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(It actually looks even better in person than the picture I took)
I wanted to build a sturdy audio video component rack that required no staining or extra finishing and only cost $60. I could have just re-purposed a bookcase or shelving unit, but they tend to have very narrow dimensions. My Lack AV rack is much more flexible, fits a wide variety of AV components, and costs much less than the $300 for something comparable. There have been many variations of this type of hack over the years and here’s my take…
Materials: ($50 to $60 depending on selected color of table)
Vary the height of the shelves to add an element of design.
Add short legs to the bottom of the rack to make it look a little more like a stand. (I may still add some eventually)
You’ll end up with a bunch of extra leg parts once this is finished. They could be useful for more hacking later on. I boxed them up and set them aside in case I ever decide to modify or change this stand at some point.
If you scratch or chip the finish of the black or black/brown finishes, you can easily touch them up with a black sharpie. Cutting the legs can chip the finish a little at the edges, so it came in handy for me.
The instructions below are by no means the perfect guide and you’re more than welcome to improve upon them as I’m not a woodworker by any means.
Figure out spacing between shelves by measuring your AV components. I chose a 7” height as adequate enough to accommodate my receiver on any of the shelves as that is the largest AV component. This basically determines how much you need to cut the legs of the table.
Mask the area on the legs with tape at 7” to protect the finish while cutting. Remember, you want to keep the dowel screw end of the leg so make sure you’re measuring from the correct end of the leg.
Cut the legs with a saw. I used a table saw as I wanted smooth even cuts to avoid damaging the finish on the legs.
Now you’ll want to block the hollow ends of the legs you’ve just cut. I used a 1¾” x 1¾” square hardwood dowel from Home Depot that was 3 feet long. It was a little expensive, but that size pretty much fits exactly in the bottom of the Lack Table legs. Less cutting involved this way.
Cut the square dowel down every 1¾” with your saw. You can go slightly less than that for an easier fit in the legs. You’ll basically end up with nice cubes that fit close to perfect. Test fit the blocks to make sure they can fit. You may have to sand the corners or one face down to get them to squeeze into the ends of the legs. Be careful not to push the blocks in too far so that you can get them back out. (Otherwise you might have to use a screw to pull them back out)
Once the blocks are tested for fit, you’re now ready to glue. If you’re using wood glue, you generally want to work relatively fast as these blocks tend to get set in place pretty quickly once inserted. I pushed the blocks in against a level surface so that the blocks end up at the very bottom of the legs.
Instructions for Attaching the Legs to the Tabletop Below
You have a couple different options in terms of attaching the sections together. Simply gluing them together in Option A is probably the easiest, but the weakest joint. Option B would much stronger with the wood screws and a pretty fast assembly. I went with Option C and did dowels as it is probably the strongest version. It’s a bit more work and harder to do, but
worth it because of how strong everything glued together.
Option A: Use some liquid nails/adhesive and simply glue each section down on the tabletop below it.
Sand the corners of the tabletop down a little for the glue to attach and then use some sort of adhesive like liquid nails and glue the legs down.
Option B: Build from the top down and use wood screws to screw from the tabletop below into the leg above
Option C (Attach table sections with dowels and wood glue):
If using this method, you’ll need shorter dowel screws for the middle shelves. The reason is that the original IKEA dowel screws are a bit long at 2 3/4” and may penetrate too deep into the tabletop. The 1.5" wood dowel pins need at least ¾” of depth into the table top.
I ended up buying quarter inch dowel screws that are 2” long at Home depot. Each package has four screws, so you’ll need two of them to attach the legs to the corresponding tabletop.
The top most tabletop can use the original IKEA dowel screws to attach the legs as you won’t be drilling into it.
At this point you can assemble all the tabletops with their legs using their corresponding dowel screws. I used locking pliers and put the screws in manually into the legs first so that they go in half way down. The locking pliers helped make sure they went in straight.
You're now ready to drill the dowel holes. With the legs attached to the tabletops, I marked the center of the legs by making an X from the corners. Since the bottom of my legs were made of hardwood, I made a pilot hole into the wood using a smaller sized drill bit. I then used the drill bit and stop collar from the doweling kit to make a hole that is ¾” deep. Repeat for all four legs.
Now that you’ve finished the table legs for the first section, you’ll need to make corresponding holes in the tabletop below.
Set the assembled table on the tabletop below and mask off the tabletop around the legs. This protects the surface from scratches.
Take the doweling centers from the doweling kit and place them in the newly drilled holes in the table legs. Put the table with the centers on the one below and align carefully. Use a rubber mallet on the corners of the tabletop so that the doweling centers make their mark on the tabletop.
Use the doweling drill bit and make ¾” dowel holes in all four corners of the tabletop. Insert a wood dowel and test fit after each hole is drilled to make sure that everything aligns as intended.
Once you’re sure everything fits correctly, pull out the wood dowels and sand the corners of the tabletop where the legs will attach. Wood glue won’t attach very well to the existing tabletop surface. I used 40 grit sand paper and sanded through until I saw some wood.
Now glue everything up. If you use too much wood glue, be ready for some squeeze out and have some damp paper towels ready to clean up the excess. Most basic wood glues clean up very easily with water.
I placed something decently heavy on the table top to essentially clamp down the section after gluing and waited 24 hours for each section to dry.
Rinse and repeat two more times for the other two sections. You're basically building from the bottom up one section at a time.