You probably have an old set of speakers lying in some corner. Dust them off, it’s time to breathe new life into those trusty woofers. It doesn’t matter whether they still work or not, there’s a perfect weekend DIY project waiting for you.
It’s not only about those gigantic old analog speakers in wooden cases, which are indeed magnificent — but all types of speakers are salvageable. You can repurpose car speakers into a booming living room set, or turn a set of computer speakers into an internet radio.
All you need is some time on your hands, an ability to follow instructions, and a little elbow grease.
If the Speakers Still Work
There is no sense in throwing away a perfectly functional gadget. Unless that gadget is a Microsoft Zune, of course.
As long as the speakers can crank out reliable audio, that’s what you should use them for. Where you get creative is in figuring out the source of the audio.
1. Turn Old Desktop Speakers Into a Loud Charging Station
You aren’t alone. None of us have any use for that set of desktop PC speakers we got with our last computer. Until you see this little transformation, which can be the perfect DIY project for beginners.
It’s simple and doesn’t need any soldering. A screwdriver, a box knife or a pair of scissors, and some electrical tape are all you need. The first step is to open up and disassemble the speakers. It’s easier than it sounds, since you’ll only have to salvage the transformer, amplifier, and drivers. Place the components into a large plastic box and cut a few strategic holes for the wires, as demonstrated.
You’ll need to create a makeshift grill out of the box’s lid. The phone sits on top, and you’re ready to go.
2. Make an Internet Radio
Remember the good old days when you tuned in to the radio for your favorite songs? Yeah, neither do I. But I do see the charm of it, especially that of a radio station playing in the background as you go about your day. No creating playlists, no choosing the next song — it doles out beats one after another.
You’ll need a pair of functional desktop speakers and our favorite computer-on-a-chip, the Raspberry Pi. And if you’re up for a little woodworking, you can make the kickass system you see above.
DIY enthusiast Bob Rathbone’s guide to set up the Raspberry Pi internet radio is brilliant, and I’d recommend you follow that. But there are several others available on the internet too, including our own guide to turning an old amp into smart streaming speakers.
3. Turn Car Speakers Into a Boombox
Unless you’re an audiophile, the best speakers you have are in your car. Automakers use good hardware for the speakers, especially the drivers. You might want to salvage that before you sell an old car.
Be warned that this is among the more ambitious projects. It’s not simple plug-and-play, you’ll need to work on it. Car speakers require a power converter, so learn how to make one.
You’ll also need to add an amplifier to the system if you don’t already have one. Finally, car speakers don’t always come in excellent cases, so that’s another investment in time or money.
All put together, it’s probably easier just to buy a new set of home audio speakers. But good God, where’s the fun in that?
4. The Lethargic Option: Add a Chromecast
For lily-livered lazy bashi-bazouks who don’t want any DIY effort, the simplest option is to add a Chromecast. The Chromecast Audio dongle makes any speakers wireless, so you can use your phone to play tunes from them.
It’s simple, it’s easy, and it just works. But it’s not the same as Bluetooth audio. You’ll still need to know the apps Chromecast Audio works with. So if that sounds like a hassle, you can even add Bluetooth dongles instead.
If the Speakers Don’t Work
Now let’s say your speakers no longer work. This is when we get to have a lot more fun. Avengers, disassemble!
FixitClub has basic instructions on how to disassemble speakers safely, but you might want to search the internet for your specific model. Neat disassembly also yields good reusable materials like the large magnets stuck on the drivers. They’re even better than what you get from disassembling your old hard drive.
5. Repurpose Grills as Earring Holders
The grills on the front of the speakers are absolutely perfect to double up as earring holders. Ideally, dismantle them to get the full grill. If you are cutting them out, be careful, you want to avoid any jagged edges.
Hang the grills on a wall or throw them in a drawer. Remember: the grills are metal, so you can spray paint them to match any color you want.
6. Speakers Make Excellent Bookshelves and Wooden Furniture
The wooden boxes of old speakers are the most reusable parts. You can turn them into almost anything you want, from bookshelves to tables.
For a beginner woodworker, the bookshelf setup will be the place to start. Hollow it out, sand it down, polish it up, and you’ll have a lovely new piece of furniture. If you have a set of two speakers, you might want to consider turning them into bedside tables or even a dresser.
For advanced woodworkers, try this eye-popping project to turn a set of speakers into an incredible table. This isn’t for newbies, you need to have worked on a wood-related project before.
7. The Coolest Media Cabinet in the World
The contest is over, folks. GoodRubbish is now the winner of the title for the coolest media cabinet. You can’t do better than this:
Can you imagine how amazing that would look in your awesome home theater setup? Not only that, there’s an entire guide on how to make this on your own.
This project requires some serious woodworking. So much so that disassembling the speakers is the easiest part. You won’t be using any of the disassembled parts, so you can still turn use those magnets or grills.
What Did You Do With Old Speakers?
At this point of your life, I’m assuming you have been through at least three sets of old speakers, probably more.
What did you do with them when you bought a new one? Did you throw out the old, reuse them for some other gadget, or try to turn them into a creative DIY project?