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How to Build Shelves for an Entertainment System

Entertainment centers can be easily customized to fit an individuals needs. Learn how to build custom shelves for your entertainment center with these easy step-by-step instructions.

More in Remodeling

build shelves for entertainment system
  • Time


  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Build the Shelves

There are two flanker tower pieces. Each of these is 24" wide by 16" deep by 8' tall. The sides, top, bottom and center fixed shelf are all cut from 3/4" birch plywood. The back (24" x 8') is 1/4" birch plywood. Use a table saw to rip down the 1x6 poplar to make 1-1/4" wide facing trim.

Use 2" finishing nails from the nail gun and wood glue to put together the sides, top, bottom and center fixed shelf. Attach the 1/4" back using a smaller trim gun with 3/4" staples and glue.

Cut 1x facing trim (45 degree mitered corners) and nail it to the face of the unit with 1-1/2" finishing nails and wood glue. The main purpose of the facing trim is to hide the exposed plywood edge of the sides and top/bottom/shelf pieces.

To create adjustable shelves for both flankers, use 3/4" plywood with a trim piece attached to the front edge.

Don't use white glue on your wood. Because the wood will be stained dark, the white glue will not allow the stain to penetrate. It's best to use darker glue instead.

The center fixed shelf is needed to help the unit hold its shape since it's so tall. Without the fixed shelf in the middle, the sides could bow out, causing the adjustable shelves to fall.

Cut out holes in the back pieces of plywood for the cables to go through.

Once the unit is built, sand it down, wipe it off and then stain.

Once the stain is dry, everything is assembled in the room and screwed together using 1-1/4" sheetrock screws. This allows the unit to be removed in the future if needed.

assemble pieces to create shelf

Step 2: Stain the Wood

Before you start, check the stain color on a scrap piece of wood to make sure you like the color.

Apply two coats of a clear, latex polyurethane sealer. The color we used is called American Walnut.

You can get a quart can of stain for around $5.00. For this project, three cans were used.

once shelf unit is built, sand it down

Step 3: Put the Unit Together

Attach the two flanker towers to the center unit. Next, screw the cap piece to the top of the two towers.

Once this is all together, attach four 2" 'L' shaped angle brackets to the top of the cap and the studs in the wall. This keeps the unit from tipping over. You now have an 8' by 8' fixed unit with an open space for the TV and all shelves open.

When placing the unit up against the wall, be sure to line up the holes for the cables in the back of the unit with the ones in the wall.

For a better overall appearance, attach components of the unit in places with little visibility.

build shelves for entertainment system




  • Paint (#2080-10 Raspberry Truffle, Eggshell Finish) from Benjamin Moore