As with any potentially dangerous project, you need to exercise due care in operating power tools, using dangerous equipment and other tools. Keep dangerous items out of reach of children, ensure you wear appropriate protective gear and that all people in the area of your work are properly protected, warned of your work and minors removed and forbidden access to the work area. Don't try this project if you are not experienced or work under the supervision of one who is.
Construction was the scariest part for me as I've never done a major woodworking project. I first talked with my friends Paul and Don who used to build sets for our High School plays (I used to be on the acting side, so I didn't get involved much). They gave me some guidance that really helped and pointed me in the right direction.....right to my friend Ernie who just built his own wood shop. Ernie is also a master at woodworking and volunteered to help me build the cabinet (in exchange for wiring his for him when he builds one in the future: deal done!). Ernie did 95% of all the power tool work. I just helped him as needed. My task was to primarily ensure the designs and measurements were correct and he double checked them as we progressed. I also caught the wood as it was cut and told him many times to "be careful" with the power tools. Yes, he was careful indeed....and skilled.
The whole cabinet effort took, in reality, 20 hours straight of work. We took two full days and an evening of continuous work (broken up over three weeks or more). I lugged the wood from Home Depot (I recommend getting someone to help you move the 4' X 8' pieces of wood or MDF, whichever you choose) and Ernie helped me move it once I got my truck to his shop. We were ready to roll. We double checked the designs a number of times to get a good understanding of our goal products and we were off...
This is the cornerstone of the cabinet and the main weight support. Getting this right was important. Ernie and I just used 2X4s to frame out the square and cut a piece of 3/4" plywood to sit on top. Ernie had the idea to lower the base an inch lower than the sides so as to avoid scuffing the sides during moves. This was also good for installing T-Modling. It made life much easier and the look is also cleaner. We used big clamps to get the right angles accurate and Ernie used his screw gun to drive in the screws.
Here is the base:
We used Ernie's mega-saw horse table to lay down a piece of the 4' X 8' 3/4" plywood. Ernie measured out the right angles to ensure we had a good cut. Turns out we didn't, so we used his table saw to get the edges and angles right. We next drew out the measurements for the side. For the long straight edges, Ernie used a circular saw. For the shorter cuts, Ernie used a jigsaw aligned against a straight edge. Once one side was cut, Ernie cut the other 4' X 8' 3/4" plywood sheet down to the approximate size of the other side. He then laid the newly cut piece on top of the cut side, clamped them down securely, and used a pattern bit on his router to cut a mirror image side. The only angle that wasn't an exact copy was an inside angle that was at the juncture of the speaker panel and monitor's angled side (instead of a straight angle, it is curved on the pattern cut). This isn't noticeable in the final product unless you're looking for it. One thing I realized later was that wood splinters on the edge and will look funny with the T-Molding if there are any spatial gaps. Make sure to have wood filler on hand to even out the edges and fill in any wood gaps.
On the sides, I thought I would use the black Happ Controls Cabinet Grips to make moving easy, but they would have ruined the look of the yellow sides and made a side art option tough. I opted only to use one grip on the rear panel door.
Here are the sides:
I originally wanted a rear door on a hinge for easy opening and closing. I quickly learned that would be extremely tough if I wanted to have T-Molding on the rear sides. Here is the dilemma: T-Molding needs 1/2" depth for clearance; the door needs to be flush with the sides to open and close properly. Without going into a whole new level of fitting and work, Ernie and I decided a simple piece of wood with a handle in it and four screw holes would be easy enough to open and close. I could also access the innards through the Coin Door if necessary. I bought some Happ Control Black Cabinet Grips and ended up only using one on this door. Good thing they were cheap.
This is a picture of the rear without the mounted door:
The primed rear door is on the left:
This is the best picture I have of the Top:
View of the monitor shelf:
Routed top rear side:
Another view of the slot cut on the top rear side:
The key to getting T-Molding right is to ensure you know how to use the slot cutting bit with the router. The bit needs to be a 1/16" slot cutting bit that cuts 1/2" deep into the wood. I found the right bit at Cheyenne Sales. Make sure you get the right shank size for your router. Also, make sure you buy the 3/4" (or whatever matches the thicknees of your primary material: plywood, MDF, etc.) T-Molding that fits into a 1/16" slot. This is available at Happ Controls and at T-Molding.com.
When you knock in T-Molding and it needs to round corners, the middle part of the T-Modling needs to be cut so it doesn't bunch up in the slot and prevent you from knocking it in. You need to cut a "V" shape in the T-Molding where the center of the "V" is right at the point of the corner. This is easily done using a window scraping razor blade. That kind of blade is straight, has a long enough handle and is less dangerous than using a box cutter. You still need to be really careful around razor blades (and keep them out of reach of children).
T-Molding cut to round right angle corners:
T-Molding knocked into top front left:
T-Molding knocked into bottom front left:
The speaker panel needs to be cut before ounting it into the cabinet. I got a 4" hole saw at Home Depot and measured the panel in thirds. I took the middle of the height of the panel as a first mark, then measured the panel horizontally and divided by three. I then took the two split lines and crossed them with the middle line to get my center point for the hole saw. Easy cutting. Next, I mounted the speakers on the poor side of the wood (which would not be seen from outside the cabinet) and the speaker grilles on the outside (for testing purposes and to make the screw holes). I used black screws to match the grilles.
Speaker Panel Mounted:
Plexiglass is a royal pain. You need to cut it very quickly or very slowly to avoid melting it. Ernie's table saw was great for it as the cut was quick and clean. I used 1/4" thick plexiglass for both the monitor cover sandwich (I used a back piece and a front piece with the art in the middle) and for the marquee sandwich (same thing with the marquee paper in between the two sheets of plexiglass).