This AV tower was created for a private movie screening room at the California Institute of Technology. It is designed around the principle that the furniture for the screening room should be relatively tamper-proof, sturdy, and really cool looking.
I hope you enjoy this instructable, and better yet, I hope you are inspired to make even more awesome metal creations. I'd like to note that before building this I had absolutely zero metal-working experience, so you don't need a lot of skill--just determination. If you have worked with basic power tools and you have a metal supply shop near by, you'll be good to go.
Also, note that if you know how to weld, welding is preferable to the corner braces I used; but this obviously requires skills that not everyone has.
Thanks for reading this instructable! If you enjoy reading about this tower as much as I enjoyed making it, please rate this instructable 5 :)
Step 1: What You'll Need
Saw for cutting steel (I used a miter saw with a metal cutting blade)
Jigsaw for creating the steel panels (optional)
Hand Riveter (optional, can use screws, but rivets look cool)
1/2" to 1" steel tubing (I used 3/4"). You'll need 4 5' lengths and 8 2' lengths
1/2" steel angle (basically just an L-shaped right angle. You'll need 2 2ft lengths for each shelf. (I had 4 shelves, so 8 lengths of 2ft)
4ft. x 1" piano hinge
16ga galvanized sheet metal. You'll need 1 2ft by 2ft sheet, one 4ft by 2ft sheet, 2 1ft by 2ft sheets, and a 2.5ft by 2ft sheet cut into smaller pieces depending on how many shelves you want and their relative heights.
36 1"x1/2" corner braces (20 for the structure, 4 for each shelf)
8 "Heavy Duty" 2" corner braces
(pics below of both)
4 2ft by 2ft gable louvers
1 2.5ft by 2ft gable louver
Cost: $170 (note: This includes $55 of shipping. If you can get it locally, you may be able to save a lot)
4 Custom pieces of glass ~2ftx1.75ft (I based the dimensions on these after I had built everything else to get the closest fit possible. I would recommend this)
Cost: $150... again, includes $80 of shipping. Try to get this locally.
A bunch of Screws, washers and Rivets (I used #8 1/2 and 3/4 inch screws with 1/8" rivets)
At least two or three metal cutting blades
Extra drill bits
Foam Tape (for cushioning the glass shelves and metal door), so get about 20-25ft
Lock and Hasp (Optional)
Total Cost: ~$600, although you may be able to do it considerably cheaper depending on resources and time.
Step 2: Part 1: the Frame
The first step in the drawing shows the cut pieces in their correct positions. The red dots show where the right angle brackets need to go.
Next, assemble the pieces of tubing using metal screws, washers and right angle brackets; Drill, attach, screw.
Note that the 2ft tubes are attached BETWEEN the 5ft tubes; this is so the gable louvers fit.
I assembled one 2ft by 5ft rectangle, then the other, and connected the two. The order is not really important.
The second step in the drawing shows a close up of a right angle, along with a picture of one of the brackets in place.
When you've done these two things, you've built the frame! woo! Don't worry about it being stiff or particularly perpendicular at the angles right now, the corner brackets and shelving later will shore things up.
Step 3: Part 2: Leveling the Tower
Step 4: Part 3: Gable Louvers and Kickstops
First, strip the chickenwire-like screening from behind the louvers. You can leave it if you want, but I felt that removing a) made wiring easier, b) made it look better and c) detracted from the possibility of this think being a giant faraday cage for any wireless signals.
Then, attach the first gable louver (2.5 x 2ft) to the lower front of the frame, INSIDE OUT (see 1st picture). Screw it into the steel tubing every few inches on both sides. Now, install the four other louvers two to a side, starting from the top of the tower. I overlapped the louvers where they connected, this is a purely aesthetic choice.
Tip: Drill the the holes in the louvers first, then align the louvers on the frame and mark through the holes with a sharpie. When you drill through the frame you'll probably kick it out of alignment, so this at least ensures your holes go in the right place (meaning your louvers will hold the frame in the right way).
Finally, install the kickstops. Just screw the bottom of the kickstop so it sits flush with the ground, and then rivet the sides of the kickstop into the bottom of the gable louver (you'll have a bit of overlap)
Finally, realign the frame again. This gets the tower ready for the next step.
These two pictures show the AV tower a little further in completion than is appropriate, but I unfortunately don't have pictures of the intermediary steps. These pictures are great examples of the work to be done, though.
Step 5: Part 4: the Shelves
Each shelf is just two 2ft 1/4 inch steel angles bolted to the sides of the frame using the same right angle brackets used for the frame (see picture 1).
The angles should face inward., the glass will sit on them like this |_-----------------_|.
Place foam tape over the angle where the glass will contact the angle.
The second picture shows this step in progress.
Step 6: Part 5: the Top
Step 7: Part 6: the Back Door
Note the kickstop at the back. This is not necessary, I just put it there because I had extra sheet metal.
Step 8: Part 7: Glass Shelves and Faceplates.
The faceplates I had cut to the sizes I needed. Note that the sizes of the faceplates are dependent on your shelf height, which should be dependent on what equipment you're placing in the cabinet. After the faceplate is cut to the right size for your shelf height, use a jigsaw/bandsaw/scroll saw to cut out the appropriate shape for your devices.
You may not want faceplates. We had them to keep people from touching buttons they shouldn't. I think when done well they also increase the overall coolness factor of the tower.
Step 9: Sweet, You're Done!
--What the AV Tower would say if it could talk
Now that you've built your own AV Tower, you should feel a deserved sense of accomplishment. Crack open a cold one and relax. Let the ice-cold bottle comfort your horribly cut up hands (oh, wait, you were smart enough to wear gloves when you handled sheet metal? I sure wasn't...)
I had a ton of fun building this monstrosity, and I can't wait to make something like it again.
Thanks for reading!
P.S., if you're curious... the screening room has a 1080p projector system on a 120" screen, 7.1 surround sound with amazing speakers from axiom audio, a fully configured HTPC, a PS3 for bluray playback, an amazingly talented receiver, and a Logitech Harmony One remote. The projector is now ceiling mounted; it only sat on top of the tower for testing purposes.