The Stereo Cabinet

Necessity is the motherhood of invention.  In this case, necessity was the motherhood of innovation.

It was circa 1985 when I finally got tired of having much of my stereo equipment stacked on top of each other on the floor.  Two years before, stereo TV had just started to come into popularity.  So, being the forward thinking person I am (even though I dont watch much TV, I wanted hi fidelity sound from it), I took the stereo VCR and hooked it up to the sound system.  Now, the pile of stuff included a television and VCR.

I like things in their place and I desired some sort of shelves to hold all this equipment.  I then decided to set aside about $600.00 in hard earned 1985 dollars to buy some sort of cabinet.  I went to the various department stores to see what they had to offer.  There were things called entertainment centers, which were just coming into vogue.  These consisted of several different types and styles ranging from European chrome, black, and glass to uninteresting or kitschy Early American maple or oak.  Also, the cabinet manufacturers seemed to be anticipating the BIG screen TV, which at the time was not all that available yet.  The cabinets I saw all had only about three or four shelves for the various components and a huge three by three-foot open area for the TV.  I measured and found that my components were too wide for the shelf space they provided.  For some strange reason, they did not make them wide enough to hold standard 19 inch wide equipment.

Well, needless to say, I looked and looked for several months only to find that, if I wanted something, I would have to have it custom made.  I researched and found that the cost of making a custom unit turned out to be staggering, about 6 to $10,000.  At that time I was only earning about $26,000 a year.   

I thought more about it and came to the conclusion that, to resolve this problem, I would have to make something.  So, I sat down with a pencil and paper and drew what I felt I needed.  I applied my knowledge of available materials and came up with a plan for a single set of shelves.  I then decided that if I were to be the one to build it, I would be free to add two additional sets of shelves.  To make a long story short, I came up with a cabinet that was 5 feet high and 8 feet long.

Mind you, I did not know anything about woodworking.  I went to Sears and purchased an inexpensive table saw and other tools and I started to work.  With 5 sheets of 4 by 8 foot birch plywood, 25 board feet of birch lumber of varying widths, other assorted lumber, hardware, and a lot of labor, I was able to build the cabinet.  I completed it in the fall of 1986, 2 months after I started planning it.  My neighbor and I carried its 5 components and shelves to the second floor where I re-assembled it.  All 14 pieces of my stereo equipment were then placed on the shelves with ample spaces for more equipment later.

I have moved three times since and this huge 61h by 98w by 22d cabinet has fit through all of the small tight strange stair cases.  This is because it can be broken down into several pieces.


The moral of this story is that I went to so many people for an answer to my particular problem and was told it was not possible.  It took me sitting down and being creative to find my own solution.  Because of that, today I am fairly proficient at making things out of wood.