Build log: Custom media cabinet with double subs (Acoustech PL-89II) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-27-2013, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey there! Just joined AVS to start this build log of a custom cabinet I'm building. I took delivery last week of a 5.1 Acoustec PL-89II system (with the PL-200 sub), got it setup, and it sounds pretty darn sweet! Only problem is I ran into some WAF issues around the size of the towers (they are pretty big), and the size of the sub (of course). Well, part of the problem is I've got the audio components stacked in a Salamander rack in the corner, so the whole system just takes too much floor space and looks a bit untidy (I agree). So to fix it, I'm designing a custom cabinet to consolidate everything into one low(ish) profile cabinet. While I was laying things out, it seemed like a good opportunity to add a second sub! Now I've read two subs can be better than one, but the placement of the subs is very important. Well, I've no way of sound-testing this layout, so I'm hoping for the best! I'm looking forward to any suggest/comments you have.

 

Design Goals:

 

  1. All components, center, and subs to fit inside the cabinet.
  2. Lowest possible profile.
  3. Narrowest possible width, but enough for a 65-75" TV to sit on top.
  4. Cooling solution for components (receiver, XBOX, and media PC).
  5. Two drawers for games and remotes, etc.
  6. Semi-modern/simple look (for easier construction too).
  7. Espresso color.
  8. No doors is fine.
  9. Try for all wood (without nails) furniture-grade final product.

 

Here is the layout so far. More to follow...  Stay tuned!...

 

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post #2 of 8 Old 12-19-2013, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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So I made some good progress on this project. Picked up 3 sheets of birch plywood and birch lumber stock for good old Home Depot, plus some #20 biscuits. First step was to print some drawings of the various pieces, and then start cutting things out. I started with the top and bottom. Check out the progress below...

 

 

The biscuit joiner. One of my favorites.

 

 

The top and bottom parts get wrapped in 1" solid birch mitered at the corners. I hung the biscuits into each miter to keep things nice and tight:

 

This is the bottom piece. It'll have slots cut for each wall, 5 walls in total for the bottom:

 

Slots at the miters:

 

Gluing everything up... repeat for both top and bottom.

 

Also added 1/2" piece to the lip to thicken up the edges a bit... then sand everything flush with an 80-grit belt:

 

More to come shortly...

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post #3 of 8 Old 12-20-2013, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Piece by piece, it's coming along now... got all the walls cut out and added a 1" birch edge to the back edge of each wall.

 

Here are the two end walls getting glued up:

 

Now moving on to cutting slots into the walls for the shelf standards. For this, I just used a 3/8" straight router bit and made two passes for each slot. The little block 1/4" wood you see there is the difference in width between the router bit and shelf standard:

 

 

These are the slots for the wall that will go behind the center speaker:

 

Okay, time for a test fit! Let's see if everything actually fits together! :confused:

 

Looking good so far. How about the top piece?...

 

Oh GOOD. It all fits! I don't have to redo anything (this time)... And from the back, it looks like this:

 

A couple of things to note in the pic above... the middle section is cut in to allow for airflow/ventilation behind the components. You can also see the end walls fall ~3" short of the back allowing space for the port at the back sub which looks like this:

 

 

Now that the test fit passed (whew), it's time to start gluing parts together! I started with the two inner walls and moved outward from there:

 

 

There will also be two doors at the back of the cabinet, each with a 200mm fan to vent the cabinet (controlled by CoolerGuys fan controller, more on that later). Measure twice cut once!

 

Test fitting the doors, looking good so far! Each door will get edged with 1/2" birch. The cutout at the bottom you see there will allow outside wires (power, speaker, network) to pass into the cabinet:

 

I have only three days left to finish this project off, so more to come shortly!...

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post #4 of 8 Old 12-22-2013, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, more progress. This post gets me all the way to a fully assembled cabinet...

 

Gluing up the drawer shelf and two end walls. I screwed braces across the top there to keep the end walls square:

 

On to the face frame now. Cut all the pieces to fit and then cut in the biscuit slots:

 

I'm using a Kreg jig to assemble the face frame. These things work great!:

 

 

 

The face frame assembly went pretty quick with only 7 joints to do:

 

Next was to glue the face frame to the cabinet. Since I'm using no nails, a lot of clamps were needed to pull everything tight:

 

Now that the main part of the cabinet is fully assembled (let the glue set up overnight), it's time to start the finish work. First thing to do was remove the extra glue from all the joints. For this, the carbide glue scraper (right) did quick work of most of it. I used the hand planar (left) to get the frame and plywood nice and flush, and the plane blade and chisel to do the finer details. The sharpener there in the middle is fantastic for keeping everything nice and sharp!:

 

Before:

 

After:

 

Here the rough finish work is complete! Now it's time for a break :)...

 

 

Next is the task to glue the top and bottom to the main cabinet, again with no nails. This presented a challenge: to get enough even force down through each wall top-to-bottom. The clamps for the job are my BESSEY clamps (killer clamps btw!), but I only have four of them. So I picked up a couple 2x4s to use as spreaders. The cross beam you see will transfer force from the inner walls down through the middle wall. I also cut joints in the 2x4s so that the ends of the Bessey clamps (which are pretty long) will apply force to BOTH the cross brace and the vertical brace at the same time, thereby (hopefully) applying force down through all three wall simultaneously:

 

Ready to assemble!

 

Here's how it looked all clamped up.The three inner walls seemed to get a nice solid squeeze from just the four Bessey clamps :

 

Here's how it looked at the top:

 

At the bottom, I added a shim right in the middle to help transfer the force needed up through the middle wall:

 

After the glue was all set, next was to flip the cabinet over and secure the "wire port" at the bottom of the cabinet with some screws:

 

 

Ready to assemble to top piece now:

 

Using the same clamping jig, here is the top getting glued on:

 

Everything is coming along nicely so far. but I still have plenty to do. Need to get this done by 12/24 mid-day! :eek:Left to do is drawers, drawer fronts, finish the rear doors, shelves, and then of course staining/finishing!... back to work! :)

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post #5 of 8 Old 01-03-2014, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, it was a huge push getting this project finished off. It went all the way into Christmas day and then some. Well anyway, it's all done and running now and I'm really happy with the result! This will be I think my final post to this build log...

 

To get a nice smooth hole for the fan holes in each door, I went for the router and made up a template to make the cuts. Here is the template getting measured out:

 

Fitted up a base plate to the router to make the hole using a straight bit:

 

The template ready to go:

 

The door will get a rough cut using the jigsaw, and then this 1/2" trim bit will make the final cut in the door:

 

Before making the rough cut in door, I made guide lines on both the template and door to be able to line up the template to the door:

 

Rough cut in door:

 

Lining up the template to the door:

 

And here is the final cut in the door. Nice and clean!

 

Next, to fit the fans into the cut, one of the ears needed to be removed:

 

And the fan hole also needed four notches for those larger triangular ears on the fan:

 

With all the notches cut, here is the fan test fit into the door:

 

 

Here are the drawers I made up for the cabinet:

 

And then it was onto cutting out the pieces for the four shelves:

 

 

Gluing the shelves up:

 

 

I wanted to be able to roll the cabinet out from the wall in order to maintain all the wiring, etc. at the rear. So I picked up eight of these small casters to mount on the bottom. To hide them, plus add some feet to the look of the cabinet, I added 1" pieces of birch stock to the bottom edge:

 

 

After that was done, the cabinet was ready for a final sanding and prep for stain and finishing. The stain I picked out is Minwax PolyShades "Espresso" satin:

 

 

For sanding, I first cleaned up all the glue at the joints, and then I went over the entire cabinet with an orbital sander. I started with 80, then 120, and then finally 220 grit sandpaper. After a few hours of that (and I'm sure many calories burned!), the cabinet was ready for stain:

 

 

 

 

This was my first time using a "1 step" finishing product (I'm used to regular stain, then sanding sealer, and then lacquer). Per the instructions, I initially used a high quality paint brush to apply the stain, but found the stain was much thicker than I realized which made it very difficult (if not impossible) to get an even coat. Plus I applied the first coat in the middle of the night (actually 1-4 AM Christmas Eve!), so I was too tired to try and fix it. The next morning after it dried, I was thoroughly NOT happy with the results which were very splotchy. So what I did was remove the extra stain with Turpentine only on the most visible surfaces, rubbed everything down with #0 (pretty course) steel wool which really helped to further even everything out, and then reapply two additional coats this time with a lint-free cloth (rubbing down between each coat with fine #0000 steel wool). As it turns out, the cloth was the MUCH better way to apply this stain because you have much better control of getting an even coat, plus the fine #0000 steel wool helped to even out any darker spots. In the end, I'm pretty happy with the results and will definitely use this product again...

 

You can see how uneven the first coat was on the insides of the cabinet walls:

 

I didn't bother with trying to fix the coat at the back of the cabinet as it will never been seen:

 

Next task was to assemble the drawers and prep the shelves:

 

 

The holes for the drawer handles provided a way to perfectly line up the drawer fronts.

 

 

The bottom shelf will carry the URC MSC-400 controller and is on glides to be able to get to the IR pots on the top of the unit (plus get the plugs at the back since the unit is rather shallow):

 

 

Fitting up the doors:

 

 

 

Latches installed:

 

Fans installed:

 

I cut two pieces of egg-crate foam for the wire slot, but after finally assembly, I don't think they're really needed afterall:

 

 

Cut, nailed, and stained 1/4" plywood for each of the drawer openings at the back:

 

And the final assembly step... wheels!:

 

Alright! Everything fits! Next step was to get it all wired up. Definitely couldn't wait to hear this thing at this point...

 

The space at the back of the cabinet behind the center speaker turned out to be a perfect place for the bricks, power strip, line conditioner, etc. to sit/hide:

 

Here are the fans being tested. I'm using two Cooler Guys fan controllers, one for each fan (http://www.coolerguys.com/840556098690.html):

 

 

And here is the system all set up and running!

 

Some notes on the sound of the subs... I'm running a Pioneer SC-1522-K receiver that has the mic used to calibrate the speakers (MCACC). That night we watched Star Trek Into Darkness, but I didn't have a chance to re-run MCACC. The subs definitely put out more "punch" than with just one, but they seemed to be a lot more "muffled" than before compared to just one sub without the cabinet. So I was pretty concerned the cabinet was seriously restricting the subs performance! Oh NO! But then, the next day I re-ran MCACC with the cross-over switch to "Out" on each sub. The difference was dramatic! Most if not all of the nice, deep base sound came back, plus there is now definitely more bass that you can "feel". Music sounds absolutely fantastic too, so I'm very happy with the results.

 

A couple of things left to do are: order 200mm fan grills (I had to improvise some with wire mesh laying around), and make up some proper speaker wires with banana plugs. Other than that, that about raps up this project!

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post #6 of 8 Old 01-03-2014, 06:53 PM
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Wow! Your carpentry skills are second to none! Very nice job! I could not have done what you did. Curious though, with all of your skill, why didn't you build your own subs and speakers? You could make everything match beautifully with your TV stand.

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post #7 of 8 Old 01-03-2014, 08:33 PM
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Excelent cabinet
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-04-2014, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys, thanks for the nice comments! To Pain, good idea about building custom subs and speakers. I guess I'm not sure where to source the speaker, crossover, and amplifier components and end up with the same (or hopefully even better) quality as something like the Acoustechs. Not to mention for cheaper too. Know of a good source? Definitely something to consider for the next project though.

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