Woodworker's First Speaker Build

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russellberg

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Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« on: 9 Jul 2020, 01:54 am »
I am an experienced woodworker and I became fascinated with the idea of building a set of speakers for myself this spring.  I came across Soundblab's design on Youtube and settled on building it with some adaptations.  I figured that the components were not expensive so if it turned out to be a complete bust I wouldn't have lost too much.  I decided that I wanted to do do the build with solid hardwood and I had a bunch of butternut sitting around so I began by gluing it up my panels.



I wanted the front baffle to be a more interesting so I laminated a purple heart strip surrounded by two maple strips into the front panel.



I don't like butt joints so I decided to use my lock mitre bit to create a mitred profile that provides a very strong joint that has a lot of long grain surface area for the glue.  The bit cuts the 45 degree and the interlocking joinery all at one pass so it is quite efficient and strong.
 


This is the profile that it produces.  The hand tool cabinet that you see in the background of some of the pictures is made with this type of joinery and it is holding probably close to 200 lbs of tools.



This is the dry fit.  It is not apparent here but the baffle has a 5 degree tilt to aid in time alignment.



I cut a rabbet in the back to flush mount the alumnimum for the binding post mounting plate with my router and I used my router plane and a chisel to get square ends.







The back of the speaker ended up looking like this.  I had known that the lock mitre bit was going to leave me with an area where I was going to have to make a repair but I hadn't really planned on how I was going to fix that.





I chiselled and cut out a recess for a repair piece using a chisel and marking knife.  I had to be quite careful as I had to leave a very thin piece of wood on the side so that I would have a gluing surface.





Then I glued in my repair piece.  I always make my repair pieces a little big so that I can plane them down to exact size.  I didn't get it quite exactly as tight as I wanted but as it is on the back of the speaker I was prepared to live with it.





I liked the look of the large aluminum plates on the back but I was concerned about them starting to resonate so I epoxied some ½" baltic birch on to the back to deaden them.



I was really uncertain about the legs.  I wanted something different from Soundblab's legs but I wasn't sure what I wanted.  I played around with a set of measurements based on the fibonacci sequence and this is what I came up with.  I'm still not sure if I like them but I will live with them for a while before making any changes.





Then I cut them out on my bandsaw.



By then my parts had arrived and I was ready to start cutting circles.  I hadn't used the Jasper circle cutting jig before this project and I was really happy with how it worked.  If you are doing this for the first time make sure you cut out the rabbet to hold the speaker in place before you cut the actual hole.  I almost made that mistake.





And it fit.  This design uses a small side firing sub 5.25 Tang Band.  I am a complete neophyte to good sound systems but this speaker has really impressed me.  The base is rich and textured.



Here is a better look at the profile that the lock miter bit produces.  You will also notice that I cut another rabbet on the top of the speaker.  I wanted to change the design of the top of the speaker and this will come into play for that as well.  For one of the backs I somehow forgot to cut the rabbet until after I had glued on the port and reinforcement pieces so I had to cut the rabbet with hand saw and chisel.





The design has a downward firing port and sealed in box around the mid range so I glued these in next out of ¾" baltic birch.  These also act as reinforcements to prevent resonance in the side of the speaker enclosure.  This has worked quite well and the whole design is very stiff and stable.






Then it was time for glue up.  It was a lot of surfaces all at once so I used Titebond III as it has a longer open time.  I used 4 strap clamps first to hold everything in place then added bar clamps to snug everything down and pull it all into square.





Next I went to work on the top.  I had decided to use more purple heart so I inset a narrow piece into the rabbet that I had cut in the tops of all my pieces and glued it into place.





I knew that his would increase the internal volume of the speaker so I glued a piece of MDF that fit exactly inside of the the purple heart strips to take up the extra volume. That piece of MDF also provided a good stable place to glue the top.  I decided to to put a significant bevel on the underside of the top as it makes the purple heart more visible and I like the way it looked.



I finished the legs before I glue them into place because I could get a nice buffed and waxed finish with my buffing wheels and that would be very difficult after they were in place.  The glue squeeze out comes off nicely with a sharp chisel.



Next came the part that I was most nervous about I had never done any soldering before and my understanding of electronics is remedial at best.  Soundblab's diagrams and instructions were first rate and it all turned out pretty well.





I sanded everything down to 400 grit then ran a buffing wheel over it all, then buffed carnauba wax on and off.  It produces a beautifully soft smoothness that invites touch.  The last step was gluing the top into place.  I put some wedges on to the top to make the clamp approach at a 90 degree angle.  The front and the top of the speaker lean back at 85 degrees and if the clamping angle is different from the angle of the wood then the top would have crept forward under the unequal pressure.  The shims prevent that. 





I haven't had so much fun or learned so much with a project in such a long time and I am so happy with the result.  I have not heard recorded sound with such presence and clarity before.  These speakers really excel with an expansive and clear soundstage that draws the me into the performance.  They do dig pretty deep with bass, hitting far below what I would have expected.  I have, nevertheless, added a sub to the system as well.  I didn't do as detailed a write up but you can see a bit of my GR Research servo sub build here.  https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=170554.msg1806721#msg1806721
Anyway, its all been a blast and there is nothing like the satisfaction of being able to listen to something that you built.











hdspeakerman

Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #1 on: 9 Jul 2020, 04:32 am »
Very attractive speakers!  Nice, complete write up.  Don't be surprised if you decide to build another pair.  It can be very addictive.   :lol:

AlexH

Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #2 on: 9 Jul 2020, 10:13 am »
Cool! :thumb:

Letitroll98

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Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #3 on: 9 Jul 2020, 11:19 am »
Beautiful build.  I've always liked the tower design with the narrow front baffle and the bass driver on the side.  Were the internal partitions for the drivers enough bracing, or did you add additional reinforcement for the side panels?

oskar

Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #4 on: 9 Jul 2020, 01:51 pm »
Very nice. Thanks for well documented build and sharing.

Did you build the cross over or did someone else do that?
Building a cross over is why I'm hesitating starting a speaker project.

russellberg

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Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #5 on: 9 Jul 2020, 07:14 pm »
Beautiful build.  I've always liked the tower design with the narrow front baffle and the bass driver on the side.  Were the internal partitions for the drivers enough bracing, or did you add additional reinforcement for the side panels?
I didn't add any other bracing, partly out of a lack of experience, but I really feel like the amount in the design is sufficient.  There isn't any open space that is more than 4 inches away from a brace.  I don't know, is that enough?

russellberg

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Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #6 on: 9 Jul 2020, 07:19 pm »
Very nice. Thanks for well documented build and sharing.

Did you build the cross over or did someone else do that?
Building a cross over is why I'm hesitating starting a speaker project.

I did build the crossover but Soundblab's plans were very clear and easy to follow.  He included a very clear shopping list with links and a diagram of how to put it all together.  The instructions were perfect for a first timer.  (No affiliation, just a satisfied customer.)  If you would like to see his build video, its here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvKF38sXV60&t=1468s

Jazzman53

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Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #7 on: 9 Jul 2020, 11:38 pm »
I admire your skill-- beautiful speakers!

Letitroll98

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Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #8 on: 10 Jul 2020, 11:56 am »
I didn't add any other bracing, partly out of a lack of experience, but I really feel like the amount in the design is sufficient.  There isn't any open space that is more than 4 inches away from a brace.  I don't know, is that enough?

Ha ha, yeah, I think that's enough.

JDoyle

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Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #9 on: 10 Jul 2020, 12:38 pm »
Incredible work!  :thumb:

I admire (and envy) your skill, your shop and my god, your tools!  :green:

JD


russellberg

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Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #10 on: 11 Jul 2020, 05:00 am »
Incredible work!  :thumb:

I admire (and envy) your skill, your shop and my god, your tools!  :green:

JD

Thank you so much!  I am very lucky to have such a great space.

cameraman

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Re: Woodworker's First Speaker Build
« Reply #11 on: 30 Jul 2020, 11:51 pm »
Impressive. I wouldn't call myself an accomplished woodworker but have built many DIY subwoofers, a pair of mains, a center and a couple bookshelves. I'm currently building a pair or Scan-Speak 32W subwoofers in 1 cubic foot sealed enclosures. I'll add a thread after I finish.

You have some nice tools and even better skills.

What circle jig is that? I use a Jasper but it is not round like yours.

Thanks.