Entertainment center design -- Hiding the TV

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Blog entry by briany posted 10-10-2009 02:58 AM 3460 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was recently asked by a friend to build an entertainment center. No big deal, right? Simple case, some shelves, etc. etc. The one part of this request that has me scratching my head a bit is this: Mount the tv on a vertical stand so that it can be hidden in the table when it’s not needed.

He was thinking about having a hand crank or some other manual mechanism to raise the tv. Pneumatic shocks to assist. While that seems possible, motorized mounts are around and seem like a nicer (and $$) touch.

Has anyone out there taken on something like this? Any thoughts or words of wisdom to share?

-- -- Brian, Seattle

8 comments so far

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3314 days

#1 posted 10-10-2009 03:27 AM

Brainy, It’s easy enough to design a cabinet to hide a TV and have it lift from below. I don’t know how you would build a manual one with a crank (Sounds like mounting a TV on a bumper jack), but there are a few companies that have electric lifts. They are quite expensive, so I usually get the information off the web and show the customer. If they want me to design and build the cabinet, I let them order the lift, that way they know I’m not trying to rip them off with the price. Trust me, they will have sticker shock once they see the price. Auton Lifts makes all types of lifts for TV’s, but they are not cheap. Do a little research on the web for lifts and most of them will give you specs. for clearance, etc. Good luck.

-- John @

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3554 days

#2 posted 10-10-2009 03:56 PM

I don’t think you’ll find a hand operated system, unless you design and build the mechanism yourself. The power units are quite pricey, but would surely be cheaper in the long run than the hours of labor you would spend in making one.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3203 days

#3 posted 10-10-2009 04:27 PM

Couldn’t a rack-and-pinion system—like I’ve got on my drill press—work, and … shouldn’t something like that be commercially available?

That said … motorized/electric would be THE way to go … IMHO.

-- -- Neil

View Mike's profile


252 posts in 3412 days

#4 posted 10-11-2009 10:08 PM

Just a thought, what about that lift they use for a coffee table. Are you saying that this is completley hidden and would rise out of the top?

-- Mike, VT

View Mike's profile


252 posts in 3412 days

#5 posted 10-11-2009 10:10 PM

Just a thought, what about that lift they use for a coffee table.

-- Mike, VT

View RBWoodworker's profile


441 posts in 3381 days

#6 posted 10-12-2009 05:15 AM

Hi Brainy.. check out my profile and look at my projects..I actually made a curved tv cabinet and used one of those electric tv lifts that causes the tv to rise out of the top and close into the inside of the cabinet via a wireless remote.. you might want to go that route..I posted where I bought the lift kit and it’s very reasonably priced..

-- Randall Child

View briany's profile


11 posts in 3186 days

#7 posted 10-12-2009 07:03 AM

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. They have all been very helpful in thinking through this. Still no idea what I’ll end up doing though. The folks that I’m talking to about this are cost sensitive, so even a few hundred bucks for a motorized mount may be out. (I still think it’s the best way to go..) I expected the motorized lifts to be a bit spendy, just not quite as much what I’ve found so far ($400 to $5k!).

@Mike: I hadn’t ever heard about lifting coffee tables. Interesting. They would like to have the tv completely gone when not in use. Something like what RBWoodworker has done but with room for a receiver, dvd player, etc.

@RBWoodworker: That’s a beautiful cabinet. Definitely one to be proud of. The site you bought your lift kit is down, will have to check them out later. I’m really hoping to find a motorized mount that will work with what they have in mind price-wise.

I’ve had a few thoughts on this project over the weekend. The one solid idea relating to the original question is to use a set of pneumatic springs(?) like you find on cars for the rear windows or trunks. These would help provide lift when one wanted to raise the tv, and a latch or magnet would hold on to the tv when it’s down. A rotating catch would be needed to ensure the tv doesn’t go crashing down at some point. Depending on how heavy this is, a rack and pinion crank could be added (thanks NBeener!) to offset the work.

Anyhow, thanks again for everyones thoughts and comments. If/when I get this started, I’m sure it will be the subject of an entire series of blog posts.

-- -- Brian, Seattle

View TVLift's profile


5 posts in 3119 days

#8 posted 12-15-2009 04:26 PM

Sounds like your buddy is making this more complicated than it needs to be. Like asking you to build a wooden water clock instead of buying a quartz mechanism:)

I do think your friend would be much happier with a high quality TV lift for several reasons:

It won’t give way under the weight of the TV and send his flat screen crashing to the ground
It won’t be noisy and difficult to operate
It will have a warranty

Huff’s recommendation to let the client be responsible for picking out the lift is excellent. Just let them know they will be getting what they pay for quality-wise. They should stay away from lifts with plastic components – those are cheaper but just don’t last.

Finally, if you do decide to create a TV lift from scratch, be sure to patent your design!


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