TV Room - AKA "Mancave"

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Project by paratrooper34 posted 10-25-2013 12:24 AM 2035 views 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
TV Room - AKA "Mancave"
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Here is a project that encompasses many woodworking skills that I am posting to show all the work that went into a project like this.

This spring, I decided that it was time to make a dedicated TV room with a large screen television, sound system, and place to hang a bunch of my mementos. I will be retired from the Army in about a month and really wanted to put my memento collection gathered over the past 22+ years in a space that would be worthy of placing them. So I got started building this room. About a month into the project, I got the first of two surgeries to correct carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands. So I had to work around those. It wasn’t easy, but it was a good way to rehab my hands and get them back to where they need to be.

The first phase, of course, was framing the room. This came with some learning events as I will explain in a bit. I chose to use one of the two carrying beams as the point of delineation in the basement and framed most of the wall under it. I made part of that wall kick out to accommodate space needed to get around and service the furnace. I also had to build a large soffit for the return air duct and place some parts around where I wanted the TV/media center and a small piece for the border of the suspended ceiling.

Once I figured out what I needed for framing, I got to work. Now, being a hand tool worker, I only used two power tools to complete the framing; a drill to drive screws and a jigsaw to make a couple of vent cutouts in the OSB I used to sheath the back side of the walls. I cut every 2”x4” on my trusty Millers Falls miter box. So coupled with the surgery recovery and slow pace with a miter box and hand saw, it took approximately two months to frame the room. Here are some pics of the framing work.

In this one, you can see one end of the soffit built for the air duct where it ends above the door.. It is about 12’ long.

In these, you can see where I kicked the wall out for the furnace. The exterior walls, up against the foundation and insulated, were done by the contractors who built the house. The wall I built is the one with the door in it and uninsulated in these pics.

In this one, I placed cabinets I bought that would be the media center to see how they fit. Yes, I bought the cabinets to save time. I just didn’t want to spend the time to build them myself as I don’t do anything very quickly. I put three of them together and raised them off the floor 2 1/2”. Don’t know what the blur in the picture is, poltergeist maybe?

So I got it all framed and here is where the learning started. I needed to get some contractors to do the electrical and gas piping. I cannot do electrical work and although a homeowner can legally install electrical wiring in their home, I do not posses the skill to do it correctly. I intended to put a vent free propane fireplace in there for heat, and homeowners cannot install gas piping in this state. So I had a plumber come over to give an estimate for the gas piping and he asked if I had a permit for the work. I did not and wasn’t aware that I had to. He also remarked that he thought I needed to have pressure treated lumber for the bottom plate on the walls as they were in contact with the concrete floor. Well, that just about sunk me. I was pretty distraught at that point.

Well, I hightailed it to the town hall to sort this out. I got with the building inspector and got some education. Yes, I needed a building permit. Yes I needed to have pressure treated 2”x4”s for the bottom plate. I had visions of ripping the entire wall out to switch the plate. After spending two months on the wall, I was not looking forward to that. But the building inspector said “Let’s look at the code”. Low and behold, regular, untreated lumber was good as long as there is 6 mil poly placed under the lumber to prevent it from contacting the floor. WHEW, I had an out. So I took the lag screws out of the bottom plate and used my floor jack to lift the wall every so slightly to slip in the poly; good to go. It worked like a charm and I was now up to code and completely legit with my new building permit. Oh, and in the end, I did not install the vent free fireplace. Seems they are not well regarded on the internet with health and CO issues noted on several sites. So I installed supply and return air ducts to heat the room. Been awhile since I did some tin knocking, felt good!

I got an electrician, got it wired, and finished up the framing. I did come up with an idea prior to finishing that phase. I decided to frame a place to make a built in bookshelf that would serve as a place to store DVDs and knickknacks. That is seen here in this pic after I insulated the wall.

Oh, one other point in my education: all holes with wires penetrating the top plate had to be fireproofed. I used an expanding foam for that.

Once the framing and fireproofing was done, I passed the framing inspection and was cleared to seal up the walls. I then put the insulation in.

At this point, I had to make a decision. I was trying to keep costs down and try to save money where I could. I can hang sheetrock but I cannot tape it. I watched some videos on youtube on sheetrock and taping and decided I was not going to be able to do a decent enough job to try to tackle that. I ended up getting a contractor to install the sheetrock and do the taping. It was the biggest single expense building the room. But I was glad I did it. He did a great job and left walls ready for paint. Here are some sheetrock pictures.

I was home everyday to see the sheetrock installation and taping. I realized that I made the right decision. There was no way I was going to do the job to the quality that the contractor did. It came out great. Aside from the finish electrical work, everything else I did myself from here on out. Here are pics of painting, ceiling, and finishing.


Finish paint

Ceiling. I have never done a suspended ceiling before. I again watched youtube and found a couple of great videos showing how to do it. Looked simple enough. It actually was pretty simple. Took me one day to completely install. One thing that really helped was a laser level. The videos I watched showed the installer using a level to get the edge line down. I found a very nice laser level on CL for less than the cost of a new four or six foot level. Good score there. Also, Armstrong’s website has a great page on it that helps you figure out the layout and all the pieces you need. That was an incredible help in getting this done. I then installed the surround sound speakers throughout. I made the mounts out of some cherry I had hanging around.

My pal Raiden was there to help as always.

I then painted the concrete floor. Because it is a basement, I didn’t want carpet or a wood floor in case there is any kind of water issue. I got some quality floor paint at Sherwin Williams and had at it.

After that, I shifted back to woodworking and put the media center in. It is configured from the three base cabinets seen above and I made a shelf unit to put on top to hold cable box, sound system amp, and the TV. The shelf is constructed of one layer each of 3/4” plywood and 3/4” oak veneered plywood with face banding from oak. The middle cabinet cutout is for the subwoofer. It is finished with a light oak stain and wipe on poly.

After that was done, I moved to the built in shelves. I bought a Kreg jig for the shelf holes. That is a very nice tool and gave excellent results.

After that, I installed the window trim.

I then got all the audio and video setup. And sat down and watched a football game!

Finally, I set out to decorate and furnish it.

I also put in a couple of lights and this room is ready to go!

Now I will sit in there and enjoy the Red Sox playing in the World Series! This was a huge project for me. I have never attempted anything like this before. I still have to finish off the staircase, which will come sometime in the near future. I learned a lot and really enjoy having a new space to enjoy memories and watch movies, sports, etc.

Obviously, there is a lot here that is not woodworking. But woodworking is all throughout this room and figured the best way to capture it was to see each piece as it fit into the whole project. So please don’t beat me up too badly for all the non-woodworking pics and story. Thanks for looking!

-- Mike

19 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile


5349 posts in 3963 days

#1 posted 10-25-2013 02:36 AM

Man, I have so many comments. Code, floating sheet rock, home theater design and components, retiring from the Army still in your 40’s

What an awesome project! You deserve to sit back and watch some football this winter. Well done!

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30662 posts in 3678 days

#2 posted 10-25-2013 03:53 AM

Great project. Wish I could join you.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Dutchy's profile


4294 posts in 3508 days

#3 posted 10-25-2013 06:08 AM


Indeed this is/was a huge project. You have made a great TV room! Well done.


View Ken90712's profile


18101 posts in 4528 days

#4 posted 10-25-2013 08:54 AM

Man cave are so much fun,,,, Great job,,, enjoy….

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#5 posted 10-25-2013 11:30 AM

Thanks Guys!

-- Mike

View theoldfart's profile


13011 posts in 3791 days

#6 posted 10-25-2013 11:51 AM

Mike, and I thought you were just hanging around moaning about your wrists1.. Great job and cool that that building inspector went the extra mile to help you out. Now your all set for the winter. BTW Westover or Barnes?

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 4016 days

#7 posted 10-25-2013 12:29 PM

Great write up of a cool experience! basements are great…wish I had one. I’ve thought about digging down and installing one but that’s 25 grand I’ll never get back.

But I’ve remodeled about a hundred or so and it was fun looking at the pictures and reading your well written story. I know how much time you put in to this and I want to say, thank you for sharing.

Ps – recessed cans are so much better than light fixtures, unless it’s over a table. ceiling is too low. a low return by the furnace will suck the cold off the floor in the winter – big difference.

nice job.

View lysdexic's profile


5349 posts in 3963 days

#8 posted 10-25-2013 01:12 PM

Mark, I thought the same thing. Recessed can lights on a dimmer. Mike do you think you could still do something like that?

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#9 posted 10-25-2013 04:12 PM

Gents, appreciate the feedback. I did give recessed lights consideration, but I am not a fan of them. I wanted lights that have the capacity to emit a lot of light in that area as it will eventually have a bar and a foosball table. Plus, I like how those lights look. You cannot see them in the pics because they are washed out from the light. They are brass and glass three bulb units and look nice. And they have a low profile, so headroom is no issue.

Thanks again, I always appreciate feedback, I know I don’t have all the answers :)

-- Mike

View 7Footer's profile


2575 posts in 3288 days

#10 posted 10-25-2013 04:22 PM

Awesome job on the Man Cave Mike. You definitely made the right call on the drywall, I’ve only done 3 rooms in my house, and am finally getting the hang of mudding & sanding, but the time it takes and the mess just isn’t worth it imo. I’m about to start on my basement and I am going to hang all the drywall myself and then hire a crew to do the mudding & sanding. That suspended ceiling interests me, looks very nice and you did the whole thing in one day, that is impressive.

Well done!


View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4206 days

#11 posted 10-25-2013 04:28 PM

That’s going to be a great place to hang out. Nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Sanding2day's profile


1018 posts in 3186 days

#12 posted 10-25-2013 04:37 PM

Fantastic project Mike… Looks great and will no doubt be enjoyed… Congrats on the upcoming retirement, I was with the 82nd from 96-02 and fully intend to hang up the boots with 21 years come the current ETS Aug17. Thanks for sharing your man cave adventure…

-- Dan

View paratrooper34's profile


916 posts in 4292 days

#13 posted 10-25-2013 05:59 PM

Thanks again Guys!

Dan, I was in the 82nd from 95-98. 4th and 3rd / 325. Great times there.

-- Mike

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 3487 days

#14 posted 10-25-2013 06:11 PM

Very nice. Lots of work. Thanks for sharing.

View mariva57's profile


666 posts in 3344 days

#15 posted 10-25-2013 07:08 PM

Hello Mike, great job executed with great mastery.
Best wishes for your hands.

-- The common man thinks. The wise man is silent. The stupid man discusses.

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