Introduction: How to Make a Modern TV Console With a Motorized Lift
In this project, I’m showing how I made this modern tv console with a motorized lift in it. You actually can’t even see the tv when it is in the down position. It seems like magic as it comes out of the secret compartment behind. Watch the video and follow along with the steps below:
Step 1: Background
The good folks at tvliftcabinet.com wanted me to make a project to use their lift in. I’ve never worked with something like this, so I accepted since I thought it would make for a cool project and challenge. They sent me the lift that fit my tv and I went to designing. I designed this piece from scratch and I really like how it turned out.
Step 2: Tools & Materials
TV Lift Mechanism: https://amzn.to/2VVkRIS
Flush Trim Saw: https://amzn.to/3d9UGUU
Rubber Mallet: https://amzn.to/3fc4Y8y
Furniture Feet Mounting Kit: https://amzn.to/35rnC7S
Felt Pads: https://amzn.to/2KYytg9
Cordless Brad Nailer: https://amzn.to/2WiaRsq
Miter saw: https://amzn.to/2uC092T
Domino Mortiser: https://amzn.to/3aXw1Bt
5x30mm Domino Tenons: https://amzn.to/3c3vsaE
Angle grinder - https://amzn.to/2QDsDlp
Another Angle Grinder: https://amzn.to/3auYfTX
Drill & driver: http://amzn.to/2C0JDfa
Random orbit sander - http://amzn.to/2GPjaUo
Quick Release Clamps: https://amzn.to/2yyFnpq
Kraft Paper: https://amzn.to/3fbLOzD
Tripod I Love: https://amzn.to/2wT3vmk
iPhone Tripod Holder: https://amzn.to/3eyXkFf
Camera: https://amzn.to/2wUxv1b (I have older model of this)
Step 3: Break Down Materials
I started out this project with a ton of breaking down materials and just milling up things. There were a lot of sheet goods to break down and they were full sheets of plywood, so I didn’t really want to do those on the tablesaw. Well, some of them could not even be done on the tablesaw, they were larger than the largest my fence would go.
I started out using my circular saw and a straight edge and I was getting OK results with this. I had made with a door board so I would use it on the really long pieces, but anytime you’re cutting full sheets of plywood and need a really tight accuracy, this may not be the best way.
Once I had some of the pieces in a more manageable size, I took them to the table saw to get the precise dimensions.
There were a few pieces that I decided to put together and use a flush trim bit to make sure they were exactly the same so that each side of the cabinet would be the same.
Up till this point, I’ve been ripping down a bunch of maple plywood that I got from a local hardwood dealer and that is going to make up the cabinet or the carcass of this TV console. I’m finding that it definitely pays to find nice hardwood. This stuff was cabinet grade and it had some really nice plys as well as veneer on BOTH faces.
I had to make a few cross cuts for the smaller pieces, so I just did that at the miter saw.
Step 4: Preparing the Top
Next, I’m moving on to making the top. I grabbed some maple and begin to rip out the pieces that I needed from some rough stock. My tablesaw is a little bit under powered, so I have to often raise the blade halfway to Rippee’s when it’s cut and thick hardwood make a cut then raise it all the Way and then finish the cut. This keeps the peace from binding and I end up with a better cut overall.
After I get all my pieces cut and leave them out in the orientation that I thought they would look best and I began to dimension them down to the final thickness I needed them to be.
After squaring up one of the edges at the jointer, I took them back over to my tablesaw and got the other edge to be parallel with that edge.
Next, I grabbed my domino mortiser and just went to town on this top. I’m using this tool to help me align the top pieces and it did a great job for that. It plunges into the wood creating a mortise. You just do this on both pieces and then there are some loose tenons that fit into those slots.
Then, it was time to glue the pieces together. Having used the Domino, everything went together really smoothly.
Step 5: Creating Modern Legs on the Lathe
Next, I turned my attention to the lathe. (see what I did there? Turn?) I’m not gonna show the full details of how I made these tapered spindle legs for this piece of furniture. I’m going to have a future video coming out that tells in more detail how I created them and made them all equal, so be sure to watch for that. I drilled out the ends of the legs and glued in some threaded rod to with some epoxy. It’s important to drill these holes as straight as possible so you will not have issues when attaching them to the cabinet later.
Step 6: The Main Cabinet
Moving on, it was time to add some dominoes in the main carcass. I did this and then I started to assemble the main cabinet. It’s always a good idea to do a dry assembly of things you’re putting together. That way, you can discover if everything is going to work out like you wanted, and you can still adjust without glue everywhere, steadily drying.
Then, my track saw arrived. Things started to get a little more accurate at this point. You can definitely get by with doing this project with just a circular saw on a straight edge, but having this track saw really helped. It has a very accurate zero clearance fence that has some rubber on the bottom so it kind of grips your work piece and resists sliding around.
I like to use some rigid insulation underneath my track and my material. That way, I’m just cutting into it and not into something else like my workbench. Also, it supports the material and yields a really nice cut.
Step 7: Adding Edge Banding
I wanted to spice up the shelves just a little bit with some contrast, so I grabbed a piece of walnut, ripped down some strips and then glued on this homemade edge banding onto the shelves. Using some painter’s tape is enough to hold until the glue was dry. I made sure one edge was flush with the plywood (on the top side of the shelves) and once the glue was dry on the edge banding, I flush trimmed the sides with a flush trim saw and used my hand plane to flush up the thickness with the plywood.
Step 8: Cutting a Rabbet
Each of my sides ended up being just a little too long for the back piece that I had so while the glue was drying on the shelves, I grabbed the sides of the cabinet and ran a rabbit on the backside of each. I used a chisel to clean up the cut a little bit after it came off of the saw.
Once the glue is dry on the shelves I was able to turn my attention back to them. I used a flush trim saw to flush up the walnut on the ends and then a combination of a flush trim bit in my trim router and my hand plane to bring the walnut exactly to the thickness of the shelves.
Step 9: Final Assembly
Now, it was finally time to assemble this piece of furniture. We started with the large parts of the cabinet, adding glue to the dominos and on the edge of the plywood. It was like a big puzzle…we just had to get all of the pieces in the correct orientation and put them together.
Step 10: Creating a Face Frame
I wanted to add a face frame to this cabinet to hide all of the plywood edges, so I decided to go with maple. I found some rough maple in my lumber storage and started ripping strips of it on the table saw. Then, I cross-cut the pieces to final length at the miter saw. After that, I grabbed the Domino again and added some mortises to the pieces of the face frame so I could create one single frame that would later attach to the front of the cabinet. And after it was dry, I added some more Domino mortises to the single-piece face frame so it could be glued to the cabinet.
Step 11: Adding More Decoration and Detail
I realized at this point that the cabinet would be a little too short. So, rather than scrapping the whole thing, I found some more walnut and added a little strip to the top of the cabinet. This would add the height I needed and would tie in nicely to the edge banding on the shelves. I just secured it with some glue and brad nails since I need to move on to the next step pretty quickly.
I came back immediately with a flush trim saw and trimmed off the excess walnut.
Step 12: Adding the Back of the Cabinet
For the back of the cabinet, I didn’t want to glue it in place. That way, if I ever needed to access the lift mechanism, I could get to it pretty easily. I just used some screws to secure this piece of plywood, and I pre-drilled the holes since they were so close to the edge. I didn’t want them to split out.
Step 13: The Top
It was time to turn my attention back to the top of the piece. If you remember, I made this out of solid maple. I had not really done any sanding on it up to this point, so I started with my card scraper to get rid of some of the glue lines and just make everything feel good.
I also cut the top to its final length and width using my track saw. This made quick work of this action. Also with the track saw, I added a large bevel to the underside of the front edge. To accomplish this, I used my combination square to offset the edge of the track saw about 1/4” off of the edge of my work piece. Then, I set the track saw to cut a 45 degree bevel. Since I had the track off of the edge of the work piece, it created what looked like a large chamfer on the underside of the top. I really liked using this method and the look it yielded and I’ll definitely be using it again in the future.
Step 14: Cutting the Beautiful Top Into Two Pieces?
This was a nerve-racking part, but after I got all of the bevels done on the outside of the top, I took my track saw and split the piece into two. This will allow the front piece to be secured to the cabinet and the back piece to be secured to a hinge that will allow the lift mechanism to go up and down.
Step 15: Drill Holes for Wires
I needed to drill a hole in the cabinet where the shelves were. This would be for our Blu-Ray player that we still use. We decided on the middle shelf as the place we wanted it to be, so I grabbed an inch and a half forstner bit and drilled through the cabinet. I did think ahead for this though. I used a really small drill bit to drill all of the way through. Then, I could use the forstner bit from the back, go most of the way through, go around to the front and use the forstner bit in the same hole. That prevents the plywood from blowing out and looking really bad once you punch through the wood.
I needed to do the same thing in the back panel, since that cubby stood in the way of getting to a wall outlet also. That way, the Blu-Ray player plug and the plug for the lift mechanism could both go through the back and plug in.
Step 16: Adding the Hinge
I am using a piano hinge (also called a continuous hinge) for the piece of the top that needs to hinge out of the way in order for the lift mechanism to rise. The one I purchased was a little too long, so I just grabbed my grinder with a cut off wheel and cut it to the proper size.
Once cut to size, I secured the hinge to the back of the cabinet using the included screws. Be sure to be careful when putting these in. They’re tiny little screws and you don’t want to strip them out.
Step 17: All the Sanding
Next up was sanding everything one final time. I did the large surfaces with my random orbit sander and then did everything by hand, up to 220 grit. This took a while, but it is a very important step. Don’t skip it.
Step 18: Applying the Finish
For finish, I’m wiping on a few coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal in a satin sheen. I did a total of 3 coats, sanding lightly in between. Here’s a hint though…I didn’t actually use sandpaper. I used a brown paper sack, you know…kraft paper, to just burnish away all of the rough spots and nips left by the finish. It works great!
The legs got the same treatment with wipe-on finish. I just used a cotton rag for all of this application.
Step 19: Finishing Touches
There were some finishing touches left like adding felt to the bottom of the feet, screwing the feet into the threaded inserts on the bottom of the cabinet, and securing the top using some Z clips.
Step 20: Adding the Lift Mechanism
The lift mechanism was really easy to add. I found the center of the back of the cabinet and made a mark. Then, I screwed a little plate that was included, being sure to center it on that mark. This acts like a cleat for the lift. The little plate has some slots that other pieces of the actual lift slot into making it quite secure.
Then, I just made sure the top of the lift was square to the bottom, and secured it with the 4 included screws.
The control box needs to be secured next to the lift, but kind of out of the way. I put a few more screws in this and then found some cable clips that I could hammer in and tidy up the wiring a bit.
Step 21: Prevent Hinged Piece From Falling Backwards
In order to prevent the hinged piece of the top from falling backward, I engineered and fabricated a couple of little leather straps. Gravity holds the hinged piece just fine, but I wanted to make sure that if one of my kids came up and pulled on that piece, that it had a little resistance.
I cut two strips of thick, tooling leather and secured them to the hinged piece of the top it the up position, as well as to the inside of the cabinet where the tv would store when in the down position. This provided just enough tension that the top would not just go sailing backward. I thought it was a pretty quick, low key improvement that makes a big difference.
Step 22: Conclusion
Overall, this was a very involved build with a lot of different things I had not done previously, but I really like how it turned out! I think it looks really cool how you can’t see the tv at all when it is in the down position. It just looks like a regular bookshelf!
Thanks for following along with this project! Be sure to watch the video if you haven’t already. I’ll see you back here soon for another project!