Building an Entertainment Center

This handsome unit hides a TV and a stereo behind cabinet doors, and it includes plenty of shelves for storage and display. The central cabinet has adjustable shelves 2 feet wide— large enough for standard stereo components and a medium-sized TV The shallow shelves leave a 3-inch gap at the rear for wires and ventilation. These doors are slabs trimmed with half-round molding, but you could make panel doors instead.

1. Make the side panels. Cut two pieces of 3/4-inch plywood to 22x80 inches. Cut a 3/8 x 3/4-inch rabbet along the top and side of each (make them mirror images of each other), as well as two 3/8 x 3/4-inch dadoes. Attach metal shelving standards.

2. Assemble the shelf system. Cut plywood shelves 18 inches deep and 24 inches wide, and apply common screen molding to the front edges. Working on a flat surface, attach the fixed shelves with glue and 6d finishing nails. Cut 1/4 inch plywood for the back; attach it with 3d finishing nails.

3. Add the stiles and rails. Cut two 1x2 stiles, and attach them with glue and 6d finish nails, allowing the outside edges to overhang the plywood by 1/8 inch. Cut rails—1x6 for the bottom, 1x2 for the middle, and 1x4 for the top—to fit between the stiles, and attach them the same way.

4. Make the doors. To make trimmed slab doors, start with warp-free plywood. Cut them to size so that there will be a consistent reveal of the stiles and rails when the doors are installed. (Take into account the molding you will use for the bottom and top.) Apply veneer tape to the edges. Trim the door by attaching miter-cut pieces of molding with glue and small brads.

5. Make the open shelf units. Cut four plywood vertical pieces to the same height as the side panels (Step 1) but only 12 inches deep. Cut rabbets and dadoes and install the metal shelf standards as as in Step 1. Assemble shelves and the back pieces as in Step 2. Add stiles and rails as in Step 3, except install the stiles flush against the edges of the middle unit, as shown.

6. Add the top molding. Attach the open shelf units to the middle unit with 1 1/4 inch screws, and attach the entire unit to the wall by driving screws through the back panel and into studs. Trim out the top with cove molding. Rip angled bracing from a 2x2 to back the molding. Make miter cuts for the outside corners and coped joints for the inside corners.

7. Install the base molding and finish. To make the unit appear built-in, purchase molding that matches the base molding in the room. Install it the way you did the top molding (Step 6). Give all the parts a coat of primer and two coats of enamel paint, or apply stain and then a polyurethane finish if you used hardwood plywood. Then hang the doors with your choice of hinges.

Installing Closet Organizers

A standard closet, with a single rod and shelf, wastes valuable space. Improve your usable storage by dividing it into sections tailored to suit your needs. Divide hanging clothes into two or three groups according to height. Determine how much width each group requires; make sure the clothes will not be crammed together. Figure how much shelf space you need for sweaters, as well as rack space for shoes. You may want to purchase plastic storage boxes that fit on the shelves. Allow extra room throughout for future purchases.

Draw a diagram of your shelf system on graph paper, and make a materials list that includes 3/4 inch plywood and edging for the shelves and upright supports. Use 1x2 for cleats and heel stops, 1 1/4 inch dowels for hanging rods, metal standards and clips to support the shelves, and hardware to hold rods. Cut the uprights for the tower of shelves, and install metal standards for adjustable shelves. Fasten the fixed shelves with glue and 8d finish nails. Position the shelf unit, check for square, and attach it to the wall with angle brackets and screws. Cut the top shelf to fit between the side walls and the middle shelf to fit to the shelf tower. Attach 1x2 cleats to the wall, and attach the shelves to the cleats. Cut and install closet rods using special closet-rod hardware. Cut and attach shoe shelves at about a 30-degree angle, and nail 1x2s for heel stops.

Wire closet organizers are easy to install, need no painting, and may actually be cheaper than the materials needed to build wood shelves. You may be able to buy a kit that fits your space with little cutting. Take a drawing with exact dimensions to a home center and ask a salesperson to supply you with all the parts. You’ll need shelves with hanger rods, wall-hanging clips, end clips, diagonal supports for shelves over 2 feet, and rubber caps to cover any exposed metal rod ends. You may also want a drawer unit.

Install the drawer tower first; then cut shelves to fit above and on both sides of it. Draw level lines on the walls, install the clips so they are level, and then snap the shelves into the clips. Install wall-hanging clips at the rear wall. Some types have plastic anchors so you can screw them directly into drywall. Mount hardware to wall studs when possible. Install end wall clips at the side walls. Cut the shelves with a hacksaw or a pair of bolt cutters. After snapping the shelves in place, install shelf supports.

Common Closet Sizes - A closet for hanging clothes is usually 24 inches deep. Make shelves 18 inches deep. Shirts, blouses, and skirts usually require 36 vertical inches. For men’s and women’s suits and slacks, allow 42 inches. Coats and dresses are usually 54 inches long. Robes and long dresses may require up to 68 inches.

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