A great home theater set-up can be quite awesome! To create my perfect setting, I decided to tackle curtains, speaker shelves & lighting. I had two small rear speakers that I wanted to get up on shelves behind the seating, and then I had one center speaker that I wanted to get up on a shelf below the TV. On all of these shelves, I also wanted some nice balanced lighting.
I'm really going for a theater feel in here - so the first thing I did actually was to sew some curtains to block thliving room from the dining room. It's amazing what a change you can make with fabric, adding more curtains made a huge difference from before. Not to mention, you can really get it super dark which is nice when watching movies. I chose red linen blend fabric which I lined with white linen on the other side, for a thick feel which blocks out the light.
For this project, I'm using some Sapele mahogany, which is just beautiful! However, this would also be a great opportunity to use pine and stain it to get this darker affect.
I first worked with the wood, cut it to size, resawed it, planed it - first with the machine, and then I also planed the sides to glue up by hand.
I did two glue ups - first the wood for the mantel which is thick - then the wood for the back shelves which is thinner.
For the back shelves, I love the idea of sconces, because it's not just a shelf you barely see, it's a whole back and shelf. I was debating about how to connect these two pieces together, and I decided to go for a sliding dovetail, because it's really strong, and it's just an elegant joint. For this I'm using the router table with a dovetail bit. I routed a dovetail joint in the middle of the back piece, and then a corresponding joint on the shelf that slides into the back.
And once the two pieces are routed, one slips into the other.
Next I was thinking about the lighting, and I'm using LED strips, so I decided to route a groove to hold the lights in place on the shelf. And I'm just raising the bit up a little, so a shallow cut. So that fits two strips pretty good.
The wood for the sconces was a little lighter in color than the mantel piece. So I did a test, and first just finished it with wax, and then I also tried a stain to see which one I liked the best. And I thought the stain was a little nicer.
Now for the mantel shelf, I'm going for a very simple design. I want the wood to really be in focus, and I don't want anything too decorative. The shelf however is pretty heavy, so after going over a couple of different options, I decided to make a simple back connected to matching support pieces. The back will be screwed into the studds, and the top will be screwed into the back piece. Now the shelf will lean on the brackets automatically because of the weight, so no need to secure the shelf to those pieces.
This wood is pretty dense to drill through - but it's a really simple design, which I really like. When I had that in place I marked out the studs, and then put it up on the wall to see if I liked the concept. I need to cut out a groove in the back for the wires, and I actually decided to cut back the support brackets a little bit, so they don't stick as far out,
So simply cutting a channel in the back for the wires to slip into. And using a chisel to remove the material.
So to illuminate these shelves, I've decided to use colored 12 volt LED strips that are all connected so they can be controlled with one remote. The lights came with a 60 watt AC/DC adapter and remote and I'm attaching the strips to a piece of thin aluminum. It attaches better to that than the wood, plus any heat will be dispersed as well.
For each light section I'm having two strips, so soldering the two strips together, and there are four to solder, since this is a colored strip. To protect the wires I'm just adding some electrical tape. And I'm feeding all the wires into this plug barrier strip which makes it a little easier to connect right. I tried to make that mess a little neater with tape, still looks kind of messy though.
Now, the sconces have lighting above and below and I'm doing the same design as for the big shelf - attaching the LEDs to aluminum strips, and to make it easier I have the wires feeding into this plug barrier system here which makes the system more modular, so I can add more units in the future if I want. And it also allowed me to solder smaller wires directly to the LED strips while going over the longer distances with larger wire.
Now to assemble everything I screwed the shelves to the wall through the studs. I used a lot of wire, remember I need four wires per connection because of the color LEDs, so all in all I actually used about 250 feet of wire, or about 70 meters give or take. First I started with white wire, but I ran out, and had to move to colored ones as well! I'm also running speaker wire, and I'm connecting everything to the molding with white tape, so that hides it all pretty good. This is actually white duct tape, and I ended up using about a roll and a half.
This project came out really cool - make sure to watch the video to get the full effect and see how it turned out!