Thursday, May 5

The TV Liquor Cabinet (aka: the best TV channel ever)

I've been a bit MIA of late, partially because I've started going to a lot of yoga, but mostly because I've been having too much fun.   I went on a Chesapeake Bay fishing trip, I had a lot of birthday parties, and I finished up my retro TV liquor cabinet/bar.

The original TV:  A 1972 Zenith.   I found it for $20 on Craigslist ("found" = spending weeks and weeks hunting and jumped on this as soon as I saw the posting).   I thought it would be easier to get a hold of one of those giant wooden beasts more prevalent in the 80s, but it turns out people gobble them up to turn them into dog beds.   I even saw a bunch of converted dog bed/TVs when I went to the flea markets to try to get a retro set.

You have to take it apart (of course), and I didn't detail that so much.  This is all of the pieces from the gutted unit sprawled across the garage/workroom.   

The screen/CRT was the heaviest.   Fun trivia:  Sometime in the 60s as a "safety" feature, they started making the tubes implode when crack instead of exploding.  On one hand, I was sorry to miss out on the 60something TV, on the other, it was nice to know that this would literally not explode in my face (not that I didn't wear safety goggles, gloves and other equipment - If I'm going to die, it's going to take more effort than exploding a TV).

Unfortunately, the dude selling me the TV was kind enough to plug it in to make sure it worked OK, and the most dangerous part of these units isn't the exploding/imploding vacuum tubes, but the charged capacitor, which can hold enough electricity to actually kill you.  I checked out many a youtube video on how to safely discharge the unit before removing it.

In the very foreground of the photo you can see the circuit boards and some of the wiring.  I just tore it all out rather haphazardly, and, of course, disposed of it properly with the county's waste management program.

I sat/stood/bounced on the particle veneer top to see if it would support my weight.  My ultimate plans were to put a small(ish) aquarium on top of it, and with the huge weight out of the inside I wasn't so worried about structural support, but the top was a bit bowed in.  Ultimately, I just decided to replace it with something sturdier.

So this is it, totally torn apart, there's a board in the bottom just as a test thing.  You can see the table saw in the background.

My next problem were these supports.   Initially (for whatever reason), I thought they were a super dense plastic, but no, they're metal (of course).    They supported the vacuum tube and held it in place.  This is one of the upper supports (they were on every corner of the frame), which I left, but I needed to cut the lower supports, or they would be in the way of the bottles on the bottom and could cause accidents (bottles being shuffled might hit them and fall over), never mind the actual lost floor space.

I cut straight through them with a metal cutting blade on the Dremel.  I decided to cut the three "prongs" only and not the whole molded out base.

I used scrap wood from the Murphy/Wall bed project to make the risers.  They're not ideally spaced (they're a little over an inch taller than I wanted), but scrap wood is free.  And I didn't feel like cutting down the length of the wood.   I nailed them together and primed the heck out of them.  Ultimately, I'm happy with the height.

I realized that the spray paint I was using would blow out into the front of the unit and stain the outside facing, so I went ahead and used a glorious amount of tape to protect the plastic fronting from overspray.

I also primed and spray painted the new top that I cut to the same dimensions of the old top.   I used edging tape to finish off the edges so it would look pretty.

This is actually the underside of the top
I also sectioned off the deeper side of the unit where the channel knobs and other things were located.   I did it for two reasons - 1. I didn't want bottles to get lost off to the side 2. It gave me a little cubby where I could put the wiring and other stuff (for the lights and eventually for the aquarium power strip).  I used more scrap wood to create a platform and a ledge so it was only 8" from the top (vs being all the way at the bottom.

The cylindrical-ish thing is attached to the channel changing knob.  I kept that all together and in one functional piece in case I wanted to go back and fit it so that changing the channels changed the color of the LED lights.

 I did not a get a proper picture of it, but this is the whole unit being painted.   I finished the inside, so I also protected that with plastic (overspray).   Before I painted, I glued/clamped the top for at least a day to let the glue dry on the top.   I then used caulk around the edges to give a nice smooth/complete finish around the edges.   Most people really can't tell that the top didn't initially belong with the unit.

I spray painted this with Rustoleum's Oil Rubbed Bronze.   I have a lot of accessories sprayed with it, and it matches the "espresso" finish that most of the furniture is.   And I just had a lot of it on hand (this whole project only cost me a bit of plywood, a bit of wallpaper, and maybe one can of paint because I used what I had on hand).  I did learn an important lesson about sanding this paint, it gummed up pretty badly, but I fixed that.   And didn't sand so heavily again.

Pro (blog) tip - put furniture up on small paint cans and you can spray the feet without any trouble, too.  And that's a bit of left over tack cloth.  I cannot over emphasize how important it is to get all of the dust/bits off before painting.  It keeps everything smooth, and tack cloth just can't be substituted.

The whole set up for a few days.  I would only do a very thin layer of paint, and you can see that the garage door is cracked for the fumes (I didn't want to leave it open overnight).  It's also a better shot of the little cubby I made from behind.

Last spray down of the whole unit!

I put some wallpaper on a board cut to fit the rear and nailed that on.  I didn't paint it or finish it in any other way, since you can't see the back anyway.

I did *not* get a picture of the LED lights, but I have one of those four strip units from Ikea (can be found at this link).  I might get more, but I don't think it needs to be brighter.   I have attached (with some double sided sticky), the light switch to the top right corner, so the lights are easy to turn on and off.

And here's the final product - I'm so utterly happy with it!  And I get the bonus of kitchen space for my myriad appliances (the liquor was being kept in the kitchen cabinet before this).

I could watch this channel all day.
 And not that you can see from this picture, but this is the wallpaper I used for the back, I ordered it from Spoonflower as a sample (I didn't need much).  It's called Enchanted Universe and it's by nouveau_bohemian:

It's a nice splash of interesting turquoise that gives a fun background that you don't really notice unless you look closely.  It lightens up the dark piece by a bit, and I like it.  I was looking at other projects online and I liked it when there was a pop of color.

And just in time for the liquor cabinet debut, a friend brought me some of my favorite tequila from Texas (they don't sell this here).

So, Tada!  And now I'll get back to other projects and maybe a bit of stitching.


  1. Wow awesome job! It looks great! I used a lot of oil rubbed bronze spray paint too but I'm getting ready to redo all of my wood furniture into driftwood gray

    1. Thanks! And Driftwood Grey sounds great!

  2. Fricking amazing!!! I'm so interested to find out if you'll be undertaking any other cool DIY projects. The Murphy bed and this liquor cabinet have been fascinating.

    1. The DIY bug bites now and again, I just have to feel inspired to do something. I am threatening to redo a guest bathroom, but I might have a fight on my hands with that one ;)

  3. I love reading about your upcycling/DIY projects - your stitching is always great, but this is incredible! Great job and great result ^_^

    1. Thank you - I appreciate it! I can't even remember how I came about that project. Maybe googling bars/liquor cabinets? I just knew I wanted something interesting that would last and I didn't want to spend oodles of money on a regular piece of furniture ;)

  4. The TV worked? RIP


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