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September 24, 2011 12:31 AM   Subscribe

Help me build floor stands for my speakers - a DIY challenge!

I have a couple of speakers I need floor stands for. But because of the multiple special conditions involved, I can't really find ready-made ones, so I must make them myself. Although I have some ideas, I have not given a ton of thought to the design because I figure, the hive mind will have better ones given the vast collective experience (while I'm a very rudimentary DIY-er).

Speakers: a pair of M-Audio Bx8a

Dimensions: Height 15"; Width 10"; Depth: 12"
Weight: 26.6lbs each

Mission: Build one floor stand per speaker.

Basic design: platform for the floor + connecting rod + platform for the speaker


1) For various reasons, the backs of these speakers will have to be very close to the wall. There is a 2 inch shoe along the joint floor/wall, so they'll be offset at the very least by 2 inches from the wall

2) The stands will be on either side of a couch whose back is against the wall - but above, almost overhanging - this is a complication, in that the floor plate/platform of the stand will be in the way of the back feet of the couch - therefore necessitating a perforated structure to the floor plate of the stand - think of a structure like a steering wheel, mostly empty space, but providing enough structure to make a very stable platform

3) Because the speakers have to be so close to the wall, and because of cable management, and for aesthetic reasons, I'd like the connecting rod between the floor and support platforms to be set as close to the edge of the platforms as possible (close to the wall) - so the connecting rod cannot be centrally located within the plates. The speakers would be some 41 inches above the floor.

4)Aesthetics are important - I'd rather that the platforms not be attached to the rod with triangular supports that jut out - just the rod meeting the platform at 90 degrees (though discreet L shapes that blend into the platform shelf are OK).

5) I am happy - and actually eager - to use metal, but I cannot drill, weld, or cut metal - I don't have the tools, and I suspect it would be too much $ to have it done. I can cut and drill wood. I can use a screwdriver for metal parts, of course.

6) I'd rather not spend a fortune here - I'm hoping no more than $150 per speaker stand ($300 total).

7) Readily obtainable materials - nothing from special NASA labs etc.

My preliminary design idea:

a) For a connecting rod, I'd use a thick steel angle such as here. Dimensions of the sides are 3" each, steel thickness of 0.375". This seems to me very rigid and enough to support the 26.5lb speaker plus stand over a roughly 4 foot length without folding or twisting or otherwise disintegrating. The inside of the L would be facing the wall, and that way I can also hide the cables running from the speakers inside this steel angle. The cost is roughly $80 per rod according to the link above.

b) The bottom/floor platform on which the whole stand rests, would have to have some kind of accommodation for the couch leg - so perhaps the connecting rod would be attached to some kind of legs connected by metal rims for added stability.

c) The top platform/shelf on which the speaker would rest, would need to be a solid plate, rigid.

The challenge

I don't have any idea as to how to secure the steel angle connecting rod to the platforms - I cannot use welding, or metal drilling. My hope was that someone would know of some ready-made object that could be repurposed for the platforms and which would allow for a painless almost lego-like securing of the steel angle connecting rod - absolutely anything, maybe from automotive, or IKEA, or Home Depot, or WHATEVER walk of life and industry - without costing a fortune. I was hoping it would not require too many tools and complex modifications. The extra challenge of course is that the rod has to be pretty much at the edge of each platform.

I'm sure I can kludge a rube-goldberg stand on my own, but I'm eager to see what the hive mind comes up with!
posted by VikingSword to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
repurposing plant stands like these
posted by hortense at 12:55 AM on September 24, 2011

That 3" by 3/8" steel angle you've chosen for the post is way overkill unless you plan to park your car on top of it... well, even then it's still probably overkill. But, welding or bolting (ergo drilling) is going to be pretty much mandatory. Welding would be better.

Given that these are to be very close to the wall and the complications of the couch, why not build a couple of wall-hung shelves and have no post at all?
posted by jon1270 at 2:55 AM on September 24, 2011

Where I live, $300 or so would easily be enough to have a guy weld up some stands out of steel. I'd drop in at a few fabrication shops or (for cheaper work, but less guarantee of quality) ask around and find someone who does cash work on the side out of their garage.

To DIY it, I would do what jon1270 is suggesting and wall-mount them. It would be so much simpler and easier, especially given your issues with the couch legs and the baseboard. I think that both a welded steel or a wall-mount option will be far cleaner and sturdier than a jury-rigged wood/metal stand.
posted by Forktine at 6:37 AM on September 24, 2011

I don't have any idea as to how to secure the steel angle connecting rod to the platforms - I cannot use welding, or metal drilling.

The extra challenge of course is that the rod has to be pretty much at the edge of each platform.

That final requirement is a massive weak point for something specifically designed to support a heavy weight, without vibration. You'd probably need to build the entire thing in quite thick steel to avoid any 'bouncing' of the speakers.

And whether the platforms are wood or metal, I have no idea how you could even begin to fix the components together solidly without any drilling. I also would have suggested just buying a couple of really nice wall shelves, but fixing them to the wall might prove difficult without drilling some holes.

No offence, but this is a terrible idea for speakers stands. Their structural integrity would be massively compromised by your aesthetic requirements. Spend some of your budget on a drill. ;-)
posted by alan2001 at 6:46 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Achilles' heel of speaker stands is resonance. There will be certain frequencies ("natural frequencies") at which the speaker stand will vibrate along with the speaker and ruin the sound. Metal is quite a bit trickier than materials like wood, which have natural damping, in this usage. There are lots of metal speaker stands on the market but in those cases someone has worked out the resonances and dealt with them.

The way to make a decent speaker stand of the height you're talking about, without a lot of natural frequency calculations or later material changes, is to build it out of veneered medium-density fiberboard (MDF). That is what most speakers are built from. Ideally no squarish pieces would have parallel sides - think trapezoids or quadrilateral pieces with a 3:2 long to short side ratio - and no closed volumes (which act like organ pipes in some cases) would exist at all. For the columns that won't work, so make the columns somewhat flaring, making a V-shaped cross-section to get them decently stiff. Then a lossy material like Blu-Tack would be used to keep the speakers on their platforms.

You might find some help on this forum which is where I wound up after Googling "speaker builder". There used to be a magazine called Speaker Builder where DIY projects like this were discussed all the time.
posted by jet_silver at 8:05 AM on September 24, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far!

Wall shelves - not gonna happen; very old building with non-standard studs and wall not suitable for heavy mods. Plus, that would way limit adjustability.

I woke up and have some ideas about how to affix the steel angle to the top platform (involving steel L brackets/plates, screws, wood platform) - seems will be quite sturdy. Resonances can be dampened/eliminated by rubber washers in strategic contact points between the connecting rod and platform, and a sound-dampening mat under the speaker (some testing will also be involved with possible mods as a result). Have not given any thought to the bottom platform yet.

alan2001 - yowse missin' tha point :), yes of course I understand that putting the post at the edge of the platform is a structural challenge, after all I highlighted it out myself; but since both necessity and aesthetics requires it, the answer is not to bemoan the obvious difficulty, but to look for a clever solution - that's how civilization is built, ha! It's a poor craftsman who shrinks from a challenge. And no, it's not impossible, sheesh.

jet_silver, thanks for the tips, I'll look into the materials.

Keep 'em coming!
posted by VikingSword at 10:28 AM on September 24, 2011

alan2001 - yowse missin' tha point :), yes of course I understand that putting the post at the edge of the platform is a structural challenge, after all I highlighted it out myself; but since both necessity and aesthetics requires it, the answer is not to bemoan the obvious difficulty, but to look for a clever solution - that's how civilization is built, ha! It's a poor craftsman who shrinks from a challenge. And no, it's not impossible, sheesh.

haha, well now, good sir... I did (for your sake) hope that I was misunderstanding something about the whole idea. (maybe I need some pictures!) I do love to discover my own or others' ingenious solutions to problems, but by the same token, there's usually a compelling reason why certain things have common design elements. wheels are round because they work. ;-) One of the things that a poor craftsman does is to dismiss what's gone before -- perhaps hundreds or thousands of years' worth of craftsmanship -- and think they can do better. Obviously speaker stands are not that old, but there's a reason why they support the weight centrally.

I didn't say it was impossible, by the way, just that it would involve a lot of compromise. the fact that you're now talking about having to mitigate resonance with rubber washers & mats confirms that.

ah hell, I sound like a Luddite. I'm not. :-)

here's one piece of woodworking advice: if you're going to use screws in wood, please always make a pilot hole first so you don't split the wood. you will usually manage this with a bradawl. [but for larger holes you'd use a drill, and I'm still wondering why you don't/won't have a drill?]

good luck. interesting project, and i would love to see how it progresses. :-)
posted by alan2001 at 11:41 AM on September 24, 2011

Response by poster: Well, alan2001, it would not be productive for me to respond to every statement I disagree with, so I'll just leave the design question with: far from breaking some kind of laws of physics, posts located at the periphery of the support structure are exceedingly common, and btw. the position of the post is unrelated to the resonance question in this case. As to "don't/won't have a drill", you're simply mistaken - see the OP, to quote "I can cut and drill wood." (it's metal that I don't have a press drill for, and therefore don't want to drill), and yes, I've done a fair amount of woodworking, so drilling guide holes is something I well understand (and I do have a drill and tons of bits). Thanks anyway.
posted by VikingSword at 12:25 PM on September 24, 2011

epic reading fail on my part. i do apologise. :-\
posted by alan2001 at 1:14 PM on September 24, 2011

Lighter-gauge angle iron like this would probably work for the connecting rods give the load they're supporting. I've drilled it using a hand drill and metal bits, and it's easily cut with a hacksaw (fresh blade make the job quicker) so if you're willing to go that route, you could hacksaw off short pieces to use like L-brackets and hold them to the rods and base/platform with nuts & bolts. (Or just use premade L-brackets...)
Another alternative would be to make the rods using all-thread with some kind of square or round tubing on the outside and washers/bolts holding it to the platforms. Sort of like how a table lamp is constructed.
posted by zombiedance at 2:30 PM on September 24, 2011

Response by poster: I just came back from Home Depot, and now I'm leaning toward using their 12 gauge strut channel as a connecting rod. It definitely seems sturdy enough not to buckle/torque/strip under the speaker weight leverage over a roughly 4 foot distance. What I like about it is that it is slotted, thus I don't have to do any drilling, which makes it simpler to use than the steel angle. It's like $18.69 for 10 feet, so I can easily get two 4 foot pieces out of it for both my stands. I already measured the distance between the slots, and I can easily affix a massive Superstrut 90-Degree 4-Hole Channel Bracket (cost: $2.14 each) with huge bolts - that would provide a great starting support structure for a platform. Simplicity itself - this thing will be more rigid than Rick Perry! Now I just need to figure out the best way to affix a platform to this bracket. Minor issue - I'll have to have the strut channel cut in two places - maybe HD can do it on the spot (I imagine sawing through this with a hacksaw myself is not something that's realistic).

I can see the top platform within striking distance of being a solved issue. The bottom one will be a tougher nut. I'm still open to all ideas! Zombiedance, and earlier, jon1270, yes, you're both right - the thickness of the steel I originally contemplated was way overkill. Once I handled the various options, including heavy duty steel angles at Home Depot, I understood I was being overly paranoid.
posted by VikingSword at 5:36 PM on September 24, 2011

Response by poster: OK, so I think I figured out a design for the bottom platform of the stand. It's very simple - make a big H out of the very same 12 gauge strut channel pieces, the sides about 20 inches, and the middle about 24 inches - so a pretty squat H, more of a I---I, with one side of the H against the wall, and the longer (middle) perpendicular to the wall. The far end of the H (away from the wall), would be two pieces of the strut joined into a T with a Superstrut 4-Hole Flat Straight Bracket (cost: $1.84) three bolts along the long stem of the T and one on the top piece. Then for the other end of the T closer to the wall (and parallel to it), in order to make it into an H, and simultaneously place the vertical support at that joint, I'd use the same Superstrut 90-Degree 4-Hole Channel Bracket as used to support the upper platform, as follows: one bolt into the middle joint of the H, one bolt into the H joint parallel to the wall and two bolts into the long vertical support 12 gauge strut channel. That's it - very stable and very strong. A few niceties would need to be figured out, such as perhaps some rubber supports between the floor and the pieces so it's not just metal against the floor, but that's trivial. Minor complication: so now there are a few more cuts on the long strut to make the extra pieces for the floor support. What I like about this design: not only is it very simple and stable, but it utilizes the same pieces throughout, including joints and bolts... there's a certain unity to it all, and it's all easy to disassemble.

I'll update as I progress. So far it's only plans :) - and I'm still open to all ideas! Next - design for attaching the top platform.
posted by VikingSword at 11:09 PM on September 24, 2011

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