House Hacking Project: Wall Mount Flat Screen and Floating Shelf
Sometimes a project idea pops up at a moments notice, and this one did the same for us. As the New Year is coming into full swing, our home gym is being used again. While jogging on the treadmill, the thought came about: it would be nice to have a flat screen on the wall to pass the time. As fate would have it, a flat panel with wall bracket was handed down by a family member a few months back. It was collecting dust in a corner of the garage awaiting a new home. The only things needed were anchors and a video source.
Our donor TV has both a VGA video and 3.5mm audio input, allowing us to use a laptop without an HDMI output.
Not the weekend before, we took about organizing our home office. Carol’s original laptop from 2005 has been re-purposed twice in the past, surviving numerous batteries and hard drives. Once as a backup; then later for Eric, running scan tool software. We just moved it into the garage a day before, and what better purpose could an old Windows laptop serve but as a DVD player and media streaming device? The project scope was developing nicely…
We began assembling a shopping list: wall anchors, a shelf, cable management. Nothing too complex, this project is mostly free so far. We didn’t want to get too crazy! A quick trip (three actually) to the hardware store, and we were ready to start.
Our mounting location is in between the two windows, with perfect viewing from the treadmill and other equipment. We have a wall outlet and cable available below, should we want a cable box in the future.
Once we found our center in between the windows, we needed to determine a viewing height. Once that was agreed upon, we marked where our anchors were to be located. The small x’s on the perimeter are our drill points.
All four holes are drilled using a 1/2″ bit. A way to minimize drywall dust is to use a vacuum attachment, and hold it directly below the drill point. If you have ever dealt with gypsum dust, it is a headache. We like to create as small of a mess as possible to expedite cleanup.
The hardware for this project consists of toggle bolts for the floating shelf, and a heavy duty metal anchor for the flat panel mount. The TV weighs at most 30lbs, so the combined sheer strength of 440 lbs of the anchors will more than suffice. If we were hanging a plasma panel, we would like to find studs to lag to. (We have an old 40″ plasma that weighs near 100lbs.) The shelf we have elected to use has a maximum weight capacity of 20lbs, so we don’t need to use 6 anchors. We opted to only use 4, which exceeds the shelf capacity by a factor of ten.
After installing the hardware, we mounted the panel bracket to the wall. We checked for level: perfect! A test fit of the TV was out of whack, and we had to adjust the mounts accordingly. Once it was leveled, we pulled it back off of the wall and set aside so we could continue working.
We repeated the center/height measurements for our shelf, and broke out the laser level for the sets of anchors. Measure twice, drill once 🙂
A quick check of our mounting points, and both sides line up perfectly.
As we mentioned above, we are opting for 4 anchors on our shelf. We utilized the vacuum trick while drilling again. This picture is the toggle bolts inserted, but not yet installed. You simply slide the collar towards the wall to cinch up the anchor, then gently tear off the remaining plastic. That’s it, easy peasy!
The totality of our mess after drilling 8 1/2″ holes, not bad at all. A quick vacuum while we have it out and the clean up is almost done already.
We check the mounting bracket for level, and adjust it a touch. Once level is achieved, we tighten the screws and verify we are perfect. We finally get to test fit the shelf.
We are satisfied with the shelf placement and fit, and the next step is to make a notch for the TV and laptop power cords. Ideally a jewelers saw would have been used, but we didn’t have one on hand. A hand held miter saw cut the fiber board like butter, and we followed by shearing the tabs with a pair of pliers. You can see the damage here, but it will be covered by our cable raceway.
Our laptop power supply is attached to the underside of our shelf with double sided tape. Two mounted zip ties will manage the cabling once the shelf is mounted and cable length determined.
The cables fit brilliantly. Not to power up our equipment to make sure everything is in order.
A test run of the setup. Everything works as planned, now time to install the cable raceway.
Our raceway needed to be trimmed into two pieces, one above and one below our shelf. The total length was 48″, and worked out for us perfectly. 20″ from the shelf up terminated behind the panel, and 28″ below lined us up with the wall outlets perfectly. You would almost think it was designed that way :p I bet you are wondering about the piece of plastic in the picture. We eliminated a small section on the top race to reduce the clamping effect of the cover a little, in the event it needs to be removed.
Cutting plastic usually gives it a static charge, and Eric was covered head to toe in plastic dust :/
We had an extra HDMI cable in our bin, and added that to the cables being run. Having video options for an Apple TV or another laptop doesn’t hurt, and this means we don’t have to pull the TV down anytime soon.
Raceway installed, and a view of the laptop power supply underneath our shelf. We added an expansion plug to our outlet, allowing everything to be plugged in.
The finished product in operation. Clean and neat, a job well done.
For under $100, we managed to complete this addition. Even if we needed a new TV, they can be bought on sale reasonably. Now it is time to get back on that treadmill…