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Translam Questions

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  • Translam Questions

    This thread stems off of another thread that mentioned translam enclosures.

    I have a newly found fascination with translam enclosures. Im aware contours and designs can be much more creative compared to traditional panels, and its easy to add thickness to the panels. I believe it would be much stronger even using like thickness to a traditional panel enclosure just from the added strength from the lamenating process. This could be wrong but it was my thought process.

    Also, if i were to build one using a "U" shape (front baffle and sides completely intact) what would the best way be to cut and recess the driver cutouts? My idea that having it in a "U" shape, would add strength to the baffle rather than having joints along the perimeter of the baffle. This design will have a removable rear panel for access reasons.

    Am i on the right track with this? I think translam enclosures are beautiful, and in theory very strong.

  • #2
    Re: Translam Questions

    I think there are lots of options for recessing the drivers, but in all cases the drivers would be mounted from the front. I’d wait until you had glued up the baffle width and smoothed the surface before recessing.
    The difficult part is smoothing the translam surface depending on what wood materials you are using. I like the idea of gluing up and cutting out with a band saw.
    John H

    Synergy Horn, SLS-85, BMR-3L, Mini-TL, BR-2, Titan OB, B452, Udique, Vultus, Latus1, Seriatim, Aperivox,Pencil Tower


    • #3
      Re: Translam Questions

      The recess seems straight forward, and as mentioned by John, you want to have the baffle plain and smooth before cutting holes.
      Depending on the woofer, adding a rear chamfer to allow air movement would be more a challenge than the cutout/recess.
      Also, depending on the cut accuracy and gluing gig, a hand plane and sand paper will be your new best friends...
      My Statement monitors
      My Piccolatas
      My LM3886 amp


      • #4
        Re: Translam Questions

        When you say 'U' shaped do you mean having the laminations in a horizontal plane and hog out the waste material in the middle? Or were you thinking of embedding the baffle between the sides of the box making the sides the outside laminations? The latter is what I did. I guess it's kind of a 'U' but not sure it's what you mean. I had 1.5" laminations, then went up to 3" by the outside lamination and one between on either side at 2.25" - all sandwhiched between the sides (I did this so I could cut facets, not for strength). Here's a mock-up looking in from the back of the speaker. The top is piece is identical to the baffle.

        There was someone who posted a project not too long ago who cut 'L' shaped pieces for the baffle and top.

        I found that my translaminated baffle moved quite a bit in my locale, depending on the day (got narrower/wider). I also work slow so there was quite a bit of change in humidity/temperature from when I did my baffle glue up (September), to completing the driver cutouts (October/November?), to doing the box glue-up (January?). My baffles were about ~2mm narrower when I went to glue up my boxes and so I had to make some adjustments to my bracing. It may not sound like much until you're trying to put everything together square and you have a gap. Better than being too wide I suppose. For that reason, I would suggest doing the driver cutouts after the box is assembled. I did my driver cutouts twice because those 2mm meant my cutouts were no longer perfectly circular and the drivers stopped fitting (came up with a way to do that too). If I were to do it again I would assemble the boxes first and then do the driver cutouts. That would make it necessary to do the rear driver chamfers by hand (rasp and chisel) which I had to do by hand anyway because of how I made the baffle, but it would have been much more difficult. It also makes it more difficult to visualize where your bracing should be.

        This should be all my photos tagged 'baffle' which should give you an idea of how I put it together.
        If that link doesn't work for some reason, here's my photostream (which is just my Ansonica build):

        Yes, I used hand planes fairly frequently, including to level the surface of the baffle.

        Things I might (and one I might not) do differently:
        • I noticed that I'd not seen mentioned was that because the Ansonica baffles are at 10 from vertical, the grain direction in my side panels is also off by 10 so it doesn't always reflect light the same way. I might have come up with a way to rotate the side panels so that the face grain lined up although it would have meant that I just moved the problem to my speaker top. Something to be aware of anyway. Not sure that the added complexity would be worth it for my box shape.
        • I would also suggest you put something on the front and back of the baffle (dewaxed shellac) as soon as you get them glued up to help with changes in humidity to minimize movement. During my glueup I 'painted' the backs of the baffle and it hasn't moved since. Mounting to a piece of plywood would likely have similar results so I might have built the laminations differently if I were to do it again (maybe 1" laminations and half inch plywood on back face).
        • Use a pore filler on the face of baffle. Treat the plywood faces like an open pore hardwood. Use a clear filler if you want a smooth surface. I used one coat of epoxy. If I did it again I would use two applications, sanding level in between and after the second coat. I still had a few pits when I started into the poly.

        I used a ureaformeldahyde base glue. The brand I used was Dap Weldwood but there are others. It's thinner than titebond, has a longer open time and does not creep. It also has good gap filling properties (ie. keeps its strength). Anyway, it's less common to use this type of glue these days so haven't seen too many using it for speaker building.

        Here's the result. This is actually the tops of the two speakers back to back but it's the only closeup I have of the final.

        Compare to my post planing following baffle glue-up.

        Anyway, it's a fair bit of work so make sure you like the look. I managed to achieve the look I wanted, not sure I'd do it again ;) A square box would have been easier than a 10 back angle on the baffle, and straight ply baffle would have been easier than translaminations. I'll leave the benefits to the academics


        • #5
          Re: Translam Questions

          Are you familiar with the approach that Magico took with their first Mini?

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          I went with this design with very good success.

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