I told my wife to pick any design she liked, and I would do my best to create one like it for a fraction of the cost. She looked at entertainment centers and media stands on some of the popular furniture websites until she found one that she liked and said, "There it is, make that one!"
I came up with a plan that required the purchase of one sheet of 3/4" plywood, along with about 60 feet of 1/4" by 1 - 3/8" lattice (from the trim section). A small amount of additional material was needed that came from my scrap pile. The finished piece appears to be made with inset framed panels, along with solid posts around all the edges. Not so, but you wouldn't be able to tell!
Including paint and hardware, I spent just over $100 on this. I used a lot of glue, nails, and sandpaper, which will add to the cost once they are replaced. This was a fun, challenging project, and my wife is very proud to display the end result in our living room. The finished dimensions are 28" H by 44" W by 20.5" D.
Thanks for looking!
Step 1: Break Down Plywood
I laid out a cut plan for the sheet of plywood (which I've included above), and the plywood was broken down into pieces according to the plan. All longer cuts were done with a circular saw and a straight edge, and shorter cuts were done with a miter saw. Some of these pieces were further trimmed as needed for final installation.
3/4" plywood is generally only 11/16" thick, which is important keep in mind.
I made all the vertical cuts first, beginning with the bigger pieces on the left of the plan and moving toward the right. About 1/8" material is lost with each cut. The last section remaining was for the drawer backs, and was about six inches wide.
The third and fourth photos show what was left over at the end of the project from the wood I had to purchase. Not bad!
I don't include many measurements from here on. If you're willing to tackle this project, this is the starting point. I've tried to condense this down as much as possible, as there are just too many details to cover everything. Please examine the photos throughout the build for more details, and to see some of the tricks I used to make steps easier and more controlled and precise. Please ask questions if anything is not clear.
Step 2: Build Shelves
The shelf frames were built using biscuits, glue, and clamps. The upper two shelves were covered with a skin of quarter-inch plywood from my scrap pile. The bottom shelf was not, as it is primarily structural and is hidden by the drawers.
Each shelf was slightly different and needed different details to make it fit into the cabinet as planned.
Step 3: Prepare Side Pieces
The inside back edges of these side pieces were routed out to make a space to attach the backing later on.
I used my circular saw along with a straight edge guide to cut shallow grooves into the outside faces of the top and side pieces. This makes the finished panels appear that they were made of randomly sized pieces of wood inside of a frame.
Step 4: Assemble Bottom Shelf, Sides, and Feet
Everything was put together with a combination of nails, glue, and screws. Glue and nails were used to attach things in their initial position, and screws were often added to give strength and extra clamping pressure to ensure a good glue bond. All screws were placed in locations where they were later covered up. This is a good method, and I used it throughout the project.
Individual foot pieces were cut out, modified to fit as needed, and then glued and nailed in place.
Step 5: Assemble Shelves
The bottom shelf actually has these support pieces glued and nailed in place, which are used to attach the drawer guide rails to later on.
Holes were cut into the back of the top shelf for cables and cords.
Step 6: Add Top Piece and Front Rail
The front center rail was also added.
Step 7: Add Back Piece and Drawer Guide Supports
Center drawer rail supports were added with glue and nails.
Step 8: Prepare Drawer Pieces
The backs of the drawers and the front faces were all that came from the one purchased sheet of plywood.
Step 9: Assemble Drawers
Step 10: Tip: the Best Way to Deal With a "shiner"
But if you do....
The best way to remove a nail that blew out the side of your work, if enough of it is exposed, is to grab the end of it with a pair of snips (yes snips, not needle-nose pliers) and gently wiggle it back and forth. If you do it right, it will eventually break off, just under the surface of the wood. The snips allow the nail to pivot where you are pinching it. Just don't put too much pressure and cut off tip of the nail.
I'm not sure where I learned this, but it is a great trick.
Step 11: Attach Drawer Guides
It takes some practice and experience to make drawers that fit and actually work, and I'm still not the best at it. After a couple of mistakes, I got these in place and working smoothly.
Step 12: Attach Drawer Faces
Step 13: Add Trim Pieces
The pieces of trim around the bottom needed to be cut down a little with my circular saw to match the face of the bottom shelf. These pieces of trim covered up the screws that were visible from earlier steps.
Step 14: Putty, Sand, and Prime
The entire cabinet, drawer fronts, and doors were primed and then sanded with 220 grit paper. Priming (or at least sealing the wood) and sanding are crucial steps to getting a great paint job.
Step 15: Paint
Step 16: Antique It
In the end I found the best way for me was to rub everything down gently with super fine "0000" steel wool. This removed the sheen from the paint and gave it an old barn-like, weathered look. I then used 220 grit sandpaper to knock off the sharp corners on the cabinet and all the parts.
When this was done, I rubbed the whole thing down with some dark wood stain, working small sections at a time. This darkened up the visible wood, and added some depth to the red paint.
The entire thing was then coated with a few coats of spray-on satin lacquer to seal and protect it. It ended up with an awesome, deep rustic barn-red color.
Step 17: Attach Hardware
Thanks again for looking. Let me know what you think!