Stereo Console Refurbish and Conversion




Introduction: Stereo Console Refurbish and Conversion

About: Teacher. Climber. Craftsman.

When my wife and I bought our house, this Olympic Stereo Console was left in the garage. All electronics except the TV still worked, and we liked the style, so I decided to refurbish it. The goal was to use it as a stereo, but we also wanted it to have some storage functionality, so I converted it into a liquor cabinet and added a drawer.

This Instructable won't be for a detailed conversion, but will highlight my process, challenges and materials to hopefully inspire a similar conversion of your own.

If you like this, please vote in the Furniture Hack Contest!

I feel like I used almost every tool in my shop for this project, but found the tools and materials below to be especially indispensable.

Offset Screwdrivers

Brass Wire Brush

Lead Paint Test Swabs

Paint Striper (CitriStrip)

Mineral Spirits

Geneal Finishes Top Coat

OPTIX Acrylic Sheet

Swivel Levelers

Glass Door Pivot Hinge


Drawer Sides

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Take Pictures and Dissasemble

I began by taking out all the electronic components and disassembled all wood components and hardware.

I taped, labeled, bagged and used containers to group pieces, and laid out all components on the floor.

I took around 50 pictures, and when it was time to re-assemble, I wish I had taken more. I also took notes detailing the order that pieces came off.

It was necessary to have a variety of screwdrivers for this step, and found the Offset Screwdrivers to be especially useful in several tight spots.

Step 2: Strip Paint

This was the most unpleasant step of the process. Removing the paint, and cleaning up the residual paint stripper took an entire weekend.

The console had a yellow/tan coat of paint covering solid oak and oak veneer. We didn't like the color of the paint, and it was flaking off in many spots, so we chose to remove it.

Before removing any paint, I used Lead Test Swabs from 3M to check if the paint was lead based. The test came back negative, so I proceeded with the project. Despite the negative lead test, I still used a respirator for all steps of paint removal.

I used CitriStrip Gel per the instructions on the bottle, and was pleased with the results. Due to the many nooks and crannies in the trim, and the porous nature of the oak, I found it useful to gently scrub each piece with a wired brush. This helped remove the paint better than a scraper alone. A putty knife and SOS pads were also useful in spots.

I cleaned up with mineral spirits, and let all pieces dry for several days to allow the minerals spirits to evaporate completely, and to allow any bits of the gel hiding in corners and cracks to dry to a dust. Some areas required two treatments of the CitriStrip for complete paint removal.

I wore Nitrile gloves for this step. They are the best option for use with the CitirStrip and Mineral Spirits.

These two links are a nice references when deciding what gloves to use for various projects:

Unisafe Inc.Compares common names for chemicals with Latex, Nitrile and Vinyl gloves.

GRU.EDU Useful when reading the SDS and MSDS for a product that may not be on the above list.

Step 3: Clean Electronics

Fortunately, the speakers, amplifiers, record player, and FM/AM radio all worked when I began this project. The only thing I needed to do was remove the TV and its electronics, and gently clean the remaining components.

I primarily used isopropyl alcohol, q-tips, paint brushes and rags to clean the components. I also used compressed air. I would recommend against canned air, as the air comes out quite cold, and could damage sensitive components.

Phil's Old Radios has good information about restoring and cleaning, and

Expert Village also has informative videos.

For non-electronic components, I used diluted window cleaner.

While removing all components for the TV, I chose to leave all the mechanical pieces for the dials and controls. I wanted the knobs to still operate in the front, and when looking inside the cabinet I like the way they look.

Step 4: Assemble Cabinet and Drawer

To maximize storage capacity, I converted the TV compartment into a cabinet, and installed a drawer beneath it.

Cabinet Shelf

I replaced the bottom of the shelf with a piece of 1/2 in Baltic Birch Plywood. This looks much better than the original piece which had vents and bolt holes for the TV.

Cabinet Door

I intended to use the original glass, but I dropped it during a test fit... I used a piece of Optix Acrylic instead. It is easy to cut and drill, and less likely to break if I drop it again. I included the plastic TV 'frame' with the door to keep the illusion of a TV screen.


Glass Door Pivot Hinges

No Bore Magnastrike


The trim piece that became the front of the drawer required some trimming to slide smoothly. Because there are no handles on the trim piece, I used "push-to-open" hardware. To simplify the building process, I used pre-cut drawer sides for the drawer.

This video provides basics steps for installing a drawer face. The only difference is that I removed the double sided tape after the initial fitting and before adjusting. The holes that are drilled in the drawer front are larger than the diameter of the screws to allow for adjustments. Once aligned, I installed two other screws to keep the face in place.


Drawer Sides

Centerline Full Extension Push to Open Slides


While modifying the console, I also changed the legs. I cut each leg down 1.5 inches so that the top of the console would sit below a window sill. I also replaced the levelers for a cleaner look.


Swivel Levelers

Step 5: Finish and Assemble

Once I was happy with all the modifications I sanded and finished all exterior and interior pieces. I applied three coats of my go-to finish: Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat in Satin. Given the contours of the trim, I used steel wool between coats rather than sandpaper.

With all pieces finished, I used my photos and notes to meticulously re-assemble every piece. I reused most of the original screws but also had to swap some out with a slightly longer or slightly higher gauge.

All things considered, I am quite pleased with the outcome. We receive lots of compliments on this piece, and the stereo meets our needs. We listen to the radio, and also connected a RCA to 3.5mm jack to plug in our iPhones and computers.

If you have any questions, please ask.

If you like this, please consider voting in the Furniture Hacks Contest.

Furniture Hacks Contest

Second Prize in the
Furniture Hacks Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • Silly Hats Speed Challenge

      Silly Hats Speed Challenge
    • Finish It Already Speed Challenge

      Finish It Already Speed Challenge

    5 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Thanks for the details. Great repurpose idea. I have an old RCA console roadside find that I'll be under taking. Your supplies list will be useful.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Nice! Let me know if you have any questions or want to see any other detail pictures. Good luck!


    4 years ago

    I really like this. What a great idea which is very well executed.


    4 years ago

    Awesome way to repurpose such items.Good work man :)