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Building a Small Entertainment Center

Building a Small Entertaiment Center

Making furniture with curves, presents several challanges.

With the latest televisions often being wall mounted, a new area of cabinet / furniture design is emerging. This is a scaled down version of an entertainment center. All T.V.'s seem to require a number of accessory items, and with the flat screen television, these accessories are often left "homeless".

A previous entertainments center, designed to hold a large television. The fellow standing there is 5' 10', to give you a reference as to the size of the cabinet. The pilasters on both sides of the center cabinet are hinged. This allows the doors to be hidden from view using flipper door hardware, and closing the pilasters over them. A little extreme, but I don't like the gap that's visable with the doors open.

Full Sized Entertainment Center

Building a cabinet to house these items presents the opportunity to get creative with the design, as it does have specific, purpose related requirements, as well as the need to appear to be furniture. It can be designed around the furniture already in the room, or around the television, or be a stand alone piece.


Whichever style you choose, it still has to fill the functions of an entertainment cabinet. Housing the cable box, the D.V.D. player, the D.V.D.'s, often video game players and games. Not to mention the seemingly endless number of remote controls, that no one over 15 years old can work anyway.

As with any woodworking project, design is the first step. Working within the parameters already mentioned, in addition to the television size, and available space in the room, dictates a number of conditions to be met. The function is typically the starting points for any furniture or cabinet. From there, styles, woods, colors, etc, can be decided upon. The cabinet being built here, fits the requirements, and will be a "stand alone" piece of furniture.

Starting out as a sketch, and evolving from there is acceptable when you building it for yourself, or have the complete confidence of your client, giving you freedom to build as you see fit. In this case, the client is my wife, and the confidence part is weak. (Wives can be the toughest client's).

After hearing the suggestions from my wife, I sketched out what I got from her in the way of what she wanted. This sketch was drawn while being the passenger in her car, which is often the only time we have to discuss anything at length. She did like the sketch, so from there it was a simple matter of measuring the T.V., the components to be housed, and the available space. Normally, formal drawings are required, and all the construction details ironed out, prior to beginning to work. In this case, I chose to work from the sketch, and make construction decisions along the way.

Small Entertianment Cabinet Sketch

Having curves in the design makes it a bit more complicated, but using bending plywood, or "Bendy Board", which is a variation of bending plywood, it's not a big deal. The plywood will be veneered with a combination of Figured Satinwood and Ebony. Much of the cabinet is built using a relatively new product called FXP. This is plywood laminated on both sides with M.D.F. It's a great product, in that is has the smoothness of M.D.F., and the strength of plywood. It's about $ 65.00 a sheet, but in certain situations, is well worth using.

Bendy Board used to make cylinder

The plan was to use two layers of 3/8" bendy board for the curved cabinet carcass, stapled to the top and bottom of the cabinet. After the top and bottom parts were cut to rough width and length, the curved ends were laid out. It is important to make the centers of all parts to help with assembly later. Building a curved cabinet is a little more likely to twist on you, ending up with a skewed cabinet. The center marks avoid this problem.

 Crosscutting the F.X.P.parts  Ripping the bending plywood  Laying out the top and bottom Blank

Once the parts are rough cut, and the final layout lines drawn, it's time to cut them out. The curves can be easily cut with a jig saw. The recessed front edge can be cut with the table saw, using a stop cut . This method requires removing the splitter, so extra care must be taken. To make this type of cut, lay the board against the fence. and mark on the fence where the cut should start and stop. The fence is then moved to the right width, and the board lowered into the bade, taking care to line up the strating point. When you get to the rear of the cut, it's a matter of lifting the rear end of the board, or turning off the saw, and then removing the board. Stopping the saw is generally a safer method, but could lead to burning the edge of the board.

 Marking the stop cuts Stop Cutting the top  Stop Cutting the top

 Setting up the circle cutting Jig  using circle cutting jig with a router  Routing Completed

Using a circle cutting jig on a router, or a jig saw, cut the curved ends. If using a jig saw, stay out from the line about a 1/16th of an inch, and sand it to the line. This will eliminate any potential problems with a blade that flexes into the finished part. Tip: Also, when using a jig saw, a band saw, or a scroll saw, do not look at the blade. Keep your eye about 1/4 - 1/2" in front of the blade. Cutting this way will give you a much better cut, as you have time to correct a wayward cut. If you are looking at the blade, it's already too late to get back on the line. No one likes sanding, but the little extra time spent here, an prevent you from having to start over. Keep that old saying in mind, "never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over".

If you're using a router, it's a good idea not to try to make the entire cut in a single pass. at least two passes will yield better results, and not kill your router. Stop the cut where the front edge is recessed. Finish the cut using a hand saw, or jig saw.

Completing the cut with a Japanese hand saw  Completed Top Blank

Continued page #2

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