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I recently decided that I wanted to build a media center PC. I wanted something that would be easy to use and look fantastic in my living room. After seeing a similar design elsewhere I decided I would try my hand at building a coffee table with an integrated monitor.

I tried to keep things simple as possible. I chose plans that were available for free online and modified them to fit the form factor I wanted.
I used tools I had available but these tools will vary depending on the plans you choose.
I used drills, a table saw, a chop saw, a pocket hole jig, a palm sander and a jigsaw.

Step 1: Planning

Like all projects you should always go in with a solid plan. Before picking out my table design I did a fair amount of research on touch screen monitors, touch screen add-ons for regular monitors and multi touch surfaces in general. I chose to use the Acer T231H for a few reasons. Its reviews were fairly good, it was a size I felt would work well and its corners are very square, making it easier to fit into the table.
I decided that I wanted to mount a mini PC under the table. I chose the Asus Eee Box EB1021. It is small, it has built in wifi, it comes with USB 3.0 and has HDMI output. It also comes with a VESA mounting bracket which made my life a LOT easier when it came to final placement.

Find the plans for your table. There are plenty of free and paid plans online. I chose this set of plans: http://ana-white.com/2012/05/plans/itable

If you decide you want a bigger or smaller table adjust your plans accordingly. I chose to make my table 3’ x 4’ foot with 18” high legs.

Draw out your table using the measurements you have decided on. Make sure you clearly mark where you want your monitor to sit and where you want to mount the PC. It is a good idea to wait until you actually have the electronics in hand so you can get accurate measurements. I modified the size of my table just slightly to accommodate everything I wanted to do with it. The more time and thought you put into this part the better your finished product will be.

Step 2: Supplies

Pick up the wood and hardware you need for the plans you chose.

Research your wood options. I chose to build my table out of pine. I chose it mainly for price but also because of the availability of other woods in my area.
When you are shopping for your wood make sure you choose pieces that are fairly straight and free of knots that look like they may fall out as the wood dries over time. Generally, if the knot has a black ring around it I would avoid it. Being picky with the wood you choose from the pile will save you a lot of sanding and wood filling in the end.

Step 3: Basic Assembly

Cut all of your pieces ahead of time and label them if you need to. Dry fit your cut wood to make sure everything will fit together flush.

Begin building your table according to the plans you chose. Luckily, the plans I picked made use of a pocket hole jig and assembly went fairly smooth. I was able to put the whole thing together in a day. Having an extra set of hands around for this part will make life a little easier.

When your table is assembled go over it with a palm sander. I used coarse sand paper at first to smooth out any bumps and imperfections and then went over the whole thing with progressively finer and finer sandpaper until I got it as smooth as I wanted.

Step 4: Cutting the Hole for the Monitor, Fitting and Making the Brackets

Measure and draw out the lines for your monitor. If you have a carpenter’s square around now is the perfect time to use it. Grab your monitor, put it on the table and make sure that the lines you drew were the correct size. Cut out the rectangle you drew with a jigsaw. Be careful not to cut the hole too big. It is better to cut it a tad too small and then have to recut than have to scrap your entire tabletop.. Dry fit your monitor to make sure it looks good. This is another fantastic time to have an extra set of hands around.

Sand the area around your jigsaw cut to keep things looking nice.

The next step is to build the bracket to hold the monitor in the right place. This step will depend entirely on the monitor you choose. The Acer monitor I chose had large flat areas on the back that worked great. The monitor I chose was an inch and a quarter thick where I wanted to support it. I built and mounted two L shaped brackets that would bring my monitor exactly to the height of the tabletop. While I was doing this I also built a bracket that would hold the mini PC in a place that was easily accessible, had plenty of room to run wires and where none of the air intakes/vents were blocked.

Step 5:

Now that all the wood is in place you can begin finishing. Do any final sanding if needed and then clear off as much dust as you can. If you feel it is necessary you can add a pre-stain wood conditioner to your table prior to staining. This is especially important if you are using soft wood and in my mind it is worth the 15 extra minutes you’ll spend applying a coat. The finish on my table was achieved by applying 2 coats of stain, a day apart and then two coats Minwax satin quick drying polyurethane.

Step 6: Installing the Computer, Power Bar and Wires

After the whole thing was dry I was able to take it inside and mount the computery bits.
I attached the VESA mount to the bottom of the table with 8 screws. It was a tad overkill but at least I can rest assured that the mount will never let go.

Next I mounted the actual computer and a power bar. I knew roughly where I wanted the power cable to come out of my table when it was finished so I mounted my power bar in a position that would best achieve those results. Next I plugged in all of my computer cables and ran them in a way that I thought would hide them the best when the table was upright.

I picked up a bunch of velcro cable organizers to keep everything in place. After I had a rough idea of where I wanted my wires to sit I stapled the velcro organizers in positions where they would best hold everything in place and and then and ran the wires through them.

After all of my cables (including the monitor power cable) had been run I flipped the table back over, plugged everything in and turned the system on for the first time.

Step 7: Powering Everything Up

Everything runs great so far. I noticed that the screen is fairly dark when viewed at extreme angles but that is something I am comfortable living with. I cut another board on a slight angle and if necessary I can use that to prop up the monitor on an angle for better viewing from the couch. I plan to cut a thin sheet of acrylic or plexiglass to protect the monitor when I have people over/when the system is not in use.

All together the project cost just over 800 dollars. I’m sure its usefulness will expand beyond that of just a media center. The size of the table itself lends itself well to any kind of board game night and no doubt the screen can be of use in any situation.
<p>Was you running this straight into a mains socket plug? Not sure how to make it discreet </p>
<p>I had a power bar mounted under the table to connect the PC and monitor.<br>When I mounted it I made sure I put it in a place where it would be close to the legs. The wire ran down the leg and plugged into an extension cord that ran under my couch to a plug.<br>I bought a nicer looking matte black extension cord for this because I knew it would be the one part of wiring that was visible.</p>
This is a great tutorial! Good job man! <br> <br>One question though. I want to make some custom tables for my restauraunt. <br>My problem is how i'm gonna keep it safe from scratches and mostly from spoiled coffees, water etc. <br> <br>Do you have any suggestions? <br> <br>And btw, what do you think is cooler? A 23&quot; touchscreen in the center of the table or 2 9.7&quot; tablets for each person?
<p>If you can find out how the Casio Commando's touchscreen was made, or the Army's BFT, then you could figure out how to make a touch screen durable enough for it.</p>
A really good finish will be vital for protecting the table itself. I am not sure how you would protect the screen while still retaining the use of the touch screen. <br>I have been using the table for a few months now. When I have more than a few people over I always make sure I cover the screen with a piece of glass. You can still use it as a regular screen but there is less chance that someone is going to spill liquid on it. <br> <br>One thing I have noticed with my setup is the viewing angle. A monitor/screen with a large viewing angle it would be best for a project like this. Unfortunately, the one I chose looks pretty dark when viewed from a sitting position. <br> <br>As far as your setup goes I would almost suggest covering the entire table with a sheet of glass You will lose the touch screen capabilities but then you won't have to worry about spills, scratches and the potential for stolen tablets (if you decided on the 9.7&quot; tablet route). A regular screen could still display information for your customers (and you could even fit a much larger one in there) but it would need to be controlled from another point.
<p>Given that a similar less quality table starts at $8000.00 I think this is a worthy endevor. </p>
It was! I filled the center hole with a piece of wood stained the same color because the viewing angle of the screen I chose wasn't great and I still have an awesome, big table for board game night. The thing is super sturdy.
Would this still have touchscreen capabilities if you covered it with a thin film like they use to cover cell phone fronts i dont know if you could get a chunk big enough to cover it but it's a thought it could certainly be trimmed up the edges to protect it from spills on the edge !
This is so cool. Did you leave the logo (&quot;acer&quot;) in on purpose? I feel like it may look better without.
I chose to keep it on there just because its such a pain to get off. I was worried that by attempting to remove the logo I may scratch the glossy black finish of the monitor

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