I gave it my Besta shot.
I grew up seeing a sign in many local businesses. I don’t remember the exact text but it was something along the lines of “You can have it: Fast, cheap, good. Pick 2.”
I’ve had an experience similar to what the sign described trying to find an entertainment/media console. For the most part, I can have one that’s: reasonably priced, made to properly house/control heat generating gear, and is visually modern and attractive, but sadly can only pick 2.
So when we’d finally had it with our old, bulky, too-big-for-the-room-yet-too-small-for-the-new-plasma media cabinet, I decided to make my own.
I initially planned to make the entire thing from scratch, but in the interest of saving time (baby on the way, lots to do), decided instead to go the IKEA hack route.
My goals were as follows:
1. Clean, modern look
2. Longer than a 65” tv, and as shallow a depth as physically possible
3. Cable Management a must (not a fan of cable mess showing)
4. Adequate ventilation for the gear
5. Not ridiculously expensive
I decided to start with IKEA’s Besta line for my frames. A double unit and a single unit connected together would do nicely. I also decided to mount it on casters for easier cleaning, vacuuming, and access to the rear wiring (a more vintage look is easily achieved with hairpin or tapered wooden peg legs).
I wanted this to look like a single piece so the visible seam between the two pieces was a no go. I figured a wood top and sides would not only hide the seam, but also make it more structurally sound (and more expensive looking). I opted to go for poplar. It’s not often used as a face for furniture but I love the gray/green tones that the mineral deposits give the wood.
Clamped together I could now see what I was working with. I took detailed measurements and quickly realized that assembled per the instructions, my receiver wouldn’t fit. The 3/4” inset of the backer boards didn’t play nicely with HDMI cable protrusion, and they weren’t the most structurally stable thing to mount fans to (not to mention the inward protrusion of the fans took away additional clearance inside).
The easiest solution was to buy three Besta Vara doors to use as the back panels. At 5 bucks each, they didn’t hurt the wallet and they gave me a much stronger frame to mount the fans in. I screwed the left and right panels to the back of the Besta units. The center is where the receiver would be placed and I wanted easy access to where all the wiring came together so I hinged the center rear door. Using doors as the backing not only added a very good amount of strength to the frames, mounting them to the back instead of using the included backer boards bought me an additional 3/4” or so of clearance inside.
To run the cables to their appropriate sides, I drilled 2 1/2” holes in the adjoining walls and finished them with cable grommets. Remember to mask off areas you’re drilling into to limit chipping of the veneer.
I swiss cheesed the shelves to aid airflow to the upper devices.
I didn’t have a jigsaw so I hand cut the square holes for the 120mm fans with a keyhole saw and sanded them smooth. The fans are 120mm kits from CoolerGuys.com They come with a thermostat and temp probe and turn the fans on when necessary. You’ll notice that I mounted the left and right doors with the hinge mounting holes on the outside. More on that later.
With the back in place I started on the “hardwired” parts of the console - namely the fan wiring and the infrared blasters (necessary since I would be using solid doors and didn’t want to have the doors open to control things). It actually worked out beautifully that I didn’t use the backer boards that came with the Besta units because I was able to use the channel they normally fit into to run the tiny wires for the temperature probes and the IR blasters. I decided to have each section’s fan be operated independently of the others. I purchased a 3 way molex splitter to avoid having to use multiple power supply bricks.
Now came the time to actually make this into one piece. To securely connect the two units together, I through-bolted them with 1” fender washers on each side to distribute the load. While this alone made it feel solid, I picked up a package of mending plates and stitched up the seam at the bottom.
Exhaust is no good without fresh air intake so I drilled 4 35mm intake holes for each section. I finished them with 35mm wiring grommets I found on Amazon. At this time I also drilled a 2 1/2” hole at the rear center bottom for all the wiring to come out of the console. Again, wiring grommet.
Now on to the wood top! I measured and cut everything so that there would be an even overhang even after all the doors were attached. I end joined the boards using pocket holes. After joining the pieces for the top and side sections, I coated them with several coats of satin polycrylic before putting the three sections together.
The dog had to inspect my work, of course.
Once the three sections of wood were put together, I was pleased to see them fit over the assembled console like a glove. Hooray for measuring thrice.
The top was secured to the console with screws and 1” fender washers (2” screws from the inside to the top, 1 1/2” screws for the sides). It’s important not to over tighten and triple check the penetration depth for the screws to make sure you have enough penetration to secure the top, but not enough to have the screws poke through.
And now for the wiring/fill up! I had to use many 90° cable adaptors but when all was said and done, everything fit, everything closed properly.
I routed all the power and internet cabling to the center directly underneath the receiver. I used a Belkin Pivot power center which made plugging everything in a breeze in this low clearance area.
To run the speaker cables and infrared receiver to the outside I used those 35mm hinge holes on the back of the repurposed doors and some wire channel. I didn’t use the caps of the wire grommets I used to finish the intake holes, so I used them here to cover the holes on the rear while still giving the wires a place to come out.
All of the wiring to the wall was arranged and bundled into an easily movable “snake.”
And here’s the finished product. In case you can’t tell from the bad phone pics, the front doors are high gloss lacquer white.
At some point I’ll open up the back and further refine the way the cables are run and bundled, but I’m quite happy with the results. Everything is operational with the doors closed, temperature stays ambient inside. Cost for the project including hardware, fan kits, infrared repeaters, wood, Ikea parts was under $500. And it meets all of the goals I initially set out to meet! And the only one not too happy about our new media console? Our old console.
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- cannedviennasausage said: dang. that is a beauty.
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