Week 17: Tutorial – How To Install A WordPress Website From Scratch

I created this tutorial a while back, but hadn’t posted if because I’d put this site aside for a little while and sort of forgot about it. In this tutorial I show how to set up a WordPress website from scratch, including registering a domain and a server account, setting up an email address at your new domain, installing WP, and setting up some basic functionality with your new site.

There are a few potential server hosts you could go with, but I highly recommend Bluehost, and this tutorial involves their particular platform. I’ve had various websites hosted with them for several years now and I’ve never had any desire to switch to another hosting service. The package you get is as good as it gets (can host unlimited domains, unlimited emails, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited GB of server space, etc.), and the price is quite low.

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial. If you’re interested in additional steps to customizing your WordPress website, let me know and I’ll put something together. But for right now, I need to switch things up again, so I think my next post will be more music. :)

Week 16: Tutorial – How To Make Sound Absorption Acoustical Panels

Featured

This week I’m going to show you how to make the sound absorption acoustical panels I made for the studio a few months ago and wrote about in this post, which elaborates on the use and effectiveness of such panels.

I now have a small side business making these panels for others, using industry standard materials that look and perform beautifully. But today I’m going to give a tutorial on how to use less expensive materials in a way that will allow you to make some panels for yourself that still look great and are just as effective for controlling sound as the pro panels, at roughly half the price.

Now of course, professional panels are constructed well, are easy to install, and always come out looking top-notch because they’re made by people who with experience and with materials and processes that are paid for in bulk. But in all reality, they are fairly simple to build. So if you’re a little handy, have extra time and want to save a couple bucks, here’s how you do it!

And if you’d prefer, you can easily purchase professionally made panels at a guaranteed low price from the Inity Acoustics website.

Tools and Materials

First, let’s look at the necessary tools and materials. The tools you’ll need are fairly standard. Of course, if you have better tools you can save yourself a lot of time with some steps. But I’ll show you how to make these using tools many people already have at their disposal.

Tools:

Materials:

I’m going to list the materials needed to make 8 panels. I picked 8 because the sound absorption insulation I’m recommending comes in packages of 8. Here’s what you need.

  • Sound absorption core material. Recommended: Roxul Safe’n'Sound (3″ thick, 2′x4′ for wood studs, 24″ on center) – 1 package of 8 (Other options listed below. Compare noise reduction coefficients of various materials here.)
  • 1×3 framing lumber (8′ lengths) – 12 pieces (make sure they’re straight!)
  • 1/4″ sheets of plywood (4′x8′) – 2 sheets – get these cut to 2′x4′ pieces at the store (or have them cut 1/16″ less than 2′ width to compensate for saw blade thickness)
  • Carpenter’s Glue – 1 bottle
  • Fabric to wrap around the panel (minimum 56″ width) – 8 yards
  • Spray Adhesive (optional) – 1 can
  • Staples (3/8″ or 5/16″ or so) – 1 package
  • Screws (wood, #10 x 1-1/2″) – 1 pack of 100
  • Finishing nails (1″ or so) – 1 pack
  • If you have a nailer, replace the screws and finishing nails with 1 package of brad nails (1″)
  • Hanging Hardware – Options include D Rings with Picture Hooks, Z-clips, or other picture hangers.

Sound Absorption Core Material

There are other options you can use for this. There’s a material known as Owens Corning 703, that has a history of use in many studios around the world. It is the name brand for this kind of thing. Over the years, many companies have developed similar products, and pricing has become far more competitive. The acoustical properties for the Roxul material is nearly identical to Owens Corning products, but at a low fraction of the cost. If Roxul Safe & Sound is not available at your local building supplies outlet, there are a few other options. Here’s a list of some materials, and their approximate pricing:

  • Roxul Safe’n'Sound – 3″ thick – $0.69/sqft
  • Roxul RHT 80 – 2″ thick – $1.24/sqft (may be able to find it for less)
  • Owens Corning 703 – 2″ thick – $2.13/sqft (difficult to find in Canada)
  • Johns Manville 817 – 2″ thick – $1.60/sqft (minimum)

Here’s a great site for comparing the sound absorption coefficients (the amount of sound absorbed at particular frequencies). You can see that these products have roughly the same effectiveness in absorbing sound over multiple frequencies. The Roxul Safe’n'Sound is definitely the best bang for your buck, and you can find it any Home Depot. Can’t go wrong! If you can’t get it as easily where you are located, you should be able to find one of the other options listed above.

Fabric

The higher end industry standard for this is Guilford and Maine acoustical fabrics. However, there are multiple potential fabrics to use for this application – but you can’t use just anything. It doesn’t need to be acoustically transparent, but it’s important to find a fabric that isn’t acoustically reflective. Absorptive fabrics (like felts) are okay.

The easiest (and generally least expensive) to use is burlap or jute, which both tend to have large enough holes between the threads to let the sound in, but not too large as to allow the fibers of the core material out. You can also use various cotton or polyester fabrics. Some say that if you can blow air through the fabric without too much resistance then you have a decent fabric for this application. You can use thicker fabrics, and they’re especially good for durability, but I’d just suggest not going for anything too thick unless it has thicker/textured threads (and thus appropriate spacing between them).

If you can take a good look at existing acoustical treatment somewhere, check the look and feel of the fabrics they use. If not, just use your better judgement. Be sure to get fabric that’s off a bolt at least 56″ wide (and preferably a little larger), so that you can wrap that around the 48″ length of your panel. Anything smaller and you’ll have to buy twice as much fabric!

(Commercial applications require panels that are up to fire code. Failing that, you may have problems with insurance. If you’re putting panels in a commercial location, do a little research on that before hand, and be sure you get appropriate fabric for that application.) Okay then, let’s get down to it!

Step 1: Prepare Your Materials

Use your miter or circular saw to cut the framing lumber to the right sizes (or have it cut where you purchased it). I’m going to assume you’re using the Roxul Safe’n'Sound, which is actually 47″ x 23″, so I’ll give cuts that suite that size. You’ll want the outside of the frame to be exactly 2′x4′. With the thickness of the frame at 3/4″, that’ll put the inside of the frame at 22.5″ x 46.5″. Don’t worry, the Roxul will squish quite nicely into the frame for a snug fit.

The edges of your frame will connect in a butt joint. Cut 16 pieces at exactly 24″, and another 16 pieces at 46.5″. When you account for the thickness of your saw blade, you won’t be able to get four short pieces out of your 8′ piece, so alternate. You’ll get two full panels worth out of every three 8′ pieces. Smell the pieces of lumber. Doesn’t freshly cut pine smell awesome!?!

Cut your fabric into 1 yard pieces. If you purchased exactly 8 yards, you may want to cut at 34″ instead of 1 yard to compensate for less than perfect cuts. 34″ will be more than enough. Your plywood should already be cut to 2′x4′ pieces before you leave your builder’s supplies outlet.

Recap

  1. Take your framing lumber and cut 16 pieces at exactly 24″, and another 16 pieces at 46.5″.
  2. Smell the freshly cut lumber (because it smells awesome).
  3. Cut your fabric at 34″ (assuming it’s from a 56″ or larger bolt of fabric). 8 pieces.
  4. Have your plywood cut at the builder’s supplies outlet into 2′x4′ pieces. 8 pieces.

Step 2: Build Your Frame

Line up the wood for your first frame. If you do not have a brad nailer, pre-drill a hole for 1 screw at each joint. Pre-drilling is crucial to keep everything aligned and prevent splitting. Apply the glue and screw the frame together. Keep in mind, the screw is only there to hold the frame together until the glue dries. The glue will form a much tighter bond than a screw could.

Apply a bead of glue all the way around the face of the frame and put a plywood backing on it. You may have to shimmy the frame a little if it’s a bit of a rhomboid. It probably won’t be perfectly rectangular until you adjust it. Now drive some nails through the ply into the frame. Don’t skimp on the nails.

Recap

  1. Line the pieces for the frame up in preparation for assembly.
  2. Pre-drill a hole for one screw at each corner (going through the 24″ piece into the end of the 46.5″ piece).
  3. Apply glue to the ends and screw each corner together.
  4. Put a bead of glue all the way around the part of the frame facing up.
  5. Put the plywood backing onto the frame and use it’s shape to straighten the shape of the frame.
  6. Nail the backing into place.

Step 3: Wrap The Frame In Fabric

Insert the core material into the frame. If you purchased spray adhesive, coat the center of the inside of the back panel with some adhesive first, and the edges of the core material if you desire. Put on some gloves before handling the core material. Roxul is a rockwool, which is essentially fiberglass. It’s not a health hazard, but it’s definitely an irritant. Wear long sleeves too, and wash you hands with cold water afterwards. Cold water keeps your pores closed while you remove any fibers that may be on your skin.

Once the Roxul is in the frame, set it aside and lay a piece of fabric down on your work surface. Place the frame face down onto the fabric, leaving even amounts of fabric on each side. The best way to wrap a panel is like how you wrap canvas for a painting. To ensure it’s tight and even, start from the center of each side and work your way to the corners, pulling tighter as you get closer to the corner. Staple the fabric down at the back. Don’t skimp on the staples. Every 3 inches or so should do the trick.

Recap

  1. Put on gloves before handling rockwool core material.
  2. Apply spray adhesive to the center of the inside of the back panel, and to the edges of the core material.
  3. Put core material into frame and set aside.
  4. Lay out a cut piece of fabric (34″ x 56″+).
  5. Place the frame with core material face down in the center of the fabric.
  6. Wrap the fabric around one of the long sides first. Start by stapling it into the plywood in the center of that side.
  7. Stretch the fabric from the stapled center toward one of the corners on that side (so that it is being stretched lengthwise on that side) and staple the stretched fabric every few inches. Do the same again from the center to the other corner on that side of the panel.
  8. Then do the opposite side, starting with the center, and this time making sure you pull the fabric tight across the width of the panel. As you stretch the fabric toward the corners, make sure you are stretching both length and width.
  9. Do the same process with the short sides, taking care to fold the corners neatly.

Step 4: Choose Placement

For placement, there are numerous techniques and every room and application is different. For the best and simplest rule of thumb in a home theater or control room environment, you’ll get great results placing them at first reflection points from your sound source. There’s an easy way to determine these spots.

  1. Sit in the seat you’ll normally listen from, facing as you usually would.
  2. Have a friend place a mirror flat against the wall and slide it around until you can see one of your speakers from your seat without shifting yourself to see try to see it.
  3. Mark that point with a piece of tape.
  4. Do the same for each speaker and each wall and the ceiling.
  5. Place your panels over as many or these spots as possible.

Step 5: Hang Your Panels

Mount your panels using the mounting hardware. Make sure you mount them safely. They’re not too heavy, but you certainly wouldn’t want one falling on you. If you are mounting to the ceiling, be sure to attach appropriate mounting hardware to the sturdier wood of the frame of the panel, instead of just into the plywood backing.

Instead of hanging the panels, another option for studio environments is to attach two panels together with hinges and use them as portable baffles for isolating amplifiers and drums.

Full Recap

If you haven’t watched the video tutorial yet, do that now! Okay, let’s do a full written recap:

Prepare You Materials

  1. Take your framing lumber and cut 16 pieces at exactly 24″, and another 16 pieces at 46.5″.
  2. Smell the freshly cut lumber (because it smells awesome).
  3. Cut your fabric at 34″ (assuming it’s from a 56″ or larger bolt of fabric). 8 pieces.
  4. Have your plywood cut at the builder’s supplies outlet into 2′x4′ pieces. 8 pieces.

Build Your Frame

  1. Line the pieces for the frame up in preparation for assembly.
  2. Pre-drill a hole for one screw at each corner (going through the 24″ piece into the end of the 46.5″ piece).
  3. Apply glue to the ends and screw each corner together.
  4. Put a bead of glue all the way around the part of the frame facing up.
  5. Put the plywood backing onto the frame and use its shape to straighten the shape of the frame.
  6. Nail the backing into place.

Wrap The Frame In Fabric

  1. Put on gloves before handling rockwool core material.
  2. Apply spray adhesive to the center of the inside of the back panel, and to the edges of the core material.
  3. Put core material into frame and set aside.
  4. Lay out a cut piece of fabric (34″ x 56″+).
  5. Place the frame with core material face down in the center of the fabric.
  6. Wrap the fabric around one of the long sides first. Start by stapling it into the plywood in the center of that side.
  7. Stretch the fabric from the stapled center toward one of the corners on that side (so that it is being stretched lengthwise on that side) and staple the stretched fabric every few inches. Do the same again from the center to the other corner on that side of the panel.
  8. Then do the opposite side, starting with the center, and this time making sure you pull the fabric tight across the width of the panel. As you stretch the fabric toward the corners, make sure you are stretching both length and width.
  9. Do the same process with the short sides, taking care to fold the corners neatly.

Choose Placement

  1. Sit in the seat you’ll normally listen from, facing as you usually would.
  2. Have a friend place a mirror flat against the wall and slide it around until you can see one of your speakers from your seat without shifting yourself to see try to see it.
  3. Mark that point with a piece of tape.
  4. Do the same for each speaker and each wall and the ceiling.
  5. Place your panels over as many or these spots as possible.

Hang Your Panels

  1. Hang on the wall or ceiling, being sure to use appropriate hanging hardware for their weight.
  2. If hanging on the ceiling, attach the hanging hardware through the plywood backing and into the actual framing lumber, instead of just the ply backing, which will be less stable on its own.
  3. Instead of hanging the panels, another option for studio environments is to attach two panels together with hinges and use them as portable baffles for isolating amplifiers and drums.

Aaaaaaaaand you’re done!!

Now listen to the results! If you’ve never experienced something like this before, you’ll be surprised at the difference between the sound quality of your room before and after this acoustical treatment. Your favorite audio, whether music or movies, will now sound as it was intended to (i.e. frackin’ awesome!).

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Check out our Facebook and Google+ pages, and subscribe to our mailing list to see future Weekly Creations as soon as they’re posted. And keep creative!