I just so happened to have an extra cartridge laying around on a beat up aluminum headshell. So I made a new one.
Wood has long been favored for its acoustic properties, from guitars to speakers. Looking for materials it seemed the logical choice. I used a small piece of cherry from the scrap bin. You could use another wood, I was thinking black walnut or ebony for a heavier weight and darker finish. There are a number of wooden headshells on the market, but they cost about an arm and a leg. The cheapest was about 40 bucks. So make your own!
Step 1: Materials
Get some wood, about 6mm thick. You'll need about 3 inches by an inch for the file. Probably a bit more to have a prototype before going through the finishing process. You can see my prototype wasn't sanded or finished for its initial test. I just went and made another to sand after I was satisfied with the design and sound.
You will need to source your own mount from another head shell which matches the mounting on your turntable.
Step 2: Lasercutting
Pretty simple file, I used an Epilog Mini 60 Watt.
Vector power: 100
Vector Speed: 12
Raster Power: 100
Raster Speed: 30
The grooves for the bolts which hold on the cartridge are engraved out to make the bolts sit flush with the top of the headshell.
You will likely have to modify the design for the thickness of your material and the mount you scavenge.
Step 3: Sand It
Start with 120 grit to take off the char from the laser. Then work progressively finer to 220 and 400 grit.
Step 4: Glue It
After the 400 grit glue the mounting bracket down. I used a rubber band to strap it down. Let it dry.
Then sand the top again the get the tab from the mounting bracket flush with the top surface of the head shell. I wet sanded 220 grit, 400 grit, 600 grit and finally 1200 grit on the top and exposed sides.
Step 5: Finishing
Start with some wood stain. I used Minwax Wood Finish 209, Natural Color, cut with just a little lacquer thinner. Dip it in and pull it out. Remove any excess drips with a rag. Let it dry, go get a beverage!
I did this 3 times, until I got the rich color I wanted. Follow the directions on your stain and wait about 8 hours between applications. Wet sanding with 600 grit between applications helps get a nice smooth coat. If you are a perfectionist get out the 1200 grit and go to town before the last coat.
I finished it off with some wood oil after the stain had dried for about 24 hours.
Step 6: Add the Mount
Got my bayonet mount from an old Audio-Technica headshell. Stick it in with a tiny dab of epoxy. Make sure the tab on the top of the mount is perpendicular to the top of the head shell.
Step 7: Add the Cartridge
Start by hoping the tiny bolts which mount your cartridge are long enough. Mine were!
Connect the wires to the cartridge. It goes a little something like this:
Left Channel: White
Left Channel Ground: Blue
Right Channel: Red
Right Channel Ground: Green
Boom you're done!
Step 8: Calibrate Your Tone Arm
Probably need to adjust the tone arm for tracking force, anti-skate and centering the stylus. Here is a nice article about it and a printable protractor for alignment.
Step 9: Enjoy
Put on your favorite vinyl and enjoy your new head shell!