Yesterday I had mentioned that I was going to spend the day getting caught up on some paperwork. I did spend a couple of hours in the morning doing that, but as so often happens, later on in the day I got somewhat distracted and wound up spending the day doing an entirely different type of project. Such is life . . .
I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Keith was in the process of building a new speaker/amplifier system for our home. While we already had a really awesome system that he built before we met, he had wanted to raise things to an even higher level. One of his passions is electronics and sound systems, and he had spent the winter not only researching how to build new components, but had also built a pretty sophisticated amplifier. Here is a photo of what our "old" system looked like:
Many of you may remember that we have a very small place here. This is our main living area and as you can see on the edges of the photograph, we each have our own computers on the ends of our couch, where we each sit and work. Both computers are networked together as well as to the big screen in the middle, and we can 'drag' our desktop to the large screen if necessary. Since we don't have traditional TV, we watch everything (movies, shows on delay, etc.) through our computers, as well as listen to our music that way.
The large cabinet contained our printer, scanner and office supplies as well as extra computer equipment. Part of the re-do of the sound system was to rid the room of the cabinet, as it interfered with the acoustics of the room. However, that meant that we would lose all of that precious storage space that we so desperately needed. So what Keith did was reorganize our closets. The main one that needed work was the first closet in the kitchen next to the scroll saw. we keep our wood and shop vac there, but we saw there was a great deal of wasted space. So what Keith did was turn the closet from this:
To this . . .
Which gave us all the additional room as you see here for to store what was in the large cabinet.
So out it went.
Over the next few weeks, he continued to build the new speakers. While they seemed to be taller than the speakers in the first photo, they are built so that the large sub-woofers (the cubes that the smaller speakers are sitting on in the first pictures) would not be necessary. While we are leaving the subs there for now, once Keith builds the new stand for the TV and speakers, they will be gone.
The speakers were finished a couple of weeks ago and sound amazing. While I wasn't sure if it was necessary to 'upgrade' our old system, I can certainly hear the difference with the new components.
I realize that by the looks of it you must assume we blast our music, but that really isn't the case. While we are probably able to push the volume to extreme levels (we haven't even really tried yet) the goal here was to get better tone and clarity. All I can say is they sound "amazing."
But we wanted them to look nice as well as sound nice. The material used to create the boxes was 1" birch plywood. This was of a very high grade and cost nearly $100 per sheet. As you can imagine, Keith needed to be very exact in his design and implementation of creating the boxes. Mistakes would be very costly.
He did much of the building of the speaker boxes in his parent's basement. There was more room there and more of the larger tools that he needed. He had brought them home here a couple of weeks ago to test them, and they sounded pretty darn good. But they were unfinished and we didn't want them get dirty or damaged before we did finish them. So earlier this week we decided to finish them off.
What we decided on was a nice natural stained/painted black mix. Our 'theme' in our home is that of geometric black/browns/ and somewhat of a 'steampunk' theme. We both like that genre and little by little we are adding pieces to reflect that. Keith wanted to have the center front, top and bottom stained brown, allowing the natural grain of the wood to show through. For the black, we wanted a semi-satin, hard finish that would hold up well to dust and time. He liked the finish that I got when I used DecoArt's Multi-Surface Satin paint on my paint bottle holder and we decided to try it on the speakers.
We both love DecoArt products and have always found them to be very high quality. For the two speakers, we used less than two 8oz bottles. One thing great about the Multi-Surface Satin was that it needs no primer or finish coat. It is all in one product.
After Keith stained the center portions of the speakers and used two coats of DecoArt Matte Acrylic Spray to seal them, we taped off the edges.
I carefully painted THREE coats of the Multi-Surface Satin paint, allowing each coat to dry completely. Keith (being a man) said he would have never been so patient as I was in applying the paint. He would in all probability tried to do it in one or at the most two coats and I think it would have made a mess. I really think that people need to understand that the first base coat is very important to get right. It didn't look great, as it didn't cover the brown stain areas completely, but it is NOT supposed to do that in one coat! I stressed how THIN coats were best to layer on these pieces for full and even coverage. Besides – we didn't want a ridge or lip at the edge of the black when the tape was removed. As you can see here in the photo, the edge was clean and there was no ridge or build up of paint at all. (I assure you that ALL the edges came out just as nice!)
PATIENCE is the key here! Making sure your tape is pressed firmly at that edge and then when applying paint, do so minimally near the taped edge. Don't allow it to get too thick there. You can also see how beautiful the birch stain really is.
Once the edges were completed, it was time to do the sides and back.
This was easy, but again required time and patience. While the Multi-Surface Satin dried quickly, it was imperative to make sure each coat was dry before applying the next. Otherwise it would life the previous coat, making a mess. (No – that DID NOT happen! We waited and used fans to help each coat dry faster!)
I used a roller to apply the paint to the sides and back. I applied three coats, sanding with 600 grit paper after the first to make the surface completely smooth. All three coats were applied rather thin, which gave the paint an ultra smooth look. The results were a beautifully smooth finish, which still showed a hint of the grain through it. We both liked that effect a lot:
The results are just beautiful. The speakers look wonderfully professional, and they sound amazing. I had a hard time getting a final photo because by the time they were completed last night, it was naturally dark. (We finished up after 10pm)
This morning there is a great deal of back light from the window, but you can see the beautiful results that we achieved.
We are both thrilled!
Once again, DecoArt products preformed wonderfully. The Multi-Surface Satin line comes in a huge array of colors, and like all of DecoArt's products, there is no odor and they clean up with water. Since I painted my paint rack over a year ago, it has held up to daily bumping around and use and still looks just beautiful. I think that if you like a semi-satin finish, this paint is a very good choice. Touch ups will be easy, too, as any scratches or marks can be lightly sanded and painted over again. The fact that the paint didn't need a separate finish eliminated that step as well.
I hope you enjoyed seeing this transformation and learning about this product. Since I mostly do smaller items for decorative painting, I don't often get the opportunity to share stuff like this with you. But I really think that I will be using this paint for other things as well.
Today I will try again to do some paper work. I don't think I have to do it all in a day, so I will push the pile as much as I can. I have some UFO's to work on as well (Unfinished Objects) and I would like to complete them.
Friday is here already and we have a beautiful day here on the river. The fog seems to have left us and it is a crisp and clear morning. It looks to be a wonderful day!
Happy Friday to you all! I hope you have a great weekend!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"