I started already, but I can reconstruct the first steps pretty well. I'll do my best. Here goes...

So I have this space in the basement. Well, let me start by saying that I won't stage pictures of my shop or the area at all, and hopefully make some of you feel better about the conditions in which you work. My shop can't stay clean for more than 15 minutes, and neither can my house. My daughters have seen to that. In any case, here it is, along with the 48" entertainment center that I built for the equipment about ten years ago.

I want something bigger and better there. I'm limited only really by the access panel (the outdoor faucet is on the other side, and the panel is there after I had to fix everything the builder screwed up). Centering the unit and butting it up against the wall will let me have about 80" of width. That lets me get a 75" TV on there with a little room to spare. That's also helpful because I would like to do a "fireplace" down here, and by that I mean an electric fireplace in the cabinet. The basement, like many, does get cold, and it would be nice to not only have the ambience of a fireplace (even an electric one) but also the heat. I settled on this one:


Behind the existing entertainment center I have one outlet and a low-voltage panel with two coax and four ethernet. Based on my past experience with an electric fireplace, I've decided to run another circuit back there just for the fireplace. You can't, for example, expect to run a vacuum and the fireplace at the same time without tripping a regular 15A breaker. Fortunately, behind that near corner (where the portrait of my dear departed rabbit is) is unfinished space, so I won't have a lot of drywall cutting and patching to do.

I came up with this design. It's pretty straightforward. As you can see, pretty much any surface in my house is subject to crayons, markers, or anything else my kids can get their hands on.

The 4 1/8" dimension was chosen to house this speaker:


...while also allowing about 5" on each side for things like remotes, an IR repeater (more on that later), the Playstation controller when charging, and random things my kids put in there. I fully expect it to be used for Play-Doh, markers without caps, legless Barbies, and other sorts of things like that. 

I tried to maximize the depth since the original unit being replaced was limited to the Onkyo A/V receiver that's in there - all others were too deep. I don't have any need to replace this one, but were I to do so I could have considerably more flexibility.

Now, with the center channel and fireplace occupying the middle two compartments of the unit (indeed, being built specifically for them), the A/V equipment has to go on the sides. This means that to use them I either need an A/V repeater with regular doors, keep the door(s) open, or use glass doors. Two of these options at the very least mean the equipment will be generating lots of heat and have nowhere to go with it. I opted for an IR repeater and a heat exhaust solution. They are here:


The AC Infinity unit looks very well made and has a beautiful finish on it. I chose that primarily because its dimensions matched well and the ability to only turn on when needed (when the sensor reaches a certain temperature) is very useful. The repeater, on the other hand, is definitely Chinesium, and I knew that going in. I have no idea how well it will or won't work. If it doesn't, I can certainly spend more money and get a better unit. The repeater receiver, which is quite small, will sit next to the center channel in the top middle compartment.

I should note that I use my computer in an enclosed cabinet, and when playing games or mining some useless cryptocurrency a lot of heat is generated. It gets warm but it appears to draw enough airflow from the gaps around the door, so I don't think I will need much more than what I have. I'll be using Blum hinges, which also offer a bit more offset from the face frame (and thus allow more airflow). Also, what's not reflected on the design is that there will be grommets on the sides of the unit (bottom/back corner) to allow the speaker wire, subwoofer cable, split HDMI, and whatever else to exit. This should also allow for more airflow from the outside in.

Now that it's designed, we can start building.

  Built-in entertainment center / fireplace / faux stone wall build thread FS7 I started already, b...
I will be using sapele, because it's readily available, very pretty to my eyes, I have a lot of it, I like it, and various other reasons I'm sure made sense at one point. While not the boards I've used to this point, here are a few I've quickly planed and will probably be using for raised panels, door rails and stiles, and so on.

For reasons unknown, the first thing I finished was the top. Since I already did it, I can't do a build along, but there isn't really much to say about a panel with routed edges and some holes cut in it. Here it is:

For those wondering, the vertical images will display properly sized if you open them in a new tab. The edge profile, which you can't really see, is just a standard ogee and fillet profile. As I'll probably use this same profile on the door edges and the base molding, it should work here. I finished it with three coats of Watco natural danish oil, after which I scrubbed with mineral oil and a green Scotch-Brite pad and then sanded with a 500 grit Abralon pad (used for resurfacing bowling balls) along with some more mineral oil. This evens out the sheen (sapele can be inconsistent in absorption) and produces a very soft finish. The relative lack of durability is fine since it won't see much more than dust. For why this is ultimately wrong, see above about how I have children.

In any case, here are close-ups of the exhaust fan and the "fancy" grommets:

For the externally visible grommets, I opted for these 2" "red bronze" or "copper" grommets available on Amazon. I think it goes well enough with the sapele tone.
  Built-in entertainment center / fireplace / faux stone wall build thread FS7 I started already, b...
Now I start on the inside...the "guts." As mentioned, we not only need airflow, we also need room to run wires. I opted for mahogany plywood for the inside, partly because I had some 2x4 sheets, but mostly because the inside of the center channel speaker compartment is technically visible from the outside. Mahogany is a very good match for sapele as well, and it's way more readily available than sapele plywood. I will use stained sande plywood for the back and bottom because neither of those will be visible unless the doors are opened. It also takes stain pretty well and is readily available at Home Depot. In any case, here's the face frame with the internal dividers attached and center channel compartment built:

You can see that there are two grommet holes in the center channel compartment because I don't know which side I want to put the A/V equipment on and I also don't know when I decide that it will be permanent. There are also two holes on the top and bottom of each internal divider, with both serving the dual purpose of airflow and wire runs. For these grommets (which will go in after finishing) I will be using plain old black plastic.

The center channel compartment is secured with pocket screws to the face frame on the underside of the shelf (in the "fireplace" area) and regular countersunk screws on the insides of the cabinet. Countersinking eliminates any potential interference with shelving. Also, the internal dividers are glued to the face frame at the top portion only (I did not use pocket holes as they would be visible) and attached using pocket screws in the hidden fireplace area. Gluing a joint like this to me is one of the most important applications of parallel clamps as they apply equal pressure and tend to bow and twist (like regular pipe and bar clamps) a LOT less. Here's a side view of the center channel compartment:

I use a small piece of blue painter's tape to mark the "top" of each divider as a reference when setting up the shelf pin drilling jig. It's probably not really necessary, but it certainly could be depending on how preoccupied I am.

That's all I have for now. Next up will probably be the side panels, which are almost certainly going to be 3" rail and stile construction with raised panels. To avoid gluing up a relatively large center panel, I am still considering doing a center stile and two narrower panels. It's a bit more work, but no grain matching concerns.
  Built-in entertainment center / fireplace / faux stone wall build thread FS7 I started already, b...
That is going to be really nice, and I applaud your resistance to "staging" anything for this post!
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
  Built-in entertainment center / fireplace / faux stone wall build thread FS7 I started already, b...
I don't really do the whole SketchUp thing. Despite being in the IT field forever and having grown up with computers (starting with a TI-99 at the age of three) and using various graphics programs over the years, including 3D modelers, I never took to SketchUp. Also, going back to all of my schooling, I have been chastised my entire life for doing far too much work in my head. This means I am generally likely to consider and reconsider things in the middle of a design. One of the things I really, really, really don't like to do is waste wood. I do make a lot of cutting boards, and since I started turning the shorter scrap has a place too. But even so I try to minimize waste.

The side panels need to be 20 3/8". Technically, about 7/8" less, since I will glue them to the ends of the face frame for a somewhat continuous joint. This way the effective stile width looking at it from the sides is uniform front and back. But normally I just rip that small strip off and use it for cutting boards. I have a 13" planer, so if I were to do a 13" panel I would have 7 3/8" remaining. Add 3/4" for the depth of the grooves in the cabinet members, and then subtract 1/4" for space ball compression. That means I've got 7 7/8", which is remarkably close to 4" wide members. As it will be built in and butted up against the existing 3 1/4" baseboard molding, I chose 4" for the pedestal/base height since that would let me rout an edge and still have a flat mating surface for the existing baseboard molding. If that's 4", it would probably look good to have the side panel members be 4" also. Conveniently, I have more than a few 11" boards, which will let me get the necessary 4" and 6.5" pieces out of it for the cabinet members and the panel. I will have probably no waste after jointing and squaring, though maybe I'll get some super narrow strips I can use for cutting boards (because that's where all the scrap goes).

The other consideration is that I have grommets to put somewhere on the stile to get wires in and out. With 2" grommets - and considering you've got 1/2" plywood recessed into the back and the panel into the front - 3" cabinet members would be pretty tight if it would even work at all. I'd like to center the grommet in the bottom back corner, and I think 4" will comfortably avoid hitting any other wood while also looking proportional.

So the next step is going to be turning those 11" wide boards into the necessary 4" stock for the rails and stiles and 6.5" stock for the panels. While the glue is drying I can work on routing the cabinet members. I can also work on hunting down the plywood template that I use for removing the bulk of the raised panel material on the table saw, as either my oldest daughter put it somewhere or my neighbor mistakenly grabbed it as firewood.
Built-in entertainment center / fireplace / faux stone wall build thread

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.