Do you hate walking into your living room or family room and seeing a huge black TV flat screen dominating your view? Do you wish that you could just make it disappear when you're not watching? If so, read on. We will show you how to build a TV lift cabinet that hides your flat screen TV in a nice looking piece of furniture when you're not watching it. When you're ready to watch, hit a button on a universal remote and it will rise up out of the cabinet like magic.
This Instructable uses birch plywood and a lift by Firgelli Automation to implement the design. The TV shown here is a 60" Samsung but could be any modern flat screen. It includes shelving for your components and drawers to store Wii remotes and DVDs/CDs.
The step by step pictures show key parts and there are over 40 minutes of video with tips and tricks as well. The total cost is around $1200... not including your TV.
There is also a set of shelves to go above the lift cabinet listed here: TV Lift Cabinet - Shelves
Step 1: Video of TV Cabinet operation
Step 3: Plywood and Glue
I wanted to start out by showing you that wood glue is very strong. The wood will fail before the glue bond fails. This picture I took shows that you can trust your precious big screen TV to the glue.. ;-)
Step 4: Wood Parts Detailed Plans, Cut List and Cut Drawings
The following Word document: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9NRwEqGVuzmMm1sNkZJdUhRREE/edit?usp=sharing
contains top, front and side views of the TV Lift cabinet. It also contains a list of wood parts that should be cut. Some of the parts are 3/4" plywood. Some are 1/4" plywood and some are trim molding cuts. Click: file-> download to get a copy of this doc.
There is also a plywood cut sheet with recommended cuts from each sheet of plywood to allow maximal efficiency of your plywood panels. The sheets can be pre-ripped in your lumber yard or home center for easier carrying in your car. Of course all measurements should be double checked for your application and may be converted to metric.
The documents are in Word so that you can easily modify them for your needs if your application or installation is different.
When choosing your plywood sheets, be sure that they are not warped or bent. Line each one up and sight it with your eye. Reject the warped pieces.
Cutting large sheets of plywood can be tricky. If you have access to a panel saw with a good plywood blade, you are golden. If not, there are some tricks.
- The first is somewhat dangerous and you need a helper. Set up your table saw outside with the fence and guards removed. Mark your lines on the wood and pass the large sheet of plywood through the table saw blade with you pushing and your helper catching. Go slowly and accurately.
- The second method is to lay some 2 x 6 pieces on a smooth floor. Lay your marked plywood on the floor and slowly cut your lines with a skill saw with a plywood blade installed.
- Please double check ALL the measurements and dry fit your parts before drilling, nailing or gluing.
- You may find it useful to cut parts from the larger plywood sheets as the project progresses. It gives you a better ability to check for errors. The downside is that you have to setup the table saw each time.
Step 5: How to Video for TV Lift Cabinet
This video playlist is over 40 minutes long and will show you some of the details that I think are important to getting this cabinet right. PLEASE be extremely careful with all power tools. Watch your fingers and wear eye protection. Click the link below to watch the video.
When it opens, click "Play All" or watch the individual videos that you're interested in. Click here for the Youtube video playlist.
Step 6: Assembly of the Carcass
You'll need a helper for this first assembly step. Most of the other ones can be done solo. Reference the top view drawing.
Before you start assembling the carcass, make sure that you will have enough room and a plan to get it to it's final location. It is 26" wide which should fit through any doors BUT it is 87" long so it may be tough to get around corners.
- Lay the Bottom piece "G" on a flat work surface. I use an old door on adjustable saw horses. Set it up so the back and right side are hanging over the edge of the work table. You will be shooting nails up into this area.
- Put Glue on the bottom of the back piece "Back" and get your helper to hold it in place.
- Put Glue on the right side of the "Back" where piece "E" will connect to it..
- Put Glue on the bottom of the right side piece "E" and get your helper to hold it in place against the back piece.
- Shoot 3" framer nails to secure the right piece "E" to the "Back" piece. Shoot nails from underneath into the bottom to secure the Back and piece "E" to the bottom. Your helper is done!
- On the Back of the carcass, mark 42.75" from the right edge and draw a vertical nailing line on the back. Drill a few small holes through this line to carry through your vertical nailing line to the inside.
- Put glue on the back and bottom of "C2" and center it on these nailing holes you just drilled. Check with a square that "C2" is 90 degrees square to the back and to the bottom. Nail through the back to secure "C2".
- Put Glue on the front of "C2" and on the bottom of "C1". Center "C1" on the front of "C2" and nail through "C1" into C2".
Step 7: Continue Carcass Construction
We will continue adding the vertical members to the carcass here. Reference the top view drawing.
- Mark the inside back and bottom of the carcass with a line that is 11.5" away from the right edge. Drill a few small holes 3/8" to the left of this line on the inside back. Go to the back of the carcass and connect the holes with a straight edge to make a nailing line..
- Add glue to the top back and bottom of piece "D". Install it with the right most edge on the line you just marked so the inside dimension is exactly 11.5". Go to the back and nail piece "D" in place.
- Go to the left side of the carcass and mark a line on the back that is 25" in from the left back edge. drill holes 3/8" over to the right of this line. Mark this line on the back. Mark another line 25 3/4" over from the left side bottom edge.
- Put glue on the bottom and back of piece "B" and nail in from the back on the 25" line.
- As shown in the drawing, draw a line 18.5" parallel to the back.
- Put glue on the back and bottom of the "H" piece. As viewed from the left side of the carcass, it should attach to the right side of "B" and be on the right side of the 18.5" line you drew. Nail from "B" into "H".
- Put glue on the back and bottom of "A3". Attach "A3" as shown in the diagram. Nail from the left side of "A3" into "H".
- Put glue on the back and bottom of "A4". Attach "A4" as shown in the diagram 10 7/8" from "A3". Nail from the middle of "H" into "A4".
- Add top panel support piece "FS". It goes between piece "B" and "D" as shown in the drawings.. Apply glue to both ends of "FS". Carefully nail into place from each end. Use clamps or a helper to get this right.
Step 8: Drill Holes for Firgelli Lift
After the glue on the Carcass dries, we can drill the holes for the lift and the Vent holes. The glue should take a few hours to be rock solid.
- Remove the top assembly from the Firgelli lift to make it a little lighter.
- Position the Firgelli lift in the center of "C1". Mark the 4 holes with a pencil. Remove the Lift.
- Drill 4 holes as straight and accurately as you can.
- Drill multiple vent holes with a 1" bit as shown in the pictures below. These holes allow component heat to leave the left side component cabinet AND allow your wires and cables to pass around the cabinet.
- Secure the lift to "C1" with nut's and bolts. I used a carriage bolt, nut, 2 smooth washers and 2 lock washers on each hole.
- Plug in your lift and test it's operation with the remote and manual switch.
Step 9: Add Door Carcass Bottoms
In this step, we will add the door carcass bottoms. In my application, I routed HVAC air out the left door bottom but I will assume that you don't have to do this.
- Make 2 scrap piece templates that are 2 1/2" wide by about 20" long. These will be used to support the door bottoms while you glue and nail them. The idea is that the tops of these shelves will be at the top of "BB1" and "BB3" as shown in the drawing front and side views.
- Insert the two template pieces on the left door cavity. One next to the back and one next to piece "H"
- Put glue on the sides of piece "A6". Insert and nail in from the sides. Remove templates.
- Insert the two template pieces on the right door cavity. One next to the right side piece "E" and one next to piece "D"
- Put glue on the sides of piece "E1". Insert and nail in from the sides.
Step 10: Cut holes for Speaker Wires and AC outlets
- Carefully measure where your AC outlet is on the wall. Cut a rectangle hole in the back of the cabinet with a skill saw to allow plug access to the AC outlet. If you don't have a wall outlet, you will need to bring power up through the bottom.
- Cut a hole in the bottom to bring your speaker wires up from the floor. If your speakers will go up through the top of the cabinet, you can drill holes in the top for that later.
Step 11: Cut Top Flap Door Hole and Install Flap Door with Hinge
We are ready to cut the top flap door in the top and install the piano hinges. Dry fit this and convince yourself that everything lines up and is flat here by laying the top on the carcass. Note how wide your TV is and where it will hit the bottom of the top when mounted on the lift. The measurements here are for my 60" Samsung TV which is 60" wide and 1.5" thick.
- Transfer the rectangle to the top panel "F" as shown in the Top Panel View drawing. Drill a hole that is wide enough to insert your skill saw blade in the 4 top panel corners of your marked lines.
- Stick the skill saw blade in the holes and CAREFULLY cut your lines to remove the flap door rectangle. This is scrap wood.
- Get a helper to help you move the carcass of of your work table now. Put it on a floor or another set of saw horses nearby. You will need the flat work surface to get the piano hinge and "FD" on the top.
- Make sure that the Flap Door "FD" piece you cut will fit nicely in the top hole with at least 1/8" clearance on each side.
- Line up the Piano Hinge with the back of the "FD" top and you will see that the "FD" top needs to be trimmed to cut a slot as shown in the Top Panel View drawing. Mark this slot and carefully use your skill saw to cut this. Use 60 grit sandpaper to make sure everything lines up nicely and has clearance.
- Install the edge tape to all 4 inside areas on the top "F". Install the edge tape on the 4 sides of the flap door "FD". Do not put it in the hinge slot. Make sure there is still good clearance in the hole.
- See the videos for edge tape installation tips. When the iron is hot, carefully apply the edge tape as you did on your test pieces. Cut the edges carefully with a sharp box cutter. Using 100 grit paper ONLY, remove the excess edge tape as you did in your test pieces.
- Install the hinge screws per the video tips. The idea is to align the bottom of the hinge to be flush with your work table top. Mark the holes and install the hinge to the flap door first. Next take the Flap door with dangling hinge and attach this to the Top.
- Make sure it lifts up and down smoothly. Carefully bring it over to your carcass and lay it on top. Verify that it is where you want it to be and swings up and down nicely.
- Put in small pieces of scrap as stop block on the right side of the carcass where needed to support the door when it descends. glue and clamp these stops.
-DO NOT attach the top yet. We will do this with L brackets in the Final Assembly.
Step 12: Build Door Panels and Front Panel Assembly
Building the doors and front panel can be a very rewarding part of this project. In my opinion, they quickly become beautiful pieces for relatively low effort. Definitely watch the video clips on the door and panel sections. The rails are the top and bottom pieces. The stiles are the left and right vertical members. The rails and stiles all need to have groves cut in them on the table saw. The center panels edges will fit in the grooves.
- Set the table saw blade height for just over 1/4". Set the fence to be 1/8" from the blade. Make two passes through at this setting to guarantee that the slot is clear of material.
- Since the 1/4" plywood panels are 3/16" thick, you need to move the fence 1/16" to the right. Make 2 passes through again. Test this process out a few times on some scrap to get your technique down.
- Dry fit your door together with the 2 rails, 2 stiles and the panel in the center. Note that the front right door is shown in the front view drawing. The front right door has different size stiles for the right and left. The left side door is shown in the Side view drawing. Bring your dry fit door over to the carcass and convince yourself that it will work. You should see a 3/8" overlap on the 3/4" wood edge where the hinge side will be. Note that on the right front door, the left edge of the door ends to the left of the "D" part as shown in the drawings.
- Slip in your panel and with each door, put some glue on the top and bottom of the stiles. The panel can float on the inside. Put a clamp on each side of the rails and press the glue gently until you see some squeeze out. Let is dry for a few hours.
- Build the front panel assembly up in the same manner as the doors. Carefully verify that the test fit will fit in place with the right side door leaving about an 1/8" gap on the right side of the front panel assembly. The left side of the front panel assembly should be centered on the 3/4" wide edge of piece "A3". You will need long clamps for this part. I have long clamps that are made with a piece of 8' iron pipe with these inexpensive clamp attachments
Home depot has them as well or at harbor freight for $9
Step 13: Install Door Hinges
The 1/2 overlay hinges are forgiving for left/right alignment. The can be adjusted if you are slightly off in your measurements. Definitely use 2 pieces of scrap plywood to test your hinges before drilling into the real parts.
- Install one hinge centered 4" away from the top. Install the other hinge 4" away from the bottom. Mark a line in each 4" position on the doors. If your hinge has a template then use that, otherwise, hold your hinge and carefully trace the outline of the bottom of the hinge on the door. Referencing the picture below, the hinge should be about 1/4" away from the door edge.
- On a drill press, carefully hold the door or build up a platform near the drill press to hold the door stable on the drill press. Using a Forstner drill bit, drill into the outline you made. Test the hinge to see if it will fit in your hole. You may need to use a smaller Forstner bit to remove additional material. You should set the stop on the drill press so you dont drill too far into the door panel. When you have removed enough material and the hinge fits in the hole, mark, drill and screw it in.
- Referencing the picture and the test piece you made, mark the cabinet side of the hinge. You can remove the cabinet side of the hing plate with the quick release. Install both the plates and then click the doors into place.
Step 14: Apply Edge Tape to the Doors and Front Panel Assembly
Here's where we apply the edge tape to the doors and front panel assembly. Since you already have some experience at this, it should go quickly.
- Iron on the edge tape to both door edges and the panel edge.
- Remove excess tape by laying flat and sanding with the 100 grit sand paper. DO NOT use 60 grit sand paper. It will scratch the doors/panels.
- While you are edge taping, apply edge tape to the carcass at all points that will be exposed in the final cabinet. This should be obvious at this point. Sand edges with the sander or a sanding block with 100 grit sand paper.
Step 15: Attach Interior Door and Front Panel Assembly Molding
This is the step that allows the beauty to really come out in the doors and panel.
- Watch the video clip on the molding installation. Look at the picture below.
- Take the T5 molding pieces. Practice with a few small pieces on your compound miter saw cutting the inside angles. You should make accurate and fine cuts to "walk in" on your measurement. All 4 pieces in each panel should dry fit tightly together.
- Apply a little glue at the mitered joints and a dab in the center of each piece and let it dry.
- Do this for each panel. You will end up with 9 panels x 4 sides = 36 pieces as you work.
- Referencing the picture, drill and attach the door pulls to the doors.
Step 16: Install the Front Panel Assembly
We need to install the Front Panel Assembly so it can be easily removed from the cabinet so you can get to the inside for service, get access to cables and show off your cabinet to your drooling buddies.. ;-) We will use our dowel points to align 2 holes so that a pair of small dowels can hold the bottom.
- Rest the the Front Panel assembly on the carcass piece "BB1". Mark a small vertical line with a straight edge 2 feet in from each edge of the assembly.
- Practice with the dowel points
first on a test piece. Drill a 1/4" hole in the edge of the Front Panel Assembly along the line you just drew. Repeat at the other location. Insert the 1/4" dowel point into the holes. Put the Front panel assembly into place exactly where you want it. Press down hard and 2 impressions will be made in the top of "BB1".
- Drill 1/4" holes in these 2 impressions. Insert 1/4" dowels into the 2 holes. Fit Front Panel Assembly and ensure that it mounts into "BB1" securely.
- Apply 3 pieces of good quality stick on Velcro onto the top inside of the front Panel Assembly and the "FS" bar.
Step 17: Drawer Glide Installation
I chose to use extra heavy duty drawer glides. You could probably find lighter duty drawer glides that would work for your DVD/CDs. For the components, you should stick with the heavy duty stuff. Because the hinge and open door will be in the way when the drawers pull out, we need to pad out the glides on that side. We do this with 3/4" wood cut to the width of the glides.
Two guide support pieces are needed on the right side because I have a piece of wall molding on the right side of my application that I needed to clear. You may have a different application and can modify your glides mounts.
4 RGS1 Right guide support 20 ½ x 1 ½
4 RGS2 Right guide support 24 ¼ x 1 ½
1 LGS Left guide support 24 x 1 ½
- Starting on the left side component opening, cut 2 template blocks at the height that you want the bottom of your component shelf to be, as shown in the picture below. Starting on the left side, rest the "LGS" piece on the template blocks and mark a line along the top of the "LGS" piece to hold your position. With a raw glide, do the same on the right of the component opening to mark a line at the top of the glide. The 2 glide heights should be at the same height now with respect to the component opening bottom.
- On the drill press or workbench, drill counter sunk holes through the "LGS" piece to attach to the left side component space. Attach the drawer guide to the "LGS". Remove the drawer glide. Attach the "LGS" to the inside left cabinet below your line. Attach drawer glide again.
- Attach the drawer glide to the inside right edge below your line. Slide in inside parts of both drawer glides. Measure inside width to check that drawer bottom measurement is good.
- For the right door drawers, the right side will use the "RGS1" and "RGS2" pieces. Set up those two pieces as shown in the top drawing. Mark the pieces where they meet so they will line up together. The idea is that the 2 pieces are needed to get around the "HSB" piece. We will build up an assembly with the "RGS1" and "RGS2" pieces and the drawer glide. We will attach the assembly tot he cabinet from the right most OUTSIDE cabinet. This makes it easier to get the piece on without having to work in the narrow 11" space...
- On the drill press or workbench:
a) drill holes to attach the drawer glide to "RGS2".
b) remove drawer glide from "RGS2" and drill counter sunk holes through the "RGS2" piece to attach to the "RGS1" piece.
- repeat a) through b) for the other 3 pieces.
- Make 2 template piece for each height as shown in the picture below. With the right drawer glide assembly all together, rest each one on top of the template pieces at the exact height you want. Mark a line inside the cabinet. Drill a few small holes through the right cabinet wall below the lines. Go to the OUTSIDE right cabinet and drill countersunk holes.
- Rest drawer glide assembly on the template guides. Secure them with screws from the OUTSIDE.
- repeat for all 3 remaining drawer glide assemblies.
- When this looks good, remove all 4 drawer glide assemblies.
- Set up the templates on the left side and mark the top of the glides. Attach the drawer glide to the inside right edge below your line.
- reattach right drawer glide assemblies. Slide in inside parts of both drawer glides to all 8 glides. Measure inside width to check that drawer measurements are good.
Step 18: Drawer Construction
- Start by making sure that the "A5" and each "D1" piece fits between the drawer glides. Mount the pieces in the drawer glides with screws and verify they glide well.
- Attach the drawer pull to the front piece "D4".
- Build up the drawers as shown in the picture below with pieces "D2, D3 and D4". Glue and nail.
- Apply glue to the bottom of the drawer sides and attach to the "D1" pieces. Make sure to offset the drawer side assembly back from the drawers bottoms "D1" to allow clearance of the drawer pull. If you don't do this, the drawer pull will interfere with the door closing.
- Apply edge tape to all exposed edges and sand.
Step 19: Add Dummy Fillers
Optional step: I added dummy filler plates of 1/4" wood in 2 places. They can be cut quickly on the band-saw.
- Add a filler plate to the left of "D' so you cant see the cabinet insides when you open the right side door. Glue in lace and add some painters tape to hold while it dries. See picture below.
- Add a filler plate at the roof of the component cavity so you cant see the component cavity inside when the flap lid is open. Screw from underneath. See picture below.
Step 20: Remove all Pieces and Setup to Sand and Paint
Our goal here is to remove all the pieces from the cabinet now to do final spackling, sanding and painting.
- Remove all pieces from the cabinet that are not glued.
- Lay them out on surfaces or tables.
- Spackle all nail holes, gouges and scratches with a putty knife. Wait for it to dry.
- Sand everything with 100 grit paper that feels rough to your hand. Use a combination of random orbital sander, sanding block and sand paper in your hand.
- Wipe off all sanding sawdust. Clean your shop area to prepare for painting.
Step 21: Painting
The best way to paint a cabinet like this is with an HVLP sprayer system. They are expensive, require a spray booth and... I dont have one. So, I used a brush, paint and a finish coat of polyurethane to cover this cabinet.
Experiment with multiple coats of paint and urethane to get the finish you want before painting the cabinet.
I used Home Depot, "Decorator White" Behr Premium Plus Ultra which is primer and paint together and is water based. It still takes 3 coats of this paint to cover the wood.
I put a few finish coats of Minwax satin water based poly. The poly keeps things like books and picture frames from sticking to the paint when you put them on it.
- Paint all parts of the cabinet that will be visible. Paint the remaining trim pieces and bottom pieces to be used in the final assembly.
Step 22: Mave To the Final Location and Final Assembly
This Cabinet is heavy. I built mine in my basement and needed a strong friend to help me carry it upstairs (thanks Troy!). I wanted as few things attached as possible while I moved it to reduce weight so I did the final assembly upstairs. I recommend the same for you.
After the paint has dried, you are ready to move it. Before you move it. Make sure you have prepared any wiring or cables that will need to go into the cabinet.
- Move the cabinet carefully. When it is in place, get all your wiring into the cabinet. Mount the doors and place the top on the cabinet.
- Make sure that you dont have more than 1/8 " from the cabinet top edge to your walls. If you do, the caulk may nut hold and you'll need to insert filler pieces.
- Mount the Firgelli lift in the cabinet. Make sure the roller wheels are mounted properly on top. Test the operation of the lift going up and opening the flap door smoothly. Test that the lift goes down nicely and the flap door shuts. Watch carefully and keep your finger near the controls in case you see a potential problem.
- Attach the top to the cabinet carcass with L brackets as shown in the picture below. This will make for easy removal.. just in case. Put the L brackets in any area that the top may try to rise up a little. I used 4 L brackets.
Install the TV per the Firgelli manual:
- Lay the TV down on a flat rug and install the 4 brackets to the TV. Slide in the 2 black "wing" pieces.
- Attach the Lift top housing to these "wing" pieces.
- Carefully, Add the TV with lift top to the top of the lift secure it with the 4 bolts.
- Connect all your cables to the Power, cable box, receiver, IR sensors etc.
- Test that your TV lift works!!
Step 23: Add the Final Trim Pieces
Now it's time to add the following pieces:
1 BB2 Bottom Block 86 ¾ x 2 ¾
1 BB4 Bottom Block 26 ½ x 2 ¾
1 T1 Big Molding 86
1 T2 Big Molding 26 1/4
1 T3 Big Molding 86 1/2
1 T4 Big Molding 26 3/4
- The lengths of these pieces should be long. You will need to measure, trim and install them.
- Install "BB2" and "BB4" per the drawings. Make sure to cut mitered joints where they meet.
- Install "T2" and "T1" moldings on the top per the drawings. Make sure to cut mitered joints where they meet.
- Install "T3" and "T4" moldings on the bottom per the drawings. Make sure to cut mitered joints where they meet.
- spackle, sand with 220 grit paper and touch-up paint all mitered joints and holes.
Step 24: Final Thoughts
This is a big project but it is very rewarding.
There is also a set of shelves to go above the lift cabinet listed here: TV Lift Cabinet - Shelves
I hope you enjoyed building this project!