Introduction: Desk to TV Hutch/Home Theater Conversion

The problem:
I have a limited amount of space in my room, but since I spend a majority of my time in here I feel the need to cram as much a possible into it. Among these things is a 47 inch flat screen that dominates the 8.5X12 foot space I have to work with. The TV had to be viewable from as much of the room as possible, be at eye level, and be near my computer. Easy right? Just slap it on top of the desk...

Well, my desk had a hutch that was just slightly too narrow and way too short to accommodate the TV so this project was born.
If you have a desktop hutch that is too small to accommodate your  TV or you are looking to build a hutch from scratch, look no further!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Materials and tools
First off you need a desk to start with, next you'll need:

1.) Tape Measure
2.) Level
3.) Power drill
4.) Appropriate size drill bit(s) - This will depend on the size of wood screws you need. **Rule of thumb, if you can see both the thread and just barely make out the shaft of the screw when the drill bit is placed on top of it, you are golden.**
5.) Wood screws - Ideally you want to use a wood screw that is long enough to penetrate the wood you are building with and at least 2/3rds past it into the wood you are joining it to. I went with 2X12 lumber so I chose 2.5 inch screws X 8, and 1.5 inch screws X 4
6.) Lumber- This is really a matter of preference, but my choice was to go with big beefy 2X12's since I wanted an overhang to help reduce glare from my ceiling light.
7.) Corner braces X 4

Optional materials and tools:
1.) Table saw - If you are building a hutch from scratch you can get around using this tool by getting the salesman at home depot to cut your lumber to length. (Make sure that the salesman zeros out the angle of the blade, and mark the wood AFTER EACH CUT YOURSELF with your own tape measure in order to make sure it is cut to the dimensions you need).  For optional overhead storage modify an existing hutch, consider a stop by your local walmart/target/similar store and pick up some cheap shelves/drawers or BUILD YOUR OWN!
2.) Paint
3.) Fabric and cord trim

Lets get started!

Step 2: Measure Out the Dimensions Carefully!

If you bungle this step you'll waste time, money, and effort so get it right before moving on.

You'll want to measure out the width of your desk surface, if your TV width is greater than this measurement, you will have to do a lot more work and engineering to get the structure to support its own weight. Remember that its sitting on top of your expensive TV. Of course I take no responsibility for any damages to you or your property should anything fail so with that disclaimer out of the way, it is possible to make it work but that would require a whole new tutorial. For the purposes of this instuctable I will assume that your TV fits horizontally on the desktop with about an inch to spare on either side.

This horizontal measurement is going to be used for the top surface of your hutch, BUT IT IS NOT COMPLETE.
In order to complete the measurement you need to add on the additional width of the lumber you are going to use

My desktop is 43 and 5/8 inches wide, since I am using lumber that is 1.5 inches wide (each) for the vertical supports, I need to add 3 inches to my measurement for the top surface to go from the outside edge of one vertical support to the other. as you can see, the exact measurement of the top surface is 46 and 5/8 inches

Standard Lumber is 1.5 inches thick and shorter than their stated width, for instance a 2X4 is 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches and a 2X12 is actually 1.5 inches by 11.25, take this into account before purchasing lumber.  

You will need one of these cut.

Step 3: Don't Forget to Add Height!

Take your measurement for the height of the TV WITH BASE INSTALLED if you are using one, or alternatively the height you will be mounting the TV with optional vertical boards attached to the back of the hutch.

***REMEMBER*** TVs can overheat so you need to include at least an additional two inches of height to provide adequate heat dissipation, for more info consult your TV manual for specific ventilation needs of your set.

My TV with the stand was 27 and 3/8 inches so I rounded my vertical measurement to 29.5"  and added an additional 1 and 1/4 since that was the thickness of my desktop. This is for mounting to the side of the desktop, (see photos 2 and 3 for clarification).

You will need two of these cut.

Step 4: Load Distribution

You will also need two sections of ply wood to mate the vertical supports to your desktop, Since I cut down my preexisting hutch to build this, I re-purposed the scrap to help support the vertical load.

Just make sure your TV will still fit with them in place, this is why the TV should have about 1 inch clearance on either side.

***The horizontal cuts on these supports need to be ABSOLUTELY accurate 0 degree cuts since they will be the only thing sitting on your desk*** (See picture for clarification)

The dimensions of my boards were 8X5 and 0.5 thick, but this was arbitrary since they were pre-cut scrap wood , just remember they will help to distribute the vertical load so make sure they are sturdy pieces of wood and you are pre-drilling to avoid splitting the wood.

Step 5: Head to the Local Home Improvement Mega Store.

Okay it's almost time to pick up your supplies, have you remembered to:
Add additional width to your horizontal measurement?
Add additional height to your vertical measurement?
Bring your shopping list?
Turn off the stove and close the garage door?

All set? lets get shopping, your total bill for this should at or under $30 but prices will vary according to type and amount of lumber you are purchasing.  BE PICKY about the quality of boards you are buying, make sure they are straight, if you are planning to paint them, try to avoid large blemishes in the wood, or have them cut it off if there is enough to spare. In my case I was planning to cover it with fabric so it wasn't a big issue for me.

You will be buying:
Horizontal board X1
Vertical boards X 2
Ask the kind Home Depot worker if he has any scrap plywood that he can cut into two equal pieces for your vertical load distributing supports X2
Wood Screws X plenty since you'll probably strip a few
Corner braces X 4 (one pack) , I had some cheapo cabinet ones in the garage but get sturdy ones if you can.

Optionally you might want to buy paint and painting supplies.

Step 6: Vertical Supports

Carefully measure out at least 2 points on the bottom of the first vertical support this measurement will vary upon the thickness of your desktop, my desktop was 1 and 1/4 inches thick, so I measured three points from the bottom to 1 1/4 inch up and played connect the dots with a straight edge.

Next I clamped (or really carefully place knee on) the weight distributing support once it is perfectly lined up with the guide line you just drew and drill a pilot hole for each screw, then drive the screw, these were the 1.5 inch wood screws.

***I somehow managed to drive the first one on an angle so I started a new pilot hole and placed the two screws as seen above***

Repeat this step for the other vertical support.

Step 7: Put a Lid on It!

Find a level spot to do this next step.

Place the horizontal beam across the two vertical supports, align everything, and use your level to make sure that it is sitting true.
*** it was at this stage that I realized that the guy at home depot cut all my lumber at an angle so I had to cut my horizontal beam down and sandwich it between the two vertical posts... 10X the effort to get it right*** So hopefully I have spared you from my predicament.

Make sure that the load distributing supports are facing inward like the picture above.
Now drill your pilot holes from the top down into the vertical posts and place two screws per vertical support approx. 1 inch in from the edge to avoid splitting the wood, and drive in your longer wood screws, ( I used 2.5 inch screws).

Step 8: Brace for Impact.

Place your corner braces, mark the holes and pre-drill before attempting to screw them in, you may have to resort to driving these screws by hand.

Repeat for the other side.

Step 9: I See a Plain Hutch and I Want to Paint It Black.

At this point if you are going to paint or otherwise dress up your hutch you should do it now.

If painting, don't forget to keep your supplies handy to paint the remaining 4 screws once you have finished mounting it to the desk if it matters to you.

If you had a pre-existing hutch, score out the lines of the underside of the shelf with a sharp knife or mark it with a pencil, do the same for the back if it extends lower than the bottom of the shelf. Disassemble it and make the cuts using a table saw. see picture three above to get an idea of what I mean.

Step 10: Mount-it

So if all your planning and measuring have gone to plan you can simply place the frame on your desk and slide it back to the desired location. Once in place make sure it is fully seated against the sides of the desktop on both sides, make sure it is level and drill the pilot holes for your final screws, 2 on each side should do it since they are mainly there to keep the sides from popping off the support blocks. 

Step 11: Enjoy.

Now it's time to start using all the new vertical real estate you have created, I hope you have enjoyed my instructable and have walked away with some new ideas.


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