Small DIY Speakers

Written by teresa rodriguez
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Small DIY Speakers
Compact and efficient DIY speakers work ideally when paired with a subwoofer. (speaker image by timur1970 from

When building small DIY speakers, JBL Control 1 monitors are a great guideline. The Control 1's were built for near-field professional monitoring, and are superb for surround sound speakers in a home theatre system or computer system. Building them on your own means using a 4.5-inch woofer with a 1-inch dome tweeter in a ported cabinet that is compact enough for any setting. These are very efficient speakers with up to 89dB SPL, and the savings over a manufactured speaker are usually 90 per cent.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Woofer
  • Tweeter
  • Birch plywood
  • Crossover
  • PVC pipe
  • Hacksaw
  • Power drill
  • Circular saw attachment
  • Wood glue
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood screws
  • Clamps
  • Silicone caulk
  • Connection terminal
  • Speaker wire
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint or stain

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  1. 1

    Buy a 4.5-inch loudspeaker/driver, a 1-inch dome tweeter and a 2-way crossover. Check Web sources for good selection and economy, but get high-quality components to ensure the best final performance.

  2. 2

    Buy 3/4-inch birch plywood. Birch plywood, aside from being used in the most famous manufactured speakers, is more economical, lighter and holds screws better than medium density fiberboard. Choose ready-made cabinets for an easier construction project.

  3. 3

    Cut a 6-inch segment of 3/4-inch PVC pipe to a length of 5 inches with a hacksaw.

  4. 4

    Cut the cabinet pieces using a table saw of circular saw. There are six pieces to the cabinet. Top and bottom pieces will be 4 inches by 4.5 inches. Sides panels will be 4 inches by 8.5 inches. Front and back panels will be 6 inches by 8 inches.

  5. 5

    Build the cabinet frame by gluing the side panels, bottom panel and top. Test fit panels before gluing. Top and bottom pieces fit inside the sides. Use good quality wood glue to join the panels. Ensure an airtight seam with countersunk 1-inch wood screws in each corner of the side panels, adding two additional screws at the midpoints of the sides. Clamp the assembly with c-clamps while drying. Remove the clamps after 1 hour, but let the cabinet fully dry over 8 hours.

  6. 6

    Cut out the back panel using a drill and sabre saw. The back panel holds the connection terminal. Apply glue to the surface edges of one side box, and press the back panel in place. Screw in 1-inch wood screws in all four corners; add two additional countersunk wood screws at the mid point of the long sides of the back panel. Clamp the back panel to the sides for an hour. Install the terminal cup or box in the back panel, and glue the crossover to a side panel inside of the box.

  7. 7

    Create the front panel cutouts. Trace a 4.5-inch circle near the bottom, and trace 3/4-inch and 1 1/4-inch diameter circles above the 4.5-inch circle. Use a hole saw or router to make the cutouts. Keep a distance of 3/4 inches between woofer and the smaller cutouts. Enlarge the port hole 1/8 inch at the panel surface of the smallest hole, and channel cut the speaker holes 1/8-inch to allow for flush mounting of the speakers.

  8. 8

    Apply a bead of silicone caulk along all interior joints of the cabinet. Also apply caulk to all interior seams around the terminal cup.

  9. 9

    Glue the PVC pipe to a pipe flange. Glue the pipe flange to the back side of the front panel. Attach the tweeter and woofer to the prepared side of the front panel, applying a thin bead of non-drying caulk before screwing in the mounting screws for both the woofer and the tweeter. Attach 12-gauge speaker wire between the terminal cup and the crossover. Attach other lengths of 12-gauge wire from the crossover to both the woofer and tweeter connection terminals.

  10. 10

    Glue the assembled front panel to the box. Counter-sink the screws as on the back panel, and clamp the to the sides to aid drying.

  11. 11

    Finish the cabinet by filling all screw holes with wood putty. Hand sand the cabinet surface with a sanding block or electric sander. Paint or stain the box exterior in your choice of colour.

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