Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Benches Intermezzo

This post began simply enough. A fellow Lumberjock had requested more details on the built-ins along the wall. They were done as a 90's solution to media storage and bulky TV's, so now for most people, the CD storage and TV cabinetry are, em, obsolete. But they were solutions that allowed the use of a rear-projector TV and audio components in the living room without a lot of hardware dominating that space and with no visible cables. Over the next 20 years, the TV went elsewhere and the audio area became consolidated to the space vacated by the TV. Sometime in the 21st century, we stopped accumulating CD's and DVD's although we still buy them occasionally. The drawers were being used less and less, so it was relatively easy to ignore their faults. My DW occasionally commented that the wood was in need of refinishing. But as anyone who has an old house knows, there always something than needs work.
It turned out that what I thought would be an 30 minute photo shoot when removing the drawers to show construction details turned into a weekend project. And this post developed into a re-visiting of the furnishings I made and then altered as the space evolved. Please bear with a sorta lengthy preamble to show how the built-ins came about. Then I'll get to as well as the evolution and remediation of the built-ins along with changes to the album storage cabinet.
The very crude alteration below is to give an idea of where the archway and the built in cabinet were added to the area in 1995.
The fireplace remained the same except to powder coat the metal face and doors. The archway and cabinet above with drawers below where made with 2x4 framing and plywood/backerboard and plaster on the walls and drywall for the curved ceiling on for the arch.
On the other side I made a cut out of the brick wall to house the rear projection TV. . Conveniently, there was a coat closet on the other side of that area.
That was the only part that was convenient, as making a cut out on a brick wall with a masonry saw generated a awful amount of dust that made its way all over the house- even with the immediate surrounding area closed off with clear tarp.
No photos of that era as using film for that purpose was not worth the time or trouble - I did not start using digital photography until about 2004.
It was worth it, though as the TV only stuck out 4" from the wall. A 40" inch TV in 1995 was a big step up for me as previously I had a 25" CRT (the Stone Ages, huh).
Image result for toshiba 40 inch rear projection tv

14 years later, we finally bought a flat screen TV which went to another room. I had kept my vinyl records and wanted a more accessible place for the turntable.  Until then it had been in the section covered by the stained glass cabinet door. An audio component cabinet was made to fit into the space vacated by the TV. Being able to access the components from the back made cable management less of an irritation. However, our oldest cat Ernie the audiophile was the only one who enjoyed an optimal place for listening.

The wall behind Ernie (R.I.P.- we miss you) was the only place where a double tier album cabinet could go.
In 2012 the living room underwent a major remodel to become a library/music room. Along with that, the audio system in general and computer audio in particular evolved, as did the turntable area. By 2013, I was able to use a small digital server, get rid of the LCD monitor and make the turntable shelf a little higher. The last alteration was to make sections to support the middle ledge as that had begun to sag. It also helped to make pulling out record albums easier.
As this room saw more use, so did the need for more seating. We could not fit another sofa with the record cabinet as originally built. I had anticipated that development and had made the cabinet so it could disassembled and still use the parts. Thus the visible screws.
After making  additional components to match the originals, I gave up the upper shelf space for albums in order to use as side cabinets for the sofa. I've worked with Classique Marble & Granite for more than 20 years and they partitioned the granite top to so it could be used for the end cabinets.
Record storage space  at ground level was lost, but seating is much improved. Both of us can use the lamp in the corner and the daytime ambient light in the room is helpful in the fight against SAD.

Back to the drawers. Part of the problem was that there was a 1/4 inch variance in width between the narrowest which was sliding off the track and the widest which was a tight fit. Those two drawers were disassembled with reassuring difficulty given that they were held together with yellow glue and finish nails (no nailgun or air compressor at the time). I can see the Fine Woodworking crowd wrinkling their nose in dismay, but the drawers and tracks show no signs of compromise otherwise after 20 years. And my manufacturing tolerances have improved. The drawers now slide securely and easily. Festool domino loose tenons are an improvement over the prior glue and nail joinery method.

The drawer faces have a figuring that I highly prize. I had concerns with the stability of wood with this grain pattern. But again, after 20-some years, so far so good.

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