Introduction: Entertainment Center From 1954 TV Cabinet

About: My hobbies are woodworking, electronics, programming, 3D printing and making sawdust with my CNC Router.

Several years ago I obtained this 1954 Stromberg-Carlson TV Cabinet. In 1954 the retail price for this TV was $530 which is $4,980 in 2019 dollars. It's constructed of mahogany veneer plywood, and built in the Hepplewhite style. The television chassis was missing when I obtained the cabinet, which was in excellent shape and deserved to be re-purposed. Therefore, I designed and constructed an insert to replace the television chassis with shelves for my amplifier, DVD and a pull out shelf for a turn table.

Step 1: Before

The cabinet had been used temporarily (several years) to house my amplifier, DVD and cable box which would eventually end up in the finished version. The only parts remaining from the original TV was the speaker located behind the fabric grill at the bottom. The only modifications to the existing cabinet were the removal of braces located at the top corners, plus three rear panel mounting brackets that required trimming. The corner braces were carefully removed with a hand saw and chisel, and the mounting brackets were removed and trimmed with the table saw.

Step 2: Designing the Insert

The first thing I did was to construct a shell of the cabinet in SketchUp to the dimensions of the cabinet interior. With this accomplished, I proceeded to create an insert to fit this space. The interior dimensions of the insert needed to match the interior dimensions of the opening, and exterior dimension of the insert needed to match the interior dimensions of hole in the rear created by the rear panel mounting brackets.

The lowest shelf of the insert extended an additional 25mm toward the front in order to allow for this shelf to be scribed to fit the profile of the cabinet. A photo above shows the scribed fit that I am referring to.

An additional shelf trimmed with 62.5mm sides for support and to mount a pair of drawer slides is not shown. The shelf is 400mm deep and the inside width of the shelf is 489mm. The turntable will fit on this shelf.

Step 3: Parts & Materials

  • 2 ea - Vintage Brass Sleek Craftsman Design Disk Stampings Findings - from rsmjewels on ebay
  • 1 ea - Antique Radio Speaker Grille Cloth, Diamond (Rev),18 x 24 - from richmonddesignsinc on ebay
  • 2 ea - 4-Outlet Mountable Surge Protector Power Strip with USB Charger (4A/20W, Black)
  • 1 pair of 14" Rok Hardware Soft Close Drawer Slides, Full Extension, Ball Bearing - Amazon
  • 18mm Oak Veneer Plywood for Insert
  • Spalted Pecan for Volume & Channel Knobs
  • Katalox for Horizontal + Brightness Knobs
  • ZAR Wood Stain - 118 Dark Mahogany
  • General Finishes - ARM-R-SEAL - Semi-Gloss
  • PLA Grey 1.75mm Filament for Knob Mounts

Step 4: Construction of Insert

These are photos of the finished insert after it has been fitted to the cabinet. The sides and shelves were cut to size on my table saw. The ventilation holes on the shelves and dados on the sides were cut with my the CNC. All the pieces were assembled and fit to the cabinet. The rear mounting brackets were trimmed and fastened to the cabinet.

After fitting the insert, the interior was stained and finished. Unfortunately for my wife, my hands were to big to fit in between the two shelves. I was extremely grateful for her wonderful help and companionship.

Step 5: Construction of Grill Framework

The original speaker grill can be seen in a photo of the previous step. It had only one large hole in the center of a 1/2" piece of plywood, which was insufficient for the a grill in front of Super Woofer. Therefore, I constructed a frame to the dimensions above based on the outside dimensions of the original grill. This framework was constructed of 1/2" pine, and lap joints were used for each of the four outside corners. The holes for the mounting screws were located and drilled by using the original grill as the guide. Next, the speaker grill cloth was stapled and stretched over the frame. Finally, the grill was screwed into its original location.

Step 6: Designing the Knobs and Mounts

Since I didn't have the original knobs, and was unable to find any online I choose to design and build knobs similar to period TV knobs. I used Fusion 360 to design the shape of the knobs, and Cut3D to cut out my design. The mounts were also designed with Fusion 360, and printed on my Prusa MK3 with Grey PLA 1.75mm filament.

Step 7: Construction the Knobs and Mounts

The Volume and Channel Knobs were constructed with thirteen glued segments of spalted pecan, and cut on the CNC. Why 13, because this TV was capable of receiving only thirteen VHF channels. The blanks had the 19mm hole centered and drilled with a drill press prior to mounting and cutting it on the CNC. A 19mm dowel and two-sided tape was used to mount it on the CNC. Slots were cut in the knob for vertical tabs made of mahogany. A brass stamped disk was mounted in the lathe, and polished with fine sandpaper and scotch bright to a shinny finish. The knob was sanded by hand, and the disk and mahogany tabs were glued in place.

The Horizontal Hold & Brightness Knob was constructed from one piece of Katalox. Blanks were mounted in a machine vise on the CNC table and cut. These smaller knobs were carefully mounted in spigot jaws on the lathe and a hole was drilled for the mounting dowel.

All of the knobs were sanded and finished with a couple of coats of ARM-R-SEAL. After drying, the knobs were mounted to Knob Mounts which had been screwed to the inside of the cabinet. There is no glue for the dowels of knobs.

Step 8: After

It has been a joy to restore this empty cabinet to a beautiful and useful piece of furniture. Thanks to my wonderful wife for her help.

It should be noted that this is the second piece of furniture made from a electronics cabinet. I also have a 1947 Silvertone Model 101.831-A Console Radio cabinet, my mother had it re-purposed many years ago to store china and silver.

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