Solid Wood Floating Entertainment Center

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I am going to be moving to a new house in a different state. The good news: the house has a nice workshop area, and I should be able to start woodworking almost immediately. The bad news is that I will need to build 2 entertainment centers for the new home, and from what I can tell, getting high-quality plywood in the area is not going to be easy until I find and befriend some cabinet makers. For one of the spaces, I was thinking something like the first picture below with a large cabinet and floating shelves around the TV.  The second TV location is in a smaller room, and something like the entertainment center in the link picture would be more appropriate. 

Have any of you built cabinets like this out of solid wood instead of plywood? I'm specifically wondering how to go about making the back that would attach to the wall. I've built some stuff out of plywood that I hung using french cleats. If took the same approach with solid wood, however, I'm concerned about the cleat restricting moving and the back eventually cracking.[]=441194900&gclid=Cj0KCQjwmZejBhC_ARIsAGhCqndFOrjAu3QmFxb_jYPGBXhII1guy4fQa9MD8KKurz5ZMqJL_dscONsaAu0tEALw_wcB

FloatingModernEntertainment Center.jpg

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I've done a few cabinets like that out of solid wood. The key is to make sure that all the expansion and contraction goes in 1 direction.

The above console the maple runs around the outside. I used plywood for the back and doors though. For doors on yours you could use plywood and use shop veneer. I"m not 100% happy with the color match in the console above.

The above project was the opposite plywood case with solid doors. You could combine the two of these and do solid doors solid case, hanging the doors with euro hinges would be advised as they will provide some expansion and contraction slop where high quality butt hinges may not. The case here was plywood due to cost and desire for it to be light weight. It was for a friend and transportation was a consideration.

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I haven’t built any solid wood entertainment centers since the 80’s. Too many cost saving options out there. When I say that, it’s about time. You might save it in material cost(maybe) , but you’ll really pay for it in labor.


Theres always a cabinet supplier somewhere.. Just ask your local cabinet shop. 

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GeeDub, was the back on that unit made from wood or plywood? If hardwood, how did you join the back to the case, and where were the cleats attached?

The solid wood back part is what I'm having trouble figuring out. My initial thought was to use frame and panel on the back. If I go that route, should I make the rails for the frame large enough for the cleats to be mounted to the rail? If I attach the cleats to the panel on the back, how thick should the panel be to ensure the screws don't pull out under the weight? 

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All hardwood.  In my design the back is open with the cleats being used like long rails or stretchers.  I used mortise and tenon into the sides. The "floating" panels on the sides are actually veneered substrate.  This meant I could glue the side rails, side stiles, and side panels at all joinery positions making a very stout end panel.  There is also and overall panel of hardboard recessed into each side panel to make a large load bearing surface and keep things squared up under load.  The bulk of the weight is transferred from the cleats to these end panels.


Full length cleats meant I could hit multiple studs to mount the cleats to the wall. The gap between the upper and lower cleat on  the cabinet back were spaced vertically to assure I could slip the carcass over the cleats and lower into position.  I put a couple of screws through the cabinet cleats and into the wall since we are in earthquake country but elsewhere gravity would do the trick.

The build thread is here.  It contains a lot about a finishing problem I had but there may be something of use for your requirement as well.

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  • 6 months later...

So my wife decided she wants the entertainment center to look like the one below in terms of the general structure (not the farmhouse look). Since starting the thread I have since found a plywood supplier, so I no longer have to make this out of solid wood. 

If you look at the install video at the link, this just looks to be a plywood box with a french cleat running along the back. Is there any structural reason for leaving the back of the middle section in the cabinet open? The front is open, which should leave plenty of room for ventilation. I ask because it seems simpler to just have the back run the full length of the cabinet and drill access holes where needed. I ended up with an extra sheet of 1/4 ply from a recent cabinet build which I won't be using anytime soon, so there's little to no additional cost associated with running the back the full length.



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It may be aesthetic, it may be cost / material savings for a commercial product.  The view through to the wall gives contrast and makes that area not so much of a visual deep, dark hole.  I would rather look at a completely open area as shown versus seeing 2 or 3 holes drilled through. 

Electronics change over time as does the requirement for access.  I left my back open since previous attempts to predict the future have always fallen short :lol:. The open area looks intentional and the holes could look like an afterthought but this is all in the eye of the beholder.  Depending on where your holes need to be they may not show and the point may be moot.

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