Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Greg Peck: What to do with that old TV cabinet

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Greg Peck
Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I've seen not one or two but three old wooden television cabinets sitting at curbs on Janesville's east side in recent days. You know the type—they're often made of wood veneers and have sides so newer, bigger flat-screen TVs won't fit. I also saw one advertised for sale in The Gazette's classified section.

I faced the same dilemma about six years ago when my wife and I took the plunge into the world of flat-screen television. More than a decade earlier, I had bought a large cabinet, about 5 feet tall, and my 19-inch color TV fit inside. The cabinet had a storage drawer on the bottom and a door—wood on the bottom, glass on the top—on the left side for my stereo components. The TV sat to the right of that door and had wooden doors that rolled to the sides and away from the TV. We rarely used these rolling doors.

We faced the prospect of buying a new cabinet/stand for our flat-screen TV. We went to several furniture stores and priced cabinets anywhere from about $400 up to about $900. None really seemed perfect for our needs, however.

One night I sat looking at our old cabinet and started thinking. It had a nice top above the TV with framed corners. I wondered: Could I use a power saw to cut off the sides, pull those side boards off the top and sit the top down on the base?

The thing was heavy, and I knew I needed to get it to my basement workshop. If my idea didn't work, I had little to lose—these cabinets are worth next to nothing these days. That's why you see them on curbsides.

Cheryl and I removed the TV, cleaned out the drawer, cabinet and shelves, and managed to flip the unit on our living room carpet. We slid it to the kitchen, slipped a throw rug under it, then likewise pushed it across the kitchen floor and muscled it down the carpeted basement steps. Once we had it in my workshop, I went to work.

And the work went flawlessly, even better than I imagined. The unit's top fit down on the base snugly. I cut the cabinet door in half, removing the glass top.

I'm no expert at woodworking, but I did take a related class or two in high school. I built a coffee table with a planter box under a peanut-shaped Plexiglas top, a table my parents still have. I also built a gun rack with a storage cabinet, though the door needed trim boards because of my miscalculation.

I have a brother-in-law who's a remarkable woodworker. The next time he came to visit, I asked him if he could detect any flaw in our TV cabinet from his seat on the couch about 8 feet away. He couldn't. The only oddity is that the trim on the shortened cabinet door shows where I cut it in half—really visible only if the door is open.

Rather than give the unit away and spend hundreds of dollars for a new TV base, we have a perfectly acceptable flat-screen TV cabinet. I consider it my best-ever recycling feat.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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