This project started from the need to have a better place to store & organize my DVD & Blu-Ray collection and to make room for my baby. She was born right before I finished this project, which caused me to rush the last bit. I enjoy military surplus items and I had 2 surplus ammo crates just sitting around and got to thinking about how I could turn them into an entertainment center, and thus the project began.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- 5 Large Wooden Ammo Crates
- 1" X 6" Rough Cut Lumber(optional, front pieces of the boxes can also be used as shelfs)
- Wood Glue
- 1 1/2" Finishing Nails
- Tape Measure
- Finishing Nail Gun
- Claw Hammer
- Rubber Mallet large and small
- Table Saw
- Layout Tool (also known as a square)
- Water (Gotta stay Hydrated)
- Dikes (wire cutters old and worn pair)
- 1/2" Drill Bit
- 1 1/2" Hole Saw
Step 2: Planning
To start this project I laid out 2 different configurations that I thought might work. Both looked good, but I decided on the first picture layout. While setting these out, I noticed that they stood too tall for an entertainment center at 52 3/4". I took some measurements on the locations of the hinges on all of the boxes and decided that I would cut off 5 3/4" from each side, shortening the overall height by 11 1/2". This would give it an overall height of 41 1/4". It was important to me to keep the markings on the boxes, so being careful in the next steps was crucial.
Step 3: Box Break Down for Front Cabinet
Now it’s time to start breaking apart some boxes. To start, remove all of the doors from the hinges. Take note that the boxes that will be vertical are going to need to be broken down in different ways. The two boxes that will be on the front of the entertainment center along with the box that will lie on top of the vertical boxes will need the fronts removed. This can be done with the rubber mallets. Start with the smaller mallet, because as seen in the pictures it is easy to split the front board. Lightly beat the front board from the inside. This should cause the nails at the front to come out enough that you can remove them with the claw hammer as seen in picture 7.
Because of the abuse the boxes may have been through you may have to resort to other means of removing the nails. For instance, I had a few nail heads fall off so I grabbed an old pair of dikes that have been retired to be used for situations like this (as seen in picture 16, you do not want to use a good pair of dikes). If you grab the nail with the dikes you can hit the dikes with a hammer to remove the nail (see photos).
After removing the nails from the front, it is time to remove the nails that are holding the front board on from the bottom. This can be done by hitting the board from the bottom on each end until the board has been separated from the nails. This may also just cause the nails to stick up so that they can be removed using the hammer. The last 2 pictures show what the boxes should look like after the fronts have been removed.
If needed it is okay to get a bigger mallet; I had to. However, it is also a very easy way to split the wood you are trying to remove. One piece just split a little and was glued back together using a clamp. Now you can barely tell that it was ever split. The second board was much worse and split all the way down the middle. To fix this one I used some spare wood to keep it lined up and clamps to hold it together. After drying you could still tell it was split but it was still usable.
Step 4: Cutting Cabinets to Size
The following is how I cut the cabinets to size. (I do not suggest doing it this way.) After the instructions on how I cut the cabinets, I have provided an alternate method that should be an improvement.
My method: I set my table saw to cut off the amount determined in step 2. I put the one end through the table saw one side at a time. After cutting two sides, the box would no longer have any structural support causing it to bind up and the saw to make uneven cuts. I cut all four boxes this way even though it wasn't working as well as I expected. After cutting down the boxes take a mallet and carefully remove what is remaining on the end pieces.
Alternate method: Completely break down the box and cut it one piece at a time. Then reassemble the box. This will take a few more measurements and more time but in the end you will end up with a nicer finish for the project.
Step 5: Assembly of Front Cabinet
The front cabinet is the most complex part of the build. To start we need to take the end pieces and set them up so that that you can take a measurement and see how much the back board is sticking out past the end piece. The back board will need to be trimmed from one box, to allow the back board from the other box to overlap for attachment (see the first two photos). You only want to remove from one side of the cabinet so that the two boxes can be nailed together and made into one cabinet. After cutting down what you determined was needed you can start nailing the end piece back on using nails you have removed. Ensure to use a square so that everything remains true.
After combining the 2 boxes into one cabinet, take a scrap piece and glue it on to the back of the cabinet and clamp it. Run nails through the scrap piece from the inside of the cabinet and bend them over so that they are not sticking out like shown in the 8th picture.
Now grab a knife (I just used my pocket knife) and cut off the rope handles so that they will not get in the way when moving and setting down the entertainment center.
Step 6: Assembly of Side Cabinets
The side cabinets are much easier. Simply make sure everything is square and nail the end pieces back onto the cabinet. Make sure that the end pieces are put onto the right side so that the cabinet doors will open without interference in the direction you want. Just like the last step, take your knife and cut off the rope handles from the end.
Step 7: Shelf's for Cabinets
I took a couple of my biggest DVD & blu-ray cases and figured out my spacing for shelves. It came out to be about 10", so I took a scrap piece of plywood and cut out 2 identical spacers so that the shelves will be perfectly spaced. As you can see in the pictures I would clamp the spacers in on each side and then take a measurement across the cabinet. With this measurement you can either take the 3 front pieces that were removed from the fronts of the boxes and cut them to the measured length to use as shelves (I think this would have been the best option but I didn't want to use the pieces I split). Because of the way my front pieces split I used some 1"X 6" rough cut lumber which turned out great but was a little too wide. So I took each 1”X 6” shelf and cut 1/2" off of the width. After getting the shelf's cut I took my finish nail gun, glued the shelves in and nailed them all of the way around the cabinet. I then took some small scraps and glued and nailed them under each shelf for a little extra bracing.
Step 8: Cabinet Doors
For the 2 side cabinets I simply took a door, lay it on top of the cabinet, and measured how much was over-hanging. I added an extra 1/8" to help keep the door from rubbing on the bottom of the cabinet. With this measurement I took and set my table saw to half the measurement which was 4 13/16" and ran each side of the door through the table saw. This took off the cross member on each side. Take a mallet and hammer and remove what you cut off of the door from the cross member. The nails that were used to nail the cross member on are hooked on the end. I took a set of dikes and cut off the hook part, leaving a straight nail, and re-nailed the cross member in 3 1/2" in on the door. This made it look similar to how it started. For the front cabinet the process is the same, but after you cut down and add back on the cross braces, a little bit of the width needs to be cut off. I laid one at a time in the position it will be in when closed and measured how much it overlaps the center as seen in the third picture. After getting that measurement I set my table saw to cut off that amount plus blade width by measuring the distance I wanted to cut from the guide to the inside of the blade. After that is done, I remounted the doors by laying them in position and pre-drilling holes for the screws on the hinge.
Step 9: Final Assembly
Now that all the individual components are completed it is time to assemble the entertainment center. To start I laid out how it was supposed to be to see if I needed to trim anything or sand anything for better fit. I then lifted one side at a time and glue the two side cabinets on to the top box. Next I took the finishing nail gun and nailed the three pieces together. I put a nail about every 2 inches. Now that those pieces are together I got the front cabinet into place and tipped the entertainment center so that I could glue them together. Once again after gluing I took the nail gun and nailed everything together. I than took one of the split front pieces and nailed and glued it between the side cabinets on the back as a brace. I also took a small piece and glued and nailed it to the front cabinet as seen in picture 6. Now that everything is held together I took a 1 1/2" hole saw and cut two holes out for my Xbox One and PlayStation 4 cables.
Step 10: Magnet Catch on Cabinet Doors
The last thing I did was to add magnets to keep the cabinet doors closed. To do this I took a 1/2" drill bit and drilled into the bottom of the cabinet just far enough for the magnet to sit flush. After drilling all these holes I took some 5min epoxy and epoxied the magnets into the holes that were just drilled. After allowing the epoxy to set for an hour or so I placed a small screw left over from the latch removal in step 3 onto the magnet and shut the cabinet door so that it would leave an indention. I then screwed in a screw and all of those locations. (One nice thing about the using the screw as part of the catch is that you can adjust how much gap is needed at the bottom of the door.)
I would have preferred to have found a better way to do the catch but my wife went into labor right around this step so I did the first thing that came to mind when we got home from the hospital. I needed put up all of our movies and games to make room for my little girl.
Step 11: All Done
Ultimately this turned out very well there are a few things that I would do differently if I was to build this again. I pointed out in the steps some items I would change.
The top box is not as deep as I would like it to be. As you may can tell in the pictures my Xbox and PlayStation hang out the front just a little bit, but not enough to cause any worry. My wife really enjoys having it and all of our movies and games right there with the tv so that she can change movies and watch the baby without having to run to the other room. This also turned out to hold a lot more movies than I was starting to think it would. I even ended up with extra space so that I can buy more movies and games and still have storage room for them.
Thanks for taking the time to read this instructable. I hope you enjoyed it.