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Home Theater
The "Theater"
Adire Audio Speakers
Toshiba 65H80 RPTV
HT Flexi-Rack
Media Cabinet
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MONTAC Enterprises
ATTN: MTB Madness
Pending New...
Azle, TX 76020


HT Component Flexi-Rack


Since the dark ages (before the RPTV and catching the DIY Home Theater "bug"), I have housed my electronic gear in a typical Sauder "entertainment center" which accommodates a Sony 27" Direct View TV quite nicely. It is however decidedly superfluous for use with the Toshiba 65H80. The Sauder "brown monster" has been cluttering up the HT for 18 months now...  Not anymore!  I've finally completed my HT Component Flexi-Rack...  What follows are a few pictures of the construction and a couple of "near complete" photos...


Construction details of a routine (or otherwise less than interesting) nature has been omitted.  Prior to Fig. 1, a total of 6 each 23.5" x 23.5" x 0.75" MDF shelves were cut.  (NOTE: You may click on any image to pop up a larger version of the image with arrows indicating action points.)
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Fig. 1
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Fig. 2
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Fig. 3
To guarantee that the holes in all shelves would line up accurately, I constructed a drill-press jig from scrap pieces of 0.75" MDF. The jig is double thickness, such that the top layer provides alignment and the lower layer prevents work piece tear-out and protects the rather expensive 13/16" drill bit. Fig.1 shows the procedure for setting the jig using a template with the proper 1.5" x 1.5" edge standoffs. Figure 2 is an overall view of the drill press with the jig properly set and ready for testing. Note the presence of the cartridge cases and tumbler in the background...  it's a multi-use bench. (No dangerous materials like powder or primer were anywhere near the bench at the time.)  Using some scrap pieces of 0.75" MDF from an earlier project, I tested the jig setup. A good thing too, as the first template I marked up was off a bit in one direction, which is a bad thing...  ANY error will be multiplied as you rotate the work piece to drill each corner...  Figure 3 shows the "successful" test.... I drilled 3 identical rectangular pieces of scrap and compared them to determine the variance (< 1/32"). So I drilled the shelves...
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Fig. 4
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Fig. 5
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Fig. 6
Here is a corner shot of all six shelves.  It was difficult to steady them all with one hand and work the digital camera with the other... Suffice to say that the accuracy was acceptable....  BTW, it takes some coordination to steady a 23.5" x 23.5" piece of MDF in the jig without additional out supports on the drill press, but it IS (obviously) possible. In Fig. 5, you can see the shelves stacked and ready for finishing... well almost. This is where I got another "idea". This bad boy is gonna be HEAVY when finished... especially when the equipment is stacked on it. Frankly, I didn't relish the idea of unloading the rack to move it, much less what those all-thread rods will do for the carpet I am planning to install soon. So.... I decided to add "legs" to the bottom shelf. With the all-thread, washer, and nut protruding from the bottom of the unit, a standoff leg was required at each corner. I milled 4 each 3" x 3" x 0.75" blocks for the standoffs. Then I bored a relief hole in each using a 1.5" Forstner bit.  Once again, the jig came in very handy for repeatability.
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Fig. 7
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Fig. 8
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Fig. 9
Figure 7 shows the "quick check" to see that the hardware would have sufficient clearance once the blocks were glued in place...  (Not shown: blocks were glued and clamped in place at the four corners of the bottom shelf.) I had previously planned to "shoot" the shelves with Maglac White Lacquer Undercoat and a Black Urethane Alkyd Gloss Enamel, but the current conditions in my "shop" don't provide good conditions for HVLP paint procedures (read: dust and traffic in and out of the garage) So I decided to try my hand at applying Wilson Art laminate (part # 1595 107 - horizontal grade, matte black). As it turns out, the laminate will be less reflective (of course) and probably more durable tahn the paint.... though not necessarily easier/less time consuming to apply. Figure 8 shows one of the shelves after scuff sanding it with 60 grit sandpaper to ready it for cement application.  (Not shown: scoring and snapping of all laminate pieces: edges and flats. All edges have been applied and routed flush at this point.) Here is a shot just after applying the second coat of Wilson Art H20 Contact Cement. H20 is exactly what it sounds like... a waterborne, low-VOC contact cement. It is quite a bit slower to "flash" than traditional contact cements, but it is much harder to come by here in CA these days. Note the white color of the wet cement. It was in the high 90s in my garage at the time which accounts for the color gradation in the picture. The cement becomes "virtually clear" when it is ready for joining. On the flats, I used 1 coat on the laminate and two coats on the MDF. The first coat on the MDF is essentially a sealer coat which allows the second coat to achieve the proper "build" for the bond. The edge pieces required 3 coats on the MDF. Use dowels to hold the laminate apart while aligning. Then set the laminate with a J-roller beginning in the middle and working to the edges. Turn 90 degrees and re-roll the piece from the middle out to assure the fullest contact possible.
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Fig. 10
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Fig. 11
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Fig. 12
The lag time presented by the longer cement flash time allowed me to work in other tasks.  Figure 10 shows three of the 6' x 0.75" zinc-plated steel, all-thread rods getting a few coats of flat black enamel spray paint. (Note: it is very difficult to get full-coverage when spray painting all-thread... Also, it is VERY highly recommended that you run all rods through a properly-sized die to insure that the threads are clean and complete!!! Here is the rest of the hardware after painting. Of note here are the nuts. I found low-profile 3/4" nuts at McMaster Carr. They are half the height of standard nuts and present a less-obtrusive profile when installed on the flexi. (Note: buy and prep 5% over the required amount of nuts, as you will likely have approximately 5% with messed up threads... unless you want to run a tap through all the nuts.) Remember the "legs"? Well, here is the "rest of the story". Blocks installed, and prior to laminating the flats, I marked the mounting holes on the blocks and drilled 1/4" holes approximately 3/4" deep to accept the "Slotted Drive, Knife-edged, threaded, brass inserts" to accept the 6-32 machine screws. Using machine screws and inserts will allow for multiple disassemblies without having to worry about screw pull-out from the MDF. Also of note... I chose NOT to use standard casters. Casters of sufficient weight-bearing capacity would have been huge, ugly, and expensive. I chose these ball-bearing supported "transfers"... again available at McMaster Carr.
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Fig. 13
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Fig. 14
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Fig. 15
Here is a front view of the (nearly) completed Flexi-Rack. Sorry about the lighting. The camera apparently metered off the silver-faced Kenwood Model 600T FM Tuner, which made everything else much too dark. Not yet installed (under the BFD DSP1124P) is the Crown CE-1000a amp I just purchased for the soon-to-be-built Tempest subwoofer. There is also room left in the rack for future addition of a pre-pro, amp(s), and an ExactPower EP15A. Here is an oblique view of the rack. It is currently sitting out in the middle of the room while I finish installing components, make and dress the cabling. Note the blue tape outline on the floor. that is where the RPTV is SUPPOSED to be... it is getting a new green gun at the moment. The front edge of the Flexi is flush with the RPTV when in its "home". Finally, a quick shot of the rear of the Flexi. I purposely chose a 23.5" depth to allow for components with large depth dimensions (like the Denon AVR-4800), AND to give more room for dressing/hiding cables, etc. It offers a great deal more stability as well. One more note about the use of transfers instead of casters: The transfers are a good compromise between casters and spikes. As they are metal-to-metal and present a small "foot print", the transfers are more like spikes than casters from a stability/isolation standpoint. But more importantly, they make this monster VERY easy to move, even on the carpet. Even my wife can move the loaded rack... and you don't have to worry about which way the casters are facing...  it moves equally well in ANY direction.
I stated that it was "nearly" complete. Installing the shelves caused quite a bit of "paint scrapeage" on the rods, but that is easily fixed with a narrow point "Sharpie" permanent marker (a Sharpie is great for black touch-ups on virtually anything). But it is in service, the "brown monster" entertainment system cabinet is history, and I am well-pleased with how this project turned out. More importantly, my wife likes it. And as we all know, THAT is the most important thing when making major changes to anything outside the garage and yard! 


Copyright (C)2003 MONTAC Enterprises.  All Rights Reserved©
Revised: March 03, 2006 .