Turn Steel into Brass & Build a Modern Media Console

Friday, November 30, 2018
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*This post is sponsored by Diablo Tools and The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product or payment in exchange. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. 

I've been waiting to tackle this project for a long time! Last April, I was in New York for The Home Depot ProSpective tool event. My friend Tamar from 3x3 Custom lives in the area and showed a few of us around to some of the local furniture stores. I spotted a cool leg design which got my brain going. I sketched out a simplified version and have been dying to use it on a project ever since. 

Since I knew I was going to be incorporating steel into this compact media console, a technique called brass brushing came to mind. I had seen it done a couple times on jewelry and sword making. It's a simple way to apply real brass plating to regular ole plain steel. And I'm happy to say, I figured out how to brass brush at home with simple tools! 

Materials List:

  • 2-1/2"- #8 wood screws
  • 3/4"- #6 brass screws
  • 2"- #8 wood screws
  • 1/8" drill bit
  • 3/8" drill bit 
  • wood glue
  • iron-on edge banding 

* For Brass Brushing*


Cut List:

  • (2) 3/4" plywood @ 15-7/8" x 48"
  • (2) 3/4" plywood @ 15-7/8" x 22"
  • (1) 3/4" plywood @ 15" x 47-1/4"
  • (1) 3/4" plywood @ 15" x 22-3/4"

  • (2) 1 x 2 @ 34-1/2"
  • (4) 1 x 2 @ 15-3/8" 

  • (8) 1/4" x 1-1/2" steel bar stock  @ 6" 



Check out the video for the full build, brass brushing, and all the details. Keep scrolling for the plans and all the nitty gritty. 



1. Cut Plywood and Base Pieces

Using a circular saw with a guide or a table saw to break down 3/4" plywood into top, bottom, sides, and shelf panels. Using whatever technique you are most comfortable with (table saw, router, jigsaw, etc.) cut dados and notches in the plywood panels, following the diagram. 


Since I don't have a table saw, I found the easiest way to cut the grooves and dados was a combination of a circular saw and jigsaw. I'll be honest, the jigsaw was always my most hated tool, but I got to try out my new Ryobi 18V brushless variable speed jigsaw and it may have changed my mind. Being able to adjust both the speed and oscillation allowed me to have complete control over my cuts. 


Top & Bottom: Cut 3/4" x 15" dados, 3/8" deep, in the center of the top and bottom panels. Begin the dados from the back edges. Stop from cutting all the way through and allow a 7/8" set-back from front edges. 

Sides:  Cut 3/4" x 15" dados, 3/8" deep, in the center of the top and bottom panels. Begin the dados from the back edges. Stop from cutting all the way through and allow a 7/8" set-back from front edges. 

Shelf Pieces: Measure 6-3/8" from the top edge of the shorter shelf piece. Cut a 3/4" x 7-1/2" notch all the way through the thickness of the plywood. Measure 23-1/4" from each outside ends of the longer shelf piece. Cut a 3/4" x 7-1/2" notch all the way through the thickness of the plywood. 


*For a more finished look, apply iron-on edge banding to all the exposed plywood edges before moving on to assembly. 

2. Top and Bottom 

Align 48" x 15-7/8" top and bottom panels perpendicular to sides, with 3/8" dados facing inward. Apply glue to joints. Pre-drill and countersink holes. Secure pieces together using 2-1/2" screws.


3. Connect Shelf Pieces

Align shelf pieces perpendicular to one another. Apply glue to joint area. Slide shelf pieces together. Check to make sure intersections are 90 degrees. Clamp firmly in place and allow the glue to dry. 


4. Insert Shelf Assembly

Apply glue to the 3/8" deep dado on the box sides, top and bottom. Slide shelf assembly into box and clamp firmly together while drying.


5. Construct Base

At 90 degree angles, connect 1 x 2 x 15-3/8" aprons to 1 x 2 x 34-1/2" aprons. Allow 1-1/2" set backs from either end. Pre-drill and secure together using glue and 2-1/2" screws.


6. Attach Base

Pre-drill and countersink the bottom side of the 1 x 2 base. Align base on the underside of the console box, allowing a 6" set-back from either end and 1/4" set-back from the front and back edges. Attach the base to the box using 2" screws.


This would be the point when you should apply desired finish to the assembled console and detached remaining pieces. 

7. Cut Metal Legs

Believe it or not, cutting the metal legs is the fun part. Cutting metal can be slow and arduous if you don't have the right cutting tools. If you're cutting metal, you've got to go with Diablo blades. In the past, the old school grinder and abrasive wheel combo was pretty much the only way to go. First of all, not everyone has an angle grinder and secondly, abrasive wheels are dirty and tend to break. 


Did you know you can cut steel with a circular saw?! Diablo Tools just launched a new 7-1/4" Wood and Metal blade that will work on most circular saws. That means the exact same blade can be used to break down plywood panels, then switch to cutting steel bar stock (which is what I did). 


If you're not ready to try cold cutting steel with a round blade, another great and accurate option is to use a metal cutting blade and a reciprocating saw. Diablo Tools make a whole collection of carbide tipped and bi-metal recip blades to cut thick, medium, and thin metal, and can give you up to a 50% longer life compared to other brands. 

8. Add Metal Legs and Aprons

Brass brush, paint or finish the metal legs however you'd like. Check out the video above to see how I got a simple brass plated finish on my steel bar stock legs. 

Attach 6" steel legs and separate 15-3/8" aprons to base, using 3/4" brass screws. 


9. Finish 

Flip the finished console upright, Voila! 


If you watch the YouTube video or follow my Instagram stories, you'll see I had a little trouble with the oak plywood and wasn't able to use my first choice in finish. I ended up using a medium gray stain and finishing with 3 coats of a water-based polyurethane. I'll say this much, this definitely ain't your mama's honey oak. 


I still can't believe I was able to turn steel into brass. Well, technically I only coated the surface of steel with brass, but it looks and feels like the real deal. It's so beautiful! 

 

The major benefits of working with steel vs. real brass are price (like 1/4 the price), it's many times stronger, and it can be welded for more complicated projects.


This media console was designed for my twin boys' small game room, but I was a little concerned the proportions would be off at only 48" wide. I'm happy to report the size and scale work perfectly in the room. In fact, we placed a 55" TV on top and it fits with plenty of space on each side.


Have you been wanting to incorporate a little metal into your wood projects but aren't ready to jump into welding? This might be the build for you. The simple steel plates screwed to standard sized 1 x 2s has given me some inspiration. I have a couple other ideas cooking in this crazy head of mine now.

diy brass brush steel plate wood legs feet furniture modern furniture

Ready to build your own modern media console? Or maybe try your hand at brass brushing steel? Feel free to pin the image below to save the idea for later. 

Video building tutorial showing you how to build a modern media console from a single sheet of plywood and apply brass brush plating to steel


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