Introduction: TV Coffee Table

I like watching TV, but I've never especially liked looking at a TV sitting in a room, just taking up space. Wouldn't it be great if we could store it somewhere and bring it out without too much trouble when we wanted to watch? The answer is yes. It would be fantastic.

In the era of flat panel screens getting thinner all the time, our lives are made easy. We can simply stick it in a drawer.

Others have used lifts, or had the whole top of the table tilt up with the TV underneath. The drawer approach allows you to unfold the TV without moving anything off the top of the table. Those coffee table books don't move themselves! It also brings the display a little closer than if it was on the opposite wall of the room, and allows a little bit of distance adjustment. Finally, no special furniture or expensive hardware is required. You might already have what you need in your living room.

Step 1: About the Design

The idea is to lay the TV flat, face down, in a drawer. It is mounted to a plate at the back, and the plate mounted to a hinge, so that when the drawer is opened the TV can pivot upward to vertical. When upright it will be supported by some hardware so that it will not fall down and break. The travel of the drawer has to be enough so that the top of the TV will clear the edge of the table when it's lifted up. Also, the more travel we have in the slide, the longer we can make the mounting plate, so the higher the TV will be when deployed.
Why face down? We could also have the TV face up, and have it tilt up when the drawer is fully open, but that would mean that we couldn't close the drawer when the TV was deployed.

So we have to be careful when we choose our drawer slides, and when we choose the dimension of the drawer. My TV is only 12.75" tall, but I chose slides with 22" of travel to allow it to hinge upwards while still being high enough.

I looked at a lot of other support hardware before deciding on the spring supports: locking cabinet hinges, folding lid supports, sliding lid supports, and gas springs.

I wanted to use gas springs, but after some trial and error, I decided against it. They are the most suitable hardware for that purpose, but I just couldn't make them fit in the space I had allocated. And they are more expensive. Instead I used some chest lid supports that use a wire spring. These come in three levels for different weights, and were easy to install.

About my approach

With the general idea in mind, I mostly figured out the details as I went along. I didn't make a sketch with everything in it, and I didn't know every dimension starting out - most things were measured "in place", and locations transferred directly from the hardware being used. If you want to use a CNC service to produce the mounting plate, you will have to plan ahead more than I did.

Step 2: Find a Suitable TV and Table

I already had a small Samsung HDTV, measuring 21.5" diagonally. It is a couple years old, not even as thin as current models. This method is limited to fairly small and light TVs unless you reworked the whole drawer and hinge assembly to be stronger.

The TV needs to have some mount mechanism - most do. Mine has one of the standard VESA mounts patterns, 4 holes in a 75 mm x 75 mm square that take M4 threaded screws.

For the table, I found a nice IKEA "Hemnes" line rectangular coffee table on craigslist. Measuring 29.5" x 46.5", this table has ample area underneath, enough depth in the skirt (almost 2 inches) to fit the TV and mounting hardware, and is made from solid wood, so it's a good base to attach things to. These are widely available, but any similarly constructed table will also serve. You can also use a table without any skirt - but you may need to recess the TV drawer back more to make it invisible when stowed away.

Unfortunately, the "Lack" line of tables probably won't work - they are built around a honeycomb laminate that while rigid (and cheap!) are probably not great for driving screws into. Or if you managed it, that would be an amazing hack.

Step 3: Collect the Material

Apart from the table, we will need the following material:

  • 2 x 2 x 8' construction grade softwood for the slide mounts and the hinge mount
  • 1 x 2 x 8' clear pine for the drawer sides and back
  • 1/4 thin plywood for the drawer bottom
  • 1/8 aluminum plate for the TV mount

This should all be easy to come by, except for maybe the aluminum plate. I had a piece of scrap that I was able to cut to size with a bandsaw. If you are able to cut it to size, you might find some scrap at a local sheet metal shop, or some online metal vendor who will sell you some stock size. Alternately, you could have a CNC vendor cut the entire thing for you if you can make a electronic drawing.

I didn't know what the final height of the mounting plate was, so I just left it oversized in length until the final stage of assembly.

Step 4: Collect the Hardware

The main components are the drawer slides, a hinge, and lid supports to hold the TV mount in place when open.

Other hardware:

  • 1.5" x 3" x 3" corner brackets
  • #6 x 3/4" round head screws for fastening the corner brackets
  • #6-32 flat head machine screws for attaching the hinge to the mount plate
  • #6-32 round head machine screws for attaching the supports to the mount plate
  • 1" construction screws for attaching the slide mounts to the underside of the table top
  • 1/2" nylon standoffs and M4 screws for VESA mount
  • cable clamps large enough for all power and signal cables you want to run.

Note: this picture shows hinge hardware than I used.

Step 5: Get Your Tools Ready

I cut the aluminum plate to size with a bandsaw. I was able to complete the remainder of this job at home with the following tools:

  • hand saw
  • cordless drill
  • random orbit sander
  • set of drill bits
  • set of driver bits
  • adjustable square
  • framing square
  • file
  • block plane

Step 6: Draw a Sketch and Make a Cutlist

The first step is to measure your TV so you can figure the dimensions of the drawer.

My Samsung UN22D5000NF measures 12 3/4" x 20 9/16", and is about 1.25" thick.

The width of the drawer is based on the width of the TV plus some clearance.

With 1/2" of clearance on each side plus the stock with, the drawer box comes be 21 13/16" wide overall.

The depth of the drawer should be the same length as the drawer slides, not including the drawer front. This comes to 21 5/8" deep.

The drawer front should overlap the 1/2" wide slides, plus a 1/8" on each side.

The slide supports should be 1/4" shorter than the length of the slides, to allow for some adjustment.

My cutlist was:

  • drawer back: 1 x 2 x 22 13/16"
  • 2 pieces sides: 1 x 2 x 21"
  • 2 pieces slide mounts: 2 x 2 x 21 3/8"
  • 1 piece drawer front 24 1/16" wide

Step 7: Cut the Wood to Lengths

If the stock lumber cut edge is not straight, cut it off before cutting your piece.

Mark the lengths, then use the square to scribe a line to follow with the saw. Cut then lengths. Rough cuts don't really matter on anything but the drawer front.

Remove the front table skirt if necessary. Find the center of the length using a tape measure, measuring from each end, then measuring half the width of the drawer front in each direction from that center point.

Cut carefully from bottom to top of the skirt so any splinters at the end will be hidden under the lip of the table. Clean up the edge with a file if necessary.

Step 8: Assemble the Drawer Frame

You can make this any way you are comfortable with - there are many ways to make a drawer. If you have the tools use a pocket hole jig, or use dowels. I am using corner brackets and screws, since it's easy and doesn't really require super precise cuts.

Whatever you do you will probably want the front of the drawer - the section of the skirt - to be left intact. That is, the rest of the frame should be attached from the back with no visible fasteners.

Line up the drawer back and the right side on a flat surface with the bracket in place (I used the underside of the table top), and drive a couple screws in. Double check the alignment, and drive the screws in the other face of the bracket. Repeat for the left side.

Lay the drawer front visible side DOWN. Put the frame sides and back so that the overlap is correct at each end of the drawer front.

Double check that your screws won't punch through the front of the drawer!

Measure the drawer width at the back of the drawer. Adjust the width at the front to match so you know everything is nice a parallel, then install the brackets to attach the front.

If your cuts were a little off, keep in mind it is more important that the drawer be square and parallel than it be a particular size - there is lots of slop in the dimensions I was using, but a trapezoidal drawer won't slide very well.

Finally, cut a slot for the cables on the drawer back. I drilled a 1/2" hole about 1" from the edge of the corner bracket at the back, then cut a slot with the saw.

Step 9: Install the Hinge Mounting Block and Hinge, and Attach the Drawer Bottom

Measure along the inside of the drawer front between the edges of the brackets. I measured 15". Cut 2 x 2 x 15", and use construction screws to attached it flush with the bottom of the drawer front. Double check your screws won't pierce through the front!

Measure the drawer overall side including the drawer front, then subtract 1/8" from the depth. Cut this size from the 1/4" ply. Then, line up the piece you cut on the bottom of the drawer flush with the back and sides, and use construction screws to attach it. It should not come right up to the edge of the front of the drawer.

Step 10: Install the Slides

Place the slide upright on a flat surface next to the slide mount and line up the back end. Install the screws - I used the ones included with the slides.

Repeat for the other side.

Then, offset the top of the slides so that the drawer front will have a little clearance under the table top, and mark the location of the slide. Then disconnect the slide and attach it at the marked holes.

Repeat for the other side, then reconnect the slides and place the entire assembly on the bottom of the table. Align the edges and make sure it is centered, then use long construction screws to attach the slide supports to the bottom of the table top.

Step 11: Drill the Holes for the Hinge, Supports and Monitor

Deburr the holes with a countersink.

TIP: Drill holes for fasteners oversize - it will usually make assembly easier and exact hole locations won't matter so much.
TIP: support the plate with some similar material - or at least a thick piece of wood - when drilling for a cleaner hole.

install the mounting plate on the hinge with a couple screws
attach the supports at the bottom only. I put them 1/2" inside of the outermost screws on the hinge, and about 1/8" above the drawer bottom.

with the plate upright, mark the holes for the top of the supports, then uninstall the plate and drill those holes.

install the plate on the hinge, again with 2 screws.

Attach the supports.

Try it out and make sure everything clears. I was concerned that I would have to cut slots in the drawer bottom to clear the supports in their "stowed" position, but they fit perfectly!

Finally we need to put the VESA mount hole pattern in the plate.
Place the monitor in the drawer, then put a ruler across the centers of the 2 top holes. Mark the plate where it lines up with the ruler. Also, if the plate is longer than it should be - or if it won't even clear the edge of the table at all - mark where it should be cut off now.

Remove the plate one more time, and lay out the 75 mm square hole pattern. I have a combo tape measure with mm markings. First draw a line across the plate where you marked it. Mark the center, then mark 37.5 mm on the line in each direction. Draw another line 75 mm down, and repeat.

Drill the holes. Make your life easier - make them oversize! The screws are 4 mm, I drilled 6 mm!

Alternately, you can print out a template and glue it to the plate for drilling.

Trim the top of the plate. I cut the corners off of mine for good measure. Then sand it and paint it - I used matte black spray paint.

Step 12: Install the Monitor

Plug the cords into the monitor. I had a power cord and one HDMI cable that I threaded through a plastic loop at the lower back of the TV.

Lay the monitor face down in the drawer with the spacers in place and get the holes lined up. Drop in a screw with a washer on each hole and snug them up but don't tighten yet. Bring the TV up and level it within the play of the mounting holes, then tighten the screws.

Fold it down carefully, moving the cables out of the way of the spring supports.

Step 13: Thread the Cables

With the TV stowed face down, mark roughly on the drawer bottom where the monitor supports come down, and the edge of the TV so we can route the cables around and nothing will get pinched.

Deploy the TV and starting at the TV end use cable ties to place the cables from the center out and along the edge, then through the slot and out the back.

Step 14: Watch TV!

Really - watch it!

I hope this instructable gives you some good ideas for cool furniture!

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