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I’ve always thought that cabinets with hidden TV lifts were so high-end and cool looking. I don’t watch much TV beyond sports, so the idea of building a beautiful piece of furniture that hides the TV, like a Transformer, was right up my alley.
But, my primary goal is to provide projects that are friendly to new, or mildly experienced, woodworkers, so I wanted to design one that could be made without a table saw.
This is a BIG project, but don’t be intimidated! The steps are simple and you can easily complete them. It’s going to take you awhile, but this is a build that will impress everyone you know…trust me.
I used pocket hole joinery on this project for the first time in a long time. Pocket hole jigs are pretty affordable and make it easy to join wood together. The one I used has a scale built-in to easily set the depth of the hole that needs to be drilled. It also clamps the workpiece in place as I drill the hole. For the nearly 3/4″ thick plywood I used 1 1/4″ pocket screws.
Building the Cabinet
I used the circular saw track that I built to break down the plywood into cabinet sides and bottom. My 8ft track is invaluable because it allows me to make straight cuts in any direction on a 4ft x 8ft piece of plywood.
I added glue to the sides before driving the screws into the bottom, but you can get away with no glue on the cabinet carcass. I like the bit of stability that the glue adds to the sides, but I won’t glue any other part except for the shelf.
The top and bottom cabinet supports are solid pine and they’re attached with pocket screws to the carcass. The top support is a 1×2 and the bottom is a 1×4.
I cut the shelf parts from the same 3/4″ plywood, assembled it, and then attached it to the cabinet using a level to make sure it sits straight.
The face frame is also solid pine and is assembled with pocket screws. I clamped the two boards that were being joined so that they didn’t move around when I was driving the screws.
Once the face frame is assembled I laid the cabinet on its back and attached the face frame with glue and brad nails.
Since the bottom of the face frame was going to be covered with baseboard I drove screws about 2 inches from the bottom to secure it even more.
After taking a second to check my progress I realized that I wasn’t crazy about the stability of the door dividers. I also needed some extra surface area on the sides to fit the door hinges. So I added another piece behind each of the door dividers that went from the bottom of the shelf to the top of the lower cabinet support.
The pieces on the ends were the same length, but I turned them sideways. If the face frame is positioned correctly, they will sit flush.
I also noticed that the upper face frame crosspiece wasn’t supported well enough and sagged a bit. It was easy enough to pocket screw a little crosspiece to push it to the correct depth (eventually, I move this up flush with the top of the cabinet).
After the structure of the cabinet was finished I positioned and attached all the doors with surface mount hinges. This type of hinge is extremely beginner-friendly and doesn’t require a mortise.
Making the Shaker-Style Doors
I wanted to make shaker style doors, but I needed a way to make them with basic tools. They’re usually made with tenons and a long mortise that extends the length of the stiles, but I needed these to be beginner-friendly.
So, I used 1/2″ MDF for the base piece and then 3/16″ fiber board for the rails and stiles. My preference was to use 1/4″ MDF for the rails and stiles, but I could only find it in 2′ x 4′ sheets, so I had to go with fiber board.
I ripped the fiber board into 2″ strips with the circular saw and then cut them to length, as needed. After attaching them with glue and brad nails I filled the holes with wood putty and then sanded to make a smooth, continuous surface.
When using MDF and removing the doors a couple of times to test fit, the holes can open up and the screws won’t grab as well. One thing you can do is take a toothpick and push glue into the hole to give it more grip.
That’s it for part 1 and the cabinet carcass portion of the build! In part 2 we’ll tackle the top and put finish on both the cabinet and top. Then, we can assemble everything and get it installed in the house.
Check out PART 2!
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