Introduction: Outdoor Speaker

About: Mainly I am a musician and tour manager, but I spend my free time indulging in creative outlets like large home improvement projects, woodworking, meddling with electronics, and writing music. I am also a home…

Hello fellow tinkerers, this tutorial will show you how to build a large tiki statue with an outdoor speaker inside of it. I decided to build a pair of rock speakers out of the same materials, but the idea quickly turned into building this guy. I designed it and built it entirely from scratch. He is 42 inches tall and weighs in at a whopping 110 pounds. The tiki itself took eight days to complete (from gathering materials to final coat of paint), and rigging the amplifier and hooking it up took roughly 3 hours. I spent around $120 on this project (speaker and cables were bought at Goodwill, some of the materials were lying around in my garage), so if you were to buy all of the materials new, it should cost about $200. In order to build a tiki speaker of your own, you will need the following items:

-Dremel tool with cutoff wheel
-Caulking gun (for Liquid Nails)
-Wire cutters
-Wire strippers
-Pliers (needlenose or regular)
-Steak knife
-Drill with mixing attachment
-Small trowels
-Bucket for mixing concrete
-Spray bottle

-Home Depot buckets or similar (x2)
-Roll of duct tape
-Large round foam planter pot
-Styrofoam blocks
-Flexible pipe insulator foam
-Metal chicken wire
-Floral wire (or other metal wire)
-Tight metal or plastic mesh
-Liquid Nails (strong super glue)
-Spool of speaker wire
-Thoroseal paintable water sealer
-1 bag of concrete stucco
-Outdoor speaker
-Wire nuts (x2)
-Stereo amplifier***
-Stereo speaker cable end with plug***

***If you just wish to build the tiki itself without a speaker inside, simply disregard sections 1, 2, and 5 of Step 2, and all of Step 7

NOTE: Make sure your amplifier output power does not exceed your speaker imput power. Both should be measured in watts. As long as the amplifier power is equal to or under your speaker imput power, you're A-Okay.

Step 1: Making the Basic Frame

1) Okay, lets start building our tiki by taking our large flowerpot and turning it upside down. This will be the base of the tiki, and give it the distinct flared bottom. The rest of the frame is pretty simple from here. You will need to break out your Liquid Nails and caulking gun and apply a generous amount to the top of your upside down flower pot. On top of the glue, stick on your outdoor speaker. The speaker should be positioned on the pot so that none of the corners hang off.

2) Once your speaker is on the flower pot, it is time to get those plastic Home Depot buckets. Most plastic buckets like this have metal handles on them. If yours doesn't, that's okay, because you won't need them. In fact, if your buckets have them, go ahead and take your dremel tool and cut them off.

3) Take your first bucket, right side up, and secure it to the top of the speaker using your Liquid Nails, making sure the bucket is centered with the rest of the structure. Now your second bucket will require a little cutting with the dremel tool. I cut the top of my second bucket about 8 inches from the top. The top section of what you cut off is what you need. Next, simply take that top ring of bucket and glue it on top of your first bucket. This is just to add height to the tiki (trust me, you will regret not adding it later on if you don't. After all, size does matter)

I appologize for not having pictures of the frame before I wrapped it in foam. I didn't think of taking pictures until I started wrapping it, but you can get an idea of what it looked like without the first layer of foam.

Step 2: Wiring the Speaker and Finishing the Frame

1) Now that the liquid nails is beginning to cure, you will want to take your spool of speaker wire and connect it to the leads on your speaker. To do this, take a pair of scissors and make a 3 inch cut down the strip of rubber casing in between the two wires on the speaker wire, then procede to strip away about half of an inch of each wire. Go ahead and connect the wire to your speaker. Now run your speaker wire down to the bottom of the flower pot, taping it to the flower pot with some duct tape. This will be the point where your wire will exit your tiki.

2) Keep in mind that, now matter how short or long you think your speaker wire will need to be, do not cut it to length. Instead, leave all of your wire on the spool that it came on, and tuck it way/work around it for the remainder of the time you are building your tiki. I found this to be very useful when I was putting my tiki in place and hooking it up to a receiver.

3) Now it's time to make the frame a little more rigid. This is where you will want to get out your roll of chicken wire. Wrap the chicken wire once around your entire structure and crimp it together and secure it by twisting floral wire around the loops where the two ends meet. This will take a little wrestling, and in my case, another person to help. This part is a bit tricky since the bottom of the tiki flares out, and the chicken wire doesn't seem to like to make odd bends like that too easily.

4) After you have wrapped your tiki in the first coat of chicken wire, take your insulating foam and wrap the entire tiki in it, and secure it with a little bit of duct tape Be sure to not wrap the tiki where the speaker is pointing. This foam serves two purposes:
-Sound insulation: If you have ever seen an artificial concrete rock and knocked on it with your knuckles, chances are it sounded hollow. That is because most artificial rocks are simply tight chicken wire and rebar coated in concrete. The foam will eliminate a large deal of the hollowness when the tiki is finished.
-Shape: When I wrapped my tiki in the foam, i wrapped it on top of itself a little bit more towards the top, creating an hourglass shape that can be seen in the main picture for this instructable.

5) When your foam is secure, Cut a rectangular hole in the chicken wire and foam to expose the front of the speaker

6) Next, a top needs to be made for the tiki. The first thing you need to do is cut out a circle of chicken wire and wire it to the top edge of the main body, then tape some flexible foam to the top of it. Take your plastic sheeting and measure out enough material to cover the top of your tiki. Once you have your plastic measured, cut it out with your dremel tool. Glue it on top with your Liquid Nails.

The reason why I made the frame out of a foam flower pot and buckets is because I wanted to be able to move the tiki once it was completed, and making it out of rebar like most concrete structures would simply make it too heavy. Keep in mind that your tiki will weigh a lot once the concrete has cured. Mine weighs in at a whopping 110 pounds. So for every step after this, I would suggest moving the tiki on top of a rolling platform or wagon of some sort to easily move it into place after it is finished. I put mine on a wagon and a sheet of plywood, covered with a plastic trash bag.

Step 3: Making the Face

(At this point, my tiki was on a wagon and plywood, described in the last step)

1) In order for the speaker in the tiki to be protected, it needs a protective grille. All you need to do is take your metal or plastic mesh, and glue/tape it over the opening that was made for the speaker in the last step.

2) Every tiki needs a face, and since you are making this tiki, why not make it look good? Go ahead and design the facial features of your tiki. I suggest making cardboard cutouts of your facial features and temporarily taping them to the frame to get an idea as to what it will look like when it is finished. Keep in mind that in this tutorial, the mouth of the tiki is used as an opening for the speaker, so make sure your mouth opening is large enough for a considerable amount of sound to get through. Keep in mind that the facial features will be quite a bit larger than your foam cutouts, so make sure you leave enough room in between them for when concrete is applied to the surface.

3) Once you've designed what your facial features will look like, transfer your designs to your styrofoam blocks. I found that a steak knife was the best tool to carve the foam by sawing through it. This step does create a bit of a mess, so make sure you cut the foam outside or in some place where you won't mind a million little white balls sticking to everything.

4) Double check the position of the facial features, and once you are satisfied, glue them into place with your liquid nails.

Right about now, your tiki should look like, well, a tiki! Hopefully you are satisfied with how it looks right now. If not, you can still go back and change it.

Step 4: Prepping for Concrete

1) In order for the concrete to stick onto the tiki, mesh must first be applied to the surface to create something for it to adhere to. Ideally, we would want to apply regular old chicken wire to all of the foam (just like how a house is built), and we will do that in a little bit, but the chicken wire is hard to work with and doesn't want to conform to the tight corners and edges of the facial features. This is where the drywall mesh comes in handy. You will need to apply the tape to all of the facial features, just like I have done in the fifth and sixth pictures in this step. Make sure you don't put tape on the front grille. You will need it to stay completely untouched throughout the rest of the build.

2) As stated above, the facial features themselves cannot be covered in chicken wire, but the rest of the tiki can be. So without further ado, apply a layer of chicken wire around the entire tiki, including the top, but excluding the face. I simply cut out a circle of chicken wire and wired it to the edge of the chicken wire on the main body. Again, you may have a little difficulty wrapping the chicken wire around the body by yourself. I used the floral wire to cinch and secure the chicken wire around the body.

Step 5: Applying the Concrete

1) Open your concrete stucco mix and mix it in your mixing bucket according to the instructions on the bag. I suggest using a Drill with a long mixing bit, as it makes the mixing process much faster. Use your trowel to apply the concrete to the tiki.

2) When dealing with concrete (in this case, I used stucco, the same type of cement used to cover houses), the first of two coats is called the scratch coat, since its only purpose is to adhere to the chicken wire. It should be just thick enough to lightly cover the chicken wire, but the wire should still be visible (as you can see in the first and second pictures).  Apply the concrete in small amounts on your trowel at a time. Don't try to slap a ton of it on at one time. Start at the bottom and work your way up to the top of the tiki so that the concrete that you put on has more underneath it to grab onto. If some concrete falls, don't worry about it. This will happen often. Just pick it up and reuse it if you can. Remember that you still have a speaker wire tail hanging out the back of your tiki. Don't apply any concrete do the wire itself, but apply the concrete a little thicker around the wire.

3) Let this coat cure, but let it cure slowly. From the time you finish applying the first coat to the time you start the second (around the next day), keep the concrete moist using a spray bottle. This will ensure that more crystals are able to form in the concrete, making it stronger.

4) The top coat should be applied pretty much the same as how you applied your scratch coat, but this time, the concrete should be wet down a little bit and smoothed out. A smooth concrete coat will help make the tiki look real. Just like the scratch coat, keep spraying the concrete down and keeping moist for about a day or two.

Step 6: Creating the Texture and Paint Effect

In this part of the tutorial, I will show you how to simulate a wood texture to the surface and create a corroded wood effect using two different colors of brown paint. This will require three coats of paint total.

1) The first coat is going to create the wood texture. I used a mixture called Thoroseal, a paintable water sealer designed for used with concrete. Aside from waterproofing things, it also has a toothpaste-like consistency, perfect for making fake wood grain. All you need to do is brush it onto the concrete with a paintbrush and your tiki will have wood grain!

2) The second coat of paint is going to be the lighter of your two colors of brown. Simply paint the entire tiki, including some of the wire coming out the back if you wish.

1) The third coat of paint will be the darker of your two colors of brown (This should only be applied after the first two coats of paint have had a considerable amount of time to dry). Once the paint is applied, but still wet, take a moderately moist washcloth and lightly rub the dark coat of paint. If you want a lighter color in a particular section, rub the washcloth in the direction of the wood grain. If you want a darker colored spot, rub it against the grain. I used a combination of both techniques to create a varied, natural looking rotting wood effect.

Step 7: Hooking the Speaker Up to Play Music

This step is optional, depending on what you are hooking your tiki speaker up to. One option is to route your speaker wire to a connection for patio speakers that you may already have, which is pretty straight forward. Another option is to create a stand-alone boom box set up, which is what I did here for the sake of showing you guys. If you have the right amplifier, you should be able to play music from any device that has a 3.5mm headphone jack, such as an ipod or other mp3 player.

1) Take the jack cable (the one with the audio jack attached to it. the small section of black cable in the pictures) and strip it apart to expose the positive and negative wires. Some cables have the two wires side by side like the speaker wire attached to the tiki, but most cables have one wire in the center surrounded by a nylon shield, with the other copper wire braided around it. If the latter is your case, simply unbraid the copper wire on the outside. Twist the outside section to create one lead, and twist the inside section to create another lead.

2) Now take one lead from the plug cable and twist it together with one lead from your tiki speaker cable. Do the same with the remaining leads. Now take your two wire nuts and screw them onto the two leads. You've just connected your speaker wire and plug, and are now ready to plug it into your amplifier.

3) Connect your plug into an output jack on your amplifier, turn it on, plug an auxiliary cable into the AUX jack on your amplifier, and your tiki will now play music!! Congratulations!

As stated in the intro, this amplifier should actually be housed in some sort of weatherproof box, but making the box is a project of its own and deserves its own instructable. If you subscribe to me, I will notify you when I make the amplifier housing, and update this instructable too. I hope this tutorial was helpful. Happy tinkering!

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