Dust Proofing a Shop Stereo

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Forum topic by April Wilkerson posted 02-25-2014 07:14 PM 14072 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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April Wilkerson

117 posts in 2384 days

02-25-2014 07:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have an awesome Harman Kardon head unit in my shop to keep the tunes on but since I haven’t built a dust collection system yet, it’s just getting covered in sawdust. It’s awful for the stereo and I want to build some sort of enclosure but I worry about it overheating by putting it in a box…..has anybody built something for their shop stereo to keep the dust off it?

Before anybody suggests it…I’m not willing to downgrade to something cheap where I won’t care if it gets covered in dust. ; ) I love my HK.

-- Wilkerson

26 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6315 posts in 3299 days

#1 posted 02-25-2014 07:27 PM

I did in my last shop. I built a wall hung cabinet that was tall enough for the receiver, cable box, Cassette player (yep), VHS recorder, and a CD player. There were slots cut in the bottom of the cabinet for ventilation, and then had a shop built holder that held a Filtrete furnace filter (16×20, I think). The cabinet shelves had clearance around them and some holes on the middle to allow air flow, then at the top of the cabinet was a 120V muffin fan (Radio Shack, $12) to suck air out that I kept running when the cabinet was closed up. I made the doors so they sealed when closed. Worked quite well, though in all honesty I probably left it open more than closed. I closed it up when I was doing a lot of work without the DC running. We moved and I left that cabinet behind, currently my stuff just sits on a shelf as high as possible in the shop (cable box replaced by a Mac). The other thing you could do is place the stuff in another room and run the wires into the shop for the speakers….that never struck me as being very handy.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View larson1170's profile


32 posts in 2417 days

#2 posted 02-25-2014 07:34 PM

If you put it in a sealed container and make sure you have at least double the volume of the HK case you should be fine being sealed up. But that will depend on how hard you push it and the load from the speakers. As long as you aren’t trying to listen over your table saw you should be fine.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5294 posts in 4766 days

#3 posted 02-25-2014 07:34 PM

Sony amp, Epicure speakers, Technics cassette player (I know, but still have some), Sony CD/radio. Do not have ‘em enclosed, and have had no probs at all. These puppies have been in 3 shops over the years. I just take a few moments every so often to blow/wipe ‘em down. Rockin’ right along.
I do have good dust control.

-- [email protected]

View Hawaiilad's profile


3374 posts in 3827 days

#4 posted 02-25-2014 07:38 PM

Wow, I had an idea, but after reading the post from Fred…it seems dumb..but here goes. What about buying a sheet of plexi glass and building a box to cover the unit (glue the corners together). Add holes on side back and bottom and either hinge a lid or just place the box over the unit. If you have a remote control button you could turn it on and off without opening.

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View MrRon's profile


5925 posts in 4049 days

#5 posted 02-25-2014 07:51 PM

Fred Hargis’s way is how I would do it. Draping a linen sheet over it might also work.

View April Wilkerson's profile

April Wilkerson

117 posts in 2384 days

#6 posted 02-25-2014 08:04 PM

Here is a visual of my set up right now….I have it mounted as high as I can comfortably reach.

Hawaiilad: No suggestion is dumb! My problem is not really the design because it would be simple to build a box and put a glass sliding/hinge door on it, but I’m worried primarily about ventilation for the unit. Since I’ve never dabbled in stereo equipment before I’m not sure how much ventilation it would need but know it’s important.

Fred: You wouldn’t by chance have a picture would you? (I’m very much a visual person). I like your route of holes on the bottom and the filter and fan combo. So if I put a hole in the side of my box and had my fan pointing out…then made slots along the bottom and built a filter system, you think it would be fine?

Larson: My unit goes to +10 and I typically play it at -13-25 range. So I’m not pushing it to the max, but I wouldn’t say it’s just hanging out either. : )

Bill: Bad thing about wiping it down every day, is my head unit has slots along the entire side and top so when I wipe off dust, I’m really just pushing it into those slots that lead down to the organs.

You guys are the best by the way….thanks for all the feedback.

-- Wilkerson

View WillliamMSP's profile


1108 posts in 2410 days

#7 posted 02-25-2014 08:17 PM

Is this a stand-alone structure or is it attached to the home? If you can locate it in another room, I think that that’s the route I’d take – run speaker wires and some CAT 5/6 for an IR repeater system for a remote. If you can’t do this, you’ll likely have to build a fairly large enclosure with filtered venting slots. Place some intake slots on the bottom of the enclosure – look at the bottom of your H-K, if you see venting slots and heat fins use their placement to determine where your intake vents will be located. Make a long venting slot along the back of the enclosure, just below the top, to exhaust the heat. If you’re uncomfortable with the amount of heat build-up, you can make the venting slots bigger or you add fans to the exhaust slot. ATM (Active Thermal Management) is a company that makes dedicated kits with (fairly) silent fans triggered by thermal probes.

Another route to consider: dust is the enemy of electronics in that it inhibits heat dissipation. If you were to get a new amp that doesn’t generate much heat, the likelihood of dust being a problem is greatly reduced. There are plenty of Class D amplifiers on the market that are very efficient – so much so that they’re not warm to the touch after hours of operation. You should be able to run them without worry. Though they haven’t been subject to the shop environment, I’ve had units in non-vented enclosures that were on for literally years at a time.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View ajthomas5009's profile


296 posts in 2423 days

#8 posted 02-25-2014 09:03 PM

I’d just go with your initial plan. No need to get to elaborate, even if you plan to have DVD, TV, and cable just make the enclosure with a couple extra slots and a few more fans. Take some scraps of birch ply build a box that has 2in clearance on sides, top, front and back. Drill holes in the bottom for ventilation, use a hole saw to drill a cpl holes out the back for wire feeds. Put one of those cheap fans with a filter like someone suggested, put a glass door on the front leaving a little clearance on all sides for ventilation and call it done.


-- Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust, and when you're up, it's never as good as it seems, and when you're down, you never think you'll be up again, but life goes on.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4391 days

#9 posted 02-25-2014 09:55 PM

IMHO I would get a glass cabinet I have a few of them and truly dust is not an issue.If your determined to use a top range expensive unit in a dusty shop then you need to protect it.I have avery simple £ £150 unit in my woodshop and it plays away when it is eventually well and truly gubbed, I will exchange it for another cheapy and so on.However I seldom use it anyway as I like the solitude of my shop mostly to relax. And when you get to age 62 who needs cheap nasty modern music blaring out at you God I’m begining to sound like my father when did the beatles first arrived in the UK LOL. I really do prefer a good political debate anyday. AM I OLD OR WHAT ? Alistair LOL

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View AlanBienlein's profile


159 posts in 3480 days

#10 posted 02-25-2014 09:57 PM

Just plug it in and play it! Every once in a while blow it out with the air hose. Mine has been in my shop uncovered for about 7 years and I think I have dusted it off maybe twice and that was because the dust was so thick you couldn’t tell what color it was anymore.

View bigblockyeti's profile


6638 posts in 2526 days

#11 posted 02-25-2014 10:38 PM

I put mine at the top of a closet I have in the corner, even though it’s at the closet ceiling, it’s much lower than the primary ceiling in the shop. If you’re planning on leaving it in about the same area, I’d build a slight support over the top to hold a furnace filter. The heat could pass through and the dust would be captured in the filter. Given the low level of air flowing through the filter, you could just blow the dust off the top from the underside and it should last a very long time.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View April Wilkerson's profile

April Wilkerson

117 posts in 2384 days

#12 posted 02-26-2014 02:51 AM

So many responses! This is great, but let me catch up…

AlanBienlein….I can’t help but love your response the best (even though I’m not going with it). ; ) I dig your carefree ‘let it be’ attitude.

Bigblockyeti: Yes, I like your suggestion of just having the filter on top of a small structure. I like that a lot because I want something that is going to look nice, not be too troubling to access the controls on the head unit, but also protect and vent at the same time. ...not too demanding right?!

Alistair: I agree with you on the cheap modern music. If I only depended on the radio for my music then I would chuck the thing out the window without thinking twice. However, music is as much a part of me as my right arm, and I invest a lot of time finding and enjoying a very diverse collection of tunes. Most of the time when I’m in my shop I have tunes from my phone playing (I have a bluetooth receiver). There isn’t anything wrong with a good debate, and everybody relaxes a different way….but if you ever wanted some modern music that wasn’t cheap then just give me a shout and I’ll get your toes a tappin. ; )

WilliamMSP: I’ll get out there tomorrow and take a look at where the vents are. This is a stand alone shop and even though people call me crazy, I can’t stand remotes! So I need the unit in the same room so I can have control over volume.

Thanks for all the suggestions! I will mull it over some and play around with a few designs then see what I come up with.

-- Wilkerson

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3496 days

#13 posted 02-27-2014 02:20 AM

I built a plexiglass case for my stereo in the barn (much dustier than my shop). Made it twice the size of the receiver and no ventilation. No problems with heat even when ambient temps were over 100 degrees.

The one in the shop: I just keep it covered with a double layer of terrycloth towel. Not very elegant but has worked for years! Change the towel when it gets too dirty.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6315 posts in 3299 days

#14 posted 02-27-2014 12:17 PM

Sorry, I don’t have any pics of what I built…but what you described (the fan blowing out through a hole and slots in the bottom) is exactly what I did. I built the shelves to allow air movement around them as well as through them as well, that means making them a little smaller than the inside of the cabinet. They were sitting on shelf pins so there was just a small clearance on each side. The muffin fans are very quiet, but by themselves you can here them blow; not enough to matter.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3102 days

#15 posted 02-27-2014 02:13 PM

I was thinking a cabinet with computer fan idea as well. Just make sure you can return the fan as some of them are really loud. What kills electronics (is that a vintage unit?) is leaking capacitors due to age and solder joints cracking due to heat/cool cycles. I think if you just put a slightly wider and longer shelf over that the dust would settle more on the shelf – And you could always put a small rotating fan on that shelf when you do dusty things to blow the sawdust back.

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