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I just finished building my AV cabinet... it's a copy of the Salamander "Synergy" design...

I just finished building my AV cabinet... it's a copy of the Salamander "Synergy" design...

Old 02-02-2009, 08:52 PM
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Default I just finished building my AV cabinet... it's a copy of the Salamander "Synergy" design...

I have been wanting a new AV cabinet for a long time to enclose my audio gear and get rid of that old Belloghetti metal and glass tv stand. I wanted something that would hide the gear from my 15 month old son because I didn't want to end up with a peanut butter sandwich inside my DVD player, and also because the way that old Bello stand was constructed, it exposed all the cables (choking hazard), as well as the glass shelves being not secure enough... they could easily be pulled forward and come crashing down. Not a safe situation. Ever since my son started walking, we had to shove the coffee table up against the front of the old AV cabinet to keep him away from the gear and the unsafe area.

So it was time to consider an enclosed design to clean up the look of the room and hide the gear safely out of reach. I really wanted a Salamander Synergy cabinet but but a few things kept me from buying one. First of all, I thought they were kinda pricey, especially when you start adding doors, sides, enclosed back. That stuff adds up quickly. Secondly, I didn't like the idea of the wood parts being made from MDF core with thin veneer finish. I know that may sound slight ironic given that I still have a couple cheap Ikea end tables and coffee table (all soon to be replaced)... but at the price you pay for Salamander, I expect solid wood construction throughout. Lastly, I wanted something with specific dimensions. So, with my wife's blessing, ultimately I decided to build my own.

So I started designing my cabinet and studying the Salamander floor models at local AV stores for reference. I quickly figured out how they were constructed and took some notes for my own design. I learned that they use 80/20 brand extrusion for the framing. So I contacted a local 80/20 distributor and had them cut the sizes for me. I used maple for the top, bottom, sides, and doors, which I purchased 1x6 boards from Menards and glued them up to make solid panels for the top, bottom, and sides. I cut them to exact size and used my router to round over the edges and corners so they weren't too sharp (a child safety issue). Then I built the doors using rail and stile construction just like kitchen cabinet doors, except I used perforated metal panels in the doors to allow air flow and signal pass through for my remotes. I used pine plywood for the back and solid pine (glued up planks) for the shelves.

Anyway, here are the pics of the final assembly process...

First off, here is the "before" pic of my setup. That was right after I got the plasma in Sept of 07. Notice that coffee table in the center. That was eventually pushed up against the front of the tv stand to keep my son from getting at the components. Total clusterf*ck!
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/plazma.jpg">

Here are the finished wood panels and doors. They started out as maple 1x6 planks. I glued them up to make solid panels, then cut to size and finished with cherry colored stain and 3 coats of polyurethane. That one on the outside with the hole is the back panel made from plywood. The hole is where all the cables pass through. Oh, and on a side note, I built those speaker stands many years ago using PVC pipe painted black, and filled with sand and lead shot. Then I used oak for the top and bottom. That was my first piece of "furniture" I ever made. By the way those are my Paradigm Mini Monitors which I've had for years and still love them!
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_wood_parts.jpg">

Here's the 80/20 aluminum framing parts and the feet I purchased online from a furniture parts supplier.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_extrusions.jpg">

So first I started assembly with the bottom panel...
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_bottom_step_1.jpg">

Next I installed the 80/20 aluminum uprights. I purchased the feet online and drilled out the center hole in the bottom of the each foot bracket using my drill press, then threaded a hex bolt through the each foot, then through the wood panel, then into a pre-threaded hole in the center of the extrusion. And yes, I was still wearing my pajama bottoms... LOL. Hey, it was Saturday morning and I just wanted to be comfortable. :-)
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_legs_assembled_step_2.jpg">

Here's how it looks so far. That blue tape was from when I first did the mock-up assembly. After tightening the back down, the fasteners left some marks in the backs of the extrusion pieces. So when I disassembled everything for staining, I marked the back pieces with tape so I'd know to put them in the same place later on.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_uprights_step_2.jpg">

Next I attached the back by sliding carriage bolts into the t-slots and popping the back in place over the bolts, then locking it all down with hex nuts... and so far the job site foreman seems to approve
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_back_attached_step_3.jpg">

Next I slid all of the fasteners for the hinges and shelves in proper order into the t-slots in the front and back uprights before attaching the top. Finding the right hinges was a bitch. No local hardware stores carry them with the proper offset brackets for this type of installation. I finally found an online source. And the shelf pegs I ordered direct from Salamander. More on that later....
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_fasteners_inserted_step_4b.jpg">

After that, the sides were slid into position. I used the same 3/4" thick panels as for the top and bottom, but the t-slots are only a 1/4 inch thick, so I used the dado blade on my table saw to undercut a rabbet slot 1/4" thick so the side panels would slide snugly into the slots and not rattle around. Oh, and sorry I was too lazy to flip this pic upright... you get the idea though
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_sides_inserted_step_5.jpg">

Here's another shot with both sides installed... and passing inspection by my little helper...
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_both_sides_inserted_step_5.jpg">

Finally the top was attached using special furniture bolts. I had to get these bolts direct from Salamander because I could not find them anywhere in 5/16-18 diameter locally. All the local hardware stores only carry them in 1/4-20. The center hole of the 80/20 aluminum would be too large...
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_top_attached_step_6.jpg">

Here are the bolts and shelf pegs I was talking about. I called Salamander and just told them that I had an older cabinet and took it apart when I moved, then lost all the hardware. They charged me for the "replacement parts", but that was fine because I couldn't get them anywhere else...
The bolts for the top...
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_fasteners.jpg">

The shelf pegs... I thought of using something different, or perhaps having a friend machine these on a CNC, but ultimately it seemed easier to just buy them.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_shelf_pegs_.jpg">

My little helper inspecting the cable pass through cutout. Peek-a-boo.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_cable_hole_inspection_passed.jpg">

Next came time to start aligning the shelf pegs and deciding what spacing they would be at. This was quite tedious, but eventually I got it right. Took some careful leveling and readjusting to get it perfect. Those shelves are made from glued-up pine planks. When I first tested them out they had a bit of sag... especially under the massive weight of my Denon receiver... so I reinforced them with aluminum angle pieces running along the edges. You probably can't really notice that because I painted the entire shelf with the angle bracket black.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_shelves_aligned_step_7.jpg">

Finally I put the piece on the floor and began installing the doors. As mentioned earlier, I fabricated the doors from scratch using maple panels cut to width then run through the router with a special bit set I purchased that is used for making "shaker style" cabinet doors. Normally you would insert a solid panel in the center, but I bought some perforated steel panels instead from Menards and cut them to size on my band saw. I built a jig to square up the doors while the glue dried. Then I drilled out the hinge recesses on the drill press. Finally I rounded over the edges for safety purposes.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_door_attached_step_9.jpg">

All three doors installed. I debated which direction I wanted them to swing open. I thought it was awkward to have them all open the same direction so I finally decided on this configuration...
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_completed_assembly.jpg">

With doors closed...
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_completed_assembly_step_10.jpg">

Inside detail of the hinge. Like I was saying, these hinges for flush offset were a bitch to find.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_door_detail.jpg">

Components loaded in. Notice the child safety latches... Also, I decided for now to put my center channel inside the cabinet. It doesn't sound bad in there.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_safety_latch.jpg">

And finally the entire view all closed up... safe for the little guy to watch his favorite shows without climbing on and getting tangled in the wires, and without damaging any gear.
<img src="http://pictureposter.audiworld.com/1406/salamander_final_approval.jpg">

Overall I am really really happy with how it turned out. My wife is thrilled as well. It was a great learning experience and a good jumping-off point for building more stuff. It ended up costing me more than my original calculations, but still hundreds less than a real salamander.

Hope you like it!
siberian is offline  
Old 02-02-2009, 09:10 PM
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looks fantastic, well done!
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:13 PM
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Default looks great! If I had patience I would of done the same.. but I'm lazy and bought the salamander

for what it is worth, the wood used (even if it is a veneer) is great quality and has supported my 210 lbs. Sony XBR 34" tv for 1.5 years now with no sagging even where the center channel sits and there is no support.

<img src="http://idisk.mac.com/ben_rush/Public/salamander1.jpg">
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Old 02-03-2009, 02:58 AM
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that is a great writeup and result...if you ever want to come to CT and do it again...&lt;lol&gt;
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Old 02-03-2009, 03:20 AM
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That's really nice, good job!
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:09 AM
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Darn ... that's beautiful work!
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:47 AM
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Default Very nice work. Just one question for you...

Obviously you have a pretty respectable workshop, with table saw, router (I am assuming router table, since you said that you passed it through the router), band saw, etc. So why were you assembling this thing in the living room, especially during the mockup stage?

By the way, your little guy is really cute. I like the peekaboo picture.

We have one on the way, and regardless if it's a boy or girl, I am looking forward to years of projects together.

And since I also have an open stereo rack, I suppose I should think about an enclosed cabinet like you did. I have some time to worry about that though.

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Old 02-03-2009, 05:30 AM
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very nice
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Old 02-03-2009, 05:44 AM
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Thats awesome
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Old 02-03-2009, 05:48 AM
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Looks great! I wish I was that handy. I really need a new entertainment center.
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