Thursday, February 9, 2012
You've probably forgotten all about that old radio cabinet I last mentioned ages and ages ago, but believe it or not, we've still been working on it! I'd hoped to do a grand unveiling with it completely finished, but 90% is close enough, right?
So, just to jog your memory, this is what we started with:
We scored the empty radio cabinet for $45 at an antique mall. You can see how we painstakingly repaired the front lattice work here.
Last year we were fortunate enough to have my parents in town for a few days, and we immediately put my dad the former electrical engineer to work, wiring up some speakers to make the old cabinet functional again:
wanted the sound to be kind of low quality, the better the match the vintage look of the cabinet.
John mounted the speakers to a new piece of plywood, and then attached that to the back of the front cabinet panel:
Here's the front of the panel:
Next John painted the exposed wood a plain brown, so it wouldn't show through the mesh:
We replaced the old speaker fabric with brass mesh. It was an expensive upgrade (nearly $20 for a single square foot), but I like the look:
While we were buying the supplies needed to rewire the speakers we also picked up some vintage radio knobs and a pull-on power switch. (The knobs are purely decorative, but the switch actually does turn everything on.) All of those goodies and more come by the bucket load over at Skycraft, a local parts warehouse that's any tinkerer's nirvana. We also picked up some LEDs for a little surprise feature I'll show you at the end of this post.
To hook our iPod up to the speakers, we simply threaded the wire through a pre-existing hole in the right side of the cabinet. (I think it was originally for a microphone or a crank or something.)
But I couldn't just leave our iPod sitting out on top of the cabinet, now, could I?
OF COURSE NOT.
So I spent six months scouring Ebay for an affordable vintage cigarette case to convert into a small iPod holder.
I never found one. (Grrr...)
Ironically, I eventually stumbled across the perfect solution back at the same antique mart in Virginia where we bought the original cabinet. It looked like this:
I harvested the solid brass name plates to decorate the outside, along with a little extra bling from my jewelry stash:
I carefully sanded off the rough edges and bent each piece to match the curve of the case, and then used tiny dabs of epoxy to secure them:
The velvet interior pops out easily, which allowed John to screw the back of the case to the side of the radio cabinet, directly over the small hole that we fed the iPod wire through:
I used the existing velvet, and just added a band of elastic to hold the iPod in place. Easy peasy! (And I can't believe it took me six months to find.)
I made a special play list just for this radio, and we only play old fashioned big-band music from the 30's and 40's on it. Not usually our kind of music, but it just sounds so RIGHT coming out of those speakers.
Now for that fun feature I mentioned:
The light shines through the old celluloid that used to show the radio dial. Pulling the power switch turns on both the speakers and the light. It's pretty funky, and I like it.
Here's a crappy cell phone video of the whole shebang in action, taken before we installed the iPod case:
Believe it or not, though, we're still not done.
So, our radio is sitting against a wall in the dining room, where it will probably stay. Still, once the shelves are stained we'll install them for extra storage, if nothing else, and hope to find a better place sometime later where we can show off both sides!
This (almost) concludes our longest-running project to-date. (Phew!) When we finish the interior shelving I'll try to remember to throw a few actual "finished" shots up for you. And to those of you who've been e-mailing asking me to hurry up and post this; thanks for being patient, and I hope it was worth the wait!
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