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  • Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

    A while ago, I built Paul Carmody's Overnight Sensations from the flat pack kit, and am quite happy with the result. Other than some aesthetic mistakes, the build went smoothly. I'd like to build a "higher end" speaker with similar dimensions as the OS (for nearfield/desktop use), and have my eyes on the Speedster (although I'm not set on it).

    Problem is, the cabinet building is a big obstacle for me. I have a circular saw, a small sabre saw, a Dremel tool, and an electric drill, but no router or jig. At this point, I don't think I can justify purchasing these tools for a one-off project. Not to mention, even if I bought the tools, I have no experience using them.

    I read Roman Bednarek's article "Effects of surface mounting versus flush mounting drivers", and realized I probably don't want to surface mount the tweeter (impossible with the Speedster anyway, but I'm also considering other design's, like LouC's Piccolata).

    About 12 years ago, when I still lived with my parents, I built a guitar speaker cabinet out of 3/4" birch plywood. Those speakers were surface mounted. I think I have enough left over birch to build a pair of small speakers like the Speedsters or Piccolatas. However, the wood has been exposed to 12 years of Central Illinois weather in a non-conditioned garage (it stayed with my parents after I left the nest).

    Finally, while I've seen plenty of gorgeous speaker builds on these forums, I'm not really concerned with aesthetics. If things aren't perfectly square, or there are a few rough edges, or if I have to do touch-up with a Sharpie marker (like I did with my OS), that's OK, as long as actual audio performance isn't compromised. (Frankly, I kind of like the "rough around the edges", "obviously DIY" look... I think the fancy term for that is "understated".)

    Given all this, I have a few questions...
    1. Is the birch plywood I mentioned above still viable? I don't believe it ever got wet, but it's definitely been exposed to many cycles of serious humidity.
    2. Is there any reasonable method of achieving flush mounting of the tweeter without using a router?
    3. Is there anything wrong with using two pieces of wood for the baffle, to do a "poor man's" flush mounting? In other words, two pieces of wood sandwiched together. The "outer" piece of wood would be much thinner: the same thickness as the tweeter mounting plate. For the woofer, both pieces of wood would get the same size hole cut out. But for the tweeter, the "outer" piece of wood would get a larger diameter hole, and the "inner" (thick) piece of baffle would get a smaller hole.
    4. In this Speedster build thread, it was suggested to use a cove bit and make additional recesses in (the back?) of the baffle where the woofer will mount. Is this necessary? In general, the discussion about woofer venting is above my head.
    5. As an alternative option, is there anyone out there willing to cut the driver holes for me? Assuming my birch plywood is still viable, I should be able to cut all the rectangular pieces; I'd just need help with the baffle cutouts. I'm in the city of Chicago, if anyone is interested.


    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

    a router is the first thing you should get, but you can get away with hole saws for tweeters. flush mounting is going to be tough without a router. having said that, once you get a router and a jasper jig, you will enjoy this hobby a lot more.

    i'm just outside of chicago, and would be happy to help, and i'm pretty good at cabs. and there is another forum member who is good at wiring xo's. we will be doing a big project in a week or so(most likely). pm me i can set you in the right direction.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

      For starters - the best thing you can do is solicit help from a forum member near you. Many, like kanemack and myself would be happy to help a new-comer understand what tools are used and some best practice.

      Heck, all I would charge is a 6-pack of beer and an ear for the conversation, provided I've got the time to give. Doing things this way would help you understand what's required. I can even show you some tricks on how to get away without a table saw or a plunge router (I use a fixed base router with my Jasper jig).

      I will say though, that you do need a Jasper Jig and a router at a minimum. Past that, clamps and a circular saw are the bare minimum. Air nailers, biscuit joiners, corner clamps, table saw, miter saw, and etc certainly make life easier, but they're NOT explicitly required, depending on the finish you're after.
      DARPA Jr - 2015 InDIYana Winner - RS180-8 + RS100P-8 + ND25FA
      The Aria's - RS150-4 (or RS150-8) + XT25SC90
      The Mariposa's - TEBM65C20F-8 + ND16FA
      The Canzonetta's - RS100P-8 and ND16FA
      AudioSource AMP-100 Mods OR Pyle PAMP1000 Mods

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

        Oh, and the birch plywood should be fine for a smaller build, if it's 3/4" and at least 7 layers. 13 layer ply is much better, but 7 will do on the smaller builds.
        DARPA Jr - 2015 InDIYana Winner - RS180-8 + RS100P-8 + ND25FA
        The Aria's - RS150-4 (or RS150-8) + XT25SC90
        The Mariposa's - TEBM65C20F-8 + ND16FA
        The Canzonetta's - RS100P-8 and ND16FA
        AudioSource AMP-100 Mods OR Pyle PAMP1000 Mods

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

          1.Your plywood is likely still fine.
          It might have warped a bit if not stored flat. Cutting it up into small speaker sized pieces often makes a small amount of warp a non-issue.

          2. 3. You can use a thin skin to create a recess for drivers. You are are the mercy of the fixed skin thickness in relation the the flange thickness. 1/8" material is about right. Use 1/4" if the drivers flanges are too thick.
          If the skin material is too thick and the driver sits too low you can cut paper or cardboard washers or apply some foam weather stripping to build up the recess so the driver sits flush.

          4. You do want to create some breathing room behind the driver. It's sometimes startling just how much effect that has.
          This isn't really venting but breathing room might be a better description. The wall formed by the driver cutout in thicker material reflects and colors the sound. It doesn't have to be pretty or particularly even. A round surform rasp would make pretty quick work of it. A rasp, chisels and sandpaper or small drum sander in your drill all can work too.
          ~99%
          Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery
          Make me a poster of an old rodeo
          Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
          To believe in this livin' is just a hard way to go

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          • #6
            Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

            Originally posted by kanemack View Post
            a router is the first thing you should get...

            i'm just outside of chicago, and would be happy to help...
            Good advice and nice offer. My comment would be to buy used or inexpensive tools to get started. Having and learning to use a router is a skill transferable to many household projects.
            John H

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

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

              I am in the same boat, did not want to buy a router for one project and probably never use again. I called Meniscus (which has the Speedster kit) and asked if they could cut the baffle for me if I bought the kit. The quote was very reasonable, much less than the cost of the router and circular jig. However, I was using MDF and the baffle was MDF. They will ship the baffle with the kit. Then you can use your wood to build the cabinet. The only thing you would need to buy tool wise is wood clamps that can be expensive. I suggest using the clamps that Parts Express sells. They are not great, but will do for a one time job and are cheap. If you have a Harbor Freight in your area they have reasonably priced wood clamps. Hope this helps. Matt
              Main System: Paul Carmody Core 2, DIY Jasmine Redux speakers by JSR . Schiit Saga + preamp, Modus DAC, Loki equalizor, Akitika amp, Cambridge Audio AXA35 integrated amp and AXC CD player. 43 year old Onkyo CP-1260F turntable, Sony 800 4k player. Denon AVR-X3200 7.1 receiver.

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              • #8
                Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

                FWIW: I forgot to mention in my original post that I do have a decent collection of clamps.

                Originally posted by kanemack View Post
                a router is the first thing you should get, but you can get away with hole saws for tweeters. flush mounting is going to be tough without a router. having said that, once you get a router and a jasper jig, you will enjoy this hobby a lot more.
                If I thought I was going to be building a lot of speakers, I'd be more inclined to buy the tools. And someday, I would like to delve deeper into the hobby... but right now, with two young kids, and my wife already giving me grief for how many speakers I have, it might be better to deliberately keep some obstacles in place.

                Originally posted by kanemack View Post
                i'm just outside of chicago, and would be happy to help, and i'm pretty good at cabs. and there is another forum member who is good at wiring xo's. we will be doing a big project in a week or so(most likely). pm me i can set you in the right direction.
                That's very generous of you! For now, I'm still in the "thinking about it" phase. I'm certainly in no hurry. In fact, I've kind of been waffling back and forth between a two-way (like the Speedsters) and a full-range design like mikejennens suggested. I know Planet10 HiFi does FR flat packs, so I might go that route.

                Originally posted by tyger23 View Post
                Heck, all I would charge is a 6-pack of beer and an ear for the conversation, provided I've got the time to give. Doing things this way would help you understand what's required. I can even show you some tricks on how to get away without a table saw or a plunge router (I use a fixed base router with my Jasper jig).
                ...
                Oh, and the birch plywood should be fine for a smaller build, if it's 3/4" and at least 7 layers. 13 layer ply is much better, but 7 will do on the smaller builds.
                Another very generous offer, and I certainly appreciate it! Although, looks like you're in Texas? That's a bit of a hike from Illinois.

                I'll ask my folks about the thickness and layer count of that birch ply.

                Originally posted by bobbarkto View Post
                1.Your plywood is likely still fine.
                4. You do want to create some breathing room behind the driver. It's sometimes startling just how much effect that has.
                This isn't really venting but breathing room might be a better description. The wall formed by the driver cutout in thicker material reflects and colors the sound. It doesn't have to be pretty or particularly even. A round surform rasp would make pretty quick work of it. A rasp, chisels and sandpaper or small drum sander in your drill all can work too.
                Good to know! Thanks for the useful and helpful information. Although, I have to admit, it's kind of pushing me more towards a flat pack. My biggest problem right now is time. Having a baby and toddler makes me very "time poor". It's easier to sneak in time for things I can do around the kids, like glue cabs together. Learning to do decent cabinets might just have to wait a couple years.

                Originally posted by kauai82 View Post
                I called Meniscus (which has the Speedster kit) and asked if they could cut the baffle for me if I bought the kit. The quote was very reasonable, much less than the cost of the router and circular jig. However, I was using MDF and the baffle was MDF. They will ship the baffle with the kit. Then you can use your wood to build the cabinet.
                That's quite interesting. I've emailed them a few times asking about a full flat-pack. They used to say "sorry, can't help". But the last time they did put me in touch with a cabinet maker. He offered to do it, but I thought the price was a little high. Note that this was a for a full-on flat pack; it was before I remembered I had the leftover birch ply at my parents'. I might keep this in mind if I end up going the Speedster route.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

                  Originally posted by mikejennens
                  I've heard the Speedsters and they really are a great sounding speaker. They sound far bigger than they are. With that said, near field might not be the best use for them. And you might not get what you're looking for. For near field, it's really hard to beat a full range speaker. I had a pair of MarkAudio CHP-70's on my desk for a long time. They are fantastic speakers, especially for near field, desktop use. I built a pair of slim golden ratio cabinets for them. Don't let the low price fool you into thinking they aren't high end. They are larger than the OS's and Speedsters, but still very desktop friendly.
                  This isn't the first time I've heard the "FR for desktop" suggestion. I assume these are your FR speakers?

                  This might warrant its own thread, but I was afraid of beating a dead horse, as there are several "best speaker for nearfield desktop" use threads (here and on other forums). But anyway, can you maybe elaborate a bit on your FR speakers versus other two-ways you've used?

                  For what it's worth... I have Salk Songtowers for my main system. When I first built my Overnight Sensations, I made the mistake of testing them right next to the STs. I don't think anyone would be surprised to hear that the Salks sound significantly better (and they should given that the price for a pair of ER15RLY drivers is greater than the whole OS kit). So my ideal is to get the ST level of performance in a desktop speaker... but do it on the cheap. Maybe I'm expecting too much.

                  Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

                    I have a small B&D fixed-base router with 1/4" collet that I've had for decades, and it would do everything you need on the cheap. It's still my favorite router, as I can use it with one hand.

                    A Porter-Cable (PC) 690 type router with plunge base would be much better, and there are others with even better plunge bases, but I've done what you need with my little B&D for many years before I got better tools. Even without the plunge capability, a very inexpensive router with templates and roughing out the holes with your jig saw first, plus a rabbeting bit with bearing, and you'd be on your way. But that may still be more than you want to spend, of course.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Newbie cabinet building questions - speaker mounting, router, etc

                      Originally posted by DIYNewbie View Post
                      A while ago, I built Paul Carmody's Overnight Sensations from the flat pack kit, and am quite happy with the result. Other than some aesthetic mistakes, the build went smoothly. I'd like to build a "higher end" speaker with similar dimensions as the OS (for nearfield/desktop use), and have my eyes on the Speedster (although I'm not set on it).

                      Problem is, the cabinet building is a big obstacle for me. I have a circular saw, a small sabre saw, a Dremel tool, and an electric drill, but no router or jig. At this point, I don't think I can justify purchasing these tools for a one-off project. Not to mention, even if I bought the tools, I have no experience using them.

                      I read Roman Bednarek's article "Effects of surface mounting versus flush mounting drivers", and realized I probably don't want to surface mount the tweeter (impossible with the Speedster anyway, but I'm also considering other design's, like LouC's Piccolata).

                      About 12 years ago, when I still lived with my parents, I built a guitar speaker cabinet out of 3/4" birch plywood. Those speakers were surface mounted. I think I have enough left over birch to build a pair of small speakers like the Speedsters or Piccolatas. However, the wood has been exposed to 12 years of Central Illinois weather in a non-conditioned garage (it stayed with my parents after I left the nest).

                      Finally, while I've seen plenty of gorgeous speaker builds on these forums, I'm not really concerned with aesthetics. If things aren't perfectly square, or there are a few rough edges, or if I have to do touch-up with a Sharpie marker (like I did with my OS), that's OK, as long as actual audio performance isn't compromised. (Frankly, I kind of like the "rough around the edges", "obviously DIY" look... I think the fancy term for that is "understated".)

                      Given all this, I have a few questions...
                      1. Is the birch plywood I mentioned above still viable? I don't believe it ever got wet, but it's definitely been exposed to many cycles of serious humidity.


                        As long as it has not de-laminated, or is too warped, you can still use it. if possible, you can cut off the edges where it might have warped or the layers have delaminated. That's where moisture/water will get in, through the exposed edge(s).

                      2. Is there any reasonable method of achieving flush mounting of the tweeter without using a router?


                        I have not found any, but I have seen and used your next method of adding a thin layer over the top of the main baffle. If you can't find the right thickness, you can "shim" up the driver with weatherstripping or cardboard to bring it up to the right level.

                      3. Is there anything wrong with using two pieces of wood for the baffle, to do a "poor man's" flush mounting? In other words, two pieces of wood sandwiched together. The "outer" piece of wood would be much thinner: the same thickness as the tweeter mounting plate. For the woofer, both pieces of wood would get the same size hole cut out. But for the tweeter, the "outer" piece of wood would get a larger diameter hole, and the "inner" (thick) piece of baffle would get a smaller hole.


                        Yes, I have done it and have seen projects where the builder did exactly that.

                      4. In this Speedster build thread, it was suggested to use a cove bit and make additional recesses in (the back?) of the baffle where the woofer will mount. Is this necessary? In general, the discussion about woofer venting is above my head.


                        Yes, it is important to have a relief on the back-side of the driver cut-out. The woofer has to be able to "breathe" and the air it moves has to be able to move freely into the enclosure. I have used a rasp to do it, and it doesn't have to adhere to any cosmetic issues because you won't see it. Just make sure to leave enough room for the mounting screws and their locations...like this:





                      5. As an alternative option, is there anyone out there willing to cut the driver holes for me? Assuming my birch plywood is still viable, I should be able to cut all the rectangular pieces; I'd just need help with the baffle cutouts. I'm in the city of Chicago, if anyone is interested.

                        I know there are some guys in that area. If you were close to me, I'd be more than happy to help out with my router, Jasper Jig, the correct bits and some helpful hints and tips. I'm sure someone will chime in that would be willing to offer some time and help. I've done that before, both with interested new-comers and some that just wanted me to build some speakers for them.


                      Thanks!

                      Good luck and keep us posted on your progress and if you need any other ?'s answered or advice.


                      John A.
                      "Children play with b-a-l-l-s and sticks, men race, and real men race motorcycles"-John Surtees
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                      Vintage system: Yamaha CR-420, Technics SL-PG100, Pioneer CT-F8282, Akai X-1800, Morel(T)/Vifa(W) DIY 2-way in .5 ft3
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