Introduction: Turntable and Record Stand
I have been obsessed with the turntable stand the folks over at Line Phono started making ever since I saw the project on Kickstarter. If you don't know anything about their audio stand, it is this amazingly compact piece of stylish furniture designed to hold your turntable, small amplifier, record accessories, headphones, and about 200 records. It's out of the Kickstarter phase (which is awesome) and is now being manufactured and sold for around $400.
You may be asking yourself, "Why didn't this guy just buy one for himself if he's so sweet on it?" Well, I would totally buy one if it weren't for one thing, well, two if you include the price. The short of it is Line Phono's turntable stand isn't exactly what I want because it won't fit my rather large, vintage 1964 tube stereo receiver on the shelf designated for amplifiers. Sure, I could have used one of the record shelves, but I would have lost the space to store close to 100 records in doing that. That's when I decided to build one of my own to my specifications using their design as a starting point.
Like Line Phono's turntable stand, my design has four shelves and adjustable leveling feet. The top shelf for the turntable, the second shelf for a receiver/amplifier, and the third and fourth shelves for records. I nixed the headphone hook, but that is something you can easily add if you so desire. I made mine taller and wider so I could fit a larger receiver between the records and the turntable. Plus, I increased the height of the record shelves to accommodate larger box sets and added vent holes for the amplifier.
Before I get too deep into the build details, I want to acknowledge that my design is just a copy of Line Phono's original turnable stand. They did the hard work and deserve every ounce of credit. LP designed, prototyped, and financed the original. I simply reverse engineered the stand by obsessively studying photos on their website, tweaked some stuff to my specs, and put it back together.
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Step 1: The First Design
Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
I started by studying photographs of LP's turntable stand and made some rough sketches of how I thought it was put together. I tried to replicate the stand's component parts piece-by-piece because I wanted my stand to have the same look and feel. I put a ridiculous amount of detail into my first design because I wanted to imitate LP's stand. The design I came up with had all of the details of the original. All of the parts interlocked like a very heavy puzzle, but those interlocking parts kept it from becoming a reality. Since my measurements are so precise and the tolerances extremely tight where the pieces lock together, I don't think it's possible for me to cut all of those nooks and crannies with a jigsaw. I came to the conclusion that the initial iteration is better suited for a CNC machine or laser cutter. I've included that design (in Adobe Illustrator format) for anyone wanting to take a crack at making the stand through other means.
Step 2: The Modified Design
I scrapped the first set of drawings and took a simpler approach for subsequent drafts. I settled on a plan that is much simpler and easier to build even though I lost some of the design aesthetic that attracted me to LP's stand in the first place.
Step 3: Tools & Materials
- One 4' x 8' x 3/4" sheet of furniture/cabinet grade plywood. I used four sheets of 2' x 4' x 3/4" maple plywood that I bought from Home Depot. It's worth noting that my plans are based around the fact that the plywood I used has an actual thickness of 45/64" (.703"), not 3/4" (.75"). Take that into consideration when you're buying plywood because you'll have to adjust the width of the shelves if your plywood is a different thickness. More on that later.
- Wood glue
- #8 x 1-1/2" wood screws, Spax screws work well.
- 5/16" wood plugs to close up the screw holes. You can make your own with a plug cutter or just buy a bag of them like I did.
- The openings at the back of the stand are sized to take two AC Infinity Airplate S5 cooling fans. The openings I included are totally optional and can be customized for your particular amplifier. I chose to put two fans in because my amp runs extremely hot.
- Wood stain (optional).
- Polyurethane (optional). I like Varathane's Matte Soft Touch for projects like this.
- 2-1/8" hole saw
- #8 countersink drill bit
- 1/8" wood bit for pilot holes
- circular saw or table saw to rip down the plywood.
- t-square for accurate measuring and marking, although a tape measure and straightedge will work just as well.
Step 4: Cutting the Panels Down to Size
The audio stand can be made from one sheet of 4' x 8' x 3/4" plywood if you follow my cut list. Or if you go the route I did and used smaller, 2' x 4' panels, you're good to go.
If this is your first time working with plywood know that it is notorious for tearouts. There are a couple of things you can do to stop that from happening and ruining a nice sharp edge. I won't go into depth here because there are plenty of tutorials on minimizing tearout on the net, like this one.
If you are cutting down a 4' x 8' sheet, don't forget to take into account the thickness of the blade when you are measuring. If you mark the entire sheet with cut marks ahead of time and cut on those marks, you'll wind up with panels that are too narrow due to the kerf.
I suggest cutting the back panel first, which is 24" wide x 42.5" high. The panel for the legs is the same size at 24" wide x 42.5" high, so measure and cut that next. The shelves are 22-19/32" wide, so rip the last section of plywood down to two sheets 22-19/32" wide each. Cut two panels 16-3/4" high out of each of those 22-19/32" wide sheets. You will end up with four panels that are 22-19/32" wide x 16-3/4" high. These will be the shelves.
In all, there will be a total of six panels in the following sizes:
- (2) 24" x 42.5" (back panel, left and right legs)
- (4) 22-19/32" x 16-3/4" (shelves)
Step 5: Shaping the Legs and Back Panel
At the end of this step you will have two identical legs and a back panel that will mount to the shelves. The Adobe Illustrator and PDF files show all the measurements I used to make the parts. The pink dotted lines in the PDF show where the edges of the shelves meet with the back and leg panels. Be sure to mark the locations of the shelves because it will help when the time comes to put everything together. I provided the measurements from the bottom of the panels to the underside of each shelf. It takes some time to transfer the measurements, but it's a necessary step.
I used a 2-1/8" hole saw to cut out the four cable ports. If you want to keep tearout to a minimum, tape the surface of the plywood where the hole saw meets the wood and place a block of wood directly below where you will be drilling. Make sure you clamp the panel and block to a workbench or sawhorse or whatever surface you're working off of. This will help to keep the plywood intact and keep the block from spinning when the hole saw punches through the plywood.
Step 6: Shelves
In case you are wondering why I made the shelves such an odd width, I did it because of the thickness of the plywood. I wanted to make the entire stand 24" wide. Taking into consideration the actual thickness of the plywood I used, which is 45/64" or .703", I had to subtract 45/64" (the thickness of each leg) from 24" (width of the back panel) twice to get the width of the shelves. 24" - (45/64" + 45/64") = 22-19/32".
I bring up this important point for one reason. Basically, if you use sheet material with a different thickness, like MDF which I've found with an actual thickness of 3/4", you'll have to do a little math to figure out the width of the shelves. If the plywood had been 3/4" thick, I could have made each shelve 22-1/2" wide. That's much easier to mark and cut.
Step 7: Putting It All Together
Drill and countersink the pilot holes
Lay the back panel flat on your work surface and drill the pilot holes and countersink all of them. Next, drill and countersink the legs as well.
Attach the legs
I started by attaching the legs to the back panel. I used a 90º angle clamp on the corners where the legs meet the back to hold the parts together while I glue and screw them in place. Stand up the back panel and one of the legs. Be sure to put the sides with the countersinks on the outside. Apply glue to the edge of the first leg and clamp it to the back panel using the 90º angle clamp. If you don't have a clamp, have a friend hold the pieces in place while you screw in the #8 screws. Repeat for the opposite leg.
Attach the shelves
This part is tricky. I started with the top shelf since the unit is already standing up, but you can start wherever you choose. If you have long clamps, now would be the time to use them. Apply glue to the three edges of the shelf that are going to attach to the legs and back panel. Use the guidelines on the inside of the stand to line up the first shelf. Clamp it, screw it in place, and repeat for the remaining shelves.
Step 8: Finishing
With the unit assembled, it's time to plug those drill holes, sand the entire thing, and apply a finish. I actually left mine raw until I have the time to sand and put a coat of Varathane on it.