Building the Starling

by Michael Chua


Front Panel MDF Substrate

Clamp Front Panel

This build is slightly different from the Oriole. The main difference is in the Front Panel.

Unlike the Oriole, this Pine Front Panel is flushed with the box. This is what a normal loudspeaker looks like. It is not a problem if CNC machines are used to cut and align all the panels. With that kind of precision, it is easy for the Front Panel to have a separate finish.

However, without the benefit of CNCs, it would be very difficult to align exactly the front panel with the sides of the box.

My method is to firstly cut my Front Panel slightly oversized and have it bonded to the box. Once the glue is set, I use a router with a Flush Trim Bit to remove the overhang wood. This will flush trim the Front Panel edges to all the sides of the box perfectly. I then follow this with a Round Over Edge Forming Bit to round the sharp edges, giving a softer look.

To strenghten the Front Panel and to provide more surface area for bonding, an MDF substrate is used. It's a bit more work but I highly recommend it. The Front Panel is the weakest panel in a speaker box. The MDF substrate will enhance the strength considerably.

Now that the raw box is completed, it is ready for finishing.

For the Starling, I applied a single Gel Stain on all the panels (Front Panel and the Box sides). This is the easiest approach. If the Front Panel is to have a different stain from the box, there is a real danger of the stains bleeding into each other. It can be done but I will have to mask off one while staining the other. I won't even consider it if I'm using oil stains.

To have the Front Panel stained with a different color from the box, please refer to the Oriole build. You will also find a detailed description of how to finish a loudspeaker there.

For the final coat, I brushed on a Semi-Gloss Polyurethane Clear Topcoat. One coat, straight from the can.


Flush Trim Front Panel


Round Front Panel Edges


Gel Stain




60 Downes Street, Calais, ME 04619, USA