Maple & Mahogany TV Stand: A Marvelous Journey of Screw-ups

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Project by alfa189 posted 06-26-2012 09:02 PM 4293 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The following is a tale none all too familiar with my fellow LJr’s.

Our story begins with our woodworking hero conspiring with his three brothers on what to get their beloved father for Father’s Day. As the brothers were contemplating this, thoughts naturally went to their father’s favorite retirement pasttime: TV and Movie watching. In years past, the brothers have gifted their father with movies and such. But this year, as the brothers stood staring at their father’s 1978 Oak Console, vaccum tube powered TV, they decided it was finally time to get the ole man a big screen. The brothers passed the hat around, and as is usually the case, the woodworking brother (the only one with a truck) was the one tasked with finding, purchasing, transporting, wrapping and hiding the TV until the unveiling.

With said TV hidden safely away in a secret location known only to the CIA (and the author’s 10 year-old-sworn-to-secrecy-son), thoughts naturally went to “But what to put it on?” The unveiling is a mere five days away. Certanly not enough time to build a stand (yeah, right). So I must admit to looking around at some stands from the big box stores. The $150+ price tags on them, as always, got me thinking, “I can build a better one for at least half that”. I’m sure none of you have ever had these same thoughts. So off to my hardwood dealer I go.

A sheet of Maple veneer ply and a board of African Mahogany later, I exit the lumber store with a skip in my step and a song in my heart. I am embarking on another project, and am a happier man for it. I get it all home and get straight to work.

A quick side note: I have been building a dedicated shop (still in progress). I took a 3-car garage, added a wall, making it a two-car garage and one-car wide shop (about 11×27). I recently had to move all of my tools and other paraphernalia to one side of the shop to tear down the old garage shelves (made from cheap construction scrap by the builder). This is the current state of my shop when I decided to tackle this project. Not the best idear I’ve ever had, but the timing really wasn’t up to me. So I pulled up my big boy pants and tackled it nonetheless. I will post my shop build later when I get a lttle farther along….

Anyhoo, where was I? Oh yes, just arrived back home and need to break down sheet goods. My original plan (due to the time constraints) was to make a simple plywood case, pocket-screw construction, and wrap the exposed edges with the mahogany. Simple, elegant, easy. Riiiiiiiiiight.

So I pull the tablesaw out from under the debris and rubble, blow the dust off, plug it in and start breaking down the ply. I get the all the parts cut to final size. Now since my shop looks like a third-world country’s ghetto, I have no room to assemble. So what do I do? I do what any red-blooded American husband does. Use my wife’s side of the garage while she’s at work and hope she doesn’t find out.

I then break out the Kreg Jig and drill all the pocket holes, making a lot of sawdust in the process. Our hero then receives a text from his beloved bride, “Hey Honey, on my way home early. Be home in ten minutes.”

Our hero looks at the saw dusty mess all over “her” side of the garage. Visions of screaming banshees and groin kicks fill his head. OH CRAP. Arrogant, smug idea-maker part of his brain chimes in, “I know!! LEAF BLOWER!!”. Run to the shed, grab the leaf blower, crank-crank-crank, nothing. Choke..duh…crank-crank-crank…nothing. No fuel. Run back to shed, grab gas can. Empty. REALLY?! COME ON?!! ARRRRGGGHHH!!!

Run to buddy-neighbor. Beg for fuel. Endure mocking torment, but get fuel anyway. Crank up leaf blower and “clean” the garage. Return leaf blower to shed, close shed door, come around the house and here comes beautiful bride pulling into the driveway.

Our hero, “Hi Honey” smilng sheepishly, looking something like the cat that ate the canary. Experienced wife of 12 years knows something is up. She cautiously exits her vehicle, gives our hero the once over, and with a quizzical look and tone, she keenly asks, “What did you buy?” I answer a bit too quickly, “Nothing”. She quips back, “Then what did you do?” I respond, “Nothing.” She starts looking around like a crime scene investigator. “Why is there saw dust all over the place?” I slyly respond, “Becuase I’m building stuff in the shop.” [me still smiling like an idiot]. She warily eyes me and slowly walks into the house. She’s gone. WHEW!! Back to work!

I do a dry assembly and wouldn’t you know it? The FREAKING thing isn’t square. What the H?! My angles on the edges are off by a few degrees. I go to the culprit. The tablesaw! I check it, and I see that the blade is tilted to a few degrees. ARRRGGHHH!!!

I’ve already drilled the pocket holes. Set precisely for that material thckness. So I think to myself, “Well. I wonder if I can just SHAVE the edges ever so slightly to make it a 90 degree angle again?” So I give that a try. I forgot to put my zero clearance insert back in: TEAROUT. [insert more swearing here].

I dry assemble it all and it seems square. I start driving the pocket screws. Screws tips punch out the top of the case. [more colorful language here] It is precisely at this point of the the operation that our hero’s 8-year-old-princess emerges from the house, enters the shop, sees dad taking a long pull off his beer, and gives him a consolation hug. [magically makes hero’s heart swell a few inches]. She then proceeds to pick up his marking chalk and write a message to our hero on his makeshft assembly table (See picture #2). Princess kisses daddy-hero’s forehead and heads back inside, leavng our hero trying to figure out how to fix said screw-ups.

The top of the case is ruined. Screw tips are poking through ever-so-slightly, but enough to ruin it. “I know!” thinks our hero. “I’ll just put another layer of ply over the top!” “Only one problem sir…” replied my smart-a$$ alter-ego. “You don’t have enough plywood left. Unless you want to go blow another $60 on a new sheet?” [Insert thoughts of stern faced wife here]. UHHHH Nope.

So sitting there atop his shop stool, sipping his beer, our hero is tapping his brain like Winnie-the-Pooh, “think, think, think.” When out of the corner of his eye, our hero spots some plywood cutoffs from an earler bookcase project. But could our hero possbly be lucky enough to have it be maple ply? YES!!!. Small problem though: It’s only small rectangle sections, not one big rectangle. “I know!!!” said hero’s smug, creative brain. “Let’s use the orginal plywood top (the one with the screw tips protruding), use it as a substrate, place the new-pretty maple ply rectangle on top of it, and wrap it all in mahogany. Kind of like an inlay!!!” What a great idea!!

Start cutting mahogany. And lke Scooby Doo says, “Ruh-Ro-Raggy”. I don’t have enough mahogany. OF COURSE I DONT!! Back in the truck and back down to hardwood dealer I go. The ONLY piece of mahogany that is left (with any decent grain match) is a warped, cupped, bowed monstrosity. “No problem”, I think to myself. “I’ll just cut the bow out, joint it, plane it, table saw it…you know, the works.”

An hour later, back in the shop. Where’s my jointer? Under a metric ton of shop debris. Unpack all of that, start jointing. Where is my planer? Under two metric tons of shop debris, half of which I just placed there whilst uncovering the planer. SIGH…. Half an hour later, planing finished.

I start making measurements and try to design the width of the mahogany inlay to match the faceframe of the cabinet. Get all that figured out and start ripping mahogany. Cut maple ply down to final dimensions and do a dry assembly. Everything looks fantastic. Murphy’s Law: Waaaaaait for iiiiiiiiiiit….

I glue the maple ply top pieces to the substrate and screw it from underneath. I wrap everything in mahogany, glue and pin nail everything in place. Running my hand over the top I see a spot where the ply is sitting just a bit proud of the mahogany inlay. Of course it is. “No problem” my arrogant-smug brain says, “You can just sand it flush”.

Now I know what all of you are thinking right about now. As you all have undoubtedly done what I was JUST ABOUT TO DO: Sand through the top veneer. And what’s worse, I knew this was a risk going into it. I just thought the veneer ply was thicker than it actually was. Made a huge blemish on top of the piece. No way I could think of to fix it, nor any time to. Gotta push on.

There are also gaps between the maple ply and mahogany inlay on the top. The plywood is not totally square. [More roars of frustration here] Culprit: Tablesaw crosscut sled inaccuracy. Walk to shop side, grab tablesaw sled and beat it to death with a dead blow mallet. 8-year-old princess standing at shop door with a worried look on her face. Enters shop, gives another consolation hug, and quietly exits. Guilty daddy feeling “Quit being such a jackass”. Okay, back to work.

Wait a minute…I need holes in the back piece so cords and cables can go through. Rifle through drill bits, spade bits (I would imagine these would be horrific in plywood), but none big enough anyway. Back in the truck I go….GGGGRRRRRRRRR…Go to HD, buy a big forstner bit, run back home, make holes. By some miracle, God took pity on me and allowed the cut to be made with no tear out. Thank you, Lord!

And now our favorite part: SANDING…YAY!!

Go back to my shop side and clear out a 10’ square space. I break out my handy-dandy-shop-made-air-cleaner (box fan with furnace filter duct taped to the intake side) and get to sanding. 4,317 light years later, I finally finish sanding to 220 grit. I throw four coats of rattle can lacquer on it and let it sit. I can only wait two days to let it cure. Literally an hour before my Dad showed up, 10 year-old man-child-slave/shop assistant and I rub out the finish.

I sit back and admire my handwork. I see EVERY FREAKING FLAW. The sanded through veneer ply….and I didn’t plug the pocket screw holes. A huge oversight that I wish I would have done. And of course, the rubbed out finish was a lttle soft due to inadequate cure time. But all in all, not a horrible piece. I can only hope the TV stand will cover up the blemish on the top.

Brothers, Dad and family all arrive for the unveil. Mom and Dad are completely clueless as to what we did. I had everyone stand outside the garage door and then rolled it up…..Ta-Daaaaaa!!!

Mom was hysterical, dad in shock, brothers all standing around taking credit like a bunch of jackasses, but all in all, it was a fantastic Father’s Day. As evdenced by the last picture. That is one Happy Pappy.

-- "It's not a mistake. It's a design feature."

8 comments so far

View Pallirondack's profile


66 posts in 2667 days

#1 posted 06-26-2012 09:20 PM

Congratulations. It looks great!


...I like the use of the yellow bicycle in the workshop…... ;-)

-- David, Spring Hill, FL -- making projects from recycled pallets

View Stephen Fox's profile

Stephen Fox

110 posts in 3899 days

#2 posted 06-26-2012 10:08 PM

So you are the one that doesn’t do it perfectly the first time! But technically it is not a screw up unless you skip the dry run and find out it is out of square after the glue is set and your wife mentions that something does not look quite right, followed by “Did you check it for square?”

-- Stephen NYS

View alfa189's profile


95 posts in 2966 days

#3 posted 06-26-2012 10:17 PM

David: I could lie and claim I was using the top of the bike frame as a clamping cawl, but I’ll just admit my 10 year-old off spring was riding his bike in circles in the garage, enjoying the show of his father’s frustrated journey.

Stephen: “something doesn’t look quite right…” [she says while tilting her head several degrees]...yeah, i’ve been there too bro…haha!

-- "It's not a mistake. It's a design feature."

View SergeantSawDust's profile


173 posts in 2687 days

#4 posted 06-27-2012 03:34 AM

Awesome. Great story. I’ve definitely run across some doosies on projects like that as well.. One thing after another, lol. Thanks for sharing.

-- Woodworking for the hobbyist woodworker.

View Lenny's profile


1638 posts in 4032 days

#5 posted 06-27-2012 08:12 AM

What a fun read! It is so comforting to learn of other woodworker’s “mistakes”. You know, the misery loves company thing. If you ever give up the woodworking, I think you have promise as a writer. Thanks for sharing and by the way, the end result is a nice looking console.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 2768 days

#6 posted 06-27-2012 01:46 PM

Fantastic story! Your pain, our gain! Thanks so much for sharing it!
All in all, if everyone’s happy, you have to score it as a win!
Thanks for sharing.
Well done!

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View tool_junkie's profile


327 posts in 3034 days

#7 posted 06-27-2012 10:42 PM

Awesome! Really enjoyed reading it.

View alfa189's profile


95 posts in 2966 days

#8 posted 06-28-2012 11:23 PM

Thanks fellas. Only thing we can do is laugh about it. And then share it on LJ with others who can really understand our pain…lol.

-- "It's not a mistake. It's a design feature."

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