Kurt Triebe

Walnut end table / media console build

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While I'm mentally working through some of the final steps on my mission style nightstand build, I figured I'd get started on another project. I've got a bit of project ADD... and my wife is eager to start our family room remodel, and this is part of that, so, here we go.

We've currently got a big media console underneath our wall-mounted TV and soundbar. It's a simple thing I made a few years back out of walnut plywood and some 80/20 aluminum extrusions. It's essentially a clone of something that Salamander makes. Anyway, we are going to do away with it, and have nothing below the TV/soundbar- just the wall. So, we have to shift our HTPC and some other related hardware off to the side. We've currently got a bit of dead space underneath the window to the right, in between the couch and the wall. We used to have this little wooden chest over there that we used to store crap for changing diapers. We're out of the diaper stage now, though, so I can get rid of that chest and build sort of an end table and media console to fill that space.

The basic concept, then, is going to be something that parallels the walls on the left and the back, and parallels the side of the couch on the right. The wall angle is an easy 45 degrees (err, 135 degrees) fortunately. It'll be short enough to tuck under the arm of the couch- 19" tall- and will be about 38-39" wide across the front... tapering to something like 13-15" wide at the back, which will be open so that I can easily get cables in and out. I'll have a shelf about 6.5-7" up, which will be enough to house the HTPC, and will leave enough room above the shelf to hold our little weather station display.

There will be a centered divider on the lower level- something to support that middle layer, which I think will only be about 1/2" thick- just due to the stock I had available for this, not a deliberate design decision. My wife wants the computer hardware fully hidden- I'm not sure yet how I'll accomplish that. I could do doors, but they feel like an awkward size to me- 7" or so tall and nearly 18-19" wide... it feels like those would put a ton of leverage on the hinges and they'd sag over time? So I'm leaning toward perhaps doing a sliding panel instead; I could rout a little dado the full width of the front, and have a panel that's wide enough to cover either side. Normally, it'd just cover up the right side- where the HTPC will be- leaving the lower left side open.

Anyway- I figured I'd get started on creating some of the panels while I mentally work through all of the design challenges. I had a decent amount of walnut leftover from a few previous projects, and this build is going to use up nearly all of it. I cut a bunch of pieces to rough length, jointed & planed them, and then did one of the glue-ups last night. Pulled the clamps off this morning and spent a few minutes sanding away the squeeze out and ensuring that everything went well. The clamping situation was a little wonky, to say the least, but the joints were so straight and perfect that I didn't think I needed that much pressure to pull everything tight. I did my usual Dowelmax process- this allows me to make damn near perfectly flat panels even without being able to clamp things flat/straight. It takes a few extra minutes to drill the holes for the dowels, but the time saved on sanding afterward, plus the comfort in knowing I'm not going to have to worry about things sliding around or getting out of alignment during the glue-up, is well worth it IMO.

One of the challenges I know I'm going to face is how to do the connection with the angled left side- given that the left side panel will be expanding/contracting at a different rate than the top/middle/bottom layers, I need to allow for some wood movement- I could do a sliding dovetail, but I think I want the left panel flush with the top and bottom- I don't think I'll have enough meat on the outside of the dovetail to be structurally sound- so I may do some sort of captured rabbet- a shouldered dado is maybe the right term? Not exactly sure. I could insert some thin metal rods/pins from the left to provide a bit of vertical strength, as long as I slot the hole on the bottom panel to allow the pin to move horizontally.

The base will be some short feet- 1.75"- a little angled on the sides, with one stretcher running between the front left and front right feet, and one running between the back left and back right feet. I won't connect the back feet to the front feet, because wood movement.

Pardon the messy room in the pictures; this will all look a lot different afterward... fireplace will be refinished, we're doing a full walnut accent wall behind the TV/soundbar, window treatments will change, walls will be painted differently, baseboard trim will be white instead of the ugly stained red oak, etc. I'm including them just to give an idea of the space where this little console will go.














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Got all of the panels glued up, and used the track saw to cut the top, middle, and bottom layers to the exact same size & shape. Double sided tape stuck 'em together, then the track saw had juuuuuuuuust enough depth of cut in order to do all 3 layers at once. Brought them up to the room where it'll live and made sure that I had the angle right- like anything in a house, of course it's not 45 degrees to the floor boards or the adjacent wall... it's 47.6 degrees. That's why we build custom furniture though, I guess!

Now I have to figure out joinery; the right side and the shelf are pretty easy, but the left side will be interesting. Since the left panel is at a 45-ish degree angle to the top, middle and bottom- I have to account for SOME wood movement... half as much as a perpendicular intersection, but I still have to do it. I may do a sliding dovetail, but I am worried about the strength of the outer piece- I'll have to do some careful examination of the size of the router bit I have, with the thickness of each panel, to see what that'll actually look like once it is cut. I guess this doesn't need to be super strong; it's a media console tucked in the corner of a room, it's not a chair or anything. The most stress it'll undergo will just be if I slide it in and out to mess with cabling in the back.








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