I use to own a large cathode ray television until I purchased an HD set. Guess what...the new set would not fit inside the old TV stand opening. With a little time and very few dollars I fashioned a custom stand from a furniture piece some would consider unserviceable. Recycling and repurposing an item now has a fancier term…Upcycle. What a clever verb; I suppose it was coined by someone who just discovered he could save money by erecting an outdoor clothes line or using a solar battery charger.
After flat screen HD televisions became the norm, and you could not give away a cathode ray TV, everyone was stuck with chunky TV stands that housed these antiquated behemoths. The HD style television is thin and rectangular, not requiring a square, deep, portal to house the appliance. The older cabinets and stands have great depth to accommodate the deep body of the electronic component. Now televisions are wall mounted or set atop a newer, slimmer cabinet. Before you buy a new stand or mount, consider a weekend project to recycle that old TV stand. By installing new doors over the space where the television use to set, and constructing shelves, you create a huge storage area for whatever! It could also become a bedroom bureau or sideboard for the dining area linens and napkins. A reciprocating saw can make a large TV stand into a framed fireplace mantle. In fact, when I recycled my own 28 inch television stand, there was enough room to house my entire DVD, CD and VHS collection, eliminating the library carousel. The new 42 inch HD TV rests on top of my “new” 36 inch high TV stand.
You may still own the old stand or you can easily purchase a “new” one from thrift stores or garage sales. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when buying any used furniture:
1- Buy only all wood construction, NO particle board! Those items constructed with particle board cannot withstand repeated moving and are covered with a plastic laminate or veneer that is impossible to replicate. It can be done, but I prefer to spend the same amount of time on a piece that will last a lifetime.
2- Avoid used furniture pieces that need extensive repair or restoration. Missing hinges or pull knobs are easily replaced; removing a few scratches by refinishing the top with sanding and staining becomes more involved and expensive than you will anticipate. Consider painting to match existing décor.
3- Recognize your own abilities and limitations to complete any project. Do you have access to all hand and/or power tools and the requisite skills? This is a great project for beginner or experienced handyman and it should be your idea of fun, not a chore.
The first step in recycling the old TV stand was to decide the type and number of doors. You can construct a single or double, framed or unframed cabinet door. An example of each is found on most kitchen cabinetry. A framed cabinet door has a wood frame with a wooden or glass insert and the unframed is a door of equal thickness the entire length and width. There is no best choice, but a solid unframed hard plywood is the least complicated and expensive to fabricate. It will accept any stain or paint finish you desire and requires a minimum of hand tools to complete. Remember this is a weekend project.
I chose solid oak framing with oak plywood insert to match a pair of existing doors on the old unit. I created the 3/8 inch dados (grooves) in the framing with two passes on a table saw to accept the plywood insert. Each door was stained English Colonial and a satin urethane coat for a match to the original color.
The second step is to take exact measurements of the width and height of the opening you wish to enclose. Halve the width to create double doors. Whether you choose single or double, framed or unframed, deduct ¼ inch from the height to allow a non-binding swing of the doors. The old cathode TV was very heavy and may have caused a slight sag on the shelf.
The third step is cutting and fabrication of the door(s). I will reiterate the time honored carpenter’s advice: measure twice, cut once. Nothing is worse than miscalculating size and be forced to buy more materials. The key to having a correct fit is insuring 90 degree angles by using a square or miter saw. Frames can be glued or screwed around insert. I used four glued butt joints to enclose the door insert. Now is the time to apply any stain, paint, or varnish you have chosen.
The fourth step is measuring and cutting the shelves. Cut the length 1/4 inch shorter than required to fit into opening, You can get fancy by using adjustable metal brackets to support shelves or keep it simple by drilling holes and spacing 3/8 inch hardwood dowels as shelf supports. Shelf height and placement is dictated by item storage intentions.
The fifth and last step is hardware installation. Solid doors require more support due to weight. I matched the existing door hardware (hinges and pulls) from a selection of antique gold available at the local home improvement center.
This completes a short introduction on how to recycle a TV stand. For me, it is extremely gratifying to restore and reuse an item others see as inadequate or limited in use.
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