Dan is woodworking and building us a lot of furniture, so I thought I would write about the first big piece, the TV stand.

As a background, the bar wasn’t exceptionally high seeing as our current TV stand consisted of a garbage heap. Ie a liquor cabinet and an old package’s styrofoam insert. The TV is kind of decorative at this point since we don’t have cable, and therefore never watch it.

Garbage heap TV stand

Building a TV Stand: Prep

The first step was finding the thing we wanted to copy use as inspiration. I found a TV stand from West Elm and thought to myself omg I love the clean lines. Barf. Really I just liked that it was open, could accommodate a lot of knickknacks and plants, and was relatively simple looking. I strongly disliked the cabinet/door thing at the bottom right, so that is omitted.

TV Stand West Elm

Next, Dan drew the design in Sketchup so we could decide on the dimensions. The largest sides are 60 inches long, 24 inches tall, 16 inches wide.

Sketchup TV Stand

Sketchup TV Stand

Here are the Sketchup [zip] files here and here. The plans are for 5/4, but we did 4/4.

Then we went to a lumber yard together and spent two hours hemming and hawing about possible woods. The deciding factors of cost (<$10/board foot), wood thickness (4/4), color and style (not too light, cool looking?), and availability funneled us into the choice of Sapele. It was between that and African Mahogany, but the glittery lines in the Sapele distracted me sufficiently to trade $150 for a few slabs of wood.


Sapele boards

We also decided to use a darker color for the accent – walnut for the midline support, supports between shelves, and feet. We recently bought a walnut live edge slab for an entry table that will be a future post. It was $80. If we still lived in Maryland we could get walnut for free. Just add it to the list of sacrifices we suffer to live here. Hah.

walnut slab

The last design choice I had input toward was choosing the joint style – box joints. Dan did everything else (slash everything of importance). So here I am reporting what he said about actually building it.


  • 4/4 quartersawn unprocessed Sapele ($7.30 per board foot), 4 pieces, 8.5 inch wide, 8 ft long for a total of 23 board feet.
  • 4/4 premium unprocessed black walnut ($7.24 per board ft), 1 piece, 6 inches wide, 7 ft long for a total of 3.5 board ft.
  • Things already owned: table saw, planer, drill press (all three bought used from Craigslist or auctions), dado blade on the table saw, palm sander, clamps, homemade jigs, chisels. Does it seem like I know a lot about these things?
Table saw
Pic of a table saw.

Total cost for raw materials = $215 [$210 for the wood and $5 for the finishing oil]. Clearly it costs a lot more if I account for the already-owned equipment.

Building a TV Stand: Production

Dan estimates he spent ~30 hours total making the TV stand, which includes building several homemade jigs. Here are the steps:

  • Planed the boards down to same thickness, distributed to both sides to remove any differences or imperfections.

TV Stand lumber

  • Jointed them on the table saw with a homemade jig to get one smooth, square edge. It worked ok, but not as well as a joiner.
  • Ripped the Sapele boards down to a width of 8 inches, and 6 inches for the walnut, so that he had a glue edge 
  • Cut the boards to length with a homemade cross cut sled.
  • Glued together walnut (6 inches to 12 inches) and Sapele  (8 inches to 16 inches).

TV Stand

TV Stand

  • Sanded down the boards with low grit (80) sandpaper to flatten the glue joints.
  • Built a homemade jig to make box joints with a dado blade, and made box joints for the Sapele.

Woodworking TV stand

Woodworking TV stand

Woodworking TV stand

  • Used dado blade to cut grooves in walnut and Sapele to make cross lap joints for the rear walnut supports.
  • Used dado blades to make tenons for walnut supports. Then used Forstner drill bits on his drill press to make blind mortises in the sapelle, then squared off with hand chisel.
  • Dry fit the assemblies to make sure everything fit well. Then glued it in stages with clamps and reinforced rear walnut support with three pre-drilled screws per level.

TV Stand Dry Fit

TV Stand Dry Fit

  • Once fully dried, Dan sanded everything with a palm sander (would have preferred to use orbital palm sander) using 80 grit, 150 grit, then 220 grit sandpaper. Used triangular oscillating tool sander to clean up glue line on inside of box joints.
  • Wiped down all the surfaces with dry clean cloth to remove sawdust.
  • Then oiled with two coats of Watco Natural Danish oil, waiting 24 hours between coats.

Pre oiled TV stand

Finished Product:

Ta-dah! I LOVE IT.

Finished TV stand

Next up: a bed frame to properly complete our Cyber Monday mattress purchase, a live edge entry table, bar stools, and more plant stands so that I can accumulate hundreds of plants in an organized manner.



  1. The stand looks very sharp. Coincidentally, we were checking out furniture in Bangkok and they were mostly made of particleboard. Too bad it would be too expensive to fly you both and the tools to help us make a set in Bangkok. 😉

    • ashleyoutside Reply

      We could stow away on a freighter or something? Any excuse, really…your pictures make me very jealous 🙂

  2. Wow, that stand is absolutely stunning. It’s wonderful to have a woodworker in the family. My dad was talented that way too, but unfortunately not me.

    • ashleyoutside Reply

      Agreed! And thanks for the nice comment I’ll let him know! Yea I appreciate how handy he is, unfortunately that kinda skipped over me too, hah.

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