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Make a Case Out of Laminated Cardboard

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jtrom, Mar 9, 2016.

Would this work?

Poll closed Mar 31, 2016.
  1. Yes, with the right procedure!

    40 vote(s)
  2. Folly I say!

    10 vote(s)
  1. jtrom


    Nov 22, 2008
    Kelowna BC
    So I have a couple basses and a keyboard kicking around that I would really like cases for. I love building my own stuff and would love the challenge of making my own case. I was browsing the interwebs and found this instrucable on making a kayak out of laminated cardboard.

    Essentially, you just take a bunch of corrugated cardboard, run each layer perpendicular with the "grain", and put a LOT of glue between each layer... I was thinking of making a solid 6" thick box and cutting the shape out... obviously putting some kind of waterproof finish on it.

    Does this sound like a feasible idea? Or just folly?
  2. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Lol, sounds interesting! Please document your progress right here, I gotta see this... :D
    Fat Steve likes this.
  3. PDX Rich

    PDX Rich

    Dec 19, 2014
    Portland, OR
    I've never seen anything like that. Go! Following along for sure. :)
    Fat Steve likes this.
  4. Rôckhewer

    Rôckhewer Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Mesa, Arizona
    Owner/Builder- RockHewer Custom Guitars LLC
    I'm not in the habit of being negative about weird ideas... I love weird ideas;)

    And yeah, it is feasible... (they're making all kinds of....stuff ...from cardboard )
    But it it practical?
    And the only reason I question this is the question of weight.
    The stuff I've seen made from corrugated paper (cardboard) needs ...as you said, a lot of glue to turn it into something rigid, strong & waterproof.
    The glue pretty much needs to saturate the cardboard right? Not necessarily to fill the voids, but ...still.
    So all the mass of a solid stack of cardboard, and all that glue....??
  5. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    It wouldn't be bullet proof, but I'm confident it could work.

    We use triple wall corrugated bulk boxes at my firm. They are roughly 3' X 4' X 4' and hold up to 2,000 lbs of plastic pellets.

    Don't laugh, they are called Gaylords. The actual wall stock is less than an inch thick. The only real weakness that I can think of off the top of my head would be the hinge and handle securement method.

    I would encourage you to try.
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    What were the "chipboard" cases made from back in the good old days?
  7. StreetScenes

    StreetScenes Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    What about checking out places that make signs they use gator board for out door signs. Basically the outdoor corrugated plastic. I think they would be a option as well. Lol you could even custom print the sides....i doubt it would save you money but you would have a totally custom case.

    If you found the right cardboard you would be ok. I have some corner pieces that I can stand on!
    Dougie44, hover and MVE like this.
  8. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    It should work, but buying enough glue to make it rigid doesn't seem cost effective. You can buy a couple sheets of MDF or plywood and make something a lot more rigid for cheap. That said, it's still a cool experiment from a non-practical point of view, it's amazing what people can do with almost nothing. Good luck and post photos. Been thinking about building my own case too.
  9. Magicrat


    Jan 25, 2016
    I'm sure it would work, A long while back I installed a machine for a company that was going to make cardboard chairs, tables and caskets. So I should imagine once constructed sealed, padded and lined it should be great, please post build and finished photos.
  10. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    It will work for some value of work.

    Indeed, some cheesy old cases are a stiff cardboard, not even corrugated, but get most of what little strength they have from the shape.

    I suspect it will be less work (put into making it), time and also less bulky to build from 1/8" ply and 3/4" wood (wood at the corners, or as the edges, for a thin instrument, makes joining the ply feasible.) It might also weigh (and possibly even cost) less, after all that glue. I built a double-bass box this way, though it was 1-1/2" wood for most of the edgeframe (being over all a bigger item), and the 1/8" got covered with 7/16" OSB (making it ungodly heavy) since it needed to survive being under a bus and rough handling. Without the OSB it's a nice enough box, when "bombproof" is not required. Inside the box XPS and foam rubber was used, and the soft-case for the bass was left on it.

    An alternate method that will give the case FAQ horrors is XPS (rigid foam insulation), if you were going to "laminate up a block and cut it out" - you still want foam rubber for resilient padding (just like the FAQ says), but XPS can make a quick, strong (how strong varies with how far you go - add fiberglass or glue it to plywood and it gets very strong), light box. It will be thicker than an equivalent ply box, though. Probably thinner and lighter than an equivalently strong corrugated cardboard, I'd guess. If you did fiberglass it, cardboard won't compete.

    For a quickie, xps, foam rubber, hot glue and make a fabric bag/cover for the outside. You can cut out the instrument shape on the inner sheets and glue to blank sheets for the outside - would probably be the way to do cardboard, as well.

    Thread from last fall with a nice wood/ply/rubber version:
    Building a case
    vmabus likes this.
  11. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    I've made lots of stuff out of cut up Gaylords---- glue 2 piece together with the grain of the pieces rotated 90 degrees and the stuff is very strong.

    To the OP--- go for it --- it will work.:thumbsup:
  12. Well, they can make a guitar out of it....

  13. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    No reason it wouldn't work. If you wanted it to be bulletproof might get either a bit heavy or awkwardly large.
  14. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    I like this idea...
    Already waterproof and fairly lite and rigid. +1
    micahwc likes this.
  15. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    I made a cardboard chair in HS. It held my fat a$$ just fine. You could absolutely, 100% make a case out of cardboard. Just think about the details. I'd pay extra attention to the corners and handle for strength.
  16. timocharis likes this.
  17. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Conceptually I really like the idea, but practically speaking I'd recommend just getting a second hand case or blowout case. Even if it's not the right fit for your instrument, one sheet of insulation foam, and some cutting followed by a yard or two of fake fur and a glue gun will get you a custom, perfectly fitted case that's going to be much sturdier.

    If you really wanted to go all custom/DIY, I'd recommend making the case out of insulation foam and fur and then put a gatorboard/Corrugated-plastic outer layer on it to add a bit of rigidity and impact resistance
  18. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I am pretty sure the kayak, just like that cardboard Strat is cardboard completely impregnated with some type of resin. So basically you would have a plastic case with a paper substrate. It would work, and it would be pretty solid, but I think it will be pretty heavy.
  19. hover


    Oct 4, 2008
    I came here to suggest gatorboard as well. Even better is layered fully plastic corrugated sheets.
    Cover the outside with tolex, and wrap the edges / corners with inexpensive corner trim, apply suitable closure latch and hinge and voila, custom case.

    DO IT.
  20. Wesley R

    Wesley R Supporting Member

    I believe if you have the time, money, place and energy give it a solid go, especially if it provides some enjoyment. As far as being an odd idea, I know a guy who wants to build a reverse folded horn using a 10" speaker, ike a 360 scaled way down.

    Best of Luck,
    Wesley R.
    jj4001 likes this.