A few years ago the beautiful 42″ Panasonic Plasma HD Television I gave myself as a tenure present in 2007 broke…again. The first time it blew a board it was worth repairing, but the next time – when we got the dreaded 10 blinks of death – the cost of repair exceeded the price of buying a new (and better) one. The guy advertising on craigslist that he buys broken electronics to rip out all the rare earth metals didn’t want it. Even the TV repair dude told me to trash it.
But I just couldn’t do it. As far as I was concerned, taking it to our local hazardous waste collection center because even manufacturers are telling owners of $1800 televisions that they are disposable after a year was all the proof I needed that our species deserved extinction. So I stashed it in the garage thinking I’d one day make friends with a faculty member in UF’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering whose grad students would fix it in return for a growler from First Magnitude. Finally, Patricia told me to get rid of it because she was tired of tripping over it. But before doing so I remembered I’d once read how to convert an old Macintosh computer into an aquarium, so I decided I would take one last at the interwebs to see if anyone had a creative way to repurpose a broken TV. I searched for a couple of hours with no luck, and then ran across this in a distant corner of the web: a guy screwed some Ikea legs into his broken TV and turned it into a coffee table. Bing! That’s it! But surely it can be a bit more exciting, no?
Once I realized the TV was basically a glass lid over a box, I considered all kinds of stuff – making it a terrarium or a giant picture frame, letting my kids paint it with glass paint, putting some LED candles in it…and then while searching for LED’s I came across this, known as an Infinity Mirror, and remembered a piece by Chul Hyun Ahn that captivated my kids on a trip to The University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art.
With that the dream was born: an Infinity TV Coffee Table. It took ~8 hours to plan, shop, and build and cost $73.
To make it either recycled or repurposed these things I had in the house:
1 Broken TV
some scrap lumber: I used some 1″ x 4″ and the wood trim trim I had in the garage
A piece of MDF on which to mount the mirror (also sitting around the garage)
tools: I used a tape measure, circular saw, hammer, cordless drill (essential to remove all the screws)
table leg pads
clear packing tape
Purchased (total: $73)
1 Set of Ikea Capita legs: $30 at Amazon, $16 at the Ikea store
1 mirror: $10 from craigslist
2 cans of black spray paint, glossy finish: 6$ at Ace Hardware
string of LED lights: $7 at Amazon.com
One Way Silver Reflective Mirrore
d Self Adhesive Window Film: you can buy a roll is $20-30 from Amazon, eBay, or Home Depot and do it yourself, but because of the size of the glass I was worried I would botch the job. Custom Glass Tinting in Gainesville applied the film for me for $20.
Step 1: Remove the back panel.
Once you do you realize you’re in for a long day..I counted another 135 screws, and that was only the ones I could see.
Step 2: Start pulling out all the components (which will be recycled at the next Spring Greening Collection Day organized by Sustainable UF).
Step 3: Remove the mirror from the frame and cut a piece of MDF large enough to serve as the base for the mirror.
Step 4: Cut the 1″ x 4″ so that it’s long enough so that the base of the legs can be screwed onto it and emerge through the holes for bolting the TV to a wall mount (Edit, 7 december 2014: make sure to level to lateral pieces onto which the legs will be attached; you may have to put a shim under them. I didn’t and the legs are a biiiiit angled. Not much, but enough to notice if you squint).
Step 5: Add a few pieces of 1″ x 4″ to support the MDF panel on which the mirror will be mounted (I used the glue gun), then paint the inside of the TV with glossy finish black spray paint.
Step 6: Paint the MDF panel and screw it onto the 1″ x 4″‘s, then build a frame for the mirror with scrap 1″ x 1″. After you paint it, place the mirror on the MDF base so that when you put the front of the TV back on it will be centered in the screen. Attach the mirror to the MDF with velcro. (Edit 7 December 2014: you may want to add some weight to the inside outside the frame to make the table a bit more stable).
Step 7: Take the LED string and tape it onto the inside of the frame. Velcro the frame onto the MDF panel.
Step 8: Screw the legs onto their bases (I added pads o avoid scratching my floors).
Step 9: Apply one-way mirror film the glass (or better yet call Custom Glass Tinting).
Step 10: Lid on, looks good…
Step 11: Flip the switch…
Step 12: …and watch your kids freak out.
Step 13: Time for a beer…job well done.
UPDATE 10 December 2014: I’ve since come across another cool TV->Table conversion.
1) TV Table 1: The Original Post on Reddit & the how-to photos & text
Infinity Coffee Table (including Text and Photos except those by BmoreArt) by Emilio M. Bruna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://brunalab.org/blog/2014/12/08/infinity-table-diy/.