Radio Box Wonderland

Hi all!

Wow, it’s been a while… Kasy and I both have jobs now, which is great! But we need more time to write…

Today I am going to document the radio box, which is the first major woodworking project I did for Stout.  And for inconsistency’s sake, I took a million pictures of this particular project as opposed to all the other projects on this blog.

The goal: to make a box that holds the radio securely in place on a moving boat, that allows us to easily remove the radio and tune it, that allows us to easily plug in the speaker and power jacks, that utilizes the wall space we had to work with, and that allows for some extra storage space.

I think it’s useful to first show a picture of the finished product for this one:

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So the upper part is where the radio sits, and you access the keypad by unlocking and swinging the door down. The lower part is just a storage space for anything we need to put there. Apples are for size reference… and in case you were wondering they are normal sized apples.

Now let’s rewind. Here is the space we were working with and a drawing to demonstrate the plan:

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I started off with a long piece of gorgeous mahogany. Since the entire box was going to stick out 3.5″ from the wall, I cut the whole length of the wood to 3.5″ on the table saw. I figured out the lengths of all of the side pieces I needed for the box, and cut off those pieces from the length of mahogany I had. This way, all of the side pieces were exactly the same width, having come from the same piece of wood.

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Here is the array of pieces I cut for the box sides. The arrangement has no significance aside from being ridiculously aesthetically pleasing.

Next it was time to create a pill-shaped hole in the side of the box for the speaker and battery jacks to go through and plug into the radio. I did this by drilling overlapping round holes and then shaping it with a file. I made a matching pill-shaped hole in the radio box door, for decoration.

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Next, to put the box together, I pre-drilled screw holes through each attachment point and screwed the whole thing together for a test fit. After dry fitting the box on the boat, I countersunk all of the holes so the screw heads sat down at least 1/4″ into the 3/4″ thick mahogany (so that I could cover up the screw heads with wood plugs). I then screwed/glued the whole box together, doing my best to maintain all of the angles at 90 degrees.

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Then I filled the screw holes with plugs. This was where I made the first mistake: not lining up the grain of the plugs with the grain of the original wood. It was going so well! Why!!???! I was upset. Kasy convinced me that it was okay and that I shouldn’t try to remove all of the plugs, which would have been a huge pain in the ass. So the project continued.

Now it was time to cut off the excess plug lengths with a chisel and sand down the whole box so that all sides were smooth and even. I sanded everything with the palm sander and also by hand. I used the router table to smooth some of the edges down to a 1/8″ curve, and the parts I couldn’t do on the router I did with a wood file and sandpaper.

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Before & after plugs were cut down and sanded smooth.

Last step was dry fitting and pre-drilling holes for all of the hardware. This was tough because I had to keep everything in place while trying to make all of the spaces around the door completely even.

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Last step: three layers of varnish.

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And then it was installation time, and there was much rejoicing.

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Overall I am happy with how this turned out. The door is a little crooked when it opens and the side hole is just a little bit small to fit the cables through, but it is functional.

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And finally, the best thing in the world:

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A sandwich fitting perfectly into a tiny McMaster-Carr bag.

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