The first step in building an entertainment center is planning. Take stock of your electronic devices and decide which ones will be part of your new entertainment center. Take measurements of these devices, but keep in mind that you may want space to install additional or larger equipment in the future. Also, most entertainment centers feature storage space for CDs, DVDs, remote controls or other objects. If there is space in your living room or media room, building an entertainment center with shelves or cabinets can replace other storage modules like unattractive plastic CD towers.
When designing your media center, use your imagination. Look at existing entertainment centers either at furniture galleries or online to get ideas about the number and size of the shelves. While traditional entertainment centers usually feature a large, central space for a television set, today's flat screen TVs are often placed on top of a low, wide entertainment center. This style can be far less imposing in a smaller room and can show off a stylish television. Remember to account for wires by including holes in the back of each shelf if you plan to use a backing material rather than leaving shelves open to the wall.
Entertainment centers can be built from just about any material, but common furniture woods, like oak, pine, or plywood, work best. You'll need several large sheets of wood, so budget accordingly. Use wood that is at least 1/2-inch thick, as electronic equipment can be quite heavy. If your entertainment center includes cabinets, you'll also need hardware including hinges, door pulls and latches. Sliding shelves can also be included, along with sliding glass or wood doors to protect your electronic equipment.
Even a relatively simple entertainment center will require a fair amount of woodworking knowledge and a good set of tools. A circular saw will be best for cutting wood, and files and sandpaper will be needed to finish rough edges. A nail gun or electric drill and screwdriver will be needed to attach the panels together, along with wood glue and clamps. To ensure that each panel of the entertainment center lines up properly, you'll want a good tape measure along with a tool for checking right angles like a high-quality steel angle.
When constructing your entertainment center, it will probably be best to start with a base and work upwards, adding shelves and vertical panels one at a time. This will help ensure you have a sturdy base, and each level can be supported by the one below it. Finish your entertainment center by sanding all of the edges and filling any scratches, dents or nail holes. Paint or stain the entertainment center before adding any hardware or cabinet doors.