The plywood components for the drawer cabinets were next on the agenda. I put a sharp saw blade paired with a zero-clearance insert in the table saw and started ripping and crosscutting pieces — again, look to the Material List for their sizes. All the panels’ exposed edges got banding of 1/4″ solid cherry before final sizing and spline cutting. The joinery for all these carcass parts was butt joints and biscuits. Take your time to lay out the biscuit locations carefully, and you will save yourself a lot of misery.
In addition to the biscuit locations, there is a long notch cut out on the back edge of the carcass bottom. The notch is there to allow power cords and other sorts of wiring access to the center sliding console. I used a Forstner bit at either end of the notch and then cut the rest of it away with a jigsaw, as shown at left.
One of the most important pieces on this cabinet is the carcass rear stringer that runs the whole length of this subassembly. It sits in notches on the vertical dividers and is biscuited into each carcass end. This stringer is the means by which you attach this cabinet to the wall, which you must do to safely operate the sliding console. If you don’t attach it to the wall, the whole cabinet will tip over and your expensive equipment will end up in a landfill somewhere.
With all the machining done for the carcass, I performed a final test fit. Everything was jake, so I took the time to sand all the pieces before final assembly. I clamped the subassembly together and set it aside while I went on to build the center console. (Do you see a pattern here?) Although it could go without saying, I am not going to risk it: make every effort to be certain you have clamped up the carcass square and true. Remember, you can’t reverse a glue-up step.
The Electrified Slide
The sliding center console is the heart of this project’s design. Even so, it is pretty much bread-and-butter casework construction, just as you did with the carcass. Once again, the cherry veneered plywood pieces have solid cherry lipping on their exposed edges. The exception for that is the face frame area. The center console needed to allow for the thickness of the heavy-duty slides (they are so robustly made that they are 3/4″ thick compared to the standard slide thickness of 1/2″!), so Jeff designed a face frame to fit into the center of the case to hide that unsightly hardware. It sits in the same plane as the drawer faces, which overlay the casework behind them. He also added a center vertical divider for additional strength, allowing us to eliminate any fixed shelving and giving you even more options in loading up the electronic stuff into your “ultimate” media cabinet.
I biscuit-joined, sanded and assembled the console in the same manner as the carcass, with the additional step of drilling shelf-pin holes. Like the other plywood pieces, the shelving is simply edgebanded and sanded smooth. The limited size of these shelves means they won’t sag over time; otherwise I’d have suggested solid wood shelving.
As I mentioned before, the glue stage step is irreversible, so the dry-fit preassembly step cannot be done too carefully. Take your time, apply the clamps as you would if you were using glue, and then test for square. When everything fits perfectly, go ahead and do the glue-up.
When the glue has cured, set this subassembly aside, too. (You will be getting a pretty big pile of “set asides” by now!)
At this point, I went back to work on the carcass subassembly, building and fitting the drawers using the Accuride drawer slides. In this instance, the drawer construction was simple: 1/2″ Baltic plywood rabbeted at the corners. I glued the joints and drove trim nails into the corners. The bottoms were 1/4″ Baltic plywood panels captured fully within a dadoed housing. One detail you will notice is that the sides of the drawers are shallow, which allows for easy finger access when grabbing your favorite movie or game cartridge.
The drawer faces are made from solid cherry lumber and are attached with screws driven from the inside of the drawer boxes. Getting these faces to line up with each other and the face frame of the center console proved to be the most challenging woodworking task of the entire project, in my opinion. I’m great at making hand-cut dovetailed and hand-planed fitted drawers — it’s the easy stuff I sometimes struggle with. Be patient and as accurate as you can. Fortunately, with a 1/8″ reveal you have some room for trimming and fitting. I was grateful for that reveal, I can tell you.