By Matt Weber
How to Build a Sectional Entertainment Center with Pocket-hole Joinery.
Flat-screen televisions are all the rage for dens and living rooms, but the larger versions in the 4- to 5-ft. range can outsize the old entertainment stand that held the former, smaller TV. A wider stand can give the entertainment area a better sense of visual balance while providing storage for a cable box, Blu-ray player, game console and more.
After seeing the high price of several furniture-store entertainment centers, I decided to build my own to save some cash. I’m more of a wood “tinkerer” than a seasoned wood-smith, so I wanted a design that would provide adequate storage and organization while also requiring fairly basic carpentry skills that I could accomplish without pulling out my hair. After scouring the internet I found such a design at www.woodsmith.com, where the website offers free downloadable building plans for a Sectional Entertainment Center. This proved to be an excellent resource, and if you plan to build this piece of furniture, I recommend you visit their site for the original plans, complete with detailed illustrations and additional instructions for creating matching side cabinets and even some frame-and-panel doors for the center.
However, the existing building plan was specific to a 42-in. wide entertainment center. I had a 52-in. TV and wanted a 54-in. center to support it. The plans detailed here have been modified from the original design to achieve the 54-in. width. This article will show the tools and techniques I used to take the project from a pile of boards to a finished piece of furniture.
With few exceptions, this entire entertainment center was built using pocket-hole joinery. Pocket-hole joinery relies on a simple two-step process to create a very strong wood joint. First, use the pocket-hole jig with a special “stepped” drill bit to drill the pilot hole. The jig clamps to the workpiece to guide the drill bit at a steep offset angle into the wood. The bit has a 3/8-in. diameter shank and features a shoulder with a narrower tip. The shoulder of the bit drills a countersink for the screw head, while the narrow tip drills the pilot for the screw tip. A collar on the bit stops the drilling at exactly the right depth for the screw. With this type of wood joint, you’ll only need to drill one work piece. Then, simply align your work pieces and drive home self-tapping, square-drive screws for a rock-solid connection.
For this project I used a new pocket-hole jig kit from General Tools & Instruments that includes everything needed—the drill bit, the driver bits, the jig and even some screws.
Building the Carcass
The basic case or carcass of the entertainment center consists of two end panels connected with a top and bottom plywood panel and a plywood center divider. The rails and stiles of the end panels, as well as the face-frames and finished top are constructed from solid 3/4-in. oak.
My first step was to cut all the components to size on my miter and table saws, and label the different pieces.