Are you a vinyl enthusiast looking to take your turntable setup to the next level?
Building your own turntable plinth can be a fun and rewarding project that not only saves you money, but also allows you to customize your setup to your exact specifications.
While it may seem like a daunting task, with the right tools and a little bit of know-how, anyone can create their own high-quality turntable plinth.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to build your own plinth, from gathering supplies to finishing touches.
So grab your measuring tape and let’s get started!
How To Build A Turntable Plinth
Step 1: Gather Supplies
Before you begin, you’ll need to gather the necessary supplies. You’ll need wooden planks, a cutting tool, a sanding tool, wood glue, screws, a screw-gun, and a measuring tape. Choose the type of wood that you prefer, such as rose nut or eucalyptus.
Take all the necessary measurements for a single layer of the plinth. Afterward, you can easily cut out more and stack and glue them together.
Step 2: Cut and Prepare the Layers
Cut the center MDF panel to size first as it is the easiest material to work with. Cut the other layers slightly oversized and trim them flush with the MDF layer using a flush trim router bit after they are bonded to the MDF.
All of the holes should be cut in the panels and threads tapped for the tonearm mounting screws. The platter bearing and tonearm holes in the top layer should be properly sized for mounting each, and the holes in the other two layers should be oversized to isolate the platter and tone arm hardware from the damping layer and the bottom stiff layer.
The threads for the feet should be in the bottom layer only and isolated from the damping layer and top stiff layer.
Step 3: Align and Bond Layers
Drill two alignment holes through the bottom and damping layer and only partway into the bottom of the top layer. Use two 1/4″ aluminum rods to align the layers as they are put together with VHB tape.
Seal all sides of the MDF using Smith Systems CPES. It takes several days for all VOCs to outgas and for the epoxy to cure properly.
Attach a thin veneer to the outside edge of the MDF using hot glue melted in place with a clothes iron. Attach VHB tape to both sides of the MDF layer, then mate it to the top layer of Corian using alignment rods.
Remove the bottom protective layer from VHB tape and put it into place. With alignment rods removed, clamp composite structure between two layers of granite for 24 hours until VHB tape achieves maximum bonding strength.
Step 4: Finish Plinth
Remove excess Corian with a flush cut trim bit in a router so that edge of Corian is flush with walnut veneer layer of MDF. Ease edges of Corian with an 1/8″ round over bit in router, both top and bottom layers.
Smooth all routed edges with 220 grit sandpaper. The plinth is now ready for final polishing.
Gathering Materials And Tools
When it comes to building a turntable plinth, it’s important to have the right materials and tools on hand. The materials you’ll need include wooden planks, wood glue, screws, and a measuring tape. You’ll also need a cutting tool and a sanding tool to shape and smooth the wood.
When choosing the type of wood for your plinth, consider the density and hardness of the wood. Some popular options include rose nut or eucalyptus. You may also want to consider using MDF or HDF for added stability.
In addition to materials, you’ll need a few tools to get started. A cutting tool such as a saw or jigsaw will be necessary for shaping the wood. A screw-gun will be needed to attach the layers of the plinth together. You’ll also need a measuring tape to ensure accurate cuts and placement of hardware.
Once you have all of your materials and tools ready, it’s time to start building your plinth. Take accurate measurements for a single layer of the plinth and cut out more as needed. Cut the center MDF panel first and then cut the other layers slightly oversized. Trim them flush with the MDF layer using a flush trim router bit after they are bonded together.
Drill alignment holes through the layers and use aluminum rods to align them as they are bonded together with VHB tape. Seal all sides of the MDF with Smith Systems CPES for added protection.
Attach a thin veneer to the outside edge of the MDF using hot glue melted in place with a clothes iron. Mate the layers together with VHB tape, then clamp between two layers of granite for 24 hours until the tape achieves maximum bonding strength.
Once your plinth is complete, use a flush cut trim bit in a router to remove excess material and smooth edges. Finish by sanding and polishing for a professional look.
Designing Your Plinth
When designing your turntable plinth, it’s important to consider the sonic qualities of the materials you choose. The stiffness, mass, and damping of the plinth all play a role in the overall sound quality of your turntable.
While there are many materials to choose from, it’s important to focus on damping as the most critical factor. A plinth that rings or vibrates will negatively impact the sound quality of your turntable.
Some suitable materials for a plinth include certain woods like ipe, Jarrah, iron bark, and iron woods, as well as some plastics. However, stone/ceramics and metals should be avoided due to their lack of damping qualities.
One intelligent choice for a modern plinth is a laminate of carbon fiber and honeycomb structures, damped with suitable polyurethane cores. This combination offers excellent stiffness and damping properties, resulting in a high-quality sound from your turntable.
When designing your plinth, it’s important to consider both the sonic qualities and aesthetics of the materials you choose. By selecting a material with good damping properties, you can ensure that your turntable will produce high-quality sound that is free from unwanted vibrations and resonance.
Cutting And Sanding Your Wood
Once you have gathered all the necessary supplies and taken the measurements for a single layer of the plinth, it’s time to cut and sand the wood.
Start by cutting the wooden planks to size. Use a cutting tool to make precise cuts. Choose the type of wood that you prefer, such as rose nut or eucalyptus. Cut the center MDF panel to size first as it is the easiest material to work with. Cut the other layers slightly oversized and trim them flush with the MDF layer using a flush trim router bit after they are bonded to the MDF.
Next, use an orbit sander to sand over all surfaces. Use a router to smooth out the corners and edges, and finally, sand the entire plinth once more by hand. Sand only the flats with the random orbit sander. It’s easy to accidentally roll the top and bottom edges out of square with a power sander, so these should be done by hand with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood.
Sand in the direction of the grain. Most woods suitable for plinths can be sanded first with 80 grit, then 120, then depending upon how far you want to take it, possibly 180 then finally with 220. Take care not to oversand softer woods with prominent grain with fine sandpaper as this can raise the grain.
The idea is to remove defects and fair the surface with 80 grit, then remove the sanding marks with progressively finer sandpaper. Sanding an uncut piece of wood with 80 grit first can help expose any defects in the material that you might want to orient toward the rear of the plinth.
Think about where you want to locate the front of your plinth. Imagine a four-sided plinth 15×18 inches. That’s a total of 66 inches so a six-foot board might work. Now take your tape and make a mark 17 inches from either end of the board, and make a second mark 18 inches away from these two marks. One of these 18-inch sections will be the front of the plinth. If you like one of these sections as the front, this will determine where you start. Shift left or right a bit if necessary for aesthetics keeping in mind that you’ll need 15 inches for the first side cut.
Finish doesn’t adhere well to sharp edges, and sharp edges are more vulnerable to chipping. This is why we soften the edges. Anything beyond just breaking the edge is for aesthetics. A 1/8 inch round over is typical. Some may choose a 1/16 inch round over, while some may choose 1/4 inch. If you don’t have a router, you can do this with sandpaper but caution must be used.
Once you have finished sanding your wood, it’s time to move on to bonding and aligning your layers to create your turntable plinth.
Assembling Your Plinth
Now that you have all of your layers cut and prepared, it’s time to assemble your plinth. Start by aligning the layers using the alignment holes and aluminum rods. Use VHB tape to attach the layers together, and clamp the structure between two layers of granite for 24 hours until the VHB tape achieves maximum bonding strength.
Once the plinth is fully bonded, remove any excess material with a flush cut trim bit in a router so that the edge of the top layer is flush with the walnut veneer layer of MDF. Use an 1/8″ round over bit in the router to ease the edges of both the top and bottom layers.
Finally, smooth all routed edges with 220 grit sandpaper. Your plinth is now ready for final polishing. You can choose to apply a finish such as an epoxy resin to give your plinth a nice shine.
By following these steps, you can create a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing turntable plinth that will improve the sound quality of your turntable. Remember to take your time and be precise in your measurements and cuts for best results.
Adding Dampening And Isolation
When building a turntable plinth, it’s important to consider adding dampening and isolation to improve sound quality. There are several ways to achieve this, including adding mass to the plinth or using isolation feet.
One approach is to add weight to the plinth by attaching a heavy material like marble or hardwood. This can help dampen vibrations from the turntable motor and bearing. However, it’s important to ensure that the added weight doesn’t negatively impact the turntable’s low mass design.
Another option is to use isolation feet or damping materials like rubber, sorbethane, cork, or foam. These materials can help reduce vibrations from the floor or speakers and improve sound quality. Synthetic rubber feet like Pro-Ject’s Absorb it high-end damping feet are a quick and easy solution that can be added to most audio components.
It’s also important to pay attention to the feet that your turntable sits on. They should be fairly rubbery too to help with vibration isolation.