Soundproof Hexagons Made With Towels & Scrap Wood

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Introduction: Soundproof Hexagons Made With Towels & Scrap Wood

About: It’s not just things made out of wood… it’s things made out of wood that are awesome! My name: Matt Haas

These panels are orders-of-magnitude better than any commercial sound-dampening product. They also look great and are inexpensive to make!

Supplies

MATERIALS

  • Scrap wood for the frame (I used wood from a shipping pallet)
  • Hardboard or Thin Plywood for the backer board - 1/4" thickness is ideal.
  • Thin OBS board (1/8" thin if you can find material that thin)
  • Navy Blue Hand Towels (6 hand-towels) https://amzn.to/2QkjvnC
  • Old bath towels (they can look ugly because nobody will see them... just ensure they're clean)
  • Wood Glue (Titebond 2) https://amzn.to/3goeODC
  • Acrylic Primer https://amzn.to/2Qg9IPt
  • Acrylic Paint (I got a small bucket at Home Depot... choose a color you like) I chose: Behr light blue, color code: S4602u
  • Framed artwork sawtooth hangers https://amzn.to/3j5dO9p
  • Painters tape (to act as a clamp while the glue dries)


TOOLS

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Step 1: Rip Boards to Width

Rip the boards that will be used for the frame on a table saw.

Use several passes to ensure both of the long sides are parallel.

The final width should be 2.25 inches.

Step 2: Cut Boards to Length

Set your table saw blade to create a 30º angle. (see photo)

Use the table saw's miter gauge to cut the boards to the proper length: 7.5 inches.

Use a pencil to mark the location of the first board so you can make accurate repeatable cuts. It's important that each board is the exact same length.

You'll need 6 pieces per hexagon because hexagons have six sides.

SAFETY TIP: Never place the workpiece under the blade. Notice the position of my hands and the workpiece in the photo... that's the proper orientation because you will be much safer on this side of the blade. The blade can much more easily cut you on the other side and unexpected things can happen to smaller pieces of cut-off material when you're on the wrong side. The last thing you want is to be startled by the cut-off piece doing crazy things when your hands are so close to the spinning blade that is tilted toward your hands.

Step 3: Glue Frame

Use wood glue to assemble the frame.

If your cuts are exactly 30º and each frame piece is exactly the same length, your hexagon will come together perfectly.

Wood glue is all you need and will be plenty strong enough. Use painters tape to hold the frame together while the glue dries.

Step 4: Create a Rabbet

Use a router table with a rabbeting bit to create a step-shaped recess cut along the inner edge of the frame.

This rabbet will be in the back of the frame and be used to secure a backer-board.

The amount of material should you remove (aka: the height the router bit should be above the router table surface) should be the thickness of the backer board plus the thickness of any picture-hanging hardware. I use the sawtooth-type hangers and they're about 1/8" tall. If the plywood backer is 1/4" thick the router bit should be 3/8" above the table's surface. It may be best to give yourself a little bit of extra space... so in this instance, 7/16" would be ideal. Again, measure your materials and set the router bit height as needed.

SAFETY TIP: Hold onto the workpiece with a firm grip and be sure to keep your fingers away from the blade. Never move the workpiece in a direction that will cause a "climb cut" because that can violently shift the workpiece causing your hands/fingers to touch the spinning bit... and that would be very painful for you.

Step 5: Paint Frame

Paint or stain as desired.

I used primer from a spray can. Then used a roller to apply indoor paint.

Step 6: Cut Backer Board

Place the hexagon frame on a thin piece of plywood and trace the inside edge with a pencil.

The plywood should be thin. 1/4" is desired but 3/8" will also be acceptable. You could also use hardboard or MDF rather than plywood. Nobody will see the backer board so the material really doesn't matter. The thinner this board is, the better it will be because it will allow you to use thicker strips of sound-absorbing towels.

Cut the hexagon shape you drew on the plywood close to the line (but not on the line). You can use any tool, or tools, for this. I used a scroll saw and a bandsaw. You could also use a hand-held jigsaw.

Use a disc sander to remove material right up to the pencil line. Test fit occasionally. When the back fits inside the rabbet nice and snug you are done with this step.

Step 7: Install Exterior Fabric

Cut thin pieces of MDF (1/8" thick) into 1" strips about 5 inches long.

Use the frame as a guide and cut the exterior fabric into the asterisk shape shown in the photo.

Place the MDF strips over the fabric. The MDF strip should be placed directly above the outer edge of the frame. Don't overhang it. Don't inset it. This will keep the exterior fabric exactly on the edge of the frame.

Use a staple gun to fasten the exterior fabric to the frame.

Do this for all six sides and choose the opposite side next. (like you're reattaching a tire to your car). Pull the fabric tight... but not too tight. Just medium-tight is desired.

You're almost done!

Step 8: Cut and Install Interior Towels

Measure the width of the frame from the front to the start of the rabbet notch.

This measurement is the width you must cut the towel into strips. Simply use a pair of scissors. You'll need about one towel per hexagon.

Gently lay the strip inside the hexagon as shown. Fill the entire cavity. Do not compress the towel. Leave it fluffy. Fluffy is the best for sound absorption.

Step 9: Secure the Backer Board

Add picture hanging hardware. I used a sawtooth-type hanger. I also used 2-part epoxy but frankly, that isn't needed.

Use a point-driver tool to secure the backer board. A low-cost alternative would be to simply use wood glue to permanently attach the backer board. The point driver method allows you to remove the back but frankly, that should never be necessary.

Hang your new soundproofing hexagon on the wall as you would any other piece of framed artwork. It should sit flush with the wall... which is a nice professional look.

Be sure to scream and yell so you can fully enjoy the minimal sound reflections your awesome new hexagons will provide!

Step 10: Here's a Video of the Entire Process!

Enjoy!

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    29 Comments

    0
    GLKcplpapa
    GLKcplpapa

    2 months ago

    Matt, can these be made in any shape such as a square or rectangle? I would love to make some however, I am limited physically and shop-space (none to speak of). Thank you for a great project; tutorial; amount of inspiration.

    0
    AwesomeWood
    AwesomeWood

    Reply 2 months ago

    Yes... these can be any shape. If you did get a shop and attempt this, go nuts with it. I just really like hexagons. I know... I'm such a geek. Haha

    0
    GLKcplpapa
    GLKcplpapa

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you, Matt. At 72 yoa, my shop days are just about over. I believe I am going to try to make a couple of rectangles filled with towels/rags I have. Being for the garage, I think they will help when I am out there "making noise and dust". You can be the "Great Geek of OZ"!!!! You are terrific.
    PS I downloaded the Snowman too because we need a little Christmas right now. Thank you. George

    0
    ArthurJ5
    ArthurJ5

    Reply 2 months ago

    I made rectangular absorbers from pine 1x4 and rockwool (heavy fiberglass) for my sound studio. They are great! One thing to remember is the thicker they are the lower the frequency they absorb. If you want to get down to absorbing jointer noise you may need a 1x6 deep frame or mount them an inch or two away from the wall. The sound goes through the hexagon then bounces off the wall and back through the hexagon giving you a lower (midrange) frequency filter.

    At 72 you are doing great to hear anything! Lots of luck! (Yeah, I’m old too) :^}

    0
    GLKcplpapa
    GLKcplpapa

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you so much. I live in a condo so it is important to watch how much noise I make.

    0
    cjraabe
    cjraabe

    2 months ago

    Do Cheap acoustic foam panels work? - Bing video is one source for testing towels against other acoustical materials. One question: if I put these on my outside wall, will they reduce decibels coming from outside to approx. the same degree as sound produced in the room?

    0
    ArthurJ5
    ArthurJ5

    Reply 2 months ago

    That’s a good question. The answer is yes and no.

    Most of the sound that comes into a room comes through the holes, I know it sounds obvious but it can be tricky to isolate where the sound is coming from. If wind blows through then sound blasts through.

    Things to try first are more insulation in the walls and adding window coverings like heavy drapes (wool is the best) and install (way under rated) storm doors and windows. Carpets and rugs work wonders too.

    Next check your electric outlets. They are notorious for leaking sound, use those foamy things they have at home improvement stores for weather insulation, you can squirt sticky foam in around (not in) the outlet box, better yet use a screwdriver and pack around it with some fiberglass. If all else fails park a heavy overstuffed chair in front of them. Remember there are outlets on the outside wall as well as the inside and often there is no insulation behind any of them.

    Heat vents are generally noisy and take serious steps to quiet like adding baffles and more insulation, if that is where the sound is coming from you have bigger problems.

    The next thing to try is adding a layer of wall board (dry wall) to the inside, and stucco the outside wall to reduce bass frequencies. Then you will make a very big difference in reducing outside noise.

    A small high frequency absorber like this one will absorb some sound and absorb flutter in a room improving speech clarity, but it will not make much difference in traffic noises and boomer bass cars if nailed to the outside wall. For example it won’t make the Blues Brother’s apartment any quieter. It will dampen conversations in the hallway outside of your apartment though.

    Well, after all that, I apologize, yes physics says it will absorb sound on the outside wall just as much as on the inside wall, but it might be absorbing sound that normally would be reflected anyway by the exterior siding, giving you no real difference in your room.

    Here’s an easy experiment, nail (or duck tape) a pillow to your outside wall then go inside and see if you hear a difference. I bet you won’t.

    Edit: I just had a thought (sorry, I’m getting old), if you are trying to stop noise at the outside wall try a reflector or diffuser. A good solid piece of art would work great. The heaver the better, something made from concrete or rocks, pottery, heavy wood like oak, or thick metal. The more area of the wall you can cover the better. This would act as a broad-band filter blocking and reflecting all sound except the very lowest frequencies away.

    So, hexagons of concrete on the outside walls!

    0
    AwesomeWood
    AwesomeWood

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thanks for asking!
    I would imagine it would. However, the primary purpose of this item is to stop echo rather than to reduce the sound's volume.

    0
    ZaRue
    ZaRue

    2 months ago

    Love the safety humor: "and that would be very painful for you." LOL
    I have to make these!

    0
    AwesomeWood
    AwesomeWood

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thanks for letting me know! Yes... give it a go! You'll love em'.

    0
    ZaRue
    ZaRue

    Reply 2 months ago

    I love them already and have not even made them yet

    0
    CityGirl6
    CityGirl6

    2 years ago on Step 10

    I’m jealous of your shop and am also coveting those sound panels. We have two new guitar players in the house and I love that your hexagons control sound while looking a bit artsy. At my house I might do them in two or three colors to form a pattern on the wall, but the blue looks great. Nice project!

    0
    AwesomeWood
    AwesomeWood

    Reply 2 years ago

    Two new guitar players, huh? Well... it seems like these could really come in handy! I'm all about colors and your multi-color idea sounds great! Thanks for checking this out!

    0
    CityGirl6
    CityGirl6

    Reply 2 years ago

    I don't have a shop but I could probably find parts to assemble at a framing store. We're not such bad players but the repetition could drive anyone nuts.

    0
    AwesomeWood
    AwesomeWood

    Reply 2 years ago

    I totally understand about the repetition. I am learning to play the piano myself... and there is lots of repetition. Thank goodness for headphones. I have a digital piano. :-)

    1
    CityGirl6
    CityGirl6

    Reply 2 years ago

    Mine is analog but I do use a string dampener if I play at night.

    0
    AwesomeWood
    AwesomeWood

    Reply 2 years ago

    I'm also glad you like my shop and the tools in it. Fun fact: everything I buy is second-hand (through Craigslist, mostly)... if a tool isn't at least 50% off retail, I don't buy it. It took a while to acquire all the items and I'm happy to have them. :-)

    0
    AnandM54
    AnandM54

    2 years ago

    Brilliant project... And video tutorial is amazing!!! Superb project!!

    0
    AwesomeWood
    AwesomeWood

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you so much, Anand. I'm glad you liked this!

    2
    MatthewM425
    MatthewM425

    Question 2 years ago on Step 8

    Nice project but one question: When you say "orders of magnitude better than any commercial product", is that based on any testing or data?