Sunday, September 7, 2014

DIY Media Center

So we finally decided to upgrade some of our furniture. Ikea, we still love you, but you remind us of our college dorm rooms. We wanted to start in our main living room because it is really the centerpiece of our home. Our dream would be to purchase the Pottery Barn Printer's Media Cabinet, but let's face it....$1100 dollars, when you have two destructive children and a dog who doesn't realize quite how big she is, is too much to spend (the entire set would be closer to $4000)!

Luckily, other people have also faced this dilemma. We found some plans on Ana White's blog and decided to give it a go. This was our first attempt at furniture building.

We deviated from the plans with regards to measurement. For the boxes and the shelves we used birth ply. The doors and the trim pieces are pine. The overall length of the cabinet is 64", just like her plans. Instead of four individually constructed bases like Ana's and Pottery Barn we made one large unit with three sections. We found that if we did four sections, then our stereo/blue ray/cable box would not fit!

Finishing the cabinet was the most difficult part. If anyone says staining is easy...well, they were probably using nicer wood than birch ply! We tried to use Minwax, but we just could not get a deep rich color even after three coats. I went to our local Woodcraft store for help, and I have to recommend Woodcraft of Denver very highly. The employees were so helpful and patient with me! I showed them a picture of the Pottery Barn cabinet and they helped me to find a similarly rich color. We used Minwax water-based wood conditioner followed by two coats of General Finishes Black Cherry water-based stain. We then topped it with three coats of General Finishes gloss polyurethane, sanding after each coat.

It was very difficult to get the color even, but we did get better with practice. We live in a very dry climate and were finding that the stain was drying much faster than the can said it would. We ended up using a "wax on wax off" tactic to avoid streaking and botching. Luckily, we started with the inside of the cabinets which are not visible!

I think this cabinet turned out absolutely fantastic. Our eventual goal is to make matching bookshelves for each side as well as a hutch for the top. The total time investment for this cabinet was approximately 40 hours and the total cost was $220 plus about $50 in tools that we didn't already have (the kreg jig).

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