Preparing the Parts Express Boxes

The Parts Express boxes are well made, save a load of time over DIY, and the are reasonablly priced. I know with my present skills I could not duplicate them for even twice the price in materials, to say nothing about the labor involved. While wood venier is not too difficult to apply, the piano black gloss finish would present a real challenge to the the average home DIYer. As mentioned earlier, we selected the Parts Express cabinets in the Gloss Black finish for the Casitas, and the Maple finish for the Kitty Kats. Detalied drawings of the boxes and supplied fascia are found here.

The first steps needed to build the Casita and Kitty Kat speakers is to drill a hole in the back of the cabinet for the port tube. We used an adjustable bit set to 0.75" radius and used a hand brace to drill the holes. In order to protect the cabinets, we left the light plastic foam on the boxes as shipped and just opened up the rear panel to expose the top center of the rear panel of the cabinets. We did not remove the supplied front panel fascia for this step either. We measured the hole to line up with the center of the upper brace opening to provide maximum room around the tube once installed. You can see a drawing of the hole location for the North Creek cabinet in the North Creek Kitty Kat Drawings, page 8.

For the Kitty Kats, we decided to wire the crossovers for bi-wiring, and ordered an extra pair of binding posts along with the kits. On the same page of the drawing, you can see the hole pattern for four binding posts. We later drilled two more holes in addition to the two pre-drilled holes for the two additional binding posts. The Casitas will use the pre-drilled pair of binding post holes and not be intended for bi-wiring. Except for this difference the Kitty Kat and Casita cabinets are essentially identical.

The next step is to glue together the outer 1.5" MDF fascia provided by North Creek with the inner plywood panel to create a nice solid front panel with backing. The final thickness and strength of this panel is superior to the one provided by Parts Express with the boxes. After carefully selecting the fascia and matching the panels up (the Casitas are a mirror image pair), we began by using Titebond III glue and lots and lots of clamps with backing blocks so as to not mar the front of the MDF fascia. The resulting front panel is very similar to the one in the Kitty Kat plans (pages 10-12) and is highly recommended! You can see the unfinished but glued front panels in the next set of photos.

The glue sets fairly quickly and we only needed to let them dry for about 30 minutes before using the clamps on the next set. It took about hours to fully glue up the panels, and we drilled the port tube holes in-between gluing and clamping. It is clear that the fascia and the driver holes need to be well sanded and finished as the wood and MDF panel come pretty raw. Still if one does not have the routing tools they are real time savers.

We then used on each of the dry front panels and mounted a set of drivers on one of each to use for dry-fitting of the cabinets and crossovers as discussed in the next section.

Please see the next article in the series Cabinet Dry-Fitting

Copyright © 2010 David L. Bytheway