Transformer Audio Cabinet

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Project by SawdustTX posted 10-14-2013 06:46 PM 2058 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is an audio equipment cabinet that “transforms” to an audio/video console for live events. The YouTube video shows the transformation from a simple enclosed box (for transportation) to an audio/video console with side tables, an elevated video projector shelf, and removeable back panel.

The design required a strong structure that can slide in and out of SUVs and trucks, fully protects the audio gear, and then transforms to a full console for live events. I wanted the doors, tables, lid, hardware, equipment and wiring to be self contained for transport. I also wanted minimal exterior hardware so the sides are smooth for loading and storage.

Through a bunch of iterations and playing with mocked up parts, I ended up with:
  • Door panels that cover the equipment serve double duty as side tables.
  • Top lid serves double duty as the video projector shelf.
  • Posts that store in the side walls raise the lid over 6 feet high so the projector is over most people’s heads.
  • A series of steel pins interlock through holes from the lid through the shelves and both front doors so there is no external hardware on the face when it’s all closed up. Same thing for the back door panel.
  • Steel pipe “wing spars” store vertically in the side walls, and then slide through holes in the cabinet horizontally to become supports for the side tables.
  • Audio Equipment is rack mounted so the cabinet can be tipped on it’s side into an SUV or truck .
  • Wiring holes through each shelf allow all wiring to stay connected during transport.
  • Primary case construction is 3/4 cabinet plywood with #20 biscuit joints, reinforced with screws at key joints.
  • Face frames and the lid are 1/2” solid whitewood. The lid is pocket screwed at the corners.
  • All edging and face frames are joined using FF biscuits.
  • The doors/tables are 1/2” cabinet ply with solid edging.
  • Shelves are dadoed into the sides.
  • Feet are 3×3x1 inch pine blocks with beveled edges, so the cabinet can be slid on any floor surface without damaging the floor or the cabinet. Stole this idea from a Chris Schwartz article about old tool chests.

8 comments so far

View ddockstader's profile


162 posts in 3626 days

#1 posted 10-14-2013 07:32 PM

Really incredible, ingenious design. I have a few questions, though.

1. What are the dimensions overall (closed up, of course)? If the components are rack-mounted, I assume you have rack hardware attached to the sides, so that would make it 19” wide plus the side dimensions.
2. How much does it weigh (empty)?
3. Since the sides seem to be the structural supports and flat, have you considered cutting hand holds in them to assist picking it up and loading it into a conveyance?
4. What did you finish it with? It looks like melamine or a very nice spray paint, but I’m not sure that would withstand moving it around too much.
5. I’m sure you thought about this since the rest is so well engineered, but why the pine feet instead of locking casters? Again, that would seem to make it easier to transport.

I really like this project. I have absolutely no use for something like this, but I hope you don’t mind my stealing some of these ideas. They are fantastic. Thanks for showing it.


View ex-member's profile


186 posts in 2139 days

#2 posted 10-14-2013 07:38 PM

what you need now is one of my beautiful valve (tube) amps….nothing like a glowing tube or two to make your music that much more wonderful.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2474 days

#3 posted 10-14-2013 07:39 PM

Interesting design!

Along with the caster question above, no handles or corners? I can’t imagine dealing with something like this on stairs without handles.

There are some really nice recessed handles, as well as recessed latches for the top, at places like Reliable Hardware...

View SawdustTX's profile


304 posts in 2688 days

#4 posted 10-14-2013 07:51 PM

1. 20×25x45
2. lots
3. We didn’t want big holes in the sides. See #5.
4. Rust-Oleum black satin enamel. Rolled on with a foam roller. 3 coats, sanded in between.
5. Castors don’t work well with curbs, stairs, loading on trucks, etc. We use a small hand truck to move it around. Much easier than castors and no need for hand holds.

View SawdustTX's profile


304 posts in 2688 days

#5 posted 10-14-2013 08:02 PM

@cessnapilotbarry – thanks for the tip on Reliable hardware. Some great stuff on that site.

Since the cabinet is a piece of indoor furniture (in my son’s room), we didn’t want that Anvil case look with metal corners, etc. I’ve made three previous cabinets similar to this (but non transformers) that have held up well.

Regarding lifting: it’s very convenient to slide the hand truck tongue under the cabinet, wrap a strap around the cabinet to the hand truck, and go. With the big 6” wheels, it works on stairs, curbs, and whatever. No need to handle the cabinet itself at all. If we decide to add handles later, I’m going to make removeable bent EMT handles that fit in the existing holes for the side table support pipes.

Thanks all for the comments!

View Dave Dufour's profile

Dave Dufour

274 posts in 2343 days

#6 posted 10-27-2013 06:18 PM


-- Dave, from Canada,

View indplswoodworking's profile


325 posts in 2657 days

#7 posted 02-16-2014 11:46 PM

View SawdustTX's profile


304 posts in 2688 days

#8 posted 11-23-2017 05:23 PM

I was asked about the design process for this. Here are links to my other two cabinets that preceded this one. This cabinet design built on the lessons learned building and using the first two.
Gas Lift Audio/Video Cabinet
Audio Rack with Pin/Lock Covers

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