Sanding, Painting and Finishing the Front Panel Fascia

When ordering a North Creek kit, one can also order front panel fascia that will fit the Parts Express cabinets. These kits consist of two parts, a plywood backing, and a routed panel of MDF. To create the front panel these pieces must be glued together. Holes are pre-cut and route which makes things much easier to deal with for us DIYers that do not have a well equipped wood shop. The Parts Express cabinets come with a front panel fasica, but it is not very thick and certainly not as substantial as the North Creek design. This panel is painted but would not really save any time in assembly as it would be marked by the cutting of holes and routing needed. The gluing and clamping together of the two pieces of each fascia was done as part of the very first steps in building our boxes (See an earlier article of this blog). The following photos show the Casita and Kitty Kat fascia from the back and front sides.

The following photo shows the Casita Fascia from the back side. Note the rounded over inside edges provided to smooth backside airflow from the woofer. The Casita drawings show this round over, and the fascia is routed but not sanded by North Creek. Per instructions the edges of the opening have been sanded and a thin layer of glue applied to smooth and seal the edges.

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This photo shows the Casita fascia from the front side. Notice that the Casita design has an offset tweeter. Since we ordered three kits, a left, right, and center version we have two left tweeter offsets, and one right tweeter offsets. When mounted the tweeters should be toward the outside of the pair.

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The following photos shows the Kitty Kat fascia from the back and front sides. Note the same rounded over inside edges and glue to smooth the edges as above.

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This photo shows the five fascia lined up after sanding in preparation for primer.

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We decided to use simple spray paint as we do not have a wood shop, but only an open garage to paint and sand. We chose Rustoleum American Accents paint for our first pair of Casita boxes, and therefore went about to procure more so that all our boxes would match. We used White Primer and Canyon Black semi-gloss to finish the fascia. To get a good finish requires sanding between coats and some way to prevent dust from settling on the finished product.

We decided to apply at least two coats of primer with sanding between coats. The following photo shows our DIY special paint table.

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Photo after the first coat of primer.

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The following photo shows the five fascia after the second coat of primer. According to the paint instructions, the primer needs to dry at least 48 hours before another layer should be added. However, it can be sanded between coats one hour apart which greatly helped to smooth out small imperfections in the fasica MDF.

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Two days later...

The primer had hardened up quite nicely, so we began by using some 320 grit sandpaper to smooth out the primer and prepare the surface for the Canyon Black semi-gloss paint. The front of the fascia was very smooth before sanding, but the sides where the round-overs are were created by a router and they have a few rough spots. We tried to smooth it out with sanding before applying the primer. Because of the more porous surface the sides absorbed a LOT more primer than the tops. We applied several coats of the primer with sanding in-between to build up a smooth surface on the sides.

Finally, after 48 hours of drying (required by the instructions on the can) we began with the Black finish coats. According to the paint can instructions, you can apply two thin coats very close together to create a first coat, and then within 1 hour you can apply another coat. They restrict more coats to 48 hours between, so we left the panels to dry and harden up after two coats. It will be more like 96 hours before we get to second set of coats.

The paint dried nicely, and was quite hard but there was more dust in it than we had hoped for, and more than we noticed with the primer. As a result, we will rig up a cover or hood of some kind to help control the dust for the final two coats.

Please see the next article in the series The Final Coats of Paint.

Copyright © 2010 David L. Bytheway