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Craig Ruegsegger

TV stand in da house!

Way back in November I started designing this project:

TV Stand

TV Stand

After all the building and finishing issues chronicled here I’m glad to report that it’s finally completed.

First, here’s the problem I was trying to address: a big TV on a too-small, press-board stand, purchased from Target. Note the DVD player, VCR, and TiVo stacked on the subwoofer in the corner on the left. The Wii console is in the lower corner of this shot; it was sitting on the floor next to the stand too.

TV Stand Before

TV Stand Before

Here’s the mess o’ cords behind it.
I persuaded fellow editor Lucas Peters to help me carry the new stand in (he owed me for helping him unload a tablesaw in the middle of an Iowa February).20090507TVStandAfter-Ft2

After a few hours of untangling and re-routing cables, the new stand was in place and ready to go.
And the rat’s nest behind is now minimized and hidden from view, contained between two false backs. (Note that the silver VCR didn’t make the cut. It’s been retired to the office to start digitizing old VHS tapes. Getting rid of those analog cables helped quite a bit with cord management. HDMI and fiber optic is the way to go!) The subwoofer is tucked out of sight behind the stand.
I’ve got to be honest: This was a frustrating project and I’d reached a point where I was ready to say “If it goes inside and I don’t like it, it’s going to Goodwill.” But now that it’s in and loaded with gear, I’m able to focus on the whole, and not the tiny little things that aren’t perfect. And I think it came out pretty well. I especially like the contrast of black and cherry. All the time invested applying (and reapplying…and reapplying) finish paid off. So sorry, Goodwill, this one stays here.

Craig @ WOOD

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Project in (reverse) progress

Ever have one of those projects where you just want to throw up your hands and walk away? That’s where I am with the TV stand. A series of small flaws and mistakes has reached the point where I need to take three or four steps backward before I can move forward.

When I dry-assembled the case I discovered I’d been careless gluing up one side assembly, and the top assembly wouldn’t sit tight to it. Plus the frame was just a touch out of square. Further, the other frame and panel assembly had a bow inward. And, frankly, I wasn’t happy with the finish on the frames. So I decided they had to be rebuilt. I took them to the tablesaw, cut them apart to salvage the panels, grabbed my wallet and headed out to get more lumber.

The finishing issues I’ve discussed in earlier posts here and here. Fixes this time didn’t require such drastic measures, but I’m redoing a lot of work. I sanded down one face of a divider where finish wasn’t sticking, re-dyed it, and opened a fresh can of finish. The first couple coats seem to be flowing out more evenly than previously, leading me to think that perhaps I had some finish that was outdated or something. As for the top panel, I decided to strip the poly from it and start again. For these cherry parts, I’m switching to a gel finish, one I’ve had success with in the past.

The really frustrating part about this whole project: It shouldn’t take this long! There’s really nothing complicated about this design. It’s just a glorified box! But I can’t let myself get in a hurry, I just need to do what’s necessary to make it right, because I’ll be looking at it a lot over the coming years.


TV stand finishing issues

First, I’ll apologize for not having photos with this post. I’ve just been too preoccupied when I get into the basement to put on finish to think about grabbing the camera. So I’ll substitute a portion of my SketchUp model to show you what I’m talking about.

I’ve got the top panel and pediment for the stand completed (that’s this part):

TV Stand top & pediment

TV Stand top & pediment

and began applying finish. I was in a quandary about how to prevent finish from running downhill off of the arch. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I decided to try a thinned-down varnish. It would flow out quickly, so any runs would be immediately apparent and could be wiped away. The trade-off is that with a thinner finish, it takes more coats to get the build I want. This seems to be working well on the pediment. However, I’m having issues with the undiluted finish I’m using on the surface where the TV will sit. Bubbles, nibs, uneven coverage. This surface needs to look perfect, and I’m far from that. I’ve got two coats on, I’ll see where the third takes me. Perhaps thinning is the answer for this as well.


Yes, I’m still working on my TV stand

Dance lessons and rehearsals (for the daughter, not me) are eating up time that I might normally spend in the shop, so progress on the TV stand is slow. A lot of the pieces have been cut to size so I’ve been finishing them as I go and that’s taking a long time. Here’s why: Each surface needs to lay flat so the finish spreads out evenly. For one of the vertical dividers, that’s three surfaces (each face, plus the narrow edge that faces forward). Each surface gets three coats. I can apply one coat a day. That’s nine days just to finish the dividers. Then I could move them out of the way and find room for a couple more pieces.

However, I’m beginning to have doubts about the brush-on poly I’m using. There was the earlier post about repairing bubbling on one of the frame and panel assemblies. Now on one of the dividers, I’ve got a couple of spots that are adverse to having any polyurethane on them. There must be some sort of oil contaminating those spots. I’m afraid it may come down to refinishing that face. Tack on another 3-4 days for that. Hopefully, the finishing will be smooth (pun intended) from here on out.


Bubble, bubble, causing trouble

Progress on the TV stand creeps forward. To get the best possible finish, I’m finishing parts as I go. This way, parts lay flat while brushing on the poly top coat and the finish lays out more smoothly without runs.  But I came across a problem with one of the end panels. See the bubbles?

Bubble poly finish

Bubble poly finish

Read more

Straightening grain patterns

When choosing the lumber for the 7″-wide raised panels in my TV stand, I found a board wide enough to allow me to cut them in one piece without any glue-ups. Except for one. Can you find the joint line in this panel?
Read more

TV stand progress

Construction of the TV stand has finally begun. (BTW, I had a friend give me some grief about my glacial rate of progress on this project. My response was that what I lack in speed, I make up for in procrastination.)

TV stand model

TV stand model

I’ve milled all the pieces for the frame and panel sides, I’ve dyed the frame pieces, and have two of the three coats of varnish on the frames and panels. I brought them into the house for a dry assembly in the family room to give my wife an idea of the completed size. She likes the look, thank goodness, because I’d hate to start over. Then she said, “You know this is just the start, right? I’m going to want tables to go with that when it’s done.” No, I didn’t know that. But yes, I guess I should have expected it.

One more coat of varnish, then I can glue up the end panels. I’ll post some photos as they come together.


The coffee timer in action

In my last post I outlined the on/off switch I made from an old coffee timer. Last weekend, I had a chance to try it out. It fulfills its intended purpose, providing an easy-to-reach on/off switch, perfectly. And there’s the benefit of having an easy-to-read digital clock in the shop.

There was one thing I did not anticipate, however. After 2 hours, it automatically shuts off. A smart function for a coffee pot. Not so much for the stereo. So I’ve taken to just plugging and unplugging the stereo directly from the wall receptacle.  And the timer? It will serve nicely as a clock until something presents itself that needs to shut off after 2 hours. Air compressor perhaps?


Maybe I’ve had too much coffee

One of the final loose ends in my shop reorganization was finding a place for the stereo. It’s three stacked components, an old garage-sale find, but it works and allows me to plug in my iPod. The only suitable spot I could find was on top of my wall cabinets. I can j-u-s-t reach the volume control, but not the power switch. So I decided I needed an on/off switch that was easier to reach. Hmmm, how to do this creatively without spending any money? Digging through my junk drawer produced a switch and timer salvaged from an old coffee maker (see, I knew I’d find a use for it), and a female replacement plug for an electrical cord. The scrap bin yielded some mahogany. After milling the lumber to size, cutting box joints, and mounting the electronics, here’s what I had. Read more

Sketchup makes you sleepy

I found time to sit at the computer Saturday and watch some of the excellent on-line video tutorials for Sketchup.  By 1:30p, I’d been at it a couple of hours, and I was getting a little bleary. My wife and daughter were gone, so I lay down on the couch for a 20-minute “power nap“… and woke up two hours later! Very unusual for me, as I seldom even nap. Anyway, I’m much better versed in Sketchup now (and better rested), so time allowing, I’ll begin designing my TV stand this week.


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