Oak Entertainment Center

Most of the furniture from my early woodworking ventures had a red oak theme to it and this entertainment center was no exception. It was made in the late 1980’s and is fairly representative of entertainment centers of that time: an opening to house a nice sized TV (32″ was large back then), a series of racks for the audio-video components (typically a turn-table, cassette deck, receiver/amplifier, cable box), and storage drawers for tapes, albums, manuals, etc.

Entertainment center housing a 1980's era TV and stereo system

Entertainment center housing a 1980’s era TV and stereo system

I no longer have the entertainment center so don’t know the exact dimensions but it was approximately 4′ wide, 5′ high and 20″ deep. It was made from 3/4″ plain-sliced red oak plywood and solid red oak edging. The joinery was fairly simple: oak cleats glued to the sides with the horizontal members screwed to the cleats. This design made it easy to take the unit apart for moving purposes.

One of the big differences between this entertainment center and more contemporary ones is the amount of space allotted for the TV. As TV’s have become larger and relatively less expensive, the trend has been to make the opening for the TV the dominant feature in the middle of the unit with storage shelves and racks arranged around it. With this old-school unit, the TV opening is on a much more even footing with the other storage elements.

Pull-out tray to store cassette tapes

Pull-out tray to store cassette tapes

Once the kids came along, the entertainment center pulled double duty as educational furniture. Yes, that’s my son watching Jeapordy – anybody recognize the episode? Fortunately, the heavy old TV never did fall on him or anybody else…

The entertainment center doubled as "educational furniture"

The entertainment center doubled as “educational furniture”

One of the few photos of the work in progress is shown below. Here my apprentice (aka, future wife) is doing the final sanding. After that, we applied a nice oak stain followed by a few polyurethane clear coats.

Apprentice helping out with sanding

Apprentice helping out with sanding