Popular Mechanics (USA)



The Builder: Dean Wilbur

As an auto mechanic in Milwaukee, Wilbur spends his days fixing other people’s prized rides. By night, however, the lifelong DIYer gets his hands dirty with his own projects, from building furniture out of odds and ends, to restoring a

’71 Camaro.

For Pop Mech’s Reader Challenge, Wilbur retrieved a find that he’d been sitting on for some time: a Capehart television console from 1951 that his wife scored from eBay in hopes of converting it into a cabinet. “Timing was everything,” says Wilbur. “This project has been on my mind for a while, but the deadline of the challenge definitely helped wrap this thing up, and the theme was perfect to describe what we were doing.”

First, Wilbur stripped the set, which proved to be the trickiest part. “It was so well-built, with a lot of glue, nails, and screws that were pretty well-hidden,” he says. “It was fascinatin­g to see the level of detail and quality that went into manufactur­ing back in 1951.”

Once he cleared that hurdle, Wilbur grabbed a piano hinge and magnet latch to rebuild the front of the TV set so it could swing open to reveal the inside storage space. After building a lamp from the TV tubes to illuminate the shelving, Wilbur recruited his son, Dylan, for the last major step: designing and printing a vintage test pattern—please stand by—to adorn the cabinet.

Now, Dylan proudly displays the finished product in his apartment, with a toast to his dad’s ingenuity. “This was a team project—I relied on the creativity of my wife and son to make this happen,”

Wilbur says.

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