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Build a cottage-style TV cabinet

Townhouses require smaller furniture – something we took into account when building this new TV cabinet to complement our existing décor.


By Roelof Strydom


• One 2 750 x 1 830 x 16mm sheet of medium-density fibreboard (MDF)

•  Two 3 000 x 140 x 36mm pine rafters

•  Half a sheet of 3.2mm Masonite

• Wood glue

• Nails for nail gun

• Woodoc Gel Stain

• Woodoc 5

• Six antique hinges

• Three door knobs

• Paint of your choice

• 6m of 19 x 19mm decorative pine moulding (L piece)


•  Drill and 2.5mm drill bit

•  Countersinking bit

• Square

• Tape measure

• Chalk line

• Pneumatic nail gun

•  Sander

• Jigsaw

• Mitre saw

• Hole saw

• Circular saw

• Router

Cutting list

Cut from 16mm MDF:

• Two 400 x 364mm (A pieces) – vertical shelf dividers

• Three 1 168 x 400mm (B pieces) – horizontal shelves

• Two 400 x 380mm (C pieces) – sides

•  Two 1 232 x 50mm (D pieces) – skirting

• Two 400 x 50mm (E pieces) – skirting

• One 1 293 x 493mm (F piece) – bottom

• Two 1 293 x 84mm (G pieces) – decorative feet

• Two 461 x 84mm (H pieces) – decorative feet

• Two 298 x 296mm (I pieces) – doors


Cut from 22mm laminated pine:

• One 530 x 130mm (J piece) – centre door


Cut from 3mm Masonite:

• One 1 200 x 330mm (K piece) – back

Project guide

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cost: ±R1 200

Time: Two weekends

Step-by-step guide

Step 1: On two of the 1 168 x 400mm (A pieces), measure 300mm, 16mm, 536mm, 16mm and
300mm on the 1 168mm sides. At the 16mm segments, measure 234mm upwards on the
400mm sides. Refer to figure A for clarity.


Step 2: The two 400 x 364mm (B pieces) are used as the shelves’ vertical dividers. On both of the
364mm sides, measure 141mm, 16mm, 141mm, 16mm and 50mm. Refer to figure B for an
illustration of this. Next, on the 400mm sides, measure 166mm upwards at the two 16mm segments.


Step 3: Cut out the two 16 x 166mm slots as indicated on each of the 400 x 364mm (B pieces),
as well as the 16 x 234mm slots on each of the 1 168 x 400mm pieces (A pieces). To make the cuts,
you can use a jigsaw or a router (with a 16mm straight bit) – the latter will result in a cleaner,
more accurate cut.


Step 4: On one of the 1 168 x 400mm (A pieces), cut back the two outer 300mm sections by
16mm to accommodate the doors (see figure C).


Step 5: The two 400 x 364mm (B pieces) can now slot into the two 1 168 x 400mm pieces. The pieces may require a light tap with a rubber mallet to ensure a snug fit (see figure D).


Step 6: The third 1 168 x 400mm (A pieces) goes at the top. Make sure this piece lines up with the sides of the two already in place before you screw it onto the top of the two vertical dividers.


Step 7: Secure the two 400 x 380mm (C pieces) to the sides of the shelf structure. Make sure these two pieces are flush with the top piece you secured in place in step 6. Once in place, the two sides will protrude 50mm beyond the bottom shelf.


Step 8: Secure the two 1 232 x 50mm (D pieces) onto the shelf structure. One goes at the back and one at the front of the shelf structure and sits on the vertical shelf edges that protrude at one end of the shelf (see photo 4). These two pieces need to protrude 16mm beyond the sides lengthwise to allow the 400 x 50mm (E pieces) to fit in-between 1 232 x 50mm (D pieces) already fitted.


Step 9: With the skirtings in place flip the shelf structure upside down, skirtings facing upwards, and place the 1 293 x 493mm (F piece) onto it. This will be the cabinet’s bottom. Make sure the shelf structure is centred on the bottom by measuring the overhang on each side – it should be about 30mm all round. To secure the bottom onto the structure, screw it into the 50mm skirtings from step 8.


Step 10: The 1 200 x 300mm (K piece) of Masonite fits perfectly onto the back. Secure it to the structure with screws as well. To allow cables to be fed into the cabinet, drill a 50mm hole with a hole saw in the top centre of the cabinet (See photo 7).


Step 11: I drew a pattern onto the 1 293 x 84mm (G pieces) and 461 x 84mm (H pieces), and cut it out with a jigsaw. This was quite a tricky because I had to match one side with the other. To make the task of drawing the curves a bit easier, I bought a French curve from my local stationery shop.


Step 12: Once the feet were cut out, I screwed them onto the bottom piece of the structure (see photo 9).


Step 13: I added some decorative detail to the cabinet in the form of 19 x 19mm (L piece) pine moulding. I first cut the moulding to length, then mitred each end to 45˚ and finally glued and nailed them in place. I used a Makita pneumatic nail gun for this – it’s extremely easy to use and definitely makes a potentially difficult job simple.


Step 14: With most of the cabinet constructed, I moved on to filling all the screw holes with wood filler. Once dry, I sanded away the excess wood filler with an orbital sander, leaving a smooth finish.


Step 15: To add to the cottage feel, I routed three evenly spaced V-grooves vertically into the two doors.


Step 16: I spray-painted the entire cabinet white. Spray-painting is a lot faster and easier than painting with a brush or roller, but if you don’t have a compressor and spray gun handy, painting the cabinet by brush or roller will still yield the same result. To give the cabinet an old cottage feel, I also rubbed antique stain onto the entire cabinet. The finished result was an off-white cabinet that looked like it has been in use for years.


Step 17: For the cabinet top, I cut the pine rafters into four 1 280mm lengths. This means the cabinet top will have an overhang of 40mm on each side, as the cabinet is 1 200mm long. To stay consistent, the cabinet top then had to be 80mm (40mm on each side) wider than the cabinet as well. The cabinet is 400mm wide, therefore the total width of the top has to be 480mm – it did mean I had to cut one of the pine rafter lengths much smaller. To mount the top pieces onto the cabinet, I simply screwed them from the top into the cabinet.


Step 18: I stained the centre cabinet door 530 x 130 x 22mm (J piece) of laminated pine and the top with Woodoc Gel Stain Imbuia after which I sealed it with three coats of Woodoc 5 Matt Sealer. Once the first coat has dried, I lightly sanded it with steel wool. To the first-time user, sanding the sealer with steel wool after the first coat had dried might seem a bit strange, but it actually leaves behind an extremely smooth surface. After three coats, the cabinet top is smooth and properly sealed.


Step 19: The last step in this TV cabinet’s construction was hanging the doors, and I once again continued with the theme by using antique hinges, and putting on the door knobs.

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