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Speaker Building - What must have tools?

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  • #16
    Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

    Originally posted by mzisserson View Post
    Otherwise you do not need much, it has been proven again and again a circular saw, straight edge, jigsaw, and an inexpensive router can work wonders. Oh.... Clamps... LOTS of clamps. A sander helps too.
    it's true. those were the only tools I had for many of my first projects. Turned out OK to me.

    Since then I've really moved up in the world :rolleyes: I got an entry-level table saw, a really good router, and I built myself a downdraft table to keep the insane levels of dust down. (Routers make insane levels of dust, by the way) Other than that, I'm still banging around with the same tools I always have.

    One more thing, if you do get a router, get a flush-trim bit. They make your stuff look like you know what you're doing. :p
    Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

    Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
    Twitter: @undefinition1


    • #17
      Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

      Originally posted by 50 watt head View Post
      As mentioned above, you'll get 101 opinions on which tools are a priority.

      For my two cents, I will share my experience that you can do everything armed with only a router.

      I have an entry-level Ryobi (I think it cost $59) fixed-base router, and mount it to a 2'x4' sheet of melamine for a table, as pictured here:

      A length of 1x4 oak is my fence. It's not as convenient as a table saw, but I can achieve the same degree of accuracy. It just takes longer to make repeated shallow passes. I've owned a table saw before, but I feel safer and prefer working with my router.
      A Question - How do you make the speaker cutouts with a fixed based router. I am given to believe that a Router with a circular jig is a must for nice looking cut-outs with counter sink (though i am miles away from attempting that) or at least a jig saw.

      Also, can you work on cutting MDF sheets with a router? I mean the straight cuts for the panels.



      • #18
        Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

        Originally posted by timk View Post
        Over the last 20 years, I went from exactly your position to a current owner of a full time cabinet shop. In that time, I've seen and used and owned it all.

        If you can afford this, you can do most everything with two major tools. A track saw like this:

        will do most everything a table saw will do with the exception of ripping narrow strips. I've used them and built kitchen cabinets on site with them. We use Festool stuff here, but it's even more expensive. I'd add to that a plunge router that will interface with the track system. Again, Festool excels at this, but there may be other less expensive solutions.

        When funds and space permit, I'd add a small jobsite table saw.

        With those three major tools, I can build dang near anything.
        Wow That is pricey. But the reviews look promising. Good tools don't come cheap - now only if i had more than just a passing interest in building speakers!


        • #19
          Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

          I looked into this myself as I love the fulfillment of designing and building something like a speaker, but the more I looked into it, the more it felt like I needed at least a small work shop or area to really be on this hobby. I have zero space available unfortunately, but I've found that to make the process easiest and cleanest, a table saw and router are the must haves. I have a circular saw and without a table and a reference, I can never make straight cuts. If i have to have a table, I'd rather just have a table saw. You can get cheap ones from home depot for about $100-$150. And a cheap router from home depot for $60, or about $100 for a table mounted router. But again, I have no space, so those are out of the question for me. Instead I use my hsrt (aka dremel type) alot. It ain't pretty, but works for most things, except flush mounting drivers. I use a hole saw to cut driver holes and the dremel to enlarge the hole since the biggest hole saw I have is 5". I love this hobby, but don't see myself building very many speakers or staying in it that long because it almost seems like I need to be more of a wood craftsman than anything else in this hobby (I'm an electronics person by trade, which is why I like speakers).
          Good luck.
          Nichikuros - Peerless 831735 Nomex + Vifa NE25VTA
          Digger8 - Small compact 8" sub with F3 = 20Hz
          Madison-D and Madison-R - Tang Band W4-1720 + Vifa BC25SC06 or Beston RT003C (TM and MTM)
          Jeffrey - Tang Band W5-704D + Beston RT003C
          Jasmine - Fountek FW146 + Fountek NeoCD3.0 Ribbon in Pioneer BS21 Cabinet


          • #20
            Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

            This is almost everything you would need (my circ saw jig and 4' level isnt in there)

            edit: DOH! ... and you cant see the jig saw or the DeWalt screwgun. I do own a table saw, but dont think it a necessity with the circ saw jig. It all will easily fit into a 6x6' closet with room to spare.
            Attached Files


            • #21
              Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

              Most hardware stores sell 5' long straight edges that are nice and true and can be clamped down and used as a a fence for a hand-held circular saw. Get the straight edge, and start a collection of long clamps. Harbor freight has cheap bar clamps, I suggest opting for the style with the screw clamping method rather than the quick ratchet type, the quick ratchet jobs are prone to failure and actually cost more.

              Great excuse to start a cordless tool collection...

              Modern 18V cordless circular saws will cut MDF and other plywood just fine and are often easier to use than full 7" corded jobs. Like any circular saw, there's a bit of trial and error in learning the exact position of the blade in relation to the guide so accept the fact that your first few cuts will probably be off, but you'll improve with experience. You can usually get a starter kit with a couple batteries, a charger, a circular saw, and a drill... Ryobi with the full size li-ion packs is my suggestion for the most bang-for-buck, the Nicd cells have a hard time running the circular saw and other high current tools so go for the li-ion (The Ryobi's actually use fairly respectable cells in their li-ion packs so you can feel comfortable you're buying a decent quality battery). In time, you'll find the need to add to the collection to take on other jobs, Ryobi has a nutty huge selection of tools in their 18V line, and most are built well enough to last most casual tools users many many years. (they're good value tools IMO)

              I actually prefer the straight edge and cordless saw over using the table saw or a full power corded handheld circular saw for several reasons. The lower cutting speed on the cordless unit kicks up a lot less dust, it deposits most of the sawdust in a neat line behind the cut. No cord getting hung up on everything is a huge convenience on long rips.

              For entry level building, you are either going to want a router or a jig saw. Technically speaking, you can make do with one OR the other, but the router is the better choice, albeit, more expensive choice if you are only going to pick 1 of the 2. In either case, you'll probably either want to buy or build a whole cutting jig. The router opens up more options, like doing rabbit joints to improve the strength of the structure... Also, a rabbit joint construction is actually easier to assemble than a but joint design because the panels will naturally clamp to the intended shape of the structure. A router can be used to cut smaller diameter holes easier than a jig saw can. When picking a router, I suggest something with a fine feed and a sturdy clamping mechanism to hold the depth of cut without any question of slipping out of adjustment. Porter Cable has a design with a helical worm drive sort of fine feed and a soft start that is superb - highly recommended if you can afford it.

              For small holes (for tweeters and such), a hole saw is often a lot less hassle. Buy the size needed as the need arises.

              I like to wear a respirator when working with MDF, I hate breathing it. You might consider picking one up.. A cheapy will do. Dust masks in my experience rarely work very well. Safety goggles are a good idea.

              I'm sure there's a lot more to be said on the subject, like others have said, there's a lot of room for opinions here and all are likely very valid.

              Best of luck and stay safe!
              Pro/Fi Cinema Speaker project: "From the Ashes"


              • #22
                Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                Originally posted by ani_101 View Post
                A Question - How do you make the speaker cutouts with a fixed based router.

                Also, can you work on cutting MDF sheets with a router? I mean the straight cuts for the panels.
                I have some photos in this thread:

                Photos of my smaller router table, DIY circle jig, and oak fence clamped to the table, etc. Cutting circles with a fixed base router requires only that you manually lower the router into the workpiece, essentially you're providing the "plunge" action manually.

                Making straight cuts with the router requires a 1/4" straight bit and a fence, multiple shallow passes (i.e., don't try to cut deeper than 1/4" at a time). For panels, first I'll rough cut to size with the jig saw, and then dimension it precisely on the router table. It takes longer than using a table saw, because you're running the workpiece through several cuts (and adjusting the bit for each pass), but otherwise accuracy and quality is comparable.

                If you're buying 4' x 8' sheets of MDF at Home Depot, plan a cutlist beforehand, and ask them to cut up your panel into smaller chunks according to a common dimension. For example, if you're building a pair of speaker cabinets that are going to be 30" tall, ask them to make a 30" cut from your 4' x 8' sheet.


                • #23
                  Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                  If you only plan on building other peoples designs, you can get by with a fairly minimal tool investment. If you want to get into designing your own, things get quite a bit more complicated.

                  Any circular saw or router can be used to make straight cuts with a jig that you can make yourself. I made mine with 1/2" mdf and 1/4" ply. MDF is good because it is an inch bigger in both directions than most sheet goods. If you want a 4' and an 8' jig (saw guide) you will need two sheets. Cut a 6 to 8 inch strip the full length of the panel. You can either have them do this for you on their panel saw when you buy it or mark it and free hand cut it when you get it home. Only one edge has to be straight. Next cut your ply or whatever the same width plus the distance from the edge of the saw/router base to slightly past the blade/bit. Glue the two pieces together with the rough cut edges flush. The excess width of the ply should extend from the straight guide edge of the mdf. Next clamp the assembly to a work surface with the edge of the ply overhanging the surface enough to give blade/bit clearance of your work surface. Set the blade/bit to slightly more than 1/4" cutting depth. Using the straight edge of the mdf as a guide cut off the excess width of the ply. Now all you have to do is mark your work piece at both ends, line the edge of the ply up with the marks and clamp the guide and work piece down to your work surface. Set the depth of cut to slightly more than the thickness of the ply plus your work piece and make your cut. Depending on the thickness of your work piece, you may have to make more than one pass with a router, incrementing your depth of cut each time. I still use these for larger cuts that aren't easy to manage on the table saw since I only have a small portable table saw. Many tasks that are made simpler by larger tools like table saws can be accomplished with more basic tools and jigs.

                  Tools I have include:
                  Circular saw
                  Router (1/4" straight bit, variety of round over bits, chamfer bit, flush trim bit and Jasper circle guide)
                  orbital sander
                  clamps (the more the better. I try to pick up one or two of Harbor Freights blue bar clamps in different lengths every time I go there)
                  jig saw
                  hand held drill
                  cheap portable table saw (great for cutting things too small for the jigs and makes some larger cuts easier)
                  cheap portable router table (The fence on mine is crap so I don't use it, but it makes flush trimming and round overs easier than using a hand held in most cases)
                  recently added a drill press
                  Last edited by Leroy R; 03-17-2012, 02:20 PM.


                  • #24
                    Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                    Dan Hine mentioned one of the most important things to get: a particulate respirator! If you'll be cutting MDF, the regular white dust masks are NOT adequate. Also hearing protection. The respirators have replaceable filters. I got one at HD for $'s adjustable, fits well and I've had the same one for about 15 years. If you have a beard or similar, there are ones that will work with that also.

                    A decent table saw is also a good investment. Make sure it has a quality fence. Some of the stock fences on contractor-style saws are not very good. I bought a Delta contractor saw and the stock fence was c-r-a-p. No matter what I did, I had to set/adjust/align the fence every time I made a cut. It was mainly the mounting rails used for the front and back where the fence rides. For what I spent getting an aftermarket fence and some other accessories, I could've bought a nice contractor/cabinet hybrid saw with a T-square type of fence. Router of course, with a selection of good carbide bits. Don't buy the high-speed steel bits. Get the suggested bits individually, instead of the "sets". A spiral bit helps with driver recesses and cut-outs, flush-trim bits for trimming cabinet edges and round-over bits for baffle edges. Plunge routers work best for the recesses and cut-outs, but I've been using my fixed-base Ryobi 160 for recesses and cut-outs for many years. It will take longer with a fixed-base and you have to be careful when lowering for depth. Like Chris Roemer said: BE CAREFUL. Clamps and more clamps. Harbor Freight almost always has good prices on the various lengths of bar and F-style clamps you'll need...since you're not going to need a bunch of clamping pressure for enclosure glue-ups, the inexpensive variety can serve just fine. I've had some of the HF ones for many years and they still work great. Places like Lee Valley and Garrett Wade have sales once in a while on packs of 5 or 10 clamps. I got 2 packs of 10 clamps each from Lee Valley about 10 years back, made in Germany. They're the gray ones with the red handles:

                    About $2 each for the 12" ones, $3 each for the 18"-ers.

                    You don't have to spend a ton of dough, but make sure you get tools that have a good rep, like some of the brands recommended by they guys here. And these kinds of tools can be used for other things around the house. If you have a Woodcraft store near you, they have classes on table saws, routers, etc. It takes practice and patience, not expensive tools. And don't overlook dust collection ability...some brands of tools, like table saws and routers, have more effective methods than others. Routers especially make tons of dust, so pay attention to the ones that deal with it efficiently.

                    John A.
                    "Children play with b-a-l-l-s and sticks, men race, and real men race motorcycles"-John Surtees
                    Emotiva UPA-2, USP-1, ERC-1 CD
                    Yamaha KX-390 HX-Pro
                    Pioneer TX-9500 II
                    Yamaha YP-211 w/Grado GF3E+
                    Statement Monitors
                    Vintage system: Yamaha CR-420, Technics SL-PG100, Pioneer CT-F8282, Akai X-1800, Morel(T)/Vifa(W) DIY 2-way in .5 ft3


                    • #25
                      Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                      I tried the circular saw and straight edge technique. The problem with that, is if you need repeatable cuts, the same cut over and over, it's almost impossible with a straight edge. You will be off 1/64th over and over. Plus setting it up for each cut. If you need accurate cuts, the table saw is the only option in my opinion. Use Cutlist to figure out your cuts and make all your cuts at once.

                      For example for the box I just built it's 20wide 8.5 tall 14 deep. Make all your 20 cuts, then adjust the fence to the next measurement, make all the 8.5 cuts, then the next measurement, etc, etc...

                      Try looking in the local classified ads. I bought a Dewalt hybrid saw that retails for $1200 for $300.


                      • #26
                        Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                        as more of a wood worker and less of an electronics design guy, my best advice is first a good place to work. it doesn't have to be a large area just someplace to build stuff.
                        as far as tools go safety glasses and a good quality tape measure are a must. i never use more than one tape measure just for the simple fact that every tape is different, so stick to one per project so uniformity is ensured. power tools are really based on you budget, but this isn't a one day hobby. think long term and buy what you need as you go. here is what i would do.

                        drill: corded or cordless? cordless is great for mobility, but you can get a great corded for less than half the price leaving tons of money for bits

                        table saw: optional but very useful. i have one but i also have a festool rail saw. if i had to choose one or the other, i would have my local home depot rough cut the sheets and the finish cut with the table saw. the rail system is great but pricey. you could use a good guide rail and a circular saw, but you'd be spending a couple hundred dollars and can get a decent table saw for that. a couple hundred more and you could get a great used table saw. also, table saws make great work areas after you drop the blade.

                        router: not optional and this is why. when you want to make the leap from a good sounding cabinet to something your wife lets you bring in the house, make it nice looking. rounded edges and other small touches make speakers legit furniture could use hand tools to bevel or round over, but it would cost a ton of money for hand tools. not to mention the skills to use them take time to perfect. when you want to pick a router consider what you're gonna do later. jasper jigs only work on certain routers so if that is your path plan accordingly. this and other jigs make speaker holes and flush mounts simple and fast. frustration is usually how i make mistakes so i find these make me happy.

                        jigsaw: rough hole for surface mount speakers yes. everything else no. i have arguably the best jigsaw ever built and it never gets used in this hobby.

                        work bench: mandatory in my opinion. i would avoid the store bought stuff because its pricey and small. i took 2 sheets of mdf and screwed them together using 4x4s for legs. it's flat and sturdy. don't have the room, then make it a size you can manage. working at a proper level makes everything easier. plus with mdf it wont matter if you drill through, saw through, or mess it up with glue.

                        after that it's hand tools and accessories that can be bought when budget allows. hope this info helps you.


                        • #27
                          Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                          I would eventually add a vacuum to the list. Depending on how much woodworking you will be doing, where you will be working and how much of a neat freak you are a vacuum is very handy. With the right connector a vacuum can be connected to a sander, router, etc. reducing the amount of fine saw dust that seems to get everywhere as well as minimizing cleanup afterward. Vacuum filters do require regular cleaning though, otherwise damage to the motor could be done.


                          • #28
                            Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                            Lowes in my area has a nice Blue Hawk entry level plunge router with table for ~$100. Harbor Freight has a respirator for ~$16. After working with MDF (with and without) a respirator, I HIGHLY suggest the use of one. Without it I woke up the following day hacking and coughing, and felling like I had crud up my nose. With it, none of those issues. Also, MDF does release VOC's (Vaporized Organic Compounds) that can be deadly with long term exposure, or so I have been told by many people.

                            If you look at my recent Maurbacs DCR thread in my sig, you can see what I was able to accomplish with just the Blue Hawk router, a Jasper Jig, a table saw, a jig saw (for cutting the openings in braces, you could use a drill and hole saws), some cheap rasps from Harbour Freight (for cleaning any edges left in holes) and a palm sander. Oh, and CLAMPS and the respirator of course... :D

                            Now the expensive part comes in when you are buying router bits. I have a 3/8" roundover bit, and 1/4" upspiral bit, a 1/2" cove bit, a flush trim bit, and a double flute 1/2" straight bit. All my router bits are Bosch.

                            Hope this helps!

                            Even though I try to tell everyone upfront, understand that I am still a Newb. I wish the status of Seasoned Veteran/Senior Member, etc. was earned with time not posts...

                            TMWW thread

                            Maurbacs DCR Tower


                            • #29
                              Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                              DATS or S&L Woofer Tester.

                              Drill press.
                              Jigsaw- yes I use it all the time.
                              Router, and Router Table.
                              Table Saw.
                              Miter Saw.
                              Soldering Iron.
                              Orbital sander.
                              Clamps to infinity.

                              "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
                              "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
                              "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
                              "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

                              *InDIYana event website*

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                              • #30
                                Re: Speaker Building - What must have tools?

                                Originally posted by ani_101 View Post

                                I am starting out with speaker building, and have so far used the OS MT Kit. But i also want to try out other designs, for which there are no kits.

                                I have absolutely no wood working tools and not to mention any skill. So, I need to start out collecting tools for speaker building. I want to start cheap, with as few tools as possible and then go on upgrading / adding to the tools - i guess this is what most newbie are also looking for.

                                I need suggestions for what tools one should go about purchasing for building speakers?
                                Still looking?
                                I can cut all the parts you need on my CNC. PM me.


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