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August 31, 2016

Building a Mini Audio Rack with Bamboo Cutting Boards

As you may have noticed, we are at the age of the computer audiophile, and standardized 19" components are no longer relegated to audio racks because they are typically sitting near a computer rig on a desk. I personally think that's awesome as I'm not a fan of wasted space, components should be the exact size they need to be to house the internals (at least that's my opinion). The fly in the ointment is that you may have a stack of mini components that might not sit on top of one another neatly or may need a little more space to dissipate heat.

Two companies that I've seen offer mini racks with specific dimensions to match their products, a mini rack from Parasound, and iFi Audio with their cool little iRack. Unfortunately these products only work with their specific component counterparts and are not universal.

iFi Audio iRack

So I decided the easiest way to attack this problem is to build a mini shelf from wood, and typically cutting boards are an appropriate size to sit components on. To keep the cost low while still being visually appealing, I selected the Totally Bamboo 12.5" x 8" Aruba cutting board, which were around $14 each if I recall correctly.

12.5" x 8" Aruba bamboo cutting board

To fasten the boards together, I purchased a 5/8" dowel from the hardware store. Home Depot or Lowes will typically have pine and possibly walnut or oak, which aren't a perfect match, but good enough after stain. I searched a bit for bamboo dowels, but not much luck online for the thickness needed.

First the bamboo boards needed sanding so they would accept stain evenly. NOTE: I do not vouch for the safety of whatever adhesive is used by Totally Bamboo to fasten this board together, so sand at your own risk. A reasonable person would assume it is safe as it is being used with food products, but who knows these days.

I measured a short distance from each corner and drilled 5/8" holes (and Dremeled a bit for clearance) just under 1/2" into each board. A pilot hole for a size #6 screw was drilled into the center of each hole. I then measured the component that would be on the bottom shelf to determine how long the dowels should be, added 1" and cut with a band saw. pilot holes were drilled in the center of each dowel for a #6 screw. The dowels were then inserted into the holes, 1" EAR isolation feet lined up on the other side, and a 1.5" wood screw drilled in for each.

The EAR Isolation feet are 95 cents a pop (at the time of this writing) and you can get them from PartsConnexion, or if you need a large quantity, reach directly out to EAR. I use them for nearly everything.

EAR 25mm isolation feet

After that, I lined up the holes on the other board to fit, put a small amount of wood glue in each hole and let stand upside down to dry so the glue doesn't run down the dowels. Once everything is dry, the stain/finish was applied. I used Minwax Polyshades for quickness and affordability (a 1/2 pint will run around $5). 

Minwax Polyshades - cheap and quick

After four coats, the mini rack had a nice deep glossy sheen and the dowels were pretty close in hue to the cutting boards.

Below you can see an MHDT Constantine tucked in neatly on the bottom shelf, and a Peachtree t1 SPDIF to USB converter, and Schiit Wyrd USB power isolator on the top shelf. Neat, tidy and isolated from vibration.

Hope you enjoyed this relatively simple build. I found it provides a good solution to a common problem for computer or DAP-based systems (or small headphone amplifiers).

Disclaimer: The above steps detailing the building of a mini audio rack are for entertainment purposes only and not intended to be used as directions. The owner of this blog and all associated parties can not / will not be held responsible if you attempt the process posted and cause physical harm to yourself, your surroundings or your property. Please note that some bamboo boards can contain dangerous chemicals, sand/cut at your own risk. 

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