Introduction: Wine Barrel Bluetooth Speaker
After picking up a wine barrel to make an entryway table, I came up with this build project. Building speakers has been a hobby of mine for some time and I thought this would be an amazing application for a plug and play bluetooth speaker system. Once constructed, the speakers can be hung up on a wall using a flat panel TV bracket, plugged in, paired with your phone, and that's it. I've done a number of configurations with different speakers and Amplifiers, but have had the most success with a few systems. I'll add those to the parts lists.
Step 1: Prep Your Barrels, Cut Your Holes.
The best source for wine barrels are wineries themselves. Call around and see if anyone is willing to sell you one. I usually pay $40-$60 for a used barrel. The newer the better. As they dry out they become harder to work with. You can make two speakers from one barrel. Before you start cutting the ends off, you'll need to secure the rings to the sides. You'll need to drill about 6-8 holes equally spaced around the metal rings and use some round head screws to secure the rings to the barrel staves. We will be cutting just below the second ring on each side (about 7" down from the end of the barrel). Screwing the rings to the wood will keep the barrels together. The best way to cut is to draw a line around the barrel at 7" and use a sawsall to cut along that line. Cut one side off and flip the barrel. Then cut the other side.
Once you have your two sides, you should get to sanding. Make the surfaces as smooth as possible (if you're going for that look). Then you'll need to measure out your speaker holes, your amplifier hole, and cut those out with either a router or a hole saw. In some scenarios, you might need holes for a port vent, but I've had better luck with a specific 3.5" full range driver in a sealed enclosure.
Note: If you are planning to do a wood stain on your speaker, now is the time to do it before you start installing your speakers. Stain the wood with a few coats and let it soak in for a day or two.
Step 2: Build Your Enclosure.
You should build your enclosure from .75" MDF. Your depth of the sides should be approximately 3.75" to 4" deep, but your width and height may vary due to the size of the barrel. Some wine barrels are 50 gallons and others are 60 gallons. You'll want to maximize your enclosure width and length while leaving sufficient room for your amplifier below. Use wood glue and L brackets to secure your enclosure to the inside back of the wine barrel. Make sure your screws are not longer than the depth of the barrel top or they will poke out the front and ruin the aesthetics.
If you are planning on wall mounting your barrel speaker, you'll want to cut two 6" pieces of 2x4 and secure them inside your enclosure with L brackets as well. You'll need to line these up with your flat panel bracket in advance so that your bracket can screw through the back of the enclosure and into the 2x4s, making a more secure means to support the weight of your finished speaker. If you are wall mounting, your speaker box depth should be similar to the 3.75" depth of the 2x4. Note the picture above with internally mounted 2x4s.
Step 3: Wire Your Speakers and Prep Your Enclosure.
The supply list included in the final step is for a pair of 3.5" full range drivers wired in parallel. If you are using a different drive unit or speaker system, these instructions may differ. You'll need to run speaker wire from the binding posts, to the first driver for each channel, and then daisy chain to the next driver. I find that two drivers per channel tends to make the system play more loudly with the smaller amplifiers we are using, especially when the two drivers are 8ohm and the parallel load becomes 4ohm. This gives you more perceived power from the amplifier, as well as 3db of gain (to get technical). You can either solder your connections or use speaker clips. You'll obviously also need to screw your speakers in from the front. I recommend ordering some black screws for this as they look much better.
Before screwing the back to your enclosure, it is always a good idea to seal the internal edges with silicon or other caulking (especially if a sealed enclosure). I also recommend adding polyester fill. This will help deaden the enclosure and improve bass response. I usually don't use wood glue or silicon on my back cover so that I can get back into the enclosure in the future if I need to repair it or swap a blown driver. If you are wall mounting, you'll want to make note of exactly where those 2x4s are underneath. You'll need to drill into those later with your flat panel mount.
Step 4: Wiring Up Your Amplifier and Power
You'll first need to make a small shelf for your amplifier. This can easily be done with a piece of MDF and a couple L brackets attached just below the opening on the back of the barrel.
Wiring up the amplifier is pretty easy. You simply connected the speaker wires to the terminals, and then plug the amplifier into an extension cord of about 12-15ft. I usually secure everything with zip ties, and then cut a small notch in the barrel bottom to run the extension cord through.
The amplifier in the picture is one that has bluetooth built in, but you don't need to use that kind. You may use a non-bluetooth amplifier and buy a separate bluetooth receiver to wire up behind the speaker. I've also had good success with the Chromecast audio unit, which has much greater range than bluetooth because it operates on wifi instead.
Step 5: Make It Your Own.
You have a few options when decorating and customizing your barrels. Sometimes one side of the barrel already have a winery logo on it, in which case, preservation of the natural look of this might be your best bet. For this scenario, I usually just do a teak stain after sanding and leave it at that. Usually you'll want to do some sort of stain so that the wood is preserved and holds up over time. There's an image above of this scenario.
If you want do do something a bit more custom, I recommend doing a stain of your choice after sanding. I've had good success with Cherry and Rosewood, and then use a wood burner to etch in a pattern of your choosing. You have to be a bit artistic in this regard, otherwise you might end up ruining your whole project. The above images show two wood burned patterns. I usually find that I have the best luck in this process by first printing out the design I want to burn, then taping it on top of a piece of carbon paper. I think draw over the pattern with a pencil, remove the paper, and am left with an outline to follow with the wood burner. You could also laser cut or vinyl cut a stencil and paint over it if you're not as handy with the wood burner.
Step 6: Hanging It Up
In order to hang it up, you should have first mounted your internal 2x4s so that the weight will be supported. These finished speakers weigh about 40lbs. Using a flat panel TV bracket, you'll want to screw one side to the rear of your enclosure, making sure that you've positioned your internal 2x4s to line up and hold the weight. You'll then want to mount the other portion to the wall (on a stud). Then you can hang the speaker on the bracket and you're good to go. Plug it in and play some tunes.
Step 7: Supply List
The supply list below is for the speaker in the image above. This configuration has been the best sounding and best value I have found. It consists of two full range 3.5" drivers per channel in a sealed enclosure, and a 15wpc amplifier with bluetooth built in. This obviously can be done with a variety of drive units and amplifiers, but there are some limitations. You can't go too big with the drive units because you're limited to about .6 cu/ft of volume without getting the speaker to be too big and too deep.
2x4 for wall mounting support
Silicone or other caulking
Speaker wire & connectors (18ga or 16ga)
Speaker binding posts
Black speaker screws #6 size
12-15ft extension cord (color of choice)
Wall mount bracket https://www.amazon.com/VideoSecu-Monitor-Screen-Maximum-Loading/dp/B000VKCIJU/ref=sr_1_22?ie=UTF8&qid=1539965799&sr=8-22&keywords=flat+panel+mount+32
AMPLIFIER & SPEAKERS
Newer version of bluetooth Amp above. This one also has a subwoofer channel, which isn't necessary for this project. https://www.parts-express.com/dayton-audio-dta-21...
Inexpensive, but decent, non-bluetooth amplifier. I've taken a dremel to the bracket of this one to cut off the front of the mount so that you only have a rectangle hole in the front of your barrel. You will need a separate bluetooth receiver. https://www.amazon.com/Lepai-LP-2020TI-Instrument...
Full range 3.5" speakers. You'd need (4) of the 8ohm models https://www.parts-express.com/tectonic-tebm65c20f...
Participated in the
Audio Contest 2018