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
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
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
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
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 6: Installing the Computer, Power Bar and Wires
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
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.