Speakers and Grill

The speaker grill holes are possibly the most eye catching on the whole cab, so you want to get them right and cut smooth!

Choosing Speakers

For speakers on the backbox I went with 4 inch car speakers, the kind you see in all the car care retail shops. A nice little Sony set for $50. They come with quite large dust covers that I won't end up using. I like the exposed look and think they look nicer with the covers off anyway. These particular speakers have a hint of aqua blue in them which should tie in nicely with my overall artwork.

Not too expensive and they do the job nicely.

Cutting Speaker Holes

Creating the speaker grill was a little more tricky than i first thought. When cutting circles freehand with a jigsaw, even the smallest of variance really stands out. You can follow the drawn line so closely and still not be happy with the result, it just doesn't look right when you come to route the rounded edge. I was looking for those perfect circles. After a failed jigsaw attempt I was looking for a good solution for even smooth circles.

As mentioned the speakers I bought had a dust cover for car installation. As I'm not using them I could separate it and use them as a good router trimming guide.

Here's how it works. You separate the cover from the mesh by popping it out. You can then screw the mounts on the back of the grill in position.

You need to apply some force to seperate the cover from the plate.

Then cut the rough shape with the jigsaw and then finish it up with the router. Once all smooth I did a second pass on the router to give a rounded edge. This helps blend the grill and speakers together, without that rounded edge it really looks like some speakers that are sitting behind an ugly cut out.

1. Screw the cover on the back of the panel. Then drill a pilot hole and jigsaw the majority of the circle away. 2. Route the edge with a trimming router bit using the template as the guide. Then a second pass with a curved edge bit. 3. Perfect circles that fit exactly to your speaker.

Also don't worry about screwing in your templates on the back of the speaker grill, just don't use long screws and be sure they don't poke through the other side. It's the front of the grill that we're worried about. If you're really a perfectionist you can fill and sand the screw holes on the back later if you want.

A hole made to fit the speaker exactly. (sitting on top of the router table the other way up now that it is finished).

Cutting a DMD Hole

For the DMD panel hole it's much the same practice. Instead of a template though I used straight edges of scrap MDF and screwed them in place. Of course make sure you measure this to fit your monitor, you don't want to see any of the monitor's bezel when you look at the DMD. Also the DMD should be as wide as possible. A real DMD is approx 12-13 inches wide. With a 22inch 16:10 monitor for your backglass you can get close to this width.

You don't actually need to drill corners in that shape either because using a trimming router bit is round by nature. So when you come to the edge of your DMD hole a curve is left behind. If you want the corners to be more rounded  (larger) then yes, pre drill them larger and carefully bring the router bit to those edges stopping at the corner start. On a real DMD the curved corners on the grill are minimal anyway.

With a cheap router table (see the guide) and some patience you can really end up with a professional result without too much effort.

Prep For Paint

Next I sanded it all back to get ready for a good finish. I am embarrassed to say I've messed it up already and had to re-prime it a second time. I will be going for that piano gloss finish by rubbing out a gloss clear coat once it's properly cured. Finding good and simple painting technique is not easy, even when looking online. Maybe people like to keep it their little secret? I've spent a good week just reading up on it and there is a lot of conflicting thought on how to go about it. However, I do have some experience in creating a high gloss finish when i made a poker table years ago. So we'll see how it goes. I'll add a guide on how I do this later, (of just one way on how to go about it.) It's not too hard but requires a lot of patience, but first let's see if I can pull it off!

As the name suggests "MDF Primer" is a logical choice. After a coat of prime, I inserted the grill to see how it all looked. Not too shabby, but white hides all those imperfections!

Next comes the black paint and layers of gloss which will show up everything! Wish me luck!


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Reader Comments (1)

Just wanted to stop by and say that I think you are very talented and I am so happy for you that things are falling into place. Your blog are so fun. Thanks for sharing.

December 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Graham
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