Matt Kalkstein Makes Custom Boomboxes

Carpenter, artist, and MAKBuilt founder Matt Kalkstein loves music, classic cars, and vintage clothes, combining his interests with his craft to make handcrafted “funk-tional” art.


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Photo by Lance Yamamoto

Carpenter, artist, and MAKBuilt founder Matt Kalkstein loves music, classic cars, and vintage clothes, combining his interests with his craft to make handcrafted “funk-tional” art. His product: a line of repurposed, portable, and wall-mounted boomboxes. The look is retro; the technology modern; and the sound—terrific.

Born and raised in Oakland, Kalkstein built his first boombox 10 years ago using his grandfather’s ammo box from World War II and a pair of old speakers from a car he was rebuilding. He added an amplifier and a rechargeable battery. Next came his father’s rosewood briefcase. “I had a couple of extra speakers, and soon another boombox.” People liked what they saw and heard, and soon he had a side business making custom designs from vintage suitcases and lunchboxes that he found at flea markets and garage sales. From there he created a wood panel, wall-mounted boombox using reclaimed barn wood and fence boards. Each has an input cable and port so you can connect your music source, an iPhone, iPod, or MP3 player, and Kalkstein can add Bluetooth technology capability too.

“Last March, I decided to take the leap,” says the 37-year-old maker. “I quit my day job and devoted myself full time to the business.” And business is booming. He recently added a pocket-sized version using Altoids boxes. The boomboxes are sold at Rarebird, 3883 Piedmont Ave., 510-653-2473, Oakland, www.TheRareBird.com; through www.MAKBuilt.com, and Etsy.

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