I thought I would post a build log of my first ever speaker build in hopes of helping out someone just getting started and to give a little back to the community that has helped me so much in my theater build. Hopefully this thread will prevent at least one email that Erich would have otherwise had to field
I've never built a speaker before, but I know my way around a track saw. That said, I figured it would be a good idea to get my feet wet with something simple, so I'm starting off by building 6 slanted Volt-8s to be used as surrounds in my theater. Again, to limit the number of mistakes, I wanted to start as simple as possible, and decided to go with the flat packs. I'll try to document the build and point out any errors that I made and how I fixed them along the way. Hopefully some of the more knowledgable builders around here will chime in and offer advice and tell me where I went wrong for everyone else's benefit!
I started the build at the end, oddly enough. I built the crossovers first because I could work on them at work during lunch. These are extremely simple to put together if you have even a passing knowledge of soldering. The PCBs make this really quick. I downloaded a picture of an assembled crossover from the DIYSG site and kept it handy for laying out the components. After I assembled the first one, each one after that took less than 10 minutes.
Here's a quick video that shows (my hands mostly) one being assembled. I used a 40 W Radio Shack soldering iron with an ancient tip on it. I used whatever solder and flux I could find lying around. Some people don't like flux, but I prefer to use it when I can. It makes the solder go where I want it a little better. Also, I like to put a bead of solder on the tip of the iron before I apply it to the wire and solder pad. This little bead of solder helps with the heat transmission from the iron to what you're soldering. The only thing I have out of the ordinary is the little brass tip cleaner, but that's not really necessary. You can use a wet sponge just as well.
Everyone has their own technique. Do what feels natural.
Here's the final product laid out.
Once everything was soldered on, I applied a liberal amount of hot glue around each component to make sure it was securely stuck to the board.
I'm out of time for the moment, but next up will be building the boxes.
I'm a little bummed, but I can't find the first set of pictures showing how I put the back of the flat packs together. Fortunately, that's pretty straight forward. Here's the process I would recommend.
- Dry fit everything - Make sure you know where and the orientation of each panel. Do this for each speaker before glue up. I actually found one of my panels was partially broken during shipment before I started gluing this way. Erich was awesome and sent a replacement right away even though it really wasn't his fault!
- Figure out where your clamps will go - For a first timer, I would recommend actually clamping the dry-fitted box. This way you know that you have room for both ends of the clamp. I decided I needed to add some blocking under the box to get it up off my work surface.
- Clean the parts - I like to use a blow off nozzle and get the loose dust off. Then I use whatever I have around that will evaporate quickly and not leave a residue to wipe down the panels, paying special attention to the glue mating surfaces. I used denatured alcohol for these.
- Apply glue to the surface - For a small box like a flat pack with machined mating surfaces, I think wood glue will work great! I used Titebond III because it has a longer open time. I also like to use a cheap flux brush to spread the glue evenly along the glue surface. You want enough glue to get some squeeze out but not an excessive amount.
- Position the panels and nail together - This is the tricky part that some of the pros can skip. When you apply the glue, these panels will want to slip and slide around. It makes it difficult to hold them in just the right spot to clamp. I skipped all that trouble and just used my finish gun to put a couple nails in each panel as i went along.
- Clamp it - Here you want to use enough clamps to get an even pressure on each panel. This will probably take more than you think. I believe I used a clamp to hold the top and the bottom to the back panel (two clamps). Two clamps to hold each side of the box to the back (four clamps total), and two clamps to squeeze the sides together against the top and bottom panels. So that's eight clamps for each box. Again, probably over doing it, but why take a chance. With glue, you don't want to over tighten the clamps. Just enough to get some squeeze out. If you use PL, that's a different story. More on that later
The big trick to this part is using the nail gun to pin the panels so they don't slide around while you are positioning everything. I was surprised at just how much everything wanted to move, even with the rabbeted back panel.
I let the glue dry overnight before taking off the clamps. No reason to rush it.
The next step is one I'm not sure everyone will agree on, but hopefully someone can chime in and tell me if it's wrong. I used some clear latex caulk to go along all the seams inside the box. Because this flatpack fits extremely well, I don't think this is necessary, but a little reassurance is worth it to me. When you're done, this is what you'll have.
The next step is to put the baffle on the front of the box. When I took all my clamps off and took stock of how things looked, I noticed that where the panels met, they didn't line up perfectly. The side panels were raised a bit compared to the top and bottom panels. See the arrows in the picture.
I suspect this was due to an error on my part during glue up, but it has to be fixed now. Otherwise the baffle will not fit tightly on the box. You can't just sand the corners smooth because you'll end up with low spots there. Sanding all four panel edges to same plane is difficult to say the least. So I decided to my best bet was to sand each edge using a sanding block to get rid of the worst part of the corner, then you PL to glue the baffle to the box. I used a sanding block (just a piece of 120 grit wrapped around a scrap of straight 1x) and sanded down the length of the side panels until the edge was gone. I tried NOT
to round over the edge. I want a flat surface to fit against the baffle.
With the box sanded, I again blew off the glue surfaces (both the box and the baffle) with compressed air, and then wiped it down with denatured alcohol to get any dust off. I then applied a liberal amount of PL along the edge.
I lined up the baffle, nailed it using my finishing gun to hold it in place, and then clamped the baffle to the box. I put on a nitrile glove and used a finger to press the squeeze out on the inside of the box into the corner. Think smoothing caulk. I wanted to make sure I got a good seal.
The next day when I took off the clamps I realized I had made a mistake. I used light duty clamps and I tried to treat it like glue, which is I tried to clamp it just enough to get some squeeze out. Unfortunately, I hadn't actually used enough pressure. The photo below shows a gap between the baffle and the box at the corner.
I'm pretty confident that there is glue in that gap. Meaning I "believe" I had a good seal, but I wanted to be sure. So, to fix this I decided to apply some PL around the outside of the box, and treat it like caulk. That is, again I put on a nitrile glove, applied PL all around the outside of the baffle, and tried to press it into the seam where the baffle meets the box. This is the ugly mess I had afterwards. No worries, though. Things ended up just fine
With my lessons learned from my first three surrounds, I decided a little more clamping force was necessary. So for the next three boxes I really cranked down on the clamps and I used gravity to help out as well.
I put a 45 lb dumbbell on the baffle to add a little extra pressure (it certainly hasn't been used for anything else in a while
). You can use anything that's convenient. A bucket of drywall mud, a bag of concrete, a bag of sand, Whatever you have around will work. This time around, when I took off the clamps and weights, this is what I had!
I did, however, still have a problem. When nailing the baffles on, I managed to shoot a couple nails out the side of the box. This is one of those things that takes a little practice to get just right. To fix this problem, I decided to leave the nails in the box. That's right, don't pull them out. Just cut them off like this.
My reasoning is it's better to have a plugged hole than an open one. Once the nail is cut off (reasonably) flush with the box, the next issue is getting rid of some of that PL squeeze out. A razor knife worked wonderfully for me, but I've also been told that sharp chisel works just as well or maybe better. You can see in that picture where the nail is cut off as well.
This is what you get once you've trimmed it up a bit. This just makes the sanding faster and keeps the PL from gumming up the sanding discs so quickly.