Add-on Pocket to Bespoke Wooden Remote Control Holder to Hold More Remotes
And Then There Were Six
A couple of years ago I made a bespoke remote control holder from recycled wood and scrap materials to hold the three remote controls for our TV, cable box and sound system. Since then we’ve bought a Blu-ray player and recently replaced our TV; the new TV came with two remotes:-
The TV’s second remote control is a universal remote control that automatically configured itself to work with all our other equipment shortly after we turned the TV on for the first time; which is great.
The sound system (a 7:1 surround sound home cinema system) has its own Blu-ray player built-in, but the system is so old that the player doesn’t play the latest Blu-ray formats; hence why we needed to buy a separate Blu-ray player.
However, with three devices (Blu-ray player, cable box and smart Internet TV with Freeview) and only two optical digital inputs into the sound system, it left having to make do with using the TV’s speakers when watching the TV itself e.g. Freeview or the Internet through the TV. Freeview is a free terrestrial service (with 85 free TV channels, including 15 in HD) that’s built-in on all British TV’s.
Therefore I bought an optical digital switch with one input and four outputs, which came with its remote control.
So in summary, the six remotes we ended up with are:-
- 7:1 surround sound home cinema system
- Blu-ray player
- Cable box (Virgin Media)
- Universal control that came with the TV
- Optical digital switch
Remodelling Remote Control Holder
To Accommodate More Remote Controls
With more remotes than will fit into our existing remote control holder, after some thought I decided the easy option would be to extend the remote control holder forward by adding a front pocket to hold the additional remotes.
In my usual style, rather than buying new materials, I would make the alterations using recycled material e.g. scrap wood and off-cuts.
Below is a step-by-step guide giving a brief overview of how I extended our remote control holder to hold all our remote controls; with a little spare capacity for future proofing.
Design Features of The New Unit
Good preparation and design is a key feature to a successful project. Therefore, its worthwhile spending time getting your design right, and on carefully choosing and sourcing the material that you’ll be using.
Accommodating the Remotes
In my view, making a simple wooden square box wouldn’t work because remote controls are all different shapes and sizes, and if you made the box big enough to accommodate the biggest remote control all the others would just flop about and topple over sideways.
Therefore, the two key elements to my design are:-
- To pad the pockets to create some friction to hold the remotes in place, and
- To slope the front so that the pockets get narrower at the base, thereby allowing the chunkier remotes to fit comfortably while at the same time allowing the slimmer remotes to slip deeper into the pockets, giving them also a snug fit.
Location and Fitting
My original remote control holder was designed to fit onto the side of a side table, that’s located by the side of the sofa, for easy access of the remotes.
The method I adopted for fixing the remote control holder in place to the side table, without damaging the table is:-
- Two side runners at the base of the remote control holder that slips over one of the table’s box stretchers (horizontal supports between the legs)
- A back panel tall enough to press against the front of the wooden table skirt (the decorative part below the table top), and
- A long wooden twist thumb latch fixed to the back of the remote control holder to press against the back of the table legs to hold the remote control holder in place.
So once the remote control holder is placed over one of the table’s side stretcher, and with the top of the remote control holder pushed against the table’s wooden skirt, the whole unit is locked in place by twisting the wooden thumb latch horizontally, thereby pressing it against the back of two of the table’s legs to firmly secure the remote control holder in place between the table’s legs.
Stripping Down Old Remote Control Holder
Once deciding on the design, the first step was to remove the upholstery nails, so as to remove the old red covering. There is a proper tool you can buy to remove upholstery nails, which I don’t have; so I used a combination of an old chisel, large screwdriver and pliers to prise the upholstery nails out.
Once the upholstery nails were all out, I could then just simply remove the red covering and pull out the foam padding.
Cutting Wooden Pieces to Size for Extension Box
The extension is a simple design requiring just two sided panels, a base and a front; all made from recycled and scrap wood:-
- Two panels from 4mm (1/8th inch) plywood
- Front panel from 9mm (3/8th inch) plywood
- Base from 12mm (1/2 inch) timber
The plywood was off-cuts (scrap wood) leftover from a previous project, and the timber I used for the base was recycled (scrap wood) salvaged from previous jobs.
I placed two pieces of 4mm plywood onto of each other (squared off at the corner), measured and marked out the shape and size I wanted, and then cut to size with a saw. Normally I’d use an electric jig saw, but being such small pieces this time I decided to use a Tenon saw to cut them by hand.
The reasons I chose to use such thin wood for the side panels was that:-
- I didn’t need to use thicker wood for strength
- I didn’t need thicker wood for fixing, as I would be nailing through it into thicker wood, and
- Most importantly, the width of the remote control holder is governed by the width of the table that it would be fixed to, limiting its size. Therefore, the use of thin wood on the side panels gives additional storage space for the remote controls.
Next, I found a piece of scrap timber that was the right width and depth, and after using a tape measure, square and pencil to mark out the correct length, cut it to length with the Tenon saw.
Finally, from a spare piece of 9mm plywood (in my wood store at the back of my workshop) I used the tape measure, square and pencil to mark out the correct size for the front panel; using the back of a hand saw as a straight edge, as the square wasn’t quite long enough to mark out the whole length. Once marked out, I then cut it to size with the hand saw.
Once I’d cut the pieces of wood to size I then quickly smoothed off all the edges with an electric sander, before assembly.
Assembling the Extension Box
With all the pieces cut and sanded, the next step was to assemble the extension box before fixing it to the original remote control holder.
Normally I would prefer to use wood glue and screws, for added strength, and a good finish; but the wood was too thin to screw without the risk of splitting, so I used small oval nails instead. However, being such a small, compact box, it’s going to be strong anyway.
Front Panel and Base
To fit the front panel to the base I held the base in place with a wooden vice, applied wood glue along its length, and then nailed the front panel in place.
Fitting the Side Panels to the Front and Base
Having fitted the front and base, the next step was fitting the side panels. As this wasn’t going to be a straight 90 degree angle, I had to first gently prise the front and base into shape before fitting the side panels; using one of the side panels as a template to get the correct angle.
Once I’d done this I then put the front and base assembly on end, applied wood glue along the edge and nailed the first side in place.
I then flipped it over and glued and nailed the second side panel in place.
Attaching Extension Box to Main Unit
Although I kept the design simple, it allowed for final adjustments to the pocket width at the top, while fixing to the main unit e.g. by tilting the angle of the extension box. Because a couple of our remote controls are much thinner than the others, I specifically wanted the opening at the top of the front extension to be half the width of the main unit. Therefore, when fitting I tilted the front box up by about half an inch; to narrow the gap at the top.
Once I’d positioned the extension box where I wanted it, I glued and nailed it in place.
With the unit now assembled, I just gave it a quick sanding all over with the electric sander prior to polishing and adding the upholstery.
Wood Finish with Coloured Beeswax
To match the new wood with the old I could have wood stained it, but on this occasion as it was only a small area to colour, I chose to colour match it with a dark antique beeswax polish. Because the new wood was bare plywood it was highly absorbent, and readily took the dark colourant in the beeswax to give a good colour match.
I always use beeswax because it is durable and will give a lasting finish; whereas I never use wax polish containing silicon because the silicon is oil, not a wax, which is shiny when wet, but when the oil evaporates the furniture becomes dull again, and the oil residue is sticky which just attracts more dust. So by using silicon furniture polish you’re forever polishing; whereas with beeswax you only need polish occasionally.
I generously applied the beeswax with a yellow duster, and left it for 15 minutes to soak in and dry, before buffing it up to a shine.
Adding the Padding
Last time I padded the original remote control holder with thin soft foam and a soft material; which worked quite well. However, this time I decided to use a scrap piece of Axminster carpet, as it’s just as thick as the foam, and it’s soft but firm so would grip and hold the remotes in place, in a similar fashion to the foam.
The spare piece of Axminster I had was a remnant from when we had our living room carpeted.
I’m not sure it would work as effectively with other carpets, but Axminster and Wilton carpets are the two top range prestige hardwearing carpets made in Britain from 100% wool that, unlike cheaper carpets, will last a lifetime. Axminster dates back to 1755 and Wilton 1749.
Having decided to use Axminster carpet as the padding, the main steps for fitting it are:-
- Cutting to size
- Folding to shape
- Pushing into place
- Tacking in place with upholstery nails
- Trim off excess carpet
I wanted to fit the carpet as one piece, so calculating the correct length is very much like calculating for getting the right size pond liner e.g. depth x2 plus width; plus the thickness of the wood; then repeat for the second pocket, and add the height difference between the two pockets. Add it all together and add a little spare, which can be trimmed off afterwards.
Measuring the width is a bit simpler, just a straight forward measurement of the internal width for the top pocket, and a similar measurement for the bottom pocket.
Using the principle of measure twice and cut once; once you have your measurement lay the carpet out flat on a firm surface, mark up where to cut and cut from the back with a Stanley knife.
Folding to Shape
As the Axminster carpet is a stiff material, you can’t just push it into the pockets like you could do with cloth or leather. Therefore, bend and fold the carpet into a concertina shape to fit the depth of the two pockets.
Pushing into Place
Once folded into the required shape, it will push into the pockets quite easily.
Tacking in Place
Once the carpet is in position, tack it down with upholstery nails.
Then to tidy up, just use the Stanley knife to cut the excess.
Attach to Table and Start Using
Job done; all that’s left to do now is to reattach the remote control holder to the side table, slot the remotes in the pockets, and start using it.
Who Uses a Remote Control Holder?
What do you do with your remotes?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Arthur Russ