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How to: Install speaker grill cloth

the "How to" index

(to the article on building frames)

Whether you are finishing off a home made speaker project, or dressing up some older speakers, these photos show how to get the grill cloth on the frame in a neat and attractive manner.

Please note, the glue I am using here is not really available on the consumer market (I buy it directly from 3M, and have to get five gallons at a time). I do, however, recommend 3M "Super 77" or "Super 99", which is readily available in spray cans (be very careful of overspray). I have used it to hold "speaker fur" on car speaker panels and one or two indoor projects, and it works and holds very well.

A correspondent suggested applying a thin bead of hot melt glue, and then using an old iron after the cloth is laid on the cooled glue to make it stick. While it seems to me that this could work well, it will be hard to stretch the cloth while positioning it nicely. But it could be done.

(above) First lay out the frame on a properly cut piece of cloth.
(left) Then put a bead of glue all the way around the edge of the back of the frame.
(below) A 10 cent "acid brush" makes a good disposable tool for spreading out the glue and keeping track of how tacky it is.

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Pull corner #1 around the frame and set it into the glue. At this point, don't worry about getting the cloth to lay neatly on the frame edge:

The opposite corner, #2. As you can see, there will be a big diagonal crease in the cloth at this point:

Corner #3 - the right amount of tension will remove most of the crease from the previous step:

Pulling corner #4 into place removes the rest of the diagonal crease and sets up the cloth for the detail work. The remaining crease is due to the side of the cloth pulling towards the center under tension, since it is not stretched and glued on to the side of the frame yet:

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Gently pull the long sides around the edge of the grill and tack them in place. This nicely eliminates that tension crease seen in the previous photograph:

Do the same with the shorter sides. At this point the cloth should be neat and taut, without ripples or folds as it comes around the frame. Work with it and adjust it as you go, if necessary:

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In the next two pictures, I am cleaning up the corners:

Take advantage of the "stretch" in the cloth to get it to lay pretty much flat for 3/4 of an inch or so on the frame. Pull it up a bit off the frame then pull it smooth while pushing it back into the still-tacky glue. There is a bit of an art to this step - but so long as there are no nasty welts running right to the corner of the frame it will be ok.

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Satisfied with the lay of the cloth, and having pressed it into the glue with the butt of a tool handle (not shown), next cut off the excess with a nice sharp knife:

The cloth is neat, flat, pressed into the glue and trimmed:

It's time to turn it over and examine the end product!

(to the article on building frames)

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