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Television Stand

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Television stands that are bought with TVs are, in my opinion, either gaudy or just plain ugly, so when my cousin bought a new television and recorder, I decided that I would make her an oak stand.

There is not a lot of timber required for this project, so I salvaged most of the material from an old fire surround and the remains of a settee. The advantage of using reclaimed material – apart from the cost – is that the wood is well seasoned and you get great satisfaction from recycling.

Construction of the legs

The legs were too thick in cross section to be made from my salvaged timber, but an offcut from material I used to make

a garden seat was just the correct length.

Steps 1-2

First of all, plane one face of the material flat, then the adjoining face at right angles so that you can cut the blanks to size on a bandsaw.

Step 3

These blanks are then ready for planing and thicknessing to 38mm. Televisions these days are much lighter in weight than they used to be, so castors on the legs are not really necessary. But to ease sliding on the carpet, the bottom of the legs are rounded and continued into a ball to add a little to the appearance.

Step 4

It is not unknown to have a dig in when turning the ball, so it is best to leave blanks slightly longer if the wood allows, so that you have a chance of a second attempt before cutting the leg to the required length.

Step 5

Find the centre at the ends of the blanks by drawing diagonals or, like me, use a Veritas centre finder, which is both quick and easy. Mount the blanks between centres, then draw lines at the position of the top and bottom of the ball foot i.e. 25mm apart – these

will become clearly visible when the work revolves.

Use the toe of a well-sharpened large skew chisel to form the 'V' at the top of the ball. Very light slicing cuts should be made using only the point of the tool to avoid a dig in. Take cuts from alternative sides, slightly curving the V until it is the required depth.

Steps 6-7

Make a cylinder which will form the part where the ball foot is going with the spindle roughing gouge, before planing smooth again using a large skew chisel.

Step 8

To form the ball, use the heel of the skew and avoid using the third of the chisel nearest the toe to avoid a dig in. Now shape the ball after first using a parting tool to take away some of the waste below the foot, to give a reference point for where to finish the foot. The ball could be turned with a small fingernail profile spindle gouge if you are not confident with the skew. The skew chisel is such a versatile tool that it is well worth the time spent mastering it, until you are confident in its use. Incidentally, the skew chisel is the only woodturning tool that I finish on a water stone after removing from the grindstone.

Forming the mortises for the cross rails

Step 9

Take out all the mortises for the cross rails with a router guided by

a fence, fitted with a straight cutter. It isn't always easy to see pencil lines drawn on the timber to mark the extent of the mortises, especially when wearing a visor, which becomes dusty. A simple way of avoiding getting carried away with the router is to use masking tape to mark the extent of the mortise – this can easily be removed when finished.

Step 10

The best type of cutter for sinking a mortise is one with a bottom cutting edge, otherwise it is necessary to make sloping cuts from each end until the depth is reached.

Step 11

After finishing with the router, square the ends of the mortises by hand. You will not have to do this if you have a mortising machine but in a small workshop, I prefer to have space – you might want a mortise machine if you do a lot of repetition work.

Step 12

To complete the legs ready for trimming to their final length, I work a 3mm radius along all the edges using a bearing-guided,

round-over cutter.

The cross rails

Step 13

Plane the upper cross rails to a thickness of 19mm and width of 50mm, then cut to length allowing for the tenons.

Step 14

After using a marking knife to mark the shoulders, I use a Japanese type pull saw to cut the shoulders – this is guided by a square block which is clamped to the surface to ensure the shoulder is on the cut line and square.

Steps 15-16

Cut the tenons with a bandsaw guided by a fence – if you prefer, leave this until you have routed a slot on the inside of rails to take the table buttons for fixing the top. Stop the button slot a little short of the tenon shoulders so as not to reduce the thickness of the tenons.

Step 17

When setting up your bandsaw to cut the tenons, have a trial run on scrap wood to ensure they are a good fit in the mortises.

Step 18

When you have cut the tenons to length for the top rails, use the bandsaw with the table tilted to an angle of 45° to cut the ends of the tenons so that they interlock – this will not be necessary on the middle and lower rails as the length of the tenons is less.

Step 19

Make the centre and lower cross rails 22mm thick.

Step 20

Cut the tenons in the same way, but note that the shoulders are deeper on the inside to bring the rail in somewhat, so that the space between the first shelf slat and the side rail matches closely the space between the remainder of the shelf slots.

Step 21

When the legs and rails have been sanded down to 400 grit, the side rails can be glued to the legs – but do not glue the end rails in until after the slats are in position. If you apply the adhesive to the mortises only, the glue is pushed in rather than out, and there is less glue to clean up.

The shelves

Step 22

Each shelf has 10 slats and for these, a row of mortises are needed. Cut the mortises 10mm deep with a 19mm straight cutter with a router guided by a fence, then square the ends of the mortises by hand with a chisel, making sure they are each 16mm long. You may have to clamp a long strip of wood to the workbench to prevent the router from tilting.

The slats are 16mm wide and 19mm deep. The lower face of the slats forms the bottom of the tenon that enters the cross piece, so it is a good idea to make the slats a little over 19mm deep in the first instance so that if they stand proud a fraction, they can be planed off the top, resulting in a perfect fit.

Step 23

I was using offcuts to form the slats, so I used the bandsaw fitted with a stop and guided by a fence to cut the tenons. There are several advantages to using slatted shelves.

1. Offcuts can easily be used

2. Differential shrinkage is not a problem because there are plenty of spaces to take up movement

3. Better ventilation is available for electronic equipment, thus there is less risk of overheating

Step 24

Use a palm sander to sand the slats before gluing to end rails.

Step 25

Glue the shelves together and hold them in cramps until set.

Step 26

Again using the palm sander, I sanded the slats flush with the shelf end rails.

Steps 27-28

Next the ends and sides of the stand are glued and clamped up.

Once the glue has gone off, you are left with the carcass of the TV stand.

Top construction

The top is relatively small so it is easy to joint together pieces from one board, and this ensures that there is a good colour match. Cut the board for the top into a suitable length, allowing a little extra for trimming when glued together.

Plane and thickness the boards to about 22mm and plane the edges square for jointing together.

When planing the edges, if you alternate adjacent faces against the planer fence, any slight error in your fence angle is cancelled out.

Step 29

With modern glues it is not essential, but I used biscuits to keep everything in line – make sure you do not position them too near the edges as they may become visible when the top is trimmed to size.

I used Cascamite glue rather than a PVA glue because I have found, particularly with hardwoods, that there can be a little creep over a period of time, which results in a slight ridge appearing along the joint line if PVA is used. Another advantage of Cascamite is that it is not heat sensitive and is easier to sand.

Step 30

When the top has set, ensure that it is sanded flat, then cut to size and cut the edges square.

Step 31

Work a roundover and step around the top's edges using

a bearing-guided round over cutter in a handheld router. The top is fixed in place with table buttons, but it is easier if the finishing work is carried out first.


A slightly darker finish than natural oak was required so rather than use stain, which I am not too keen on, I decided to lightly fume to give a similar finish to brown oak. This avoids any problem of raised grain due to the use of water stain.

In the fuming process, the ammonia reacts with the tannic acid present in oak (see panel below). When you are satisfied with the colour, apply three coats of Danish oil at 24-hour intervals with a lint-free cloth.

The oil is applied liberally, then the surplus removed with a lint-free cloth. Lightly sand between coats with a 400 grit paper. After the final coat, apply wax polish with a Scotchbrite cloth to remove dust nibs, then burnish with a soft cloth.

Step 32

The top can now be fixed to the top rails with table buttons, if you did not do this before fuming.


When fuming small pieces of furniture, as in this case, it is not necessary to construct an elaborate fuming chamber. I draped a sheet of polythene over two small saw horses and sealed it all round to the garage floor by placing strips of wood on the edges.

Place the stand in the tent and include several strips of wood that can be extracted as the fuming proceeds, so that they can be observed in a good light for their colour. Place a container of industrial-strength ammonia in the tent. Ammonia fumes are dangerous, so wear a suitable vapour mask and goggles. I found the ordinary safety goggles interfered with my vapour mask, but the small goggles used for swimming are ideal.

Household ammonia will also do the job, but this can take rather

a long time. Remember, while checking for colour, when the timber is removed from the enclosure, further slight darkening may occur; plus bear in mind that the finish to be used will give a wet look.

It is not easy to give a time for the length of fuming because there are so many different factors involved, but mine took somewhat longer than usual at 90 minutes, although the air temperature was only 0°C – I hope this is some help!