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Having a nice sound system has always been a priority on my life since I was a teenager in the 1970's. My tastes in music have changed over the years but I still insist on listening to good quality audio equipment. These days I find myself seldom playing CD's anymore, instead I either stream music from the internet, play music ripped to my laptop via iTunes or listen to my local FM radio station. So my audio equipment has dwindled down to just an integrated amp , a tuner, and speakers.

I've always been fascinated with those old radio consoles from the 1930's and 1940's and decided it would be neat to retrofit one of these old cabinets with my audio equipment. So begins my next project and first posting on Lumberjocks.

I came across this 1940's Philco cabinet on ebay which I bought for $40 which I found the art deco design very appealing to match my 1930's built house…. and most important, my wife agrees
Furniture Table Wood Wood stain Flooring

It has a lift up panel where the original tuner went which is a perfect size for the tuner I wish to use. It also has a pull panel that housed a turntable which would be perfect for housing my integrated amp.
Table Wood Flooring Floor Hardwood

The project begins with repairs to the cabinet's framing…
Hey, this looks good! I'll follow along.


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New Face

This weekend had me working on replacing the face of the console where the tuner is mounted. The old face came out easily… just had to remove about a dozen screws and give it a few taps to loosen it up. It wasn't glued, but the original lacquer finish held it in place some.

Then I had to come up with a way to mount the new radio. I took the new radio out of its case. It came out pretty easily. Just four screws held it together and another pair of screws secured to a pair or retaining clips. I discovered the radio was essentially two parts… the tuner, and the amp. They were held together by four screws that sort of clamped itself together inside the case.

Now knowing how it assembled together, I came up with a way to mount it to the new face using the four screw mounts.

To make the face I began with some scrap ¼" marine plywood I had in the shop and glued a 1/16" thick mahogany veneer to it that was left over from my last project (I need to make myself a veneer press one of these days). This is thinner that the original face, but the marine plywood is better quality and stronger even though its thinner.

Then I trimmed it to size and cut bevels to match the old face and also made a cutout to mount the new radio.

The old face was made with a spline to join the front and top together. This was doable because the face was ⅜" thick. I felt my new face was too thin to use a spline so I put my boat building skills to work and epoxied them together utilizing an epoxy fillet.

First I made a clamping mold.

Then I taped the two pieces together with packing tape that acted as both a hinge and a means to temporarily hold the two pieces together.

Then I applied thickened epoxy to the seam, folded it in place in the mold, clamped it, then applied the epoxy fillet. Note that I also laid down some packing tape to the mold so that I didn't accidentally epoxy the face to the mold.

After curing for 24 hours it came out pretty decent.

Very nice work, you've got serious skill on display. Thanks for posting!


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Part 9: Front Panel Rebuild

Its been over a year and a half since I stopped working on this project… sorry for the delay to those that have been following this project… hard to believe so much time has passed. Anyway, when I got started on rebuilding the front panel I hit a snag… my integrated amp wasn't going to fit into the front panel the way I wanted it to. It was very close, but it just wasn't going to work. I had to stop and rethink the project. So the cabinet has been sitting in the back of my shop for quite some time now.

After exploring some options I had an epiphany… why not put in a vacuum tube stereo amp instead? I mean this is an antique vacuum tube radio cabinet after all. After much time and research I finally settled on a "Dynakit ST-35 tube amplifier kit". This is a clone of the Dynaco ST35 from the 1960's nicknamed "The Baby Dynaco". It is aptly named because it is the little brother to the popular Dynaco ST70 designed by Dave Hafler in the early days of high-fidelity. The Dynakit ST35 is perfect for streaming audio and AM/FM input from the vintage styled table radio I'm also using. It comes in kit form with a stainless steel chassis. You need to have some soldering skills in order to put it together though and some basic understanding of electronics. Also checkout this review for more information about this awsome little amp.

The kit came nicely/securely packaged, everything was well marked, and the documentation was clear ( I spent about a week working on it a just a few hours at a time. I had little trouble soldering it all together and found the the support people at Dynakit very helpful. It was fun and satisfying to put it together but, since this is a woodworking blog, I'll skip the rest of the electronic stuff except to say it sounds great!

Here's what it looks like all unpacked and ready to assemble:
Automotive design Audio equipment Table Electronic instrument Technology

And here's what it looks like all assembled:
Circuit component Passive circuit component Audio equipment Gas Electronic engineering

Now that I have an amp to mount in the cabinet its time to get back to work and take this project to completion. The next step is rebuilding the front panel assembly. The original assembly slid out to reveal a turntable and looked like this:
Wood Gas Machine Window Building

Table Wood Flooring Floor Hardwood

I carefully took it all apart and repaired what I could. It was originally put together simply with shiplap joints and screws. It came apart easily as it had not been glued. It was a bit loose and did not fit properly when closed… and it had a bit of a twist to it due to the bottom rail being twisted. One of the vertical slats was twisted as well and I made a duplicate rail to replace it. Another slat was cracked at the end that I was able to repair by cutting the cracked piece off, planing the sawn surface smooth, and gluing a block to it followed by shaping it to blend in.
Wood Floor Natural material Wood stain Hardwood

Sports equipment Wheel Tire Wood Road surface

Tool Bumper Wood Automotive exterior Road surface

I also made a duplicate bottom rail of the original which had twisted. The screws fit loosely so I drilled out all the screw holes with a ¼" bit and filled them with a dowel. I sanded it and then carefully refastened it all back together.

Next I made a new shlef to replace the original hollowed-out and broken turntable sheld. The new vacuum tube stero amplifier will be mounted to this shelf. The front panel assembly was completed by replacing the x-shaped self supports with a u-shaped shelf support that will clear the powered subwoofer.

Here's some pictures showing the process:

Wood Road surface Flooring Hardwood Composite material

Reassembled Front Panel:
Road surface Wood Asphalt Floor Flooring

New shelf support with clearance for subwoofer:
Wood Gas Machine Composite material Hardwood

Front View:
Motor vehicle Vehicle Wood Automotive design Wheel

Front View with pullout shelf revealed:
Wood Floor Flooring Hardwood Art

So with this part complete, the front panel now closes square to the cabinet,and when opened will reveal this vacuum tube stereo amplifier kit I built. Next up is applying some ebony veneer trim followed by stain and laquer.
That is looking very nice. Wondered what happened to this project blog. :) And I'm digging that 'tilt-out' feature, very cool. Thanks for the update, it's gonna rock when complete!


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