blade itself to be RIGHT NEXT to the straight edge....or just the brace of the circular saw to be again the straight edge (so the edge would be set approx 1-2" away from where im actually cutting)?
 
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Old 12-27-09, 04:10 AM
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I doubt you could use exterior plywood and have a stained finish - the top ply is just to rough [and sanding won't get it nice enough] You could use it if you plan to paint by filling in all the grooves, cracks, etc with spackling or joint compound - be sure to sand off ALL the extra.

You run the saw along the straight edge. That puts the the blade about 1.5" from the straight edge. I often use a straight 1x clamped to the plywood I intend to cut. Not as precise as metal but cheap and handy
 
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Old 12-27-09, 08:49 AM
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You should see what your cut looks like with the circular saw first. You may find it is within your expectations and won't need to use the router.

If you decide to get the router, i recommend Porter Cable. However, any of the cheap brands may meet your needs if you don't intend to use it very often. Be sure to oversize your pieces when you cut with the circular saw to allow trimming with the router. You shouldn't need to trim more than 1/16" with the router.
 
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Old 12-27-09, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by drooplug View Post
You should see what your cut looks like with the circular saw first. You may find it is within your expectations and won't need to use the router.

If you decide to get the router, i recommend Porter Cable. However, any of the cheap brands may meet your needs if you don't intend to use it very often. Be sure to oversize your pieces when you cut with the circular saw to allow trimming with the router. You shouldn't need to trim more than 1/16" with the router.
Ya i think i will do just that, If I HAVE to have the router i'll just go get one, but i'll go for the cut with the circular alone first. So you really dont think the exterior will stain well huh? That interior stuff was sooooo damn expensive
 
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Old 12-27-09, 09:59 AM
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What do you guys think of this deal ?

RYOBI ROUTER AND TABLE LIKE NEW
 
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Old 12-27-09, 10:07 AM
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"So you really dont think the exterior will stain well huh? That interior stuff was sooooo ... expensive"

If you compare the 2, you'll notice how tight and smooth the grain is on the stainable plywood and how coarse and rough the grain is [not to mention voids and 'footballs'] on construction grade plywood.

I did cheat when building my kitchen cabinets and used regular 5/8" plywood for the shelves [clear poly finish] but they are covered up with cans, boxes, dishes, etc and hid behind a door
 
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Old 12-27-09, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
"So you really dont think the exterior will stain well huh? That interior stuff was sooooo ... expensive"

If you compare the 2, you'll notice how tight and smooth the grain is on the stainable plywood and how coarse and rough the grain is [not to mention voids and 'footballs'] on construction grade plywood.

I did cheat when building my kitchen cabinets and used regular 5/8" plywood for the shelves [clear poly finish] but they are covered up with cans, boxes, dishes, etc and hid behind a door
...im gonna tell on you lol. Yeah i noticed the pine plywood looked like hell to say the least, but they had this type there that was called 'Arauco' and it was surprisingly smooth. It wasnt the grade of the stainable wood, but it didnt have ANY 'footballs' or voids in it at all...cot about $34 a sheet at Lowes....I thought i might be able to get away with that lol
 
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Old 12-27-09, 01:46 PM
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I haven't priced plywood in awhile but $34 sounds more expensive than the regular construction grade. Plywood doesn't stain as well as regular wood, especially when you get into the darker stains. You might get by with a light color stain....maybe pick the best looking parts for your side and top.
 
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Old 12-27-09, 01:54 PM
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It all depends on what look you are going for. If you want it to look like a nice piece of furniture, get the maple plywood. If you don't care how rustic it looks, get the pine exterior plywood. You won't be able to fake this one. Even if you paint it, you will tell that you have exterior grade plywood underneath.
 
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Old 12-27-09, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
I haven't priced plywood in awhile but $34 sounds more expensive than the regular construction grade. Plywood doesn't stain as well as regular wood, especially when you get into the darker stains. You might get by with a light color stain....maybe pick the best looking parts for your side and top.
Just checked Home Depot and they had 3/4 birch and oak going for $40 each. I saw the regular grade construction ply you're talking about...was about $20 give or take...and just like you were talking about before...not very good looking...lots of marks/holes etc. Maybe they just have the one i saw in the same area as the others but its not the same type? I wasn't all wrapped up like interior stainable wood usually is thou. The $40 type looked to be a very good grade thou...no flaws on either side that i could see.
 
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Old 12-27-09, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by drooplug View Post
You won't be able to fake this one. Even if you paint it, you will tell that you have exterior grade plywood underneath.
Not necessarily, years ago I helped a friend build and paint a cabinet. He insisted on using a cheap grade of plywood [all he could afford] I skim coated the plywood with joint compound and had him sand off all he could when it dried. A coat of oil base enamel undercoater and 2 coats of oil enamel [scuff sanding between coats] Once finished it had a mirror like finish. It seemed to wear well although he got divorced a few years later and lost the cabinet.
 
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Old 12-28-09, 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
Not necessarily, years ago I helped a friend build and paint a cabinet. He insisted on using a cheap grade of plywood [all he could afford] I skim coated the plywood with joint compound and had him sand off all he could when it dried. A coat of oil base enamel undercoater and 2 coats of oil enamel [scuff sanding between coats] Once finished it had a mirror like finish. It seemed to wear well although he got divorced a few years later and lost the cabinet.
Well thank God im not married! (nor do i plan to be anytime soon either lol). So when you say you put joint compound on it, was that just for the bad spots or did you do the WHOLE thing. I get how that would work for paint...but what about STAIN?
 
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Old 12-28-09, 05:33 AM
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Basically I applied j/c over all the plywood and then sanded it all off. That left j/c only in the low spots and open grain = a very slick/smooth surface.

J/C absorbs stain at a different rate than wood or plywood and it's highly unlikely that you could get an acceptable looking stain job using the j/c.
 
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Old 12-28-09, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
Basically I applied j/c over all the plywood and then sanded it all off. That left j/c only in the low spots and open grain = a very slick/smooth surface.

J/C absorbs stain at a different rate than wood or plywood and it's highly unlikely that you could get an acceptable looking stain job using the j/c.
Ya I kinda figured you'd say that lol. Well if i left it as bare wood...sanded it and cleaned it, think i might have a good shot at it working with a stain?
 
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Old 12-28-09, 02:49 PM
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You could try but if it doesn't look good, have a primer and paint back up plan.
 
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Old 12-28-09, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
You could try but if it doesn't look good, have a primer and paint back up plan.
Sounds like a good plan to me...im just still kinda on the router issue...other than the HP you guys listed I really dont know what else to look for
 
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