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!


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:

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!


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