How to Build a Speaker Box

Written by richard rowe
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How to Build a Speaker Box
The sound coming out of the back of your driver is just as important as that coming out of the front. (Chad Baker/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Building a speaker box isn't particularly difficult in terms of skill, at least no more so than the average wood-shop project. Most of the hard work happens before you ever spin a saw blade, as speaker box size, type and shape make a quantifiable difference in sound quality and quantity. Online speaker box volume calculators abound, and if you can't find a calculator online then contact your speaker manufacturer for volume recommendations. Still, it all start with basic construction techniques that apply to any kind of speaker enclosure.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • 3/4-inch medium-density fiberboard
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Construction adhesive
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Silicone sealer
  • Adhesive-backed weatherstripping
  • Spray adhesive
  • Carpet
  • Staple gun
  • Polyfill or substitute

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine your ideal enclosure volume in cubic feet by contacting your manufacturer, then multiply that by 1,728 to convert it to cubic inches. For a basic square enclosure, take the cubic root of that figure to get your box's internal dimensions. For our example speaker, we'll assume that we're using a 12-inch speaker with a recommended volume of 1.75 cubic feet. Multiplied by 1,728, that comes out to 3,024; the cubic root of 14.46 rounds up to 14.5 inches on a side for the interior dimensions.

  2. 2

    Cut your side boards measuring your interior dimension on one side by interior dimension plus 1.5 inches on the other. Cut your front and back board dimensions to the interior dimensions. Cut the top and bottom boards by the interior dimensions plus 1.5 inches on each side. For our example speaker, the side boards will measure 14.5-by-16 inches, the front and back will measure 14.5-by-14.5, and the top and bottom boards will measure 16-by-16 inches.

  3. 3

    Lay your back board (14.5 by 14.5) close to the edge of your work desk and run a bead of adhesive around the board's edges. Sit one of your side boards on edge on the desk and push it up against the bottom board. Clamp the board or have an assistant hold them together while you drill two 3/32-inch holes into the board and drive two wood screws in to secure them together.

  4. 4

    Turn the back board around and install the other side board. Then install one of the top boards, the front board and then the top board. Use construction adhesive between each joint. Drill a hole in the centre of your front board, then use a jigsaw to cut out the speaker hole. Make sure to cut it into two pieces so you can get the cutout out of the box.

  5. 5

    Reach into the box and run your finger around the inside joints of your box. A certain amount of the adhesive will have squeezed out into the box, and if you've been fairly quick with your hole-cutting, then you can use can use the squeezed-out adhesive as a sealant in the box joints. Afterward, allow the glue to dry. If you haven't made it in time, then use silicone to seal the box.

  6. 6

    Cut a hole in the back of the box to accommodate your driver's electrical connector outlet. Cut five interior-dimension-sized squares of carpet; in this case 14.5-by-14.5 inches. Plush carpet will work the best, but any carpet is better than none. Coat the entire inside of your subwoofer box with adhesive, then carefully install the carpet squares. Hold them in place with staples, then use a razor to trim the carpet away from your electrical socket hole.

  7. 7

    Paint or apply carpet to the outside of the box, whichever you prefer. Fill the box about 1/3 of the way up with polyfill or pillow-stuffing; this will slow the soundwaves and cause the subwoofer housing to act larger than it really is. If you chose to paint the box, then surround the speaker opening with 3/4-inch foam weatherstripping. Connect the driver power terminals to the power outlet terminals, then install the driver into its hole with screws.

Tips and warnings

  • Courses in sound engineering and acoustics will help acclimate you to the the further theory of wave propogation.
  • Work diligently to develop a quality sound output. It often takes several tries to really distinguish the differences in a speakers work.

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