Fabric (non tolex) covering questions

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by choosebronze, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. choosebronze

    choosebronze TDPRI Member

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    I've built three amps, all covered in tolex (or off-brand material). I got the hang of it with help from Uncle Doug's videos. A few months ago I saw Benson's gorgeous amps covered in cotton fabric, rather than a vinyl material. For my latest build I decided to give it a shot.

    I went to the fabric store and bought a yard of this geometric mid-century-looking fabric. I cut a few test pieces and started testing glues. I don't see how the contact cement + spray combo could work since the fabric is porous. I tried Gorilla Glue spray, 3M 77, and Mod Podge. The 77 was bad, the next day I could peel the fabric right off. The Mod Podge held well but bled through the fabric like I thought a liquid would. The result looked a little uneven, because the glue pushed back through the fabric more in some places, even though I rolled it while the glue was still wet. The winner was Gorilla spray. The fabric went down flat, and had really good hold the next day.

    Then came a finish. Benson says their amps are "brushed with lacquer." Well, I tried that. It really took all the clarity out of the pattern. It yellowed way more than I thought it would (it's just clear gloss lacquer).

    Wondering if anyone has any experience using fabric as a finish? Any ideas? Would a gloss poly give me the same look in the end but come out clearer? Is the loss of clarity in the pattern just something I'm going to have to deal with?

    custom_wraps4.jpg
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  2. Caaspizza

    Caaspizza TDPRI Member

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    I have no experience with this but two things come to mind:

    What kind of lacquer did you use? Perhaps a matte/satin spray lacquer will work better?

    Vintage suitcases often are wrapped in fabric; perhaps there tutorials on how to make/refurbish those on the web?

    Good luck and nice fabric you chose!
     
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  3. aerhed

    aerhed Friend of Leo's

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    Do you think a clear epoxy resin could work? You could lay it up like fiberglass and brush resin right through it or even use plastic sheet and a roller. Impermeable and bomb proof. Shiny hard though.
     
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  4. Steve 78

    Steve 78 Tele-Afflicted

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    I have very limited experience but am trying to do a fabric guitar. For glue I found using PVA but a very thin layer so it didn't soak through worked quite well. For a finish, everything I've tried darkens the fabric to some extent. I've resigned myself to just taking that into account when choosing a fabric.
     
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  5. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Grab the 3M 90 next time for superior adhesive power ! :cool:
     
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  6. intensely calm

    intensely calm TDPRI Member

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    Depending on the fabric, you may be seeing some of the substrate color coming through once you apply your clear.
    So, the color tone of the wood may be impacting what you are seeing once the the fabric is "cleared". Dark color fabrics will be impacted less than will light color fabrics... ( I think I can see some of the wood grain through the fabric in you photo sample )

    Do another test using the same "clear" but with the fabric on a white substrate.
    If this gives you the final color you are looking for, you would need to paint your cabinet white then cover it with your material.

    Clear finishes, even superglue tend to make the material, such as paper or fabric somewhat translucent and may also darken the lighter colored areas. It really depends on the material and what you have it covering.

    Just a thought.
    Should be a cool covering!
    Good luck
     
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  7. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    Good old fashioned white wood glue, i use the stuff on gluing fabric on guitar cases the trick is to put it on let it start drying before putting the fabric down
    stretch the tight areas and use small pin nails to keep it in place once it has dried and cured remove the pins the only way you will get that fabric off is if you rip it off

    or you could use heat resistant glue the type used on car dashboards only problem is you wont get much of a time window it drys rapid and stinks

    for clear coating fabric use a 2 part polyurethane, mix it well put a light coat on with a foam brush that will seal up any inks let it dry then give it a good coating
    there are many on the market used for furniture, floors, bar tops etc look for the brands that state there is no yellowing or shrinking when cured
     
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  8. choosebronze

    choosebronze TDPRI Member

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    I used brush-on Deft clear gloss lacquer. The suitcase tip is interesting. My guess is, because this is hard, all the tutorials I found were about ripping off old suitcase fabric to stain or paint the wood. Ha. Nothing about redoing the exterior fabric. I'll keep looking though.

    That's an interesting idea. I've seen lots of epoxy videos online. It looks really cool, but I've always had questions about using on multi-sided objects. How would I keep it from dripping down the sides?

    Good catch. I'll paint a piece white and see how that works. That would be the easiest option if it works!

    Interesting, I don't think I've seen 2 part poly before. Once it's mixed is the consistency the same as any other brush-on poly? What's the advantage to the 2-part vs a can off the shelf?


    I noticed something fun this morning. There must have been a chemical reaction of some kind between the lacquer and the Gorilla glue (not shocking, based on the lacquer's smell). As of this morning the Gorilla lost all of it's hold! I wonder if anyone has successfully used lacquer over an adhesive? Anyway, I'll cut some more test fabric and keep trying. Luckily the fabric was on sale and I bought a couple yards. But if wood glue + poly works for netgear69, maybe that's worth a shot.
     
  9. Bill Moore

    Bill Moore Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    My only experience with fabric was some grey "upholstery" fabric that I covered some bass bins back in the day. I think there was somewhat of a "backing" that I just glued down with contact cement.
    TL405-1.jpg
     
  10. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    I often use wood glue even on Tolex. So that's a thought. It should stick to cloth very well. It may bleed through if you over saturate but dries clear and shrinks back anyway. I've used it on Tweed.
     
  11. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Afflicted

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    Not sure if this helps but Mod Podge has multiple formulas!
     
  12. choosebronze

    choosebronze TDPRI Member

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    Just an update for those who are curious. I did another round of testing with spray lacquer and spray poly. The final test I'll do is a brush on poly. For this test I also painted the wood white. I think intensely calm was right, part of the darkness with brushed on lacquer was the wood itself.

    Like I said before, the spray lacquer caused the Gorilla Glue to lose all hold. It seems to have weakened the wood glue, too. I could just peel the fabric off with a firm grab. The only glue that's held through everything is regular Mod Podge. I brushed it really thin and it seemed to do a better job of not bleeding back through the fabric.

    The spray lacquer (4 coats) on a white substrate looks MUCH better. It still has some yellowing, and I imagine that will darken over time (maybe that's good, or bad, I guess it depends on how "vintage" I want it to look). It's thinner than the brush on lacquer, but it still dried hard and felt protective.

    The spray on poly (4 coats) went on REALLY thin. It barely even felt like it was building a film on top of the fabric. The fabric pretty much still felt fuzzy through the poly. It was completely clear though, so +1 for the poly there.

    I have a tub of brush-on poly somewhere, as soon as I find it I'll do a final test with that.
     
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  13. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    I've covered a couple cabs with fabric, I've used weldwood (solvent based not water) on the wood and spray 3m 77 on the fabric with good results. I then laquer it with clear or amber shellac. Both darken it, but obviously the amber more so. I was going for the suitcase Tweed look on my projects, so the darkening effect was desirable, I'm not sure how you could avoid changing the fabrics color when using a finish, it may depend on the fabric more than the finish itself, I would expect that natural fiber would darken and bleed more than synthetics, but you may have more compatibility problems with synthetic materials.
     
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  14. bigguy12321

    bigguy12321 Tele-Meister

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    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/5c1-5c3-5f1-5e3-concurrent-builds.335898/page-6

    Starts on Page 6. This is how I've done all my boxes. Materials ranged from upholstery fabric to vinyl seat covering to wool to regular cotton to fake suede to... not sure what else. If I used too much glue it bled through so I've had to be more careful on the amount I've used.

    Only change to all of these was on the vinyl, I used an old tee-shirt between the iron and vinyl to keep it from melting the vinyl.

    I've found that when you first iron it down it holds good enough to check your placement but at that point you can still rip it off and reset or replace it.

    No stink so I can do it in the basement and nobody complains about the smell.

    Have fun!!!

    a
     
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  15. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    I'd love to read a thread about this process. So that's my vote.

    (I've always used tolex, tweet or upholstery fabric and finished it with shellac. Shellac on tolex was not ideal but I've lived with it.)
     
  16. choosebronze

    choosebronze TDPRI Member

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    Well for what it's worth, the test that's been closest to the Benson image above has been a very thin brushed layer of Mod Podge as a glue, applied only to the wood, with 2 coats of brush on semi-matte Polycrilic on top, on wood that's been painted white. The poly dries hard, and seems like it will protect the fabric really well. The poly has not yellowed at all, and as it seeped through the fabric it seems to be working like another layer of glue, adhering to the wood. The spray adhesives looked yellow on white-painted wood, and that seems to have come through the fabric a little.

    Time to start for real, I guess. I'll give it a shot on the whole head cab and post some photos if it works out!
     
  17. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Find the Texas Toast videos on fabric top guitars and use that same technique to put it on an amp.

    .
     
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