Cost, Time, and Skills:
I spent $40 on this project, plus some leftover paint. I used a circular saw, power drill/driver, lag bolts, a cheap tv mount, and some paint. You’ll be lifting wood, and a tv, up high, so make sure you can do that lifting or have someone around to help. Step by step instructions are in the photo captions.
Last year we cancelled our cable. We started out with a deal that was super cheap. Then, over the years, the cable company kept increasing the rate until we were paying 80 bucks per month to watch tv. That’s lame. It’s not that we never watch tv. We watched it a lot when we had cable. We saw that as a problem, so we cancelled it and started reading books and doing projects a lot more. It’s been quite liberating.
However, we did run into a problem with having no cable this August. That problem was the Olympics. We really wanted to watch them, but didn’t want to pay for cable. We had purchased a refurbished HD antenna off of Amazon, but were unsuccessful hooking it up because our tv was analog. That’s when my wonderful wife suggested we purchase a new tv, one of those fancy flat jobs. So I went out and bought a 43″ plasma. I’ve always kinda wanted one of those. The Olympics came through swimmingly on our HD antenna and the price was $0.00 per month.
Since August, we’ve had the tv sitting on the same tired old table where the old tv had been sitting. Both Christy and I have wanted to mount it on the wall, in the corner above the outlet, but the cost of those metal mounting brackets kind of scared me. Some of those mounts run upwards of two hundred bucks. Plus there’s the fact that our walls are plaster and we’ve found the spacing of the studs in our crazy old walls to be less than reliable. This is a problem if your store-bought mount only allows for screws in certain standard spacings.
If you’ve looked into wall mounts for tvs, you’ve seen the three different types: flat, tilting, and fully articulated. Since we wanted our tv to be in the corner, we’d need to buy a fully articulated mount, bolt it to one wall, and move it into position in the corner. Of course, the fully articulated mounts are the most expensive. The ones in stores cost 200+ dollars, but there are ones online that are much much cheaper. I could have ordered a cheaper one online, but I want to feel the weight of something like this before I buy it. Since it’s holding my expensive tv, it had better be strong. I just didn’t want to order one online, so I decided to build one.
My first task was to find the studs running vertically in the walls. You can see in the first photograph above that I did some searching. Since the walls are plaster, you can’t use a stud finder. The plaster is applied to a series of thin boards which are attached to the studs. These thin boards are called lath and totally prevent the stud finder from finding the stud. With plaster walls, the best way I’ve found for finding studs is to use a very thin drill bit to drill a series of tiny holes. When you hit a stud, it’s much harder to drill down and you’ll pull back some wood chips along with the plaster. In the second photograph above, you can see where I marked a vertical line between two holes in a stud. This line roughly marks the center of the stud. You can fill in the other holes with spackle and paint over them, or you can leave them like I did. They’re behind a tv so nobody can see them. Right?
The third photo shows the base boards I bolted to the studs through the plaster. I cut two 18-inch sections of 2×4 with mitred ends (for looks, not required). I then drilled holes through the boards for 6-inch lag screws. I used a 3/4-inch drill bit to widen the hole on the top so that the washers and screw heads would be even or below the surface of the boards. This was important because I would be mounting other boards directly over the lag screws. I pre-drilled holes into the studs for the lag screws so that they would be easier to drive into the old wood. I used a level to make sure the base boards were perfectly vertical on the wall before I pre-drilled those holes. Even with pre-drilled holes, the screws heated up quite a bit as I fought them into the studs. I would highly recommend you twist one screw for a few turns, then move on to the other. Feel them with your fingers to make sure they’re not too hot. Let them cool for a while if you have to. If they overheat, you can twist the head off of the screw. . .and then you’re screwed.
If you look closely at the last couple of photos, you can see that the base boards are not the same distance from the corner on each wall. That’s because the studs were not evenly spaced from the corner. That made this next step a little tricky. I measured from the corner of the wall to the center of each base board, and then across the empty space from the center of one base board to the other. These three measurements make up a right triangle and allowed me to use a little trigonometry to find the mitre angles I needed to cut my stretcher boards. Remember that stuff? Sine. Cosine. Tangent. When am I ever going to use this crap again?
I cut the boards to the correct length with the correct angles using my mitre/chop saw, but you can use a hand saw and a mitre box if you’ve got one. I had to use a sander to correct the angles just a bit before I bolted the boards in place. I used 3-inch lag bolts to secure the two stretcher boards to the base boards, checking to make sure they were perfectly level along the way. Once they were up, I attached a cheap (20 dollar) tilting tv mount to the stretchers. My tv attached to that. You can see in the last photo that I screwed a thin board to the left wall. All of the cables run behind this board so it’s a clean install. I then used some leftover paint to paint the boards the same color as the walls and it’s all very clean.
We bought the marble-topped low dresser at an auction for 75 bucks and it’s got plenty of room to store whatever we need it to store. We moved the computer from under the desk to on top of the marble and hooked it up to the tv with a dvi to hdmi cable. That makes watching downloaded content much easier and impressive and makes editing photos in photoshop pretty awesome.
If you’ve got questions or comments, you can leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading. -Robby