DIY Construction Overview


People write me all the time asking for advice to build their own frames. I have none. That's because it is so complex and involved writing down "instructions" would literally constitute writing a book. I don't have the time for that, and if I did I wouldn't give it away for free anyway, my wife would kill me.

Therefore my advice is if you have to ask, you're not ready. Go get some books on woodworking from your local library, read them, try simpler woodworking tasks first, and then when you feel up to it try to make a test pair out of free or at least very cheap wood. The quality isn't an issue as you won't keep or use them, they are just to allow you to make your mistakes and improve your chances when you try the real things.

I can offer some tips here however.

First, don't try to make extreme mitered corners like I used to. Yes, I said used to as even I don't do it anymore. One can't anticipate what the grain will do always and the angle and difference is so extreme it was not uncommon for gaps to form at the tips over time, and nobody wants that. Make the frames like a door, with mortise and tennon joints if you can, and if you can't use biscuits. I advise taking at least one driver "out" of the mdf frames before starting so you can measure it accurately so it fits in the new frames, and you'll understand how you'll need to rout for it etc.. and rout slightly over sized so when the wood moves it does not crush the driver. (IE, if the driver width is 11 inches, make the width for it in the frames about 11 and 1/4)

As for wood, having used countless types I can tell you none of them sound any different. That is because these frames are not resonating bodies, and in fact are the opposite - they are seeking to kill vibration. I don't recommend soft woods because they finish poorly and damage easily, nor do I recommend ultra hard tropicals, as their wood is almost not like wood anymore. Use whatever you can get locally, can afford and can work with the tools you have or have access to.

The size of the frame parts is not critical, but bigger is not better so don't get nuts. Wood thickness should not go under 3/4" and not over 1 and 1/4". Most of mine are around and inch. I don't plane to any dedicated thickness, and as all wood is sawn differently once it's smooth and inside those measurements it's fine and I leave it there. For the width I recommend the following - For the side stiles 3.5" is good for the MMG and the 1.6 although the latter can be anywhere from 3.5 up to 4" however I would not exceed 4" for any model up to and including the 2 series. For the top rail knock a half inch off whatever the width of the stiles was. (if the side is 3.5 make the top 3) This is solely for aesthetics. The bottom rail should be 6" wide on every model. (woodworking note - stiles and rails - Stiles are the parts that run vertical and rails run horizontal)

Parts (struts, bases) are joined to the frame using threaded inserts and I advise that over screws into wood.

The metal braces are simply the original legs cut shorter, rebent to a 2 degree angle and drilled to accept mounting screws. (the only screws I use in assembly) Here is a before and after picture. Note that if you have 1.6's or larger maggies they do not come with legs like this and you will need to go buy iron bar and make them from scratch.

The hardest part is perhaps fabric installation. I cut 1/8th shims out of masonite. They not only allow for the bracing bars to clear the frame, they hold the fabric in place. I found you cannot staple fabric into hardwood with a hand stapler, and a pneumatic stapler goes right thru the fabric. The masonite not only supports the driver frame, it holds the fabric in place as you can staple into it. It will require help to stretch the fabric as you staple it down. I can't say any more, it's a trade secret :^ ) However, do not use wood for the shims. I tried it years ago and found it not only sounds worse, it's problematic. The masonite seems to act like a 2 way mirror - it lets the vibration pass thru it into the frame, but not back the other way.

Finally, the driver is installed by drilling holes in the metal frame and screwing it in place. (OK, I use screws twice) Be careful the screws are not so long that they come thru the front, or that will really ruin your day. Also make sure the holes are large enough to allow for wood movement. I use washer headed screws for this reason.

Crossover design. I make my XO's available for free, but I do not want them on the web. My price is you must have the decency to email me directly for the model you'd like the schematic for. I like to know how many times it's asked for and used, and it's only polite after all, and more importantly I want any questions you have answered correctly. I have designs for almost every maggie, even many of those I have not modded yet so I can probably satisfy your needs. I don't charge for this because I appreciate what those people did for me when I started and being a tradesman myself I can appreciate the DIY spirit.