Help with entertainment center design

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by AndyF, Dec 27, 2003.

  1. AndyF

    AndyF Agent

    Oct 14, 2002
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    I'm designing an entertainment center for a 5' wide by 2' deep nook in our living room. My wife wants it to have hide-away doors; so a flexy rack is definately out. The center I'm considering would be 5'W x 6'6"H x 2'D. I can use two 15"W panels on each side attached together like an accordian door to fold up and recess into the cabinet. This should effectively give me two front doors that are 30"W but fold up to require only 15" of depth to hide the doors.

    One of my peeves with typical entertainment centers that are commercially found is that managing and dressing the cables is nearly impossible because you can't access the rear of the equipment easily.

    I'm considering placing my entertainment center on heavy duty casters so I can roll it out to access the business end of the equipment.

    Heavy duty casters at Rockler

    To access the rear of the center, I'm considering a removable panel or door. I know that the typical back panel is usually 1/4" plywood to prevent racking. If I cut a hole in it, 1/4" may not be strong enough. If I make a removable panel/door about 3'W x 4'H would a 1/2" plywood panel be enough to prevent racking or should I go ahead and use 3/4" plywood?

  2. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

    Jul 2, 2001
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    What is "racking"?

    Whether 1/4" would be adequate for the back depends on how much you are relying on the back panel for structural integrity. One could certainly design an entertainment center such that the back is superfluous and could be cardboard (in fact, the backs of many cheap store-bought cabinets are cardboard). Since the actual panel is removable/openable, you can't rely on it for any structural integrity. The rest of the back (the "frame" for the opening) may need to be thicker... again, depending on your particular design. Since you have two feet of depth and most equipment is less than half that depth (except perhaps the TV), you may want to just go ahead and use 3/4.
  3. MikeWh

    MikeWh Second Unit

    Mar 3, 2003
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    Dave-- Racking is the result of not having structural integrity. It's the tendency for an upright construct (like a frame, box, etc.) to fall to one side (shear), either because it was not level or because of improper bracing. If you tried to balance a horizontal ruler on top of two upright rulers, it would probably collapse to the side. That's racking.

    You are absolutely right, that it is possible to design it without the back panel; however, the forces which tend to make a cabinet rack can then only be supported through the fasteners and/or joinery. Usually, if an entire back panel isn't used, then corner bracing or selective back bracing is done. Since Andy isn't talking about removing the entire back (just a window out of it), I think it's very possible that the remaining plywood could provide enough support to prevent sheering/racking.... but it's all about the design, the quality of construction, and the weight of the stuff going into the cabinet.

    Andy-- most entertainment centers have numerous access holes on the back so you can feed wires through. Since it's very difficult to move the cabinet, you've mentioned a caster idea. If it's on hardwood floors, then you should be OK. A 6-1/2 foot top-heavy cabinet (usually because the TV is up high) could be pretty rough to move on carpet.

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