TV Stand – DIY

TV Stand from Reclaimed Wood
“Build-Don’t-Buy” Project


Call me old-fashioned, but I have this thing about Christmas gifts where I want them to be special. So when it comes around to the Christmas season every year, I start thinking about things that I could give my loved ones that maybe they can’t give themselves.

This criteria considered, giving Christmas gifts that are worthy of my incredible friends and family is always a unique challenge. But this year, I am particularly proud of a few gifts that I was lucky enough to give the people I love, and I want to share a couple of those with you.

And in this specific post, I’m going to show you how I pulled off this rustic-style, DIY TV stand from reclaimed wood.

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Backstory


I tend to have “cutesy” people in my life…You know, those people whose house is always Better-Homes-and-Gardens worthy and those people who can somehow successfully pull of Pinterest projects (I never can). And one of my best friends, Steph, is no exception.

Steph’s house is always absolutely adorable. It’s annoying, honestly.

Like, it takes me two weeks to finally settle on the perfect placement of a bookshelf, and in those same two weeks, she can transform a disgusting bachelor pad into something Martha Stewart could take notes on. Ugh…cutesy people…

Anyway, in the midst of this super-cute house, Steph was in desperate need of a TV stand…both for “cutesy” and practical purposes. Her 40-inch TV was precariously balanced on a small (maybe 20-inch wide) end table, and her cable box dangled behind this makeshift stand because, well, there was nowhere else to put it.

I thought that Steph deserved a TV Stand that was worthy of her otherwise perfectly decorated house. So I decided that for Christmas, I would remedy the TV stand situation. Here’s how.


First and Foremost:
Yes, it’s reclaimed wood.

I don’t like to buy brand-new building supplies if I can avoid it. Why?

1. Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s not a cliche. Landfills are already full of perfectly good lumber that people just throw away out of convenience, and we wonder what we can do to stop destroying our own earth?

2. Reclaimed wood has character. Seriously, why would you put in tons of effort and buy unnecessary supplies to make new lumber look distressed/old when you can just start with old wood?

3. Ballin’ on a budget. Lumber isn’t crazy expensive, but it’s also not cheap…especially from the big chain stores. And because I live on a graduate-student-budget, I cut costs anywhere I can.

So where did I get my supplies?

One day, driving home from work, I was stuck in traffic right next to one of those road-side “Fresh Cut Christmas Tree” places.

As I waited for traffic to crawl onward, I noticed that there was a large green dumpster out behind the stand…and there were white-washed 2x4s and fencing pieces poking out of the top.

It was late and the stand was closed, so I came back the next morning. I wandered into the little make-shift office and asked the owner about the wood. Although I offered to pay for the materials, I did point out that he was just throwing it away (in hopes that he wouldn’t charge me much for his trash). The guy laughed at me and said, “Honey, if you want to climb up in there and dig it out, that wood is all yours.”

I don’t think he thought I would do it.

But about 45 minutes later, my jeep was loaded down and I was driving off with some very old, very worn, and very cool wood.

*Note: Unfortunately, there was not quite enough of this salvaged wood to complete the project, and I did end up buying a small amount of lumber. So when you  see new lumber in some of the photographs below, that’s why!

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This is a nice example of the raw materials. On the saw horses are the 1-inch fencing pieces that (I’m guessing) the tree-stand used for “North Pole” decoration. In the background, leaned against the wall, you can see the white 2x4s that had previously served as light posts (I know this because I had to remove the old, broken spotlights from the end).


Part One: The Frame

I decided to construct the frame out of the 2×4 pieces of wood. For the frame, these were the cuts I needed:

  • (4) 52 inch pieces
  • (4) 30 inch pieces
  • (10) 5 inch pieces

The other materials I used for this part were…

  • 2 1/2 inch wood screws
  • 2 inch wood screws
  • 1/2 inch spade bit
  • Extended Phillips head driver
  • Power Drill
  • 1/2 inch wood plugs

Step 1 – Frame Ends

Because of the design I had chosen, the majority of support in this TV stand will exist in the ends of the frame. Therefore, I knew these pieces needed to be super sturdy.

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1. Connect the two 30″ pieces at the top using a 5″ piece

  • Place 5 inch piece between the two 30″ pieces, making sure the top of all three pieces line up
  • Using 2.5″ wood screws, attach the middle piece (drive screws from outside of the 30″ piece inward, toward the middle piece)

There are many ways to do this, I’m sure, but the main thing that you HAVE to get right is this: make sure the pieces are square at the connect point. If that means that the top/sides are not perfectly flush, that’s totally okay – you can level things later with a hand plane.

2. Place the other 5″ piece in the bottom of the frame

  • From the bottom of the 30″ pieces, measure 4″ upwards – clearly mark the 4 inch line on both sides
  • Align the bottom of your 5″ piece with the line
  • Attach the piece, again using 2.5″ wood screws

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To give the TV Stand a kind of “rustic-chic” look, I wanted to do cross supports in the end pieces….and I will tell you now that for me, this was the hardest part of this entire project.

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Angles are not my strong point, so started by taking the cross pieces and laying them “in place” on the end pieces (below).

I marked where the cut should go in order for the cross bars to fit flush against the top/bottom base pieces.

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In order for the cross supports to fit properly, the edge of the 2×4 must be lined up at two (2) very important points; see illustration below.

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The respective outside edges of the cross bar need to fit into the “corner” perfectly

After tracing the line to indicate where the joint should meet the frame, I made the cuts to the end of the piece.

I understand that this is hard to visualize (like I said, this is the hardest part for me)…So it may help to remember this: the board itself is at an angle, but the ends still need to be parallel to the floor/ceiling pieces. Thus, the ends of the cross boards will be cut into an angle.

Check the Fit!

One at a time, I placed both of the crossbars back into the end piece to make sure they fit.  The fit should be tight; like, I had to use a mallet to get them in place.

Now it was time to figure out how to make the crossbars intertwined.

I went ahead and put one of the bars into the piece. I placed the other cross bar on top where it should go (obviously both pieces cannot go into the frame at the same time yet).

Be very, very sure that this second piece is lined up properly.

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Once you have lined up the pieces, draw lines to mark where the two crossbars intersect; again, tracing is the easiest way to get it right.

To be honest, I made this next part up as I went along…

This is a crude depiction/description of how to cut the pieces so that they fit together. My attempt at explaining the process may just make it more confusing…so you may have to do what I did and just feel your way through this part of the puzzle. Take it slow and think it through carefully before you make any cuts!

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A. The 2×4 will be cut from the side, inward.

The light brown piece facing you is the “face,” or the 4-inch side of the 2×4. The dark brown piece on the top is the “thickness,” or the 2-inch part of the 2×4.

The dark brown, or the edge of the piece of wood, is the part that faces the outside of the TV stand.

B. The lines you traced to outline the intersection will be on the edge of the 2×4, and will look something like these blue lines. 

C. On the face of the 2×4, trace the lines down (hint: use a square so that these are straight)

The cut-out where the other piece of wood will fit should be at an angle, so try to imagine that you are cutting a pocket for the other 2×4. 

D. Measure out the depth of the cut. I made the cut 1.75″, or half of the width. 

You do not want to cut all the way through the wood, or else you’re going to end up with 4 pieces of 2×4. Remember, you are making a “pocket” where the two pieces hold on to each other. The pockets on both of the cross pieces have to be the same depth, or else this doesn’t work.

E. This shows what it looks like once your make the cuts to your specified depth and remove the wood.

This is where I will try to describe the cutting process but, like I said, I was kind of just winging it.

Once you draw out your guidelines (and seriously, draw out everything…even if you think you’re that good), the first cut you make are the angled lines in blue (see step B). If you have it, use a chop saw to do this (but you’ll have to finish the cuts with a hand saw). I did it using a jig saw, but trust me…it’s not the best idea. The cuts follow the angle of the blue line, and should be as deep as the red line.

There are probably a handful of ways you could make the final cut (i.e., across the red line), and I suggest you do what’s most comfortable for you. A chisel is likely the safest way to get that piece out, but I was able to very carefully maneuver  a jig saw to make it work.

Once the cuts are made, fit the pieces together outside of the frame. Then, as one whole piece, slowly work the cross into the end piece.

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This photo nicely depicts how the two pieces fit together in the cross

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In my project, these pieces fit tightly enough that I did not have to use anything else (glue, nails, etc) to hold the crossbars in place.

 

Step 2 – Rest of the Frame

Now that the end pieces were complete, it was time to attach the ends to each other. This was done by places the 52″ pieces between the two end pieces.

Unfortunately, I had already driven screws through the part of the end piece where I would need to put screws to attach the middle. This presented a problem.

So, this was the first “change in plan” that I had during this project. I used dowels to attach the middle rails (i.e., 52″ pieces) to the ends

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Using a measuring tape, I found the exact center of the top “rail” on the end pieces (because 2x4s are actually 1.5″ thick, the center was at 0.75″)

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I used a square to mark the middle line all the way across the end pieces

I used the same method to mark the exact same line down the middle (of the end) of the cross bars.

Next, I drilled two shallow holes into the frame along the center line. Because the dowels I bought were 1/4 inch dowels, I drilled this hole using a 1/4 drill bit.

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I lined up the cross bar where it would be attached to the end, and marked where the matching holes needed to be. I then placed two shallow 1/4 inch holes in the end of the stud.

 

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In each of the holes, I placed a few drop of wood glue. I then placed the dowels into the holes on the end piece.

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Next, I attached the top rails to the ends by fitting the dowels into the matching holes in the studs.

It had decided early on that the top of the stand needed to be extra strong in order to support the weight of a large TV. So, in addition to the existing support, I also placed two small cross-beams to add stability.

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This shows the two 5″ cross beams I added to the top of the frame.

As you can see, attaching these cross beams using just screws would be quite the feat: the screw would have to go all the way through the 3.5″ thick frame before it even reached the cross beam.

So, even though I could have done this using really, really long screws, I didn’t want to go that route. Why? Well, first of all, the risk of cracking the wood by using that large of a screw was too high. Secondly, I wanted to “hide” as much of the hardware as I could.

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Using a 1/2 inch spade bit, I drilled holes into the frame in the location where I needed to put screws

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The holes didn’t go all the way through the beam. Instead, using a mark I made on the  bit, I only made the holes 2.5″ deep (leaving about 1 inch in the 2×4 before breaking through).

These holes served as a sort of “pocket” for the screws to go into. Not only would this ultimately conceal the screw, but it also allowed for use of shorter screws.

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Using an extra-long drill bit….

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I attached the support beams using 2.5″ wood screws.

Now, you may be thinking “dude, those big holes in the TV stand are way uglier than screws.”

True.

Which is why I filled the holes.

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Half inch holes = half inch plugs. Pretty simple.

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Using wood glue to secure the plugs..

 

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I filled all of the holes in this manner. Yes, it looks ugly in this picture…but that’s why we sand things, isn’t it?

Having added the extra support to the top of the TV Stand, it was time to attach the bottoms.

This was done by placing dowels (same method as before) and carefully placing the stubs between the ends.

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Now, you may be thinking something like this: “Um. All you’re using to attach those are 1/4 dowels? Seems pretty flimsy…”

And that’s exactly what I decided, too.

Thus, my plan for the TV stand changed for the second time: I had to find a way to make the frame more secure.

After much contemplation, I decided that I would secure the frame by inserting four (4) more of the 5″ pieces of wood: between the middle rails, against the end pieces, on both the top and the bottom.

Initially, I attached these pieces in the same way as the cross beam supports that I added to the top: two embedded screws from each side.

Furthermore, having this small piece of wood on the end allowed me to attach the end piece to the middle using screws (not just dowels). I did this by embedding nails through the center of the end piece into the 5″ support.

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Here, I am attaching a support piece to the rails of the TV stand. I also drove a screw through the end piece into this 5″ support block. Thus, this small piece of wood essentially served as a conduit between the center rails and the end piece.

Finally, the frame was finished. And this is what it looked like.

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Part Two: Shelves

Next, I had to make the actual shelving to go on the TV stand.

Again, because I was going for the rustic charm look, I wanted each shelf to be made of multiple planks. This is where those white, 1″ fence things come in.

Recall the photograph earlier showing these planks laid out on the sawhorses. Well, they were still…fence shaped. So I had to cut the ends off. That’s where we will start.

1. Cut the shelf pieces.

Because my frame was 59 inches across, I needed my shelves to be 59″ across as well. However, after trimming down the fence pieces, none were long enough…So I had to get a little creative.

I cut out combinations of boards until I had 2 shelves, 4 boards deep (about 14″) each, that were 59″ long.

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Here are the two shelves I was able to make from the reclaimed fence. At this point, I just have the boards laid out – nothing is actually “put together.” Also, I did have to buy some more lumber to build the third shelf.

2. Put the shelf pieces together.

I also accomplished this part of the task using dowels.

First, I laid the boards that I needed to connect side by side and marked where the connecting dowel would go.

I drilled shallow holes in each board, right in the center (again, using 1/4 inch drill bit). Then, using a small amount of wood glue, I place the dowels and put the boards together.

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Using clamps and strategic balancing techniques, I left the shelves to dry while I returned to preparing the frame.

*Note: For the reclaimed boards, I first attached the pieces that made up each 59″ board using end-to-end dowels. Then, once I had made the four solid planks for the shelf, I attached the planks using side-to-side dowels.


Step 3 – Preparing the Frame

While the boards dried, I needed to prepare the frame to be finished. In woodworking terms, this means sanding, sanding, and more sanding.

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For places where the wood was not exactly flush (and needed to be, like the top), we used a hand plane to trim off the excess wood. This is a fairly easy task to correct minor imperfections. Pro-Tip: Don’t try to take too much off at a time! Consistent, even pressure that slowly trims the excess yields much better results and doesn’t rip the wood.

After all of the large imperfections were smoothed out, we (and by “we”, I mean Sharla) sanded the entire frame until it was totally smooth.

Side note: When you’re sanding something with old paint on it, wear a mask. I mean, you should probably wear a mask in general…but especially with old paint.


Step 4 – Put it together!

Now that all the components were ready to go, it was time to put the shelves in place.

1. Attach the top.

I’m not sure why we did this part first. Probably because it was the easiest, so I was excited.

But in a nutshell…

Carefully center the top on the frame; once it is in place, secure by driving 2″ wood screws through the planks and into studs in the frame. I chose to put one screw in the end of each plank; I would say that was a minimum. However, if you choose to put more screws, remember that these planks are much thinner and not as tough as studs – be careful not to crack them!

2. Attach the bottom.

This was the exact same method as the top except…

Silly me. I didn’t account for the end pieces affecting the length of the bottom and middle shelf. So, I had to cut these shelves down from 59″ to 52″ (each end piece is 3.5″, so 3.5 x 2 = 7…you can figure it out).

Also, more screws had to be placed for this shelf because the planks were not solid pieces. Even though I though I did a pretty good job with the dowels, my goal for building things is to make it “bomb proof”…so I made sure to put at least one screw through every separate piece of wood in the shelf.

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Attaching the bottom shelf. Tip: Because these are individuals planks that I stuck together with dowels, it’s good practice to constantly make sure they are still tightly attached. Start on one side of the shelf; put screws in the first plank (wherever you start) so that it is secure, and then use a mallet to push the other planks toward it. Basically, it’s just being conscientious about keeping those gaps tight.

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Again, attaching the shelf plank-by-plank, meaning that I attached both ends of one plank before moving to the next plank. Don’t work end-to-end (i.e., attach all planks on one end and then on the other); you’re more likely to end up with uneven shelves.

3. Attach the middle shelf.

I had originally intended to let this shelf support itself. However, my doubt in the strength of the dowels that were holding it together let me to revisit this – I decided I should put some support beams beneath the middle shelf.

These beams were attached exactly like the middle beams on the top and bottom, except (because there were not already screws in the way), I was able to drive a screw directly through the end into the beam.

Just to remind you of this process…First, I drilled a 1/2 inch hole to serve as a pocket for the screw. Then, I inserted the screw and filled the hole.

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The top and bottom shelves were pretty much “self-leveling” because the rested on the frame (which I had been careful to make balanced). However, to be sure the middle shelf was level, I kept my super-long level on the shelf the entire time I was attaching the beams.

Once the support beams were in place, I simply placed the shelf on top of the beams and attached it in the same way as the top and bottom.

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Finally, one last check to make sure everything was secure!


 

Final Step – Finish it!

Now that we were done building it, first things first…
How sturdy was it?

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Passed the test.

1. Fill holes; sand.

This is exactly what it sounds like. I used wood filled to fill the screw holes on the top of the stand and other, larger holes that existed in the reclaimed wood.

We then sanded, sanded, and sanded some more. Ultimately, I called it good when the shelves (top especially) had smooth edges and corners.

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2. Paint & distress

Had it been built out of entirely reclaimed wood, this part would not have been necessary…but, like I said, we had to add some lumber.

So, to make the worn-out, whitewashed look consistent, we gave the whole thing a fresh coat of white paint.

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Once the paint had dried, I distressed the entire stand using a variety of methods. This is a nice close-up of the outcome.

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And the legs.

3. Seal it up.

To protect the furniture, we gave it a coat of polyurethane and let it dry overnight. After that….all done!

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Final inspection before polyurethane coat.

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