First Cabinet Build for First Amp Done (Hide glue)

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by MrUnderwood08, May 11, 2019.

  1. MrUnderwood08

    MrUnderwood08 TDPRI Member

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    Finished wrapping my first cabinet build with Tolex yesterday. Used hot hide glue which had a bit of a learning curve but once I figured it out it performed great. The procedures I found online for wrapping using contact cement (water or solvent based) would not have worked with hide glue.

    The cabinet is pine with 1/2" finger jointing at corners. Joints were done on a table saw using a dado blade. It took some experimenting to get the fit right. Attention to details on dimensions, squareness and clearances of panels and baffle to account for tolex/grill cloth paid dividends.

    [​IMG]

    The tolex came flat rolled which gave it a venetian blind appearance un-rolled (wavy). A day in the sun with weights at the corners/edges flattended it out sufficiently.


    I stained the inside of the cabinet with mixed results. I used water based stain from General Finishes (Antique Cherry). If your going to stain the inside I recommend you mask and stain the wood before assembling. Use a precondition meant for the stain you use. I used water based because I didn't want the oils from the stain preventing adhesion of the hide glue later. I stained after assembly and it was a headache.

    If you stain after assembly at least stain before installing cleats so there isn't as many corners, nooks and crannies to contend with. When installing cleats I also recommend only gluing. I used oak for the cleats. When I did the baffle board cleats I positioned them properly with glue and set them in place with a brad nail gun. The nail gun however moved things ever so slightly. I skipped the nails for the second set of cleats and would not use the nails in the future.

    I located and drilled all holes for mounting hardware (handle, chassis straps, feet etc) before applying tolex. Test fit everything. For instance my chassis straps were off by a 1/2 inch to the rear.... not sure how it happened. I was able to fill the holes with dowels and redrill.

    To put the grill cloth on the painted baffle I followed uncle Dougs procedure. Position the baffle on the cloth and clamp it down with a caul. Use an electric staple gun. There will be less movement and more precise seating of the staples. I wrapped the top edge over. Sides and bottom were side stapled and cut flush. I didn't want to sandwhich grill cloth in between the cleat and baffle. Set the staples in the grill cloth using a nail set so they won't cut the tolex on assembly

    I cut the tolex to size using my wifes fabric cutting mat and single edge razor blades to keep everything nice and square and exact. First rough cut from larger sheet leaving enough extra to precisely square and and cut to size. Careful measurements insured a good fit. Here is a link to the mat.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000B7K9UI/?tag=tdpri-20

    I used a wax warmer off of amazon to heat the hide glue. Hide glue was behlens also off of amazon. Mixed 1 part glue to 2 parts water by volume. Heated to 145-155. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NPEDPPK/?tag=tdpri-20
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003AYTJSC/?tag=tdpri-20


    I applied tolex first to the back panel pieces to work out how it was going to behave.
    To apply I found the easiest method was to lay the tolex down on a flat surface and place the panel to be covered on top of it. I used a clear lexan straight edge that was part of the fabric cutting kit to square everything up. Once I was satisfied with the position I clamped durablock sanding blocks to the table top over the tolex to block out the position. I then removed the panel and spread glue over the portion that was in contact with the first flat surface. Working quickly and using a good amount of glue is key. Not enough and it will gel too quickly and not adhere. Too much time and it will gel and not adhere properly. Then just place the panel back on the tolex and move back and forth length wise in small movements to rub the glue joint. Once initially tacked in position, unclamp the blocks and flip the panel over. Use one of the blocks or a roller to push excess glue out towards the edges. Clean up any squeeze out with warm water and a towel or spread it over the tolex edge to reactivate later with fresh glue.

    [​IMG]



    5-10 minutes without movement and then start making relief cuts to be able to fold over the edges. Work one edge at a time in the same manner. Apply glue, fold, push flat and pull excess glue out of the joint, Clean up, clamp using cauls and allow to gel up properly before moving to the next edge. Leave corners for last. I did the bottom corners first starting in the back to cut my teeth on the technique before moving on the to the more visible top corners.

    Here is the finished Product
    [​IMG]

    Other things that I figured out a little too late.... I drilled the baffle mounting holes last night after doing the tolex. I'm not sure that this was a mistake so much as a frustration. My baffle fits tight. It is difficult to put it in and take it out which had to be done a few times. You can't drill from the back. I removed the baffle and drilled the cleats. Put the baffle back in mark the location through the holes in the cleats, remove the baffle, drill it and put it back in for final assembly. This in an out frayed some of the grill cloth but the strands visible from the front trimmed out okay.

    When making the back panels I didn't pay attention to the face grain direction. I figured it was plywood and I was pretty safe from warp. I was wrong. My panels had face grain running vertical. The bottom panel bowed and last night after putting tolex on I decided to glue a 1/2" ply wood brace on the inside to flatten it. It could have been avoided by running the face grain horizontal to prevent the warp.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
  2. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Friend of Leo's

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    Good job on the cab..Especially the finger joint..Not everyone knows how to make those..
    Your step by step report will help others..Good on that also..
     
    ce24 and teletimetx like this.
  3. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    great!
     
  4. MrUnderwood08

    MrUnderwood08 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks. Finger joints are alittle tricky. I actually had to scrap the first one I built using cheaper wood because my joints weren't perfect. I used a freud dado blade set and built a sled jig. Here are freuds instructions:
    https://www.freudtools.com/public/a...s/freudtools-sbox8-box-joint-instructions.pdf

    Their instructions cut 2 pieces at the same time to ensure good mate up. Other tips would be to check for the occassional shallow cut where the blade lifted the piece up slightly. Put the two pieces together flat like a jigsaw puzzle and check that all are seating to the same depth. A shallow one will prevent all the rest from seating fully.

    When adjusting your setup experiment on scrap of the same variety and density... preferably the same wood and source your building your cabinet out of. The joints should hold together under there own weight but be loose enough to easily put together using light hand pressure only. If there too tight (my first ones were) then when you go to glue them together the water from the glue will swell the wood slightly and they will be hard to get together. I clamped my first box to pull the joints together but in doing so I deformed the joint and all the boards bowed inwards from the clamping pressure. I'm using this one to build a chassis cradle out of though so waste not want not. I clamped the second one only enough to maintain square. Very light pressure.

    On that note choose your glue wisely. I had a bottle of Titebond 2 and used that the first time. Working time on this glue is pretty short and finger joints are intricate. The glue was getting too tacky and bonding during assembly as opposed to allowing the joint to slide together. I switched to Titebond 3 which worked out much better and it's stronger to boot. TB 2 is good for buidling jigs and such where you want to be using the jig sooner rather than waiting though.

    I don't have a router table. In fact I was using a very old craftsman hand router. An upgrade is in my future. A table gives better results in my estimation and would allow you to feel the piece and the pressure being applied. The hand held router and my novice technique tended to leave a line where the bearing was running on the wood. The dent steamed out okay but a piece of painters tape to run the bearing on would have probably prevented this. Better technique on my part would have prevented it too. I flush cut routed the joint before 1/2" roundover on all edges. Front edge was sanded to break the sharp edge. Stop when you think it looks good.

    As far as the angles go I cut the main angle on the front on the individual sides before assembly using a jig on the table saw. The chassis angle cut was done after assembly by running the hole box through the table saw. Get your chassis before you build the box in case they bent the chassis to an angle other than fender spec. It can be tough to find amp dimensions (at least consistent ones). If you build the width off your chassis you'll be better off than going by something you find online. The gap on either side of the chassis should be minimal (enough to get the chassis in and out but not really obvious. For my tastes, mojo cabinets leave a larger than necessary gap.

    I found dimensions helpful on these two websites https://coveramp.com/covers/Fender-Vibrolux-Reverb-Amp-Blackface-1964-1967-Combo--cover.aspx
    http://www.thevintagesound.com/ffg/
    .... as well as mojotones dimensions and pictures. In fact I determined the size of the backpanels by looking at photos on mojotones website.

    Wood I sourced from Lowes/Home depot for the pine. They have a premium pine section with clear pine. Birch plywood I had to buy at a local artisan woodworking shop. They didn't carry baltic at homedepot/lowes.

    I need to finish up the electronics side of things. I just picked up a Hakko soldering station and I think I have everything at this point. I'll post a follow up with how that goes.
     
    teletimetx likes this.
  5. stevemc

    stevemc Tele-Meister

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    very nice!
     
  6. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Looks good. Your fingerjoints look great!

    I want to try hide glue on my next build, especially for tweed. I might do some experiments, because I do hear hide glue can bleed through tweed pretty badly.

    One suggestion I can make when it comes to glueing fingerjoints, Tightbond Extend . I used it on my last cabinet project and couldn't have been happier.
     
  7. vanr

    vanr Tele-Holic

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    Wow. That's so pretty I might have just stained that baby and a few coats of Tung oil.
     
  8. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Holic

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    That is mighty nice. I really like it.
     
  9. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Great job on the cabinet and the tolex, is there any particular reason you didn't want to use solvent contact cement? I've been doing auto interiors for 35 years and I've covered quite a few cabinets with the commercial spray grade contact, and I've never had any issues with it coming loose. I did a friends 70s Super Reverb over 20 years ago and it's still fine.
    Just curious, as it seems that the hide glue is a LOT more work and I don't know what the benefits if any are.
    At any rate you did a great job. I've learned to allow for the grillcloth thickness and for the tolex thickness on the back panels.
     
  10. MrUnderwood08

    MrUnderwood08 TDPRI Member

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    I wanted to use hide glue because it is what was originally used. Many amp manufactures still use hide glue albeit with a potdevin to apply the glue on precisely precut tolex. I don't have experience using contact cement on tolex but I am sure it has it's advantages and disadvantages.

    In the end I did it because it is what I wanted. It was a process I wanted to learn and add to my tool box and since I hadn't found a lot of info on it researching I felt like I needed to share it. It is what I'll use going forward. I think there are others who shy away from it because it seems expensive or overly difficult. I found it to be affordable (wax warmer worked GREAT) and forgiving to use. An advantage I didn't note above is that glue residue on the outside of the tolex (what didn't get wiped away during cleaning up) dries to a thin film that flakes of with a soft brush. It dries hard and pulls everything nice and tight and looks beautiful when finished. I hope that others that have dismissed it will give it a try now.
     
    Axis29 likes this.
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