I set out to the local DIY-Mega-Everything-Under-Our-Roof stores and found a nice plywood to work with. For those who aren't familiar with the infinite flavors of plywood, there's more than 31 and they all taste pretty bad. You want a plywood that has a sanded finish on the surface, most really cheap plywood is pine and will have a lot of surface imperfections like knots, very small rocks, hides of slow woodland creatures, and the grain is really rough. This isn't optimum conditions for something that you plan to laminate together and you will have gaps at the edges. Surface contact is everything.
Of course, you could use the cheap stuff but you'd be sanding and sanding and sanding. I was on a search for what this store calls "finished" pine plywood, I have used it before and the look/quality/cost ratio is perfect. Well, they were out, I misread the sign, I went to the DIY-Mega-<b>Everything But What You're Looking For</b>-Under-Our-Roof store. Hardwood plywood is the best material you can get but that stuff is also the most expensive. Oak and Birch plywood in 3/4" thickness is in the neighborhood of $40-50/sheet retail (no thanks, especially since you're really only seeing the edge most of the time).
While I was crying in the isle, I found and alternative I have never heard of before. The wood I got was called Arauco (which I thought was surely some sort of endangered rain forest tree - more research reveals it is a type of pine that grows in South America the producer is a company called Arauco). It was beautiful, smooth, the strata in the cross section were all even and uniform and had a nice tan/black contrast, subtle grain with neat little pearl onion knot marks (I have been studying plywood too much lately) and it was $10/sheet cheaper than the hardwood plywood..... winner!. Oh my, lots of text and no pictures... if you are still reading this... aw who am I kidding, here's some eye candy.
There are seven, equal layers in this type of plywood. Most common plywood has five layers, three thin layers, and two thicker/filler layers. This stuff is unique and stylin' (I hope I'm allowed to still use that term). You may think I'm crazy for being so picky about the type of media, but its character totally dictates the overall result.
So I pretty much knew what shape I wanted since I wanted this thing to sit under my TV or on top of my existing audio/video equipment. The primary objective, of course, is to fit all the components in side in a reasonable manner. I wanted to take advantage of all this technique had to offer without getting over my head. You have to get in a "stacking" frame of mind it's actually an interesting mental exercise (well for me anyway). Since I'm basically building a wood sandwich, I started with the bread (top and bottom for you sandwich construction noobies).
I worked out the dimensions of width and depth and let the components dictate the height. I was on a mission to use a motherboard tray, I had recently gotten a Lian-li one from pc-mods but it had to be altered to save space (read on).