Made from B/BB (B-2) grade Baltic Birch plywood, each piece has been stained with a mixture of gunstock and cherry stain and attached with blackened cast iron and brass screws. Grading is given for the two outer faces of the plywood. The back face has more imperfections than the front. Four 3/4 8x4 sheets were needed and each sheet cost about $55 in the year 2014. As of the year 2021, each sheet would cost about $80 if you could find them locally.
The pipes and flanges have been baked with vegetable shortening to create a polymerized black oil finish associated with blacksmithing techniques from more than century ago. A strong finish that has not chipped nor discolored for more than 4 years. Quick directions : Clean pieces thoroughly; Rub lightly with vegetable shortening; Bake in an oven at 400 degrees for one hour; Repeat until pieces turn black; Takes about three passes in the oven.
Baltic Birch is not a specific species of birch, but is a general designation of plywood from Russia, Finland, and nearby Baltic states. As with any natural wood product, quality can be variable. However, Baltic Birch plywood is generally regarded as being of higher quality than standard birch plywood and looks very similar to maple. In a nutshell, Baltic Birch plywood is made entirely from birch plies, with no softwood or filler plies in the center. Furthermore, the plies themselves tend to be much thinner, allowing for more plies for a given thickness, and greater stiffness and stability. Typically used in cabinet making where it is important that the layers are visible and look consistent.
The top plank is a little bowed, but has evened out over time with a television sitting on top of it.
The wood was cut at a 30 degree angle instead of 45 so that the edges would not be so sharp and prone to breakage.
Careful planning was needed in order to ensure that imperfections in the wood could not be seen. Step one is to cut the longest piece first avoiding blemishes on both sides of the wood. Any mistakes made turns a long shelf into a shorter one. As the needed pieces get shorter it gets a little easier to make better cuts and avoid problem areas. Keep in mind most table saws are unable to handle 8 foot sheets of plywood without cutting errors.
Need to be sure that the cuts place the BB side of the plywood on the underside of any particular shelf. Some of the shelves have questionable undersides. The worst is best placed toward the bottom. The top shelf underside should look good. Last resort, rotate shelf to place underside blemish areas toward the back. In that way, any eyesore would be difficult to see.
Photographic anomaly shows uneven sheen on top shelf that doesn't really exist.
The edges have been rounded a little for smoother looking lines.
Lining up the flanges is no easy task. Flanges are meant to tighten as they are screwed. Any given flange may only screw in for 3 to 4 threads. As a result pipes and flanges need to be assembled on the fly and measured for consistency. Working from the bottom to the top will probably work out a little easier.
This is the first shot where you get to see the horizontal lines from the multiple layers of Baltic Birch in the plywood.
When choosing lumber it is suggested you get all the wood at once and match for grain and consistency. This will be time consuming at the local hardware store. Baltic Birch can have some pretty crazy looking lines and a valid choice if all the boards look that way. Buying a better grade of wood will be more expensive, but will save time in the finishing of the edges.
The finish is very smooth. The first two coats of polyurethane were brushed on. After some light sanding, the next three coats were applied using a satin hand rubbed polyurethane. The final coats went on very quick and didn't need sanding.
This particular grade of plywood had many voids that needed to be filled and lines needed to be drawn with a brown marker in order to keep the horizontal lines from the different layers of plywood consistent and continuous.
Notice that some of the flanges are a little crooked. It is best to place these in the back or towards the bottom.
The camera flash makes some of the flanges look dark brown instead of black. Would be easy to brace a shelf and remove any piece that needed repair or refinishing. Will need a very short flathead screw driver.
It is recommended that a wood conditioner be used prior to staining. This will ensure uniform stain absorption. This is particularly true for the edges where stain will darken the edges if not conditioned first. In this case lighter stain was used on the edges so that the edges would look the same as the flat surfaces.
Notice that the flange screw holes all line up together. The underside flanges do the same except they are rotated 45 degrees so the top side screws don't hit the bottom side screws.
Another shot of the horizontal lines that run across all the edges.
There are 224 brass screws @ ¾ inch a piece and will set you back about $90 with many left over. Each screw head has been polished and coated wih a specialized clear lacquer to avoid future tarnishing. Special care is needed when installing as to not scrape the finish. Placing tape around the tip of a flat head screw driver ensures the lacquer will stay intact. Getting all the screw heads to line up is not reasonably possible.
Casters are not expensive, but you need to be sure to get ones that can bear some weight. These handle 90 pounds a piece. They also need to be recessed at least 2 inches from the edge so that the swivel action does not extend outside the vertical plane of any side; however, placing too far inside makes the rack more top heavy. Some compromise is needed. Casters with brakes on the front side of the rack is needed for stationary stability. The one pictured here looks like it is bending under the heavy wieght it must bear. This is not the case.
Full rack of audio equipment. Looks nicer when there is not an array of miscellaneous items on it, but that is what it is for. $560 in materials and 34 hours of labor produced a very attractive piece that UserX doubts he could have bought for under $1200.
Custom Audio Rack Entertainment Center, December 2014
A collection of images from a custom build and finished audio rack on wheels that has 8 detachable shelves capable of holding 270 pounds beyond its own weight. Elements of Streamline Moderne (post Art Deco) and steam punk embody this odd piece of furniture.
Needing an entertainment center capable of holding several pieces of equipment including a television proved to be very arduous. There are lots of solutions out there that can be bought and/or modified as needed, but very few are cost effective particularly when most of the products out there only have 3 to 4 shelves. Typically a larger, quality piece will cost around $700 for a modest single piece or upwards of $2000 for a really nice one with a few more shelves. With that in mind and the desire for customization UserX proceeded to plan and build.
The camera flash shows dust and discolorations that may be there, but would not normally be noticed or seen under cleaner conditions or normal lighting. You can zoom in on the images if you mouse over them. During autoplay zoom is disabled.
The purpose of this gallery is not to showcase an unusual item or drum up business to build more, but rather point out some of the benefits and difficulties associated with such a product. Much like military experience, its the type of thing you want to do once, but not again.
Valued in the range of $1100 - $1500.