DIY Project: Acoustic Panel/Blank Canvas

Setting up my home office has so proven to be more costly and work intensive than I had first imagined. I took for granted the fact that furnishing it does not end with a good-sized desk, a small steel cabinet and a few shelves. But everything that I have done so far has been fun and fulfilling. And I would like to share one of my favorite projects, so far.

Since I was also going to dabble into audio production (both as a hobby and part of my work), I was going to need to deal with the acoustics of the room. Doing it the proper way by installing fixtures that can absorb and diffuse reflections is an expensive proposition, which I am still not willing to get into, or at least not for now. However, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t experiment a little bit, learn how to deal with acoustics and decorate while I’m at it.

I wanted two relatively small panels which I can move around the house or even put together as a makeshift sound booth, if necessary. After a bit of thinking, I got myself two pieces of 1”x2”x10’ framing wood. Each plank was cut to four pieces to build a 36”x24” frame. Rummaging through my dad’s old stuff, I found a mitre clamp which I found extremely useful in putting frames together, helping me ensure the pieces of wood are perpendicular to each other. I wish I had at least four of these. It’s also a great means to compensate for my poor sawing skills.


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I don’t like using nails, so I opted to use woodscrews instead, which also involved some pre-drilling. I even installed brackets along the corners. It’s likely to be overkill, but I’d rather be safe about this since I’ll be experimenting with different insulation material as time goes by.  It’ll also help in keeping the frame in shape.

 

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I had intended my panels to serve two purposes – sound absorption and decoration. The first thing that came to my mind was canvas, so that’s what I looked for and bought. National Bookstore sells them pre-cut to less than a square meter for nearly P100. However, my local fabric store sells them at P85 per yard. A single yard is actually cheaper and bigger than the one sold at NBS, and you can get much larger cuts. So, I bought some and cut a portion to fit my panel. It was then I realized that I didn’t know how to properly stretch canvas over a frame. Luckily, I did figure out a way. And it is here where this project’s most essential tool comes in. I managed to do a decent job stretching the canvas and fastening it with a staple gun. Every household should have one.

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I first experimented with old clothes to use as insulation to stuff the back of the panel. But while window-shopping at the nearest HMR branch, I found used 60cmx60cm gypsum tiles selling for P90 in HMR for a batch of five pieces. I just had to buy some. They’re dusty to work with, but should be fine when kept dry and contained properly. Having them behind a frame affixed to a wall ought to be proper enough.  They also make for bona fide sound absorption material.

 

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Had I chosen a different fabric, the project would have already been done at this stage. But I did choose canvas for a reason.

 

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My baby boy’s recent exploits in the playgroup his mom takes him to on weekends inspired me to turn this into a family project. I realized that his work or if you want to put things into perspective, random splashes of watercolor on paper will fade or get lost sooner or later. I wanted something more permanent. So, I had my wife prime the canvas with white latex paint and prep Aidan to work on his first big work of art.

 

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This part turned out to have taken the longest time. My wife did what she could to guide the boy, but what can you expect from someone who’s barely more than a year old, short attention span and all? So, while I was excited about the result, there was no pressure on my part. And whatever turns out will look great to me, no matter what. And look great it did!

 

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As of this writing, the second panel I built remains blank. I might decide to attach a different fabric on it, but it can wait. Besides, the wife might decide she wants to paint on it herself. But the first one is finally done and proudly hanging on my wall.

 

 

 

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