Vintage TV Console Revamp

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Introduction: Vintage TV Console Revamp

About: My name is Travis and I like to build cool stuff!

I inherited this 1960's Sears media cabinet console with a TV, radio, and a record player! My grandma was going to throw it out but I just couldn't let it go. It was in rough shape but it was so cool! I had to revamp this thing!

Supplies

Step 1: Disassemble

This thing was in pretty rough shape and was quite overwhelming at first! But within a few hours or so I had a lot of it disassembled and it started to feel more manageable.

Important: These old CRT displays can carry lethal amounts of charges in them even after years of nonuse. Please take extreme caution in discharging these and enlist the help of a professional if you're inexperienced.

Step 2: Strip the Wood

The wood and finish on the cabinet was in pretty rough shape as well. It had a lot of scratches and definitely needed some work.

I've never really worked with refinishing furniture so this was my first attempt but it went pretty well!

The first step was to strip off the old finish. I used a chemical stripper called Citristrip and it worked pretty great. It's just a simple process of brushing it on and scraping it off (along with the finish).

I had to do it twice in a few spots so my tip is not to let the Citristrip dry for too long. You still want it to be a little wet so it scrapes off easy. But just read the instructions and maybe look up a few other tutorials if you've never done it before.

Step 3: Clean & Modify the Old Stuff

This is a good time to clean off anything that you plan to use from the old components like plastic knobs and frames. I just use warm water with some dish soap to clean them off, nothing too abrasive or harsh.

I could've repainted a few of these knobs to make them look better but I kinda like the patina and history to them.

I decided not have the old radio or turntable work - I just don't have the skills to repair them. So I completely scrapped the turntable but kept the radio and TV of course.

But I wanted to keep all the knobs and everything as functional as possible. So I was able to gut the Rear components of the TV channel selector so that it still works! And I did the same with the radio removing all of the old parts except for the knobs so all the knobs still turn and click and even the tuning selector works still!

Step 4: Modify the Cabinet

I decided to remove the TV screen and build out a cubby hole inside of there to displays collectables or store records or whatever. But that required a bit of modification to the cabinet and TV frame.

I first had to remove a lot of the plastic frame components that supported the heavy TV tube because it wasn't necessary and didn't look very good. So I used a Dremel to slice all that unnecessary stuff off.

Then I got to building out the cubby hole inside of the TV. It's really just a matter of puzzle piecing it together and fitting it so you don't see any seams or holes. It took some time but I'm really happy with how the bottom shelf of the cubby fits with the curve in the plastic TV frame - You can't even see the seam! So just take your time and fit it all together nicely 👌

Then don't forget to add those side walls and back to the cubby hole attaching and securing them wherever you can.

I also changed out the legs on the TV cabinet to be a more of a mid-century modern style. I got these legs from Amazon and installed them: https://amzn.to/3uJ2Mjj

Step 5: Make It Glow

I got this LED light strip from Amazon to light up the cubby inside of the TV. But it was longer than I needed so I was able to utilize it to light up the radio and the channel selector was well! I'm so happy that these components still light up, it really brings this whole thing to life.

AND I even got the lights to turn on using the old existing power switch for the radio! We were able to hack in there and wire it up so that when you turn on the radio using the original know it turns on the lights instead!

Also instead of dealing with splicing and rewiring these tiny LED strips, I just blacked out the LEDs I didn't want to illuminate by painting over them with black nail polish. It worked great!

Step 6: Sand, Stain or Paint, & Finish

Again, I'm no expert woodworker, this was really my first time doing all of this stuff but it's very do-able! I looked at a ton of tutorials to help me with that so I'm going to refer you to YouTube and other Instructables if you need help with this process.

But overall, the process is:

  1. Begin by disassembling everything again.
  2. Sand down the wood to a nice smooth finish.
  3. Tip: don't san finer than 150 grit so the stain has some pores to absorb into.
  4. Stain the wood
  5. Tip: Use a wood conditioner before applying the stain
  6. Finish the wood
  7. Tip: Be sure to sand in between coats

I used General Finishes Nutmeg Gel Stain which I love! The color is beautiful, really gave me that perfect warm mid-century modern tone I wanted. And the gel stain was easy to work with and forgiving.

Then I finished the wood with General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat. This stuff was a little tricky for me and took some time to figure out the right process to apply it but after some practice I got really good results that I'm very happy with. And it's super durable so I know my wood is well protected!


I also decided to paint some of the interior cubby rather than stain it so I primed those wood pieces and then painted them blue.

Step 7: Make the Speaker Covers

Pretty simple to make the speaker covers. I used some of the spare thin wood I had from the back piece to cut out the speaker covers. I actually didn't cut out any holes for the speakers because I didn't install any speakers right now. That will be a future upgrade for when I decide where I want to permanently keep this big thing.

I found some thin fabric that looks perfect at Joann's so I just sprayed a little adhesive on the front and installed that. The I used this magnetic tape to stick the edges back and then magnetically attach the speaker covers to the cabinet. It works ok, I'm not sure that the magnetic tape adhesive is strong enough to last.

Step 8: Reassemble & Enjoy!

Now all you have to do is put everything back together and you're done!

This was my first time really working with nice wood, stain, and finishing but I’m quite happy with the results. I definitely have a newfound respect and appreciation for furniture craftsman!

I don't have a home for this thing yet but when I figure out where I'm going to keep it, then I'll install some good speakers and probably drop in a record player into that empty shelf on the left.

Thanks for following along and please let me know if you have any thoughts, ideas, or make one yourself!

-Travis

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    29 Comments

    0
    kyle_p
    kyle_p

    2 months ago

    I can't really describe this as a "revamp". A revamp would be to repair the TV and fit a digital tuner box. This is more of a no-vamp, as you turned a television into a nothingvision.

    0
    mariosolis
    mariosolis

    5 months ago

    Brilliant!
    I specially like the idea of getting rid of the telly.
    If you consider to use it to play music, I would be please to send you a small stereo Bluetooth amplifier board. Just feed it, connect to speakers and off you go.
    Looks like it has room for a decent pair of speakers.
    Let me know. I'd be pleased.

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 5 months ago

    Yeah, that's the plan! Drop in a nice set of speakers with bluetooth

    0
    Ebookfoodie
    Ebookfoodie

    5 months ago

    I love this idea! I love seeing vintage things repurposed! It would be amazing to have the tv front be a glass/plexi door that you could open/close. Great idea!

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 5 months ago

    Thank you! Yeah a door would be cool!

    0
    mwseniff1
    mwseniff1

    5 months ago

    One thing I didn’t notice in your Instructible was disarming the CRT (picture tube). CRTs are vacuum tubes that can be quite dangerous if they implode. If you breach the tube the implosion turns the glass in the tube into shrapnel. I used to run TV shops back when they were universal and could make money (the old vacuum tube based color TVs cost over a $100 a year in repairs). The repair guys were pretty paranoid and rightly so, I’ve seen the upholstery in a car shredded when an intact CRT broke during a panic stop.
    I won’t describe the disarming method because of legal concerns. You really need to have a pro disarm the CRT.

    0
    NormanC16
    NormanC16

    Reply 5 months ago

    They implode not ex. My dad was a TV repairman back in the day. The Flyback holds a massive charge that can kill you thought.

    0
    mwseniff1
    mwseniff1

    Reply 5 months ago

    I can tell you from my experience that an implosion can be as dangerous as an explosion. The glass from the tube is collapsed so violently that the pieces of glass bounces off the other pieces and throws glass violently.

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 5 months ago

    Yes, thank you! That is a super important point. I discharged this myself and have experience doing so but I just editied the Instructable to mention that as a warning.

    0
    RaymondR6
    RaymondR6

    Reply 5 months ago

    The CRT can be disposed safely with care. I have done this over ten times. Just place the tube inside two layers of garden bags (more than 1 mil thick) and tie them. Then lay the tube with the screen on the ground outdoors. Use a heavy hammer to swing at the neck until it breaks. You hear the vacuum being broken. Then smash the glass through the bags until it is quite flatten (no need to break the screen which is thicker). Finally, tie the bags inside a third bag (in case the glass broke the bags) and dispose.

    0
    mwseniff1
    mwseniff1

    Reply 5 months ago

    Actually the safest way is breaking the vacuum while the CRT is still in the set. The manufacturer designed the tv and CRT to minimize danger from implosion. The front screen is safety glass and the shielding and cabinet is designed to direct any shrapnel out the back. We always leaned over the top to perform the deed.

    0
    ivak245
    ivak245

    5 months ago

    Nice job! I did this many years ago, and installed an aquarium behind the TV screen. The volume control was replaced with a rotary switch, which would turn on the pump and lights. Just be aware that the full aquarium is very heavy, so might need a couple of extra legs below it.

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 5 months ago

    Woah that's so awesome!

    0
    NormanP2
    NormanP2

    5 months ago

    I like it! It really does have a mid century modern look with those legs. It will fit in nicely with the new modern furniture styles. In the cubby, you could put in a cat bed for THE CAT of the house! Anything, really. I was going to buy an old 50's portable and gut it and make it a cat bed but never did. You could put a flat screen TV in there to make it look like the old TV worked. Find a TV that would fit nicely in the opening. You'd just control it with the remote. Some of those old console TV's were beautiful but who wants to have an old TV there that doesn't work, sitting there, taking up room for nothing. If you like the cabinet, something like this makes the thing usable. It was nice to watch the whole production and get ideas from it. Thanks a lot!

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 5 months ago

    Thank you!
    I already took an old iMac and turned that into a cat bed haha: https://www.instructables.com/IMac-Cat-Bed/
    And Yeah I figured we'd want a bigger TV than that thing could hold anyway so I opted for the cubby hole instead

    0
    NormanP2
    NormanP2

    Reply 5 months ago

    I enjoyed the cat bed video. Good idea! Loved the ending! If you didn't love the ending, this list is for you!
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    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 5 months ago

    Haha thanks nice

    0
    LeslieGeee
    LeslieGeee

    5 months ago

    BEAUTIFUL!! Thank you so much for not painting the cabinet as so many do to antiques and vintage pieces because of a fad for doing so and restoring it to its former beauty. Norman had a great idea to put a flat screen into the old TV cavity to make it useful again. I would also suggest a CD player if you do not have a collection of vinyl records on one side and CD & DVD storage on the other side. If you do have old records I would put in a replacement record player or if the old player still works put that back in with the speakers :). WELL DONE!!!!

    0
    travderose
    travderose

    Reply 5 months ago

    Thank you!
    Yeah, I agree and the wood just had too much potential to paint.
    And I figured we'd want a bigger TV than that thing could hold anyway so I opted for the cubby hole instead of a TV swap.
    I plan to hookup a bluetooth/wifi receiver for audio and drop in a turntable and store our records in the TV cubby hole

    0
    jimgarbe
    jimgarbe

    5 months ago

    Awe!!! OK, I love that you restored the cabinet. It's beautiful!!!
    The old turntable-- most of them were "Gerrard," was kinda cool because it had a stackable pinion for loading the next album. ...but they would eventually eat your vinyl. :-(
    The tube amplifier, on the other hand, is worth a revisit. There's nothing like the deep, warm sounding bass that a tube amp provides. If you could separate the tube amp from the tv tuner, you could have a great sound system!!!!
    The TV? When I looked at the picture in the Instructables, I thought it WAS a flat panel mod. BRAVO for the eyeball trickery! I'd like to see a flat panel screen modification. I guess the hard part-- if not impossible-- would be the aspect ratio. HMMMM.