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How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

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  • How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

    I've mentioned this topic on and off in the past, so I thought I should finally put together a tutorial about how to build re-usable speaker cabinets using IKEA Akurum kitchen wall cabinet frames. These can be used to make speaker cabinets having an internal volume from about 50 liters to over 175 liters. This tutorial will illustrate how to make a cabinet with removable front and rear baffles, so that the cabinets can be re-used for a variety of different projects, or as a test box, just by cutting and routing a new set of baffle boards.

    The IKEA Akurum series of cabinets is designed for kitchen cabinets of various sorts - wall, base, over the refrigerator, and so on. There are a few useful sizes, such as:
    WALL CABINETS:
    IKEA Akurum 12x30" wall cabinet frame (12" deep) $21
    IKEA Akurum 12x39" wall cabinet frame (12" deep) $26
    IKEA Akurum 15x36" wall top cabinet frame (24" deep) $45
    There are other sizes available in both of these series. The prices as of AUGUST 2011 are shown. These cabinets can be purchased in-store in the kitchen design area, or through the web site and shipped to the home. The frames are available in two melamine finishes: white or "birch veneer look". I use the latter, which I think looks pretty good for the price. The wall thickness on all cabinets is over 3/4" and the particle board used inside is actually pretty sturdy.

    These IKEA products come as flat packs. You assemble them using some fasteners, dowel pins, and those cute IKEA pictoral instructions. Before you start, read through this whole tutorial as there are some slight variations.

    STEP 1: BASIC ASSEMBLY AND TRIMMING
    Assembly is pretty straight forward. Read the IKEA instructions. If you do not use any glue at this stage on the dowel pins, the frame can be broken down and re-built as needed. Try to build it once to get the hang of it.

    There will be one variation on the assembly that you can practice: you will assemble the cabinets with the fasteners (that you turn with the screwdriver to lock the panels together) located on the inside of the cabinet. Doing this makes them hidden when the cabinet is complete. Luckily IKEA made these panels completely reversible, so just flip it over when you are attaching it. You should have something that looks like this:


    Notice at the bottom that the edge doesn't look right? That's because IKEA designed in a small lip that sits against the wall, but we want to remove it, because it will be in the way. Here is another look at this extra "lip" of material:


    The lip is not thick, and the cut edge will end up on the inside. You can use a table saw, circular saw, or even a little Dremel rip saw. Just make sure to cut this extra material off of the top and bottom pieces before assembling the cabinet permanently.


    STEP 2: MAKING THE BAFFLE MOUNTING BLOCKS
    In order to make it possible to drop front and back baffles in to the frame and secure them in to place, our next task is to make some mounting blocks. These will consist of short sections of 2x2 furring strip with a thru hole bored and a 1/4-20 hurricane nut installed in one end, secured with a few drops of polyurethane glue.

    Here's a look at the fasteners that we will be using:

    Above is a hurricane nut next to the black-oxide wide-head 3" long fastener that I chose to go with the nut. The hurricane nuts are available through PE:
    http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...umber=081-1084
    and the 3" L fasteners can be purchased from Woodcraft:
    http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/200...px#Information
    or in bronze from Rockler:
    http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=368

    I used a chop saw to cut the furring strips in to 2-1/4" long blocks. I chose this length because it allows the 3" long fastener to thread in just past the full length of the hurricane nut when a 3/4" baffle board thickness is used. This will give the maximum angular play if holes are not perfectly aligned, etc.

    On the 12x30" frames, I used three blocks per side, 12 per cabinet, or 24 for a pair of cabs. In the 12x39" frames I plan to use four blocks per side, or 32 per pair. Lots of chopping!

    Once the blocks were cut, I bored a 5/16" thru-hole in the center of each block using a drill press. This is the recommended hole size on the PE web site for the hurricane nuts. But in the pine furring strip, you can start the nut in to the hole, flip over the block and lean your full weight on it and the nut will sink easily. Since I desired a more firm attachment between block and nut, I put a thin layer of polyurethane glue around the edge of the hole before pushing the nut in to the hole. I discovered the hard way that you need to place the nut+block WITH THE NUT DOWN on a piece of wax paper and let the glue go to work. This kind of glue foams up as it cures. If I set the freshly glued and assembled block down on the workbench with the nut on top, the glue initially ran down inside a bit and then foamed up inside the thru-hole, which closed and sealed it. You don't want that. Make sure to follow my tip and use the wax paper with the nut down and all will be good!

    If you follow the directions above, you will end up with blocks that look like this:

    The PU glue has cured and the nut is held fast, so it can't be pushed out in to the interior of the cabinet when you are threading or unthreading the fasteners.

    (continued in next post)

    .
    Last edited by charlielaub; 08-24-2011, 12:25 AM.
    Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

  • #2
    Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

    STEP 3: INSTALLING THE BAFFLE MOUNTING BLOCKS

    Now that we have made the mounting blocks, we can glue them in to the cabinet frames. Before gluing, make sure that the cabinet frames are perfectly square. After this step, there is no "undoing".

    I did some experimenting to see what adhesive might result in a strong bond between wood and the cabinet frame finish material. I found that a newly available adhesive, Liquid Nails Home Projects, would hold a block so well that when I whacked it hard with a hammer to try and separate an end-glued piece of 2x4 from the cabinet face, it actually ripped the finish material right off of the cabinet panel! This stuff is only available in small tubes, but two tubes is enough for a pair of cabinets. If you can not find this stuff, you can try PU glue, but it may not result in as strong a bond. These joints will get repeated stress from fastening on baffles, so spring for the Liquid Nails. Also, beware that this company offers many adhesives with similar sounding names. Look for "Home Projects" as shown below, from my adhesion test photo:


    Gluing the mounting blocks in to place is easy, but it's also easy to make a mistake and end up with a misplaced block. I decided ahead of time to use 3/4" thick MDF for all my front baffles. I had a small scrap piece, and I used it to check the set-back of each block from the edge of the frame when I glued it in to place. I also pre-marked the half-way point (or any other non-corner location) where I would place the block. I then used two medium beads of the adhesive on each face of the block that would be glued down and pressed it in to place. The adhesive is set in under 1 hour and fully cured in 6-8 hours.

    Here is a pic of the gluing step:


    Glue blocks in the front and back openings of each frame. MAKE SURE to glue them in to place with the nuts towards the inside! Take your time and make sure to check the set back. Once the glue is cured, you can hit them with a hammer and they stay put.



    STEP 4: INSTALLING EDGE STRIPS

    When all the blocks are glued in to the frames and the glue is cured, you can move on to gluing in what I am calling "edge strips" in between each mounting block, set back the same amount, and along the edge of the frame all around the front and back openings. Here is a shot I took while gluing in some of the edge strips:


    The material I used for the edge stripping was purchased at Home Depot and is some kind of foam extrusion with an "L" cross section and a faux wood finish. It's quite inexpensive and you can cut it cleanly with a sturdy retractable blade cutting knife, the kind with the break-off blade, although it takes a bit of effort. We just need something to span the space in between the mounting blocks, where we will lay foam weatherstripping tape to seal the edge of the baffle. I found that PU glue such as the one in the pic above works well in this step. I ran a bead along the area, and placed the pre-cut section of edge strip on top. After about 15 minutes, the glue was foamy and I went back and pressed it down and made sure it had not drifted out of place. Don't use too much of the glue! After about 30 minutes, the glue has set enough that you can move or invert the cabinet and it will stay in place. Any extra over-foamed glue can be trimmed off with a sharp retractable knife blade after 1 hour or more when it has hardened a bit. This leaves a clean edge all around. Doing a pair of cabinets takes some patience, as you need to work around the cabinet and wait 30 minutes before repositioning it to glue in some other spot. I did not use any clamping and didn't see a need for it. It took me about 4 hours to finish the job, but it's mostly waiting around for the glue to set up.

    Here's a pic of one of the cabs with all the edge stripping installed and ready for the weatherstripping material:


    (continued in next post)


    .
    Last edited by charlielaub; 08-24-2011, 12:27 AM.
    Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

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    • #3
      Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

      STEP 5: INSTALLING THE WEATHERSTRIPPING

      I like to use a type of closed-cell foam weathersrtipping called "Campermount Weatherstrip" or sometimes "Vinyl Foam Weatherstrip" that I can get at my local ACE hardware (ACE product #85017). It's light grey in color, 3/16" thick uncompressed, and 1-1/4" wide. It can compress almost completely if needed.

      I run this material around the edge of the frame, cutting away material or making custom pieces where a bolt needs to pass thru/by.

      Don't have a picture of this yet, but will post it when I do.




      STEP 6: CUTTING AND INSTALLING THE BAFFLES

      You might be surprised, but you don't need a fancy table saw to get sheet goods (e.g. MDF, plywood, etc) cut to size. The local hardware shop might be able to do it, but the accuracy of their cuts is probably poor. I use a local door shop. They have a huge table saw and can handle a full sheet of material. I just give them a list of what I need, and they call me when the job is done. Check you local phone book for a similar company. If you have your own table saw, go for it. I have a sneeking feeling that this tutorial is for those of us (like me) who are less endowed with a plethora of woodshop tools!

      Another option that seems to be very popular is TechTalk member Dave_W, who can do custom baffles including driver cutouts. Give him the dimensions listed below and your driver measurements and he can make a ready-to-use baffle for you! Here is a thread on the forum that he has used to communicate with other members interested in his services:
      Cabinet / Baffle CNC Service by Dave_W

      Below are the dimensions of the baffles to be used in the following IKEA wall cabinets:

      For the 12x30 cabinet frame: BAFFLE IS 10-3/8" wide, 28-13/16" high

      For the 12x39 cabinet frame: BAFFLE IS 10-3/8" wide, 37-5/8" high

      I haven't personally measured any other frames at this time, but if I do I will post suggested baffle dimensions here.



      Here is a picture of baffles for two projects I am currently working on, set in to the pair of 12x30" cabinet frames that I used to make this tutorial:


      I still need to drill the holes and mount stuff, but I am well on my way.


      I hope that this tutorial is an inspiration for other people like me who don't have the tools, workshop space, or experience needed to make furniture grade speaker cabs themselves. Converting IKEA cabinets in to speaker cabinets is practical because the IKEA frames are inexpensive, attractive, and come in sizes that can realize slightly internal volumes than can be purchased from retailers such as PE or Madisound. Perfect for anything from a mini tower to a monkey coffin, and you get to have a fun DIY building experience, too!


      -Charlie


      .
      Last edited by charlielaub; 08-24-2011, 12:29 AM.
      Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

        Thanks, Charlie. Great tutorial. Looks like a road trip to Ikea is in order this weekend.
        Audiophiles listen to the equipment, not the music.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

          Charlie that's a very clever way to re-purpose those cabinets. Oh, and thanks for the plug!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

            Originally posted by Dave_W View Post
            Charlie that's a very clever way to re-purpose those cabinets. Oh, and thanks for the plug!
            Hey, no problem!

            Any chance you would consider offering to sell those "mounting blocks" as a set of 24 or 32 pcs including the 1/4-20 nuts for the different size cabinets... even if someone had almost no tools at all, if those were pre-made, they could purchase baffles from you and then do the complete assembly at home!

            -Charlie
            Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

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            • #7
              Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

              Charlie, thanks for taking the time to write this up and shoot photos. Very cool! (I happen to really like the Ikea birch look, too.)

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

                Nice idea Charlie I might try it out during the triple boch build coming up.

                Take it easy
                Jay
                "I like Brewski's threads, they always end up being hybrid beer/speaker threads based on the name of his newest creation." - Greywarden

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                • #9
                  Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

                  If anyone builds up a speaker using my tutorial, I'd like to hear what you think about it, and the result. I think it is a great idea to use these widely available cabinets, and you can get some really useful sizes out of them.

                  So, post your builds when you got em.

                  -Charlie
                  Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

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                  • #10
                    Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

                    I'm at it again, transforming IKEA kitchen cabinet frames into "baffleXchange" speaker cabs. This time I am using the taller cab that I can work better for a couple of different 3-ways that I have planned. I prepped a set of mounting blocks today and will glue them in to the cabinet this week after work. The taller cabs (39" versus 30") allows for a removable shelf to be installed in the upper portion to create a 15 liter sub-chamber for the mid-woofer while still allowing about 45 liters for the woofer chamber.

                    I'm attaching two pics - one of the armada of mounting blocks, and another showing the height difference between the 30" H and 39" H frames.

                    -Charlie
                    Attached Files
                    Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

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                    • #11

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                      • #12
                        Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

                        I didn't add any bracing into the 30" cabinet. I plan to use a shelf, which is more or less like a brace, in the 39" cabinet. There is an even larger size (15W x 36H x 24D) that I will be building eventually, that will definitely need some bracing.

                        Because the 30" and 39" high cabs are 12" wide and the front&rear baffles are bolted to the frame, its braced enough for my tastes. There is certainly room to add bracing if you want it. I prefer to add damping material.

                        -Charlie
                        Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

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                        • #13
                          Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

                          Great idea. It would be a natural to pair with the Ikea butcher block as the baffle.

                          A simple suggestion; since there are holes, you could 'pin' the retaining blocks to add a little more sheer resistance. Probably not necessary as the blocks aren't in tension, since the baffle is mounting on the blocks. But if the baffle is one the face of the frame, it may be worthwhile.
                          - John

                          "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. M. L. King
                          www.BuildTheDream.org

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                          • #14
                            Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

                            Originally posted by HareBrained View Post
                            Great idea. It would be a natural to pair with the Ikea butcher block as the baffle.

                            A simple suggestion; since there are holes, you could 'pin' the retaining blocks to add a little more sheer resistance. Probably not necessary as the blocks aren't in tension, since the baffle is mounting on the blocks. But if the baffle is one the face of the frame, it may be worthwhile.
                            There isn't any reason to pin the blocks - if you use the Home projects adhesive you can hit the blocks with a hammer and they do not move! No exaggeration!

                            The pins could be useful for anchoring bracing...

                            -Charlie
                            Charlie's Audio Pages: http://audio.claub.net

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                            • #15
                              Re: How to make IKEA baffleXchange speaker cabinets

                              I like this. If I ever get asked to build another pair of speakers for someone else, this might be the ticket. Thank you for posting.
                              - Ryan

                              CJD Ochocinco ND140/BC25SC06 MTM & TM
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