Every place I've ever lived has been designed for that "average American family," with lots of bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, etc. The problem was that I was a single person, not an average family. I needed space, but for hobbies, not people. And because I'm over 6'2", bending over to use sinks designed for children was a constant frustration. Over the years, I collected a list of things I would change if I could have my dream house. As I approached retirement, I realized time was running out for that house; it was now or never.


Dreams are not always perfect, however. I could never afford my dream house, a spacious Southern California home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I could afford a modest ranch house, with a 20-mile drive to the beach. It was a very long way from perfect, but it had potential.


This blog documents the process of turning that small average house into something that matches my lifestyle. It will be as close to my dream house as I can make it. I'm doing all the work myself to stretch my resources. By not hiring contractors, I can afford high quality materials, and I'll know the job is always done right. The remodeling will be my primary avocation for a few years, even as I try to fit in my writing and other hobbies.


It promises to be an interesting journey, and a challenging one!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pottery Studio — Part 8

Oh me, oh my!

I continue to slug it out with my master bathroom, but trouble getting tile and a marble threshold, and grappling with the water and vapor-proof membrane has been frustrating progress.  Nevertheless, there has been progress, and floor tile in the shower will be going down in the coming days (warmer weather coming so I can roll my tile saw outside with high temps going up to 80˚—ah, southern California!).

So last time I mentioned I might work on the pottery studio's car stereo system, as a nice diversion, and that's what I've been doing.  The components include 1) the speakers mounted in custom boxes built onto the walls, 2) a wall-hung cabinet of shelves, and 3) the car stereo head and power supply built into the cabinet unit. 

First, I designed and built the speaker boxes, an important component for speaker performance.  You don't want the sound coming off the back of the speaker interfering with the sound waves coming out of the front.  There are closed (sealed) boxes, and ported (tuned) boxes.  For simplicity, I went with closed boxes, angled 5˚ inward, and with a 45˚ extension on the side.  A rectangular box is more susceptible to internal resonant standing waves that can adversely affect frequency response. 

I started by cutting out all the pieces of 3/4" plywood.  For both the speaker boxes and shelf cabinet, I managed to construct everything from plywood remnants (left over from other projects), using up almost all of it.  Hooray!


The speaker boxes and shelves are screwed to the studs behind the drywall, so I needed to screw the boxes on before fully assembling them.


The tongues and grooves on the parts were made so the lower half of the boxes are well supported when assembled to the half screwed to the wall.  Once assembled, the rough boxes were given the joint compound treatment to make them smooth and ready for paint. 


The boxes were then loosely stuffed with a sound absorbing acoustic polyfill.


Next the shelf cabinet parts were cut to size and biscuit slots and tongues and grooves cut.


The next photos show biscuit slots and grooves.



The corners of the cabinet are my usual tongue and groove, fastened with glue and screws.  The shelves are fastened with biscuits, glue and screws.


The assembled cabinet carcass is ready for trim. 



I covered the side with lacewood veneer, fastened with contact cement in the same manner as plastic laminate is glued on.  Then the inside of the cabinet was painted with an eggshell white, except for the stereo compartment, which got blue paint.  I used mahogany for the trim, as the color coordinated well with the lacewood veneer.  The trim, which covers the plywood edge, was fastened with biscuits and glue (no screws).  First on were the long side pieces.







After the side pieces were dry, the trim went on the edges of the shelves.  After all of that was dry and the clamps had been taken off, the front of the trim was machine sanded, then a router used to round over the edges, and then all of that hand sanded.  Then a coat of polyurethane, a light sanding with 220-grit paper, then a second coat of urethane. 


Next the Pioneer car stereo was adapted for its use in the cabinet.  I used a third-party mounting bracket (bought from amazon). 


Then I built a chassis out of wood that could slide in the designated stereo shelf.  The surround was also covered with lacewood veneer and trimmed on one side with mahogany. 


Installed, it looks like this (the 2.5 amp power supply sits on the right):


Here is the final result.  I hung the unit on the wall so I could mop underneath (important to remove the clay dust, which is not good to breath). 


And a wider view:


I didn't really know how it was going to sound, as it's a car stereo in a house, but I was actually blown away — it sounded great, much better than my most optimistic expectations. The speakers are 6" x 9" 3-way Polk Audio speakers.  Being mounted in the corner of the room, the bass response is enhanced.  Being in a mostly bare room with a ceramic tile floor added something.  It will go louder than I want, and the clarity continues at high volumes.  Very life-like sound.  I'm very pleased.  I've just played CDs through the system; I may or may not eventually add an antenna. 

Next post — back to the master bathroom shower. 

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