Finally, it’s time to begin work on the TV stand that it seems like I’ve been planning for a very long time! When I accepted this commission there was a source for recycled fence boards here in Las Vegas. I purchased a few of them, made a mock up, and then presented this to my client. He approved the design and gave me the customary 50% down deposit. However, when I went to pick up the required fence boards they were completely out! They come from somewhere in California and it was several weeks before their supply was replenished. Finally got them and they were different sizes and soaking wet. After stacking them with stickers to dry out in the shop they are now workable.
The other hold up was getting the legs fabricated. I sent my client some sources from Etsy and he picked out a style he liked from Blue Ridge Metalworks. Since they were located in North Carolina I expected the shipping costs to be huge but was pleasantly surprised as they were considerably less expensive than the few local sources I contacted. We did have a few problems with tracking numbers and forgetting to add a brace for the drawer unit but the owner, Jon, was quick to actually call me when asked. He explained some growing pains due to expansion of the business and corrected the problems quickly. Only slight concern I had was with a bracket being welded on that was proud of the leg by about 1/4″. Luckily I was able to take away some of the wooden rim to make it fit as it should — much easier to chisel wood than it is to grind metal!
Finally, the actual construction of this piece can begin and started with creating one relatively smooth surface on the underside of the fence boards. Since these are recycled I suppose you could call them old growth Redwood — just like the fence boards I used to cut working at Silvera Lumber in the 60’s! Next up was sizing the plywood to fit the legs. Mass produced furniture uses MDF which is heavy, doesn’t hold screws very well, and also doesn’t have much structural strength to it. I use domestic, 3/4″, shop grade Maple plywood. To me the extra expense is justified by giving my clients a quality piece of furniture. Breaking down those 4′ x 8′ sheets began with my old school track saw. Although you can find many hi-tech versions on Amazon, this simple shop made guide combined with a Porter-Cable trim saw gets the job done.
The top of this piece is pretty straight forward as you can see in this first mock up of it. It measures 20″ x 65″, there’s an edging glued/nailed to thicken and reinforce the edge. Yes, any of my students reading this I used glue and a brad gun for this! There will be two drawers in the unit below which I decided to make as a torsion box for stability and strength. Since there is a span of five feet, this unit needs to be stable in order for the drawers to work properly. Although I’m known for hand tool woodwork and joinery, when working with sheet goods glue and screws are in order. I imagine this torsion box assembly could have been simply glued and nailed. I’ve been accused of over-building but I’d rather have that reputation than one of cutting corners!
Since there are drawers here it’s critical that the assembly is square. All holes were first pre-drilled and countersunk on the drill press. These were then assembled into U-shaped pieces that will define the drawer spaces:
After these 3 assemblies dried it was time to attach them squarely to the bottom of the drawer unit. This began by using the same setup on the drill press to pre-drill the holes. They are glued/screwed on the outside edge only, the drawer sides are left loose to allow for any adjustments for squareness. As you can see, all went according to plan. Before attaching the top I’ll install the drawers and full extension slides, it’ll be much easier that way then working in a closed up area. The drawer space is approximately 5″ high by 16″ wide and 12″ deep.
The next phase will be making the drawers. These will be made of 1/2″ Poplar with Baltic Birch plywood for the bottoms. I know I’ve probably shocked some of my students in the construction process for this piece but I’ll also be machine cutting the dovetails for the drawer —- there are times and projects that call for modern processes rather than traditional hand work. I promise, the other project I’ve accepted will feature more traditional work!