Decorative side panels

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Todd Stout, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

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    I have a pair of Adire Kit-281 speakers that I am about to build cabinets for and I have been tossing around ideas of how to finish them. I was kind of inspired by the look of ACI Speakers but I'm not sure where to get wood panels that are that large.

    Where can I find "affordable" wood panels that are about 1/8" - 1/4" thick that are 14" x 48" in size? I'm not even sure what kind of wood I am after either. I'm just after something that would look nice stained a brownish color (such as Minwax's Dark Walnut or Special Walnut) and that does not cost a fortune.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    Todd,
    First the bad news: 14" x 48" is going to be difficult to find in single pieces. Solid lumber is sold in "random widths and lengths" with widths usually varying from 5" to 10" (length won't be a problem). Beyond that, you'll probably need to edge-glue multiple pieces. If you look closely at the ACI photo you linked, they actually use multiple edge-glued pieces.

    More bad news: Exotic woods like walnut are going for up to $8. per board foot. 14x48 of "four quarter" solid (actually about 3/4" finished thickness) is about five board feet... so expect $40+ for each panel. Thinner isn't necessarily cheaper because of the extra processing required. Rockler makes solid wood panels in whatever size and thickness you desire, but they're pricey. Tape Ease also advertises wood solids for cabinet refacing, but you need to contact them for quote. You might also try Constantine in New York.

    Good news: You can get solid oak and mahogany from Home Depot at somewhat reasonable prices, but I believe they only have 3/4". You could send this through a surface planer to reduce thickness, but why (except to clean up any variations after edge gluing)? Extra thickness will add to weight and rigidity - both good things. Solid wood less than 1/2" tends to be prone to warping and splitting, particularly in large sizes. Note that the ACI side panels are specified as 1/2" to 3/4".

    I agree that the solid sides add a nice visual touch... but it's not as easy as it looks. [​IMG]
     
  3. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the reply Dave.

    I have been using Google off and on the past few days trying to find wood panels of the sizes that I would need without any luck at all. I had just assumed that it would be easy to cut some wood panels to the size I need and slap them on the sides of each speaker and then paint the rest of the cabinets some sort of a black color. I guess not...

    I also like the look of the speaker cabinets on the North Creek Music site. It appears as though the front baffle is painted a flat or satin black with the rest of the cabinet covered in some sort of wood veneer. I think that would be somewhat easy to do and probably cheaper than my original idea.

    What I am after is a black front baffle with some sort of brownish wood color for the rest of each cabinet. There are so many ways of finishing cabinets it's hard to choose one. I have also been inspired by these along with Ted Robinson's Dayton 8 MTM, as well as Patrick Sun's speakers. I guess I could veneer the top, bottom, back, and sides and then either paint or veneer the front baffles black. I'll figure something out but I guess I should build the things first and then worry about how to finish them.
     
  4. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    A painted black baffle with veneer on the rest of the cabinet is attractive and easy to do. I finished my speaker projects this way for many years. Lately, though I've been veneering all sides. I think it is actually a little easier since it eliminates the paint step.

    One hint... I've found that an overall topcoat with some "build" to it --such as a satin lacquer or polyurethane product --helps protect the veneered corners. You can always buff it down with steel wool to prevent the "wood under glass" look. "Penetrating oil" finishes don't work as well in this regard and leave the corners vulnerable to peeling or chipping from rough handling.

    I have also done gloss automotive finishes on entire cabinets. It is a tedious process to achieve a deep piano gloss, but a stunning visual statement.
     
  5. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

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    I could also use the black textured laminate that they carry at Part's Express on the front of each speaker. I'm not sure how good that stuff looks in person though.

    Years ago I worked at a hardware/home improvement store that was called Builders Emporium. From time to time my paint department cohorts and I would test out the products we carried on scraps of wood from the lumber department trash can. I learned all sorts of things during my four years there that I'm still finding useful today. I discovered that Minwax gloss polyurethane over flat black oil-based paint makes a pretty nice looking fisnish, I learned that using Krylon's Stone Craft paint over a similar color of basecoat makes the stuff last a whole lot longer, and I learned that a topcoat of water based polyurethane makes Stone Craft a lot more durable without turning it yellow. I learned a lot about staining and finishing wood while I was there too among other things.

    Thinking back to my days in home improvement retail is giving me even more ideas now. My wheels are really spinning about how I'm going to finish these things and I think that I'll figure out something here in the near future.
     
  6. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    When I first read your post, I thought you were talking about the ACI Titan - as pictured at the following link:

    Link

    If you were to construct the sub as pictured, you could:

    1) Build the cabinet out of MDF.

    2) Use stainable trim boards for the corners, which you would stain and apply polyurethane.

    3) For the side panels, you could use bead board, and paint it as reflected in the picture. *

    * = There's an MDF based beadboard that is 1/4" thick and sold in 4' x 8' sheets at Home Depot. These run about $11.00 a sheet. They are pre-primed, and would just need a coat or two of paint. Ralph Lauren makes a great ebony color in their paint line up. You could paint the panels with a brush and it would look pretty nice.

    The corner posts would naturally be more expensive due to being true lumber. But, you wouldn't break the budget too bad if you were to construct the sub as pictured.
     
  7. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    I was looking for larger maple pannels recently as well. I had a cabinet shop build them for me. Edge glued pannels aren't that difficult to make either with the proper tools and know how. Of you can try your local lumber shop/yard.
     

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