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My Khorn "Decorator" Conversion


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I ordered my Klipschorns in 1982 while overseas through the audio store at the NATO base in Naples, Italy, but I had no idea I was getting the "undressed" version. To this day the only finished "B" models I've seen in person were those I originally auditioned in the showroom. Imagine the shock my wife got when the tractor trailer rolled up to the house with two huge crates for delivery. She applied a coat of walnut stain to the raw birch fronts but otherwise that's all the treatment they have had until now.

I fell in love with the sound and the performance of these speakers immediately but have always been bugged by the unfinished appearance and have been promising my wife all these years that I would someday finish them. In reality I had no clue how to go about it, until I stumbled upon Greg Roberts' web site.

I don't intend this as a tutorial on how to accomplish this project...for that visit Greg's web page. But I thought it might be helpful to document some of my experience from the amateur's perspective. I would consider myself something less than a journeyman at woodworking. Most of my experience involves paint grade trim carpentry projects in our home. I have yet to advance to stain grade furniture quality projects.

A word of caution to anyone considering an attempt at this, especially if your skills are similar to mine: this requires a huge investment of time and patience. It has consumed my life for at least the last two months. I spent many hours searching the internet, this forum, and staring at Greg's website before I was even clear on how to approach this. While I am pleased with the results, they aren't close to being in Greg'e league. If you want to convert or restore your Klipshorns and can afford it, have Greg do it because I have no doubt his work is worth every penney. The best way I can describe this project is that it was a labor of love.

My largest concerns starting out were the veneering process (I knew a bad veneer job would make these speakers look worse) and removing the stain originally applied by my wife. I was worried about sanding through the outer finish layer. I had decided to return the speaker fronts to raw birch and then stain and finish them, rather than attempt a complete veneering on my first attempt. I didn't want to ruin an expensive veneer through a first timer's learning curve. I was also aware that staining birch can produce uneven results as the finish can end up blotchy looking. I experimented at first with a mixture of stain and poly (1 part stain to 5 parts poly). I had been told this would not penetrate the wood, but I was unable to achieve the color I needed so I abandoned that method and went with staining.

This photo shows the original speaker front with the top already sanded. More to come later.



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Welcome to the forum. That's a pretty bum deal on getting the decorators when you thought they were the B model.

Yes, please continue the pics as time permits. Greg's got the goods, for sure, when it comes toreworking the cabinets. Just remember he has been doing it for a long time and has a really good shop.

And don't be afraid to jump in on the threads here.


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When I began to remove the finish I started with a chemical stripper. I wasn't surprised when this didn't work at all...the stain had penetrated the surface, so I began to carefully sand, starting out hand sanding with 220 grit, then 150 grit, and then 80 grit. The hand sanding wasn't getting it done, so I broke out the random orbital sander. Mine has variable speed, which I definitely recommend, because it allows for much more control of the process. After experimenting with the lowest speed, I ended up going no higher than middle speed. I started out with the 80 grit and went as far as I dared, then switched to 150 grit and finally 220. I used a speed block finishing sander with 220 grit to finish the process.

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My assumption from the beginning was that I would use the original top base and motorboard and construct a new mid plate and top plate. Once I began crunching the measurement numbers I realized that wouldn't work. On my originals the motorboard overlays the front edge of the bottom plate...once the speaker was placed in the corner the motorboard would then align flush with the bass bin. The new arranangement called for the bottom plate to extend past the front of the bass bin by 3/16"...my base plate would be too short. Also, my motorboard would need to be trimmed by 3/4" since it would not attach to the edge of the bottom plate in the new configuration...


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I used my original bottom plate as a template and cut the new plates with a flush trim bit in my router...it would be difficult to exactly match the geometry any other way and I knew the originals had always fit nicely into the room's corner (even though few rooms are built perfectly square). I made the new plates longer at the front to allow for the estra depth I would need.


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The next step was to cut out the side grill frames, using the measurements provided by Greg in another thread. I experimented with some scraps to come up with the bevel angle for the front of the frame which would match Greg's measurements. I don't recall what this angle ended up as, maybe 30-35 degrees, I think. I had concerns that too fine a bevel point would be too fragile when applying the grill cloth and attaching the frame to the bass bin, but Greg assured me it would work out. He was right, of course.

I pondered for a while on how to best cut the bevel...table saw or circular saw. It takes a while to cut out the frame with a jig saw and I didn't want to screw it up and end up back at square one. My circular saw seemed a bit unwieldy in trying to get a consistent angle along its length, but I wasn't sure about a rip bevel cut on the table saw that close to the fence. I settled on the table saw and ran the piece through on its edge..it worked fine, more comfortable than some other ripping operations I've done. I recommend that one definitely use a zero clearance table saw insert..I didn't have one and on the first cut the leading edge of the piece caught briefly on the back of the blade opening. It didn't damage the cut, though, and on subsequent cuts I concentrated on keeping pressure on the back of the piece until the leading edge cleared the blade opening.

I chose to utilize cutouts on the bottom back of the side grill frames to accomodate the moldings I intend to install in the room later. I think Greg recommended on his website not to do it and just make the back square. I think I found out why when I got around to attaching the grill cloth!

More later...


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Here the pieces are all cut and the risers have been made. The back of the bottom plate will fit flush with the tailboard, but I'll make that cut when everything is together. Also, the solid side panels are not to final dimension. I'll do that after the grill cloth is on the motorboard, because at this point I'm not sure of the final height of the motorboard with the grill cloth installed. Next I'll start priming and painting.


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Hi,Good job so far.What are you going to do for a finish? You should look mine up they were painted with house paint and not well at that. You should check the woofer screws easy to do just be careful taking the access panel off....I also took one more step i checked the air tightness of woofer bin and it leaked on mine i guess bad glue in joints but i fixed it. I think if you practice veneering some scraps you will find its not as hard as you think just take your time.Rick

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