PROJECT: Wireless Speaker

PROJECT: Wireless Speaker

In spite of my kids’ disbelief, it wasn’t so long ago that every speaker in a sound system required a couple of wires plugged into it to make it work. But thanks to Bluetooth® technology, you can sync a smartphone, tablet or laptop to Bluetooth-enabled speakers and have great wireless audio anywhere you want it — in the shop, on your desk at work or wherever you listen to your favorite music, radio or podcasts.

Routing grooves in small wireless speaker cabinet
Rout two 1/4″-deep x 1/4″-wide grooves in the workpiece that will make the cabinet sides. Locate the grooves 1/4″ in from the edges. These grooves will capture the cabinet’s front and back pieces.

This little Wireless Speaker Kit with Playback/Volume Controls from Rockler comes with all the hardware you need to create a custom speaker that any music lover will appreciate opening this holiday season. Its speaker pod and rear control panel simply friction-fit into 1-7/8″-dia. holes in whatever style of cabinet you choose to make. Quick-connect cables push together without soldering, and an included USB cable recharges the speaker’s internal battery when needed.

Building the Speaker Cabinet

Cutting mitered end into cabinet side of wireless speaker
Square your table saw’s miter gauge to the blade, and tilt the blade to 45 degrees. On a left-tilting saw, place the “cabinet sides” workpiece with its grooves facing up. Cut the end of the piece off to create the first mitered end.

Here’s an idea for a simple cabinet you can build from a piece of 1/2″-thick x 3″- wide x 16″-long scrap in any species you prefer — I used padauk here. That will form the sides of the cabinet. You’ll also need a piece of 1/4″-thick stock for the front and back faces (mine is maple). And, if you choose to dress up the corners with dowels, make sure you have some 1/4″ dowel stock on hand, too. But feel free to use your imagination here — brass or aluminum rods could be cool alternatives to wooden dowels!

Cutting the four sides of a small wireless speaker cabinet on a table saw
Clamp a standoff block to the rip fence on the infeed side of the blade. Position the fence to cut 3-1/2″- long side pieces (measuring their longer face). Cut the four sides to length, making sure their mitered ends are oriented correctly.

Start the project by routing a pair of 1/4″-deep grooves along the length of one face of the “cabinet sides” workpiece using a 1/4″ straight bit in your router table. Position these grooves 1/4″ in from the workpiece edges.

Drilling a hole for speaker front in wireless speaker case
Drill a 1-7/8″-dia. hole through the center of the front and back faces of the speaker box. Immobilize these small workpieces during drilling with a handscrew instead of your fingers.

Now, head to the table saw to miter-cut four cabinet sides to length. Tilt your table saw blade to 45° for these cuts, and make sure to orient the workpiece so the grooves will end up on the insides of the cabinet parts (you’ll need to alternate faces when cutting both ends of each workpiece). Use a standoff block, clamped to the rip fence on the infeed side of the blade, for safety and setting the length of the cabinet sides to ensure that they’ll match.

Attaching speaker case sides with painter's tape and glue
Stick the sides to a piece of overly long painter’s tape with their mitered ends touching. Apply glue to the miters.

Next, check that the 1/4″ stock you’ll use for the front and back faces slips easily into the grooves in the sides. Sand or plane it thinner, if necessary.

Assembling casework glue-up for wireless speaker
Place the front and back panels in the grooves of one of the sides, and carefully fold the box up. Pull the tape tight to hold the corners together.

Then, carefully cut two 3″-square pieces for the faces. These require a 1-7/8″-dia. hole drilled through the center of each one to hold the speaker and control panel pods. Use a sharp Forstner bit to bore these holes, backing up the exit side with a scrap board to help minimize tearout there.

Band clamping speaker case glue-up together
Wrap a pair of narrow band clamps around the box and over the tape. Tighten each clamp evenly to close the corner joints. Allow the glue to fully cure before removing the clamps.

Finish-sand the cabinet sides and faces to prepare for assembly. Gluing up this little box is easy if you first stick the cabinet sides together, end-to-end, to a wide piece of painter’s tape. Then spread glue on the mitered ends, set the front and back faces in the grooves of one side, and simply wrap the other sides around the faces. You can hold the joints closed with tape, but a couple of small band clamps are even better to pull the joints together tightly.

Dressing Up the Corners

Marking dowel positions on wireless speaker box
Draw dowel alignment lines on each side of the box. Locate the lines 3/4″ from the front and back edges of the box.

Rockler’s Corner Key Doweling Jig offers a unique way to spruce up the corners of this cabinet box with oval-shaped details. These “keys” add some mechanical strength to the glued miter joints, too. As you can see in the photo on the facing page, by clamping the adjustable jig in place and using its 1/4″ drill guide bushing, you can drill an angled hole at 45° across the corner joints for dowels or metal rods.

Using Rockler Corner Key Doweling Jig to drill placements for dowel installation
Install the 1/4″ drill guide bushing in the Corner Key Doweling Jig. Adjust the jig’s drilling plate to the 1/2″ thickness setting. Line up the jig with one of the alignment lines and clamp the jig and box to your worksurface. Drill a 1/4″-diameter dowel hole through the corner of the box. Repeat the process for the other seven holes.

When they’re cut flush, the angled cross sections of these keys look like ovals. I marked layout lines around the cabinet, 3/4″ in from its front and back faces, then drilled a hole through all eight corners. Be sure to use Rockler’s extra-long 1/4″ bit for this task — it’s designed for the jig.

Adding glue to small dowels and installing them in pre-drilled holes
Apply a small amount of wood glue in the corner dowel hole, then twist a length of dowel through the hole until a small amount of it pokes through the other side. If you use brass or aluminum rod instead of wood dowels, switch to epoxy.

Insert your dowel or metal rod stock into each hole with a bit of wood glue for dowels or epoxy for metal. Leave the protruding ends of the keys a bit long, sawing them off close to the cabinet sides. Carefully sand or file the keys flush and smooth.

Using Japanese saw to trim ends off dowels in wireless speaker case
Trim the dowels or rods close to the box sides. Sand or file the remaining exposed ends until they’re flush. Sand the box sides up through the grits to 180, and apply your choice of finish.

Apply your choice of finish to the cabinet box, and allow it to dry overnight. Then, all that’s left to do is install the speaker components. Thread the wires through the cabinet, and push them into their connectors to tether the speaker pod and control panel together.

Installing speaker components in wireless speaker case
Feed the wires from the speaker pod through the front of the box and connect them to the control pod on the back side of the speaker. When the wires are attached, press the pods into the front and back cabinet holes.

Wrap up the installation by pushing the pods into their holes in the front and back faces of the cabinet — friction holds them in place. Then, charge up the speaker, and this gift is ready for wrapping … that is, if you can resist the urge to enjoy it for a day or two first, before giving it away!

Hard-to-Find Hardware:

Wireless Speaker Kit (1) #57033
1-7/8″ Dia. Forstner Bit (1) #51761
1″ x 15′ Strap Clamps (2) #58432
Corner Key Doweling Jig (1) #59517
1/4″ Premium Extended-Length Drill Bit (1) #63837

Click Here for the Drawing and Materials List.

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