DIY System Support…

Given that you can tailor your ‘sand-box’ for both fit and function, the audio applications are almost limitless: From standalone supports of the type I’ve described for the Chord unit above, to a set of damped support ‘shelves’ to upgrade an existing rack. Almost anything is possible if you have the imagination and the need/desire to save some cash. High-end audio supports don’t come cheap, but the principles are pretty straightforward and a lot of the investment goes into prettying things up and slimming them down. The ‘sand-box’ can be a poor-man’s alternative, a stop-gap or a highly effective long-term solution. You won’t be able to do much about the bulk, but skills and a bit of time can do a lot for the overall appearance.

How to do it…

Keeping doing the same thing long enough and you work out what works. My DIY skills are strictly limited, but I’ve developed a simple, effective approach to building a dedicated ‘sand-box’. The more DIY experience and tools you have, the easier you’ll find it and, perhaps more importantly, the more presentable the results. Sash-clamps, a Work-mate type tool bench and a quality sander will all help, but you can make a perfectly satisfactory ‘sand-box’ with nothing more than glue, sandpaper and a little ingenuity.

Materials are both easily available and easy to work with, while the basic procedure is exactly the same.

  • Figure out the required platform size.
  • Add 5mm (or ¼”) all round.
  • That gives you the INTERNAL dimensions of the box.
  • From that, use the thickness of the material you’ll be using to calculate the panel sizes you’ll need to build the box itself.

If we say that the platform is Amm by Bmm and the box will be Cmm deep, constructed from material Dmm thick, your cutting list should look like this:

1 off Support Platform –     Amm x Bmm

2 off Side Panels –             (B + 10mm) x (C – Dmm)

1 off Base –                        (B + 10mm) x (A + 2D + 10mm)

2 off Front/Rear Panels –   (A + 2D + 10mm) x Cmm

If that looks confusing, just plug in the appropriate numbers and it will all make sense. If we use the PowerHAUS ‘sand-box’ as an example, those steps go like this:

  • I wanted a box that was no longer than the (already long) PowerHAUS, but I was happy to add a little width for stability. So I started with a platform size of 570mm by 110mm (A x B).
  • Allowing a 5mm space all round gives internal dimensions of 580 x 120mm.
  • Using 10mm MDF for the carcass leaves the external dimensions as 600mm long (570 + 20 + 10), 140mm wide (110 + 20 +10) and I opted to make the box 200mm tall.

The cutting list looks like this:

1 off 570 x 110mm (10mm birch plywood)

2 off 120 x 190mm (10mm MDF)

1 off 120 x 600mm (10mm MDF)

2 off 600 x 200mm (10mm MDF)

A box with that internal volume will accommodate around 22kg or nearly 50lbs of sand, making it a pretty darned effective mechanical ground.

Getting your hands dirty…

With the calculations all done, all you then need to do is source the MDF, cut and glue the panels. Or you could do what I do and get the panels cut to size by your local DIY store. This makes life seriously simple. The only niceties I introduced on this go round was to place a pair of half-height ‘baffles between the long sides of the narrow box in order to strengthen the structure and help prevent the weight of the sand causing any bowing. I also had the platform for the unit itself cut from 10mm plywood, rather than MDF. Given my druthers I’d use bamboo, but I’ve yet to find a source… For larger, flatter boxes I tend to opt for 15mm MDF