must have tools for building speakers?

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Brian Pokosh, Nov 27, 2003.

  1. Brian Pokosh

    Brian Pokosh Agent

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've never done much woodworking so all of my current tools focus more on cars, though I do have a drill press and a circular saw. For building speakers boxes, what are the must have tools? I don't want to spend any more then a couple hundred dollars on my inital tool investment, though I might pick up additional tools after my first project (my plan is to evantually build an entire 7.1 system).

    It sounds like I can get by without a table saw and just get a straight edge to clamp down. Would that be a better option then buying a cheap table saw anyways? That would leave more money for a router. Any recomendations on that - Lowes has a DeWalt 1-3/4 HP for $199, and I think Sears has a Porter 693 for the same (even cheaper with 10% off next week). Are those evenly matched?

    I've never even used a router before. Do I need a table for it? What are the bits that I'm going to need? Anything else I should plan on getting? I figure I'll spend about $200 on the router, leaving $50-$100 for bits, a straight edge, and any other misc. things I'll need.
     
  2. Dan Wesnor

    Dan Wesnor Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 1999
    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
    You will need a router, a Jasper Jig (for cutting circles), a good 1/4" spiral upcut bit, and at least one rabbet bit.

    I have the Bosch router that sells at Amazon for just under $200. I forget the model number, but it's an excellent router. It has a hookup for a shop-vac that eliminates a lot of the dust. The bits that may come with the router you buy are generally not worth the trouble. Get a 1/4" spiral upcut bit for making through cuts. I find I usually only need a 1/2" rabbet bit, which is used for cutting recesses for drivers. The Jasper Jig makes it easy to cut circles.

    The Porter Cable routers are also considered very good.

    I would not waste money on a cheap table saw. I had a $300 Craftsman that made it a lot of work to get boxes right - the cuts just weren't straight. I now use a Jet and it's 10 times better, but cost twice as much. You can cut the boxes using a circular saw and a straight edge just as well as you can with a table saw, but it takes more set-up effort to get it right. Maybe one of the cheaper Jet or Delta table saws would be good, but plan on spending at least $400 for a table saw.

    You should also look at getting a decent random-orbit sander, but it's not really necessary.

    I know of at least one guy who builds boxes using nothing but hand tools.
     
  3. Brian Pokosh

    Brian Pokosh Agent

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks, that answered most of my questions. What about a router table?

    I guess I'll hold off on a table saw for now. One thing I heard about was cutting the boards a bit over, then using a flush trim bit on the router after 2 boards are already glued together. Any adivce in regard to this option?
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,718
    Likes Received:
    463
    I would advocate making the MDF panels as square as possible, and not try to fix mistakes by trying to route away unevenness afterwards, that's just extra work. If you don't want to invest in a table saw, either do your best to find a friend with a table saw, or go to a local wood shop and give them the specs/dimensions for the wood panels you need and let the pro's at least cut the panels for you.

    I was in the former case as I had a friend who cut the panels for me, and he was pretty meticulous with making sure the panels were mirror images of each other so that they would fit as flush as possible.

    I would try to obtain many clamps, at least 4, but 8 is better, to be used when glueing up the panels together. Feel free to peruse my DIY Project page link in my signature and see what I went through to put together speaker enclosures (that you can now buy from Parts Express at quite a nice price considering the time and energy of making the enclosures yourself).

    Make sure you buy a carbide-steel tip router bit because if you are cutting through MDF (the most likely choice), you'll be glad you did.
     
  5. Dan Wesnor

    Dan Wesnor Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 1999
    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
    A router table has very little use in making speakers.
     
  6. Brian Pokosh

    Brian Pokosh Agent

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Where is a good place to get the clamps? I was looking at sears.com and they seemed pretty expensive. What's a good size to get for making speakers?

    One other thing about getting a router. Do you think the $200 Porter is worth it for this? There is a craftsman 9.5 amp with 1/4" collet for $90 this week. Compared to the 10 amp Porter with 1/4" and 1/2" collets. Other then that specs look about the same. I know I'm getting what I pay for, but do I need to pay twice as much in this case?
     
  7. Pete Mazz

    Pete Mazz Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 17, 2000
    Messages:
    761
    Likes Received:
    0
    Get at least a 1 1/2 HP router with 1/2" collet. 1/2" shank bits are about the same cost these days and are much better performers.

    Pete
     
  8. Dan Wesnor

    Dan Wesnor Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 1999
    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
  9. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 1998
    Messages:
    3,806
    Likes Received:
    0
    You get what you pay for in tools...but that said I've been using my "cheapie" plunge router for a while to make the last 10 speaker projects and it works just fine. Given the choice between a cheaper plunge router with good bits vs a Dewalt and average bits I'd take the cheapie.
     
  10. Joey Skinner

    Joey Skinner Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2003
    Messages:
    339
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with Andrew. Good carbide bits will make a cheap router perform fine for speaker building. If you want to do a 3/4" roundover you'll probably need a 1/2" collet router. The largest roundover I found for a 1/4" collet was 1/2".
     
  11. Brian Pokosh

    Brian Pokosh Agent

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the link Dan, though I see Harbor Freight has them pretty cheap as well. Should I get them long enough to clamp the longest boards together? I'd like to just pick up 4 or even 8 of the $5 24" clamps, but they'll only fit around 2 of the 3 ends of my various future projects.
     
  12. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 1998
    Messages:
    3,806
    Likes Received:
    0
    Brian I've found that the longer the clamps the more useful they'll be. I have two long ones and two shorter ones and I'm forever wishing I'd got four long ones.
     
  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,718
    Likes Received:
    463
    I built 4 subwoofers, 5 speakers, and 2 speaker stands with my cheapo $65 plunge Skil router. That router was very noisy and spewed MDF sawdust everywhere. Make sure you use protection gear for your ears, eyes and nose/mouth (earplugs, eyeglass/guards, mask to cover your mouth/nose).
     
  14. Dan Wesnor

    Dan Wesnor Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 1999
    Messages:
    389
    Likes Received:
    0
    Buy the long clamps. You can also use screws instead of clamps.

    4 subs, 5 speakers, and 2 speaker stands was about where my cheap Skil router gave up the ghost. [​IMG]
     
  15. Ronnie Ferrell

    Ronnie Ferrell Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Messages:
    355
    Likes Received:
    0
    A great deal on a router right now is the Hitachi M12V at Amazon. $135 total for a 3.25 HP plunge router with soft start and variable speed. I just got one on monday to put in the router table I am building. It is on the large side but still not too bad for hand held use. The weight and large footprint is actually a plus when edge routing. It includes a free accessory package with edge guide and a height adjustment knob. I think this is just one unbelievable deal!

    $25 Off Hitachi Orders of $150 or More


    M12V Router

    The M12V in the router table I am building:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Ronnie
     
  16. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 1998
    Messages:
    3,806
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  17. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,718
    Likes Received:
    463
    Yeah, that guy!
     
  18. Brian Pokosh

    Brian Pokosh Agent

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Any links on building tables like that?

    I did get a Dewalt router with fixed and plunge base, though with bits I think I spent too much today, and might take it back and get that one from amazon. Speaking of bits, I spent $130 on a 30 piece Skil carbide set. It seemed if I just bought a few bits that I needed I'd spend half as much anyways, so I might as well have a good set. But is this a good set? It only has a 1/4" rabbet bit, and I couldn't find any others at Lowes.
     
  19. Ronnie Ferrell

    Ronnie Ferrell Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Messages:
    355
    Likes Received:
    0
    Have you used any of the bits? I'd take the set back. I would start out with one of these sets over the Skil bits any day!

    MLCS 1/2" shank 15 bit set for $39.95.

    Woodcraft 1/2" shank 10 bit set for $39.99

    I think the Woodcraft bits are a little better bits than the MLCS ones. The Woodcraft are sharper than the MLCS bits. (At least with the ones I have.)

    I made the table from about 3 different set of plans. Mostly from these two books. I picked them up at the Library.
    Woodworking with the Router[/URL

    Router Magic

    The books are by the same guy and a lot is repeated in both books. The later one is newer.

    Ronnie
     
  20. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2000
    Messages:
    3,813
    Likes Received:
    0
     

Share This Page