Picture of Vintage-Style MP3 Radio

I wanted to make a radio that payed homage to the beautiful radios from the 1930's era from manufacturers like Philco and GE but has the functionality of a modern MP3 player. I could have found one of those old radios and did the conversion to MP3 but decided instead to build one from scratch from solid wood to retain a decent sound quality.

This was scratch built from 1" Pine, 1/8" Oak plywood, and 1/8" Birch plywood.

The MP3 module that I used for this particular radio was salvaged from a small player that I bought, but the same module is available commercially online from many e-retailers.

EDIT: The donor MP3 player shown was purchased from ebay, but the basic MP3 modules are also available on ebay or dx.com.

The grill cloth was bought from a vintage radio parts supplier as reproduction fabric. If anyone would like the information where to get it, just send me a line.

On to the instructions.

Step 1: Choose your Shape.

Picture of Choose your Shape.

The shape I used for this particular radio is known as a cathedral style.

So first you will want to decide how big to make it.

I decided to make this one 10" wide by 14" high and 8" deep. But it is up to you, there was more than enough room inside to house the few electronic pieces required.

EDIT: I used a Google Sketchup model to get the dimensions figured out, and then printed it with a large format printer and used that to trace the design onto the wood.

Once you get a template drawn on bristle board, you can use that to trace your pattern onto the wood.

Then using a jigsaw or scroll saw, cut out the shape as well as the inside portion where the grill will be mounted.

You will also want to cut out a piece to use as the base of the radio where the front and back of the unit will be mounted. The size of this piece will be 1" larger that the radio itself so there will be 1/2" offset on each side.

TheWoodfather5 months ago

Simply beautiful. I've been planning one of these for a few months for a shop radio, I think it's time to give it a crack. Do you have any photos of the other styles you've made?

WelshWoodWorking (author)  TheWoodfather5 months ago

Thank you for the compliment! I have just uploaded a new instructable with another radio I've built. Please vote for me if you like it. I will be uploading more in the future, so keep following! Thanks again.

This looks brilliant well done. I have a little Bluetooth speaker I mite try this idea with that see how it goes

Thank you for the compliment. The first three of these that I made were using small MP3 players that I bought and scavenged the parts from to make it, so I'm sure with a little work and creativity you can build one too!

WelshWoodWorking (author) 1 year ago

Here is the link to the MP3 module I used on a different radio, it has a nice display that shows the track name. It has an amplifier built in that you can bypass if you plan on using a larger amplifier. It is pretty straight forward as all the connections are labeled. However, you will need to have a soldering iron for the antenna wire.


Thanks again to everyone for the great support, now lets see some of your projects.


eschneck1 year ago

Excellent work! Do you have any more information about the MP3 module? Perhaps a make/model or source?

danzo3211 year ago

I think I would go with the biggest speaker I could, 8" or 10". Or won't the thing make enough power for it?

You would probably need to add a power amplifier.

kmcgrath21 year ago

would you have a link to the actual mp3 player you used, please

kmcgrath21 year ago

i am not good with the electronic side of it so i was hoping to just use the mp3 player parts

ljones541 year ago

This has really inspired me, thank you. I thought of a design name for melding old looks with new technology, mock modern. The mp3 jukebox sitting on my nightstand will soon be transformed. On dx.com they have the mp3 jukebox parts to buy seperatly and they have some with bluetooth too for $10 US.

Great! Nice to see that there are still people who are able to build custom stylish woodwork whithout a cnc or 3D-printer. Thanks!

lafnbear1 year ago

Excellent work; looks authentically "vintage"!

WelshWoodWorking (author) 1 year ago

Thanks to everyone for the great comments, compliments and suggestions.

@muddog15 - I like the Netbook Jukebox idea! Give it a try!

@eschneck - see dx.com sku# 57557 for the last module I used.

@DavidKaine - I think a small tube amp is a good idea, I might try that :)

@canerods - I didn't want to ruin a classic radio either.

@danzo321 - I used Sketchup to get the shape - see the image I attached. Also, you'd be surprised at how well two 3" speakers can sound.

@Bridad - see dx.com sku 282553 for a bluetooth MP3 module with no faceplate. This is the one I will try next.

Thanks again.

Bridad1 year ago
This would be awesome as a Bluetooth speaker!
danzo3211 year ago

Here we disagree.. well worth it to find a sheet of bending lauan plywood, almost a gotta-have for Instructables.

danzo3211 year ago

You get a good shape by drawing and using a compass and french curves.. you get it symmetrical by folding the paper and tracing second half on a window.

canerods1 year ago

Congrats on a nice job and project! You were also smart to not butcher a possibly collector-quality vintage radio. Some old cathedral and tombstone style radios can be quite valuable.

DavidKaine1 year ago

Awesome. All it needs is a tube amplifier for that final vintage touch!

robot7971 year ago

firsth of all

i wanted to scream at you for killing an old radio

and then i saw what you did

you made your own design and WOW

i am inpressed

you fooled a collector

Mr.Hyde1 year ago
nicely cone! Really liked the need cutting explanation, I always wondered how to do that.

Great job, I really like the finish on the wood.

BayRatt1 year ago


jlepack1 year ago
You do very nice work!
medossa1 year ago

Good work :)

I love these and always wanted to make one. Thanks for the instructable :)

muddog151 year ago
I have a broken NetBook. I see a juke box in the near future...

Very nice !! I love these old radios & have always wanted to refinish one. Never thought of building one from scratch... project # 3429 ?? THANKS FOR POSTING THIS BEAUTY !!!

r-philp1 year ago

That is beautiful! Very well done; both the radio and your instructable! I look forward to seeing more of your work.