How to Build a Portable Audio Rack System

Written by jacob mishler
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How to Build a Portable Audio Rack System
Racking your gear makes for a simple, one-trip set up. (sound board image by Tammy Mobley from Fotolia.com)

Carrying around all of your audio gear from gig to gig can be cumbersome. Because all professional, rack-mountable audio gear adheres to the 19-inch standard, building your own, custom, portable rack is relatively simple. Common rack-sized items include amplifiers, wireless receivers and effects processors. Save hundreds of dollars and customise your portable audio rack for your exact needs.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Hardwood plywood, 3/4-inch thick
  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • Table saw
  • Chop saw
  • Hardwood board, 1 inch by 3 inches
  • Chalk line
  • Power drill
  • 1/8-inch pilot hole drill bit
  • Phillips drill bit
  • Wood screws, 1-inch long
  • 4 swivel, 3-inch casters with mounting hardware

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Instructions

    Preparation

  1. 1

    Determine the audio rack's height. The height depends on the amount of gear you plan to install. You may want to include extra space for future gear.

  2. 2

    Cut two pieces of 3/4-inch thick hardwood plywood to 20 1/2 inches by 16 inches. One piece will be designated as "top" and the other piece as "bottom."

  3. 3

    Cut two 16-inch lengths from a 1-inch-by-3-inch hardwood board. Designate both lengths as "caster boards."

  4. 4

    Subtract 4 inches from the audio rack's height. The result is the modified audio rack height. Four inches is the approximate height added by casters.

  5. 5

    Cut two pieces of hardwood plywood that are 16 inches wide by the modified audio rack height. Designate both pieces as "side."

  6. 6

    Cut two 1-inch-by-3-inch hardwood boards the length of your modified audio rack height. Designate both pieces as "rail."

  7. 7

    Add chalk lines. On both boards designated as "side," snap a chalk line down one length 2 1/2 inches in from the edge. On the board designated as "bottom," snap a chalk line along both 16-inch sides 3/4 inches in from the edge.

    Assembly

  1. 1

    Screw the "rails" to the "side" boards. Align the "rails" with the chalk lines on the "side" boards, placing the body of the "rails" on the inside portion of the plywood. Attach them with 1-inch wood screws, drilling a pilot hole for each screw. Use one screw about every 6 inches.

  2. 2

    Attach the "caster boards" to the "bottom" board. Align the "caster boards" to chalk lines on the "bottom" board. The body of the "caster board" should be on the inside portion of the plywood. Drill pilot holes, and attach the boards with wood screws, using one screw every 6 inches.

  3. 3

    Connect the "bottom" piece to one of the "side" pieces. Lay one "side" board flat with a "rail" board facing up. Align a 16-inch edge of the "bottom" piece with a 16-inch edge of the "side" piece so that the "caster board" faces away. Attach the two pieces with screws, using one screw every 4 inches. Screws should go into the face of the "bottom" piece first, along the 3/4-inch void.

  4. 4

    Attach the "top" piece. Turn the structure 45 degrees so that it stands on its own. Connect the "top" in the same way as you connected the "bottom," ensuring the screws go into the face of the "top" piece first.

  5. 5

    Attach the remaining "side" piece in the same way you attached the first "side" piece. Ensure the "rail" has the same orientation as the first "side" piece.

  6. 6

    Attach four swivel, 3-inch casters on each corner of the "bottom" board. Follow the casters' attachment instructions for this task.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a sanding block to smooth the edges of the portable audio rack.
  • Use stain or primer and paint to give the rack the exact look you want.
  • When installing gear, keep the heaviest items nearest to the bottom.
  • Items not rack-mountable, such as mixers, can be installed in the rack using a rack-mounted, slide-out shelf.
  • Keep cables neat using zip ties or fabric fastener cable ties.

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