Home Projects Fine Woodworking Media Cabinets – Part 1

Media Cabinets – Part 1

One of my fellow engineers has been looking for a certain dimension set of media cabinets for his DVD and Blue-Ray collection. Alas, after years of not finding anything I told him that I could probably make something that would work for him. He requested that they be 36”x36”, have 2 shelves for DVDs and 2 shelves for Blue-Ray cases. Didn’t sound like too much of a learning curve until…..

We talked about them some more getting more and more carried away about how they should be built, bi-fold doors, glass recessed panels, invisible dados for the shelves, mitered corners etc.  A bit of a learning curve with some of the parts but I still thought it would be really fun to build and thus I had my first commissioned build, 2 identical media cabinets!

Came up with the below design and the client loved it

This will be a two post article as there are over 100 pictures!

Part One – Frames, shelves and door build

The daughter and I made our typical trip to the blue store to purchase the supplies for the build and came home with a great pile of goodness.
Began by cutting the sides and tops of the cabinets to length on the miter saw. Would have liked to cut the 45° miters on the table saw but I don’t trust my cheap table saw enough.

In the end I should have taken the time to make a miter sled for the table saw since the miter saw cuts at 45° were not quite perfect. Next time and hopefully when there is a new table saw.

Cut the shelves and tops to width on the table saw.
Below is the stack of shelves and frame boards cut and mitered to length and width.
Below is the sequence of cutting the dados in the shelves. 1/4″ was taken off each width leaving a 1/4″ dado extension.
Below is another dado cut made using the router. This is an indent cut on the back of the frame for the back panel to fit flush into the back of the cabinet.
Using my plunge router to cut a 1/4″ dado into the frames to accept the shelf dados. Clamped the opposing sides together with the back together so I could make one cut across the sides. As you can see I made a huge mistake here and cut the dado all the way to the front edge of the shelf. Woops, into the scrap pile that frame went…lesson learned so that I don’t make the same mistake again on the second shelf….NOPE! Did the same thing on the second cabinet while making the first cut!
Third and forth set of frames were successful! Measure twice…still cut twice, more sawdust that way!
After finally getting the dado cuts correct I did a quick dry test fit….without the top frame.
Used a biscuit joiner to join the 45° miters on the frame. Will have to get myself a biscuit joiner someday, sweet tool!
Another dry fit to make sure the right path was being traveled.
Cabinet dry assembled with a test door to make sure everything fits.
Blue-ray on the top, DVD on the bottom.

Below is the sequence of events for gluing up the shelves. Glued the first shelf myself, was tough and the frame didn’t come out as square as I would have liked. My wife helped me with the second one and it turned out much better and with less pounding on the shelves.

In the end though my wife asked me how woodworking was so relaxing since the glue up had to be complete so fast and was a bit stressful! It’s always worth it!!

Cutting the back panels out of the 1/4″ plywood.
Cutting to width, drilling pocket holes and mounting the bottom flange.

Now that the cabinets were for the most part complete, minus the back panel, it was time to move on to making the eight doors.

Started out by cutting the 1x8x8 to the length of the door stiles on the miter saw. And then cutting to the proper width on the table saw. Am really glad that I decided to use a 1×8 instead of several 1x3s which was the original thought. As can be seen below there was much lest waste using this method.

The four larger pieces of wood are the stiles and the small piece is the only scrap.

Used the table saw sled with a stop block clamped in place to cut the rails for the door, 24 total.
Below is the cut stack of rails and stiles. Began sanding each part individually using the belt sander jig but it was taking a long time. Tried clamping all the rails together and the stiles together in another chunk and sanding with the random orbit sander and this proved to be much faster. Better yet would have been to plane or joint the edges…..another day, don’t have the tools and there may not have been enough wood to accommodate anyway.
After much trial and error on scrap wood I was able to get the rail router bit set in a place that made a good cut. Below I am routing the rails to accept the stile router bit.

The clamp is holding a sacrificial board in place to prevent blowout while routing across the end-grain.

Slow and steady work on the 24 door rails.
Below, changed out the router bit for the stile bit and will be using this to create the proper profile for the top and bottom rails, stile profile on one side, and for the middle rail, stile profile on both sides.

Middle Rail
Below is a complete door stile. Made using the same setup as the above left picture.
Below is the stack of 16 stiles. These all have to be marked so I can rabbet out the back of the stile to accept the glass panel.
Using a straight bit on the router to rabbet out the back of the stiles. Routed out everything but the ends and the middle where the rails connect.
Rabbeted out both sides of the 8 middle rails (Below Left) and one side of the 16 end rails (Below Right).
For gluing up the doors I, again, used a slightly warmed up cup of glue and a brush for application. This ended up being much faster and cleaner than squeezing out of the glue bottle.
Glued up and clamped using strap clamps and F-style clamps…..again, can’t have enough clamps.
And the glued up doors.
And that will conclude part one. Part two will include mounting the hardware, finishing, glass installation and final assembly. There were definitely lessons learned at this point but there will be a write up in part two with mistakes and pointers for the next builds. Be sure to check back next week!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here