Wednesday, August 10, 2011

the goose loves her media shelf!

Let me warn/excite you now: this is my most picture-heavy post EVER in the history of my blog. Which is only about 6 months, but whatever. There are over 40 GLORIOUS photos.

So let's start with the photo that started it all. Here's the fireplace and TV nook in our new place. The nook is a built-in spot for the TV and all its accessories to live. No problem, we like it.

However, you can't just put a TV on the bottom here - where would the DVD player and Amp and Comcast box go? And where would the free-Xbox-that-we've-never-used live? So we decided we needed some shelving there. We started with a Target shoe rack we owned, as displayed in the photo below. It was the right idea, except that it was too small and not sturdy - the middle was bowing from the weight of the TV.

So I searched high and low for an existing shelf in the retail world that would fit well in my space. But no luck. So began the process of building my own. We got a standard-size sheet of plywoody stuff from Home Depot - we opted away from the lesser-quality particle board and went a step up - I think our piece cost about $20? We also picked up a quart of primer and black paint. Wow this is really technical, huh. Maybe I should find the receipt and get the official names/descriptions of things... After a bulk-size package of sandpaper and an extra paintbrush, our total came to about $35.

I had already drawn out a diagram, which I unfortunately don't have to share with you, but it generally was a box without a bottom or front, and two shelves. The original design had the shelves spanning the entire space vertically (no center divider). We changed that later. Here is Billy, admiring my screwing techniques on the box frame. :) Here's the shoutout to Jim and Pat Dempsey & Family, who bought us an awesome power drill for our wedding. We use that thing all the time, and it came in SUPER handy for this project. Here's the inside of my box frame. Looks crooked, but isn't. Or maybe it is? After building the frame, I sanded the shelves to get them ready for priming. We decided to paint the frame and shelves before assembly, since all the sides are more accessible now. Here's the dog, fighting me for a turn to sand the board. Or just chew on the sandpaper...After sanding, and after several days passed (I had to wait for a sunny free afternoon, which is fairly rare!), I started priming. I laid the shelves and frame outside on cardboard and let them dry outside for awhile.Looks bluish, but it's really a grey color. I did two coats of primer, just to make sure it was smooth and even. After letting the boards dry for a few days (might have been weeks, actually), I got started with the black paint coats. Again, I did these outside. It was just a basic semi-gloss black, meant for indoor furniture-type use.

I did two coats of this stuff as well, letting the coats dry in between. For the shelves, I painted the top and sides, let dry, then flipped the board over and painted the bottom. I repeated for the second coat. Here's my hot painter shot.So as I spent hours painting the shelves and frame, I was thinking about how I didn't want this to look like any old shelf. I wanted it to be original, and have a signature touch. Basically, I was sick of painting boring black and I wanted to be a little creative!

So I thought of stamping a pattern on the inside back of the shelf - the part you'd see if you look above/behind the DVD player and Amp soon to be sitting on the shelves. A little pattern that would peek out at you, and provide something interesting going on.

I thought of a round flower-like stamp I used for my wedding invites would be perfect, and I knew I had a silver stamp pad that would work well. The only issue was lining up the stamp so the pattern is even and symmetrical, not crooked and sloppy looking.

So I went into the office (which currently houses a bunch of junk that doesn't have a home yet) and hunted for something I could use to make a stamping template. And within a few minutes, I spy these:
You might have some of these too. They are the walls to cube-like shelves you can build, connected by plastic corners that you snap the metal shelves into. We've had some floating around since our college days, and these hadn't been built yet. But what do they provide? Lots of little even holes that a stamp could fit into!!!

Even better? The wire shelf PERFECTLY fit onto the back of my wooden frame. Here we go! I ended up laying three next to each other to fill up the whole back area, and stamped away. The wire openings were the perfect size! Now we can take a quick break from the stamping action to see my cute pup. He found a rock outside and decided to bring his new friend into the house. After about 20 minutes, my final product looked like this! Oh okay, one more puppy break. Here's Bentley, waiting patiently outside the screen door with his new friend Mr. Stick (he had to replace his rock that we rudely threw outside). Here's another angle of the freshly-stamped back. At this point, we should have some photos of us installing the shelves. But that work required two people, so neither of us were grabbing for the camera. We used the power drill again to screw the shelves in place, using the pre-determined measurements.

Here is where I might explain that we changed our design mid-way. After thinking some more, we realized that it'd be good to have a vertical center board to support the weight in the middle of the shelf - that'd help the bowing problem we currently faced with the shoe rack. None of our equipment was wide enough to not fit with a center board in place, so we changed routes. Our good friend David let us use his table saw to make the appropriate cuts. (Our original cuts were done for free at Home Depot! Oh, and we made the extra cuts before painting).

So here's the side view of our media center, with shelves intact. So then you'd think we are ready to go, right? Wrong. Drilling in the shelves caused a little chipping damage, and we were also left with exposed screws. The shelf also suffered some scratches after painting amid moving it around, so we wanted to do some touch-up work on the various sides. Here's the ugly exposed screw. So I pulled out the paint and grabbed a little sponge brush (the cheap kind from Michael's) and touched up the ugly parts. Much prettier, although blurry, screw: I then let it dry overnight.

Here's the finished product, facing the right way! You can see the stamped pattern come through - the silver on the semi-gloss paint gets a little shiny. So then we were done, right? WRONG again! Before officially setting it up, we had to drill some holes in the backing to let the power and other cords access the electrical outlets. We just used the power drill again with a 1" drill bit. It makes 1" holes that were perfect for just about all of the cords. We made 1-2 holes per shelf section, depending on how many cords needed to flow through. For some sections, we made a double-wide hole for bigger plugs to fit.

And THEN we were done!

Here's a close up. The top left shelf has the DVD player, then the modem/wireless router/Xbox on the second shelf, and the amp on the bottom. The top right shelf has the Comcast cable/DVR box, and the bottom right are was left empty... ...Don't worry, we'll fill that space...

We filled that empty hole with a... BASKET! We had some miscellaneous media-related stuff hanging around, and thought a basket would be a perfect storage solution. Here's the insides...

And the outsides! The final picture:

Up close with our new basket friend. So there you have it. 40+ wonderful photos of our first woodworking creation for this house. And it works very well! No bowing, cracking, or bending yet. Yeah, a few of the shelves are slightly crooked (I'm going to blame that on faulty wood - haha). But it works really well. And looks pretty nice, too!

In the future I might change out the brown basket for something white - I think I'd like that better, especially alongside the silver backing - but overall, I'm happy! I'm mostly just happy that it's done, too. Took about a month, but it's worth it!

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