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Tolex troubles!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Myth_103, Sep 24, 2008.


  1. Myth_103

    Myth_103 Supporting Member

    So I'm about to purchase some tolex to cover the cab I'm building. It's a 4x12 that's 42" tall x 25" wide x 18" deep. How much should I probably get? And how in God's name do you cover all of it and make it look smooth? All professional cabs make it look so smooth around all the corners and it seems to be one continuous piece. Also... I'm trying to decided what color to go with. I have both and Orange AD200 and an Ampeg VR.... and figure that black would go with pretty much any amp well. BUT! I want my cab to look unique and different. Any suggestions? Anyone know of some sort of black or cool tolex that has designs made into it? Thanks.
     
  2. Vintage-Blue

    Vintage-Blue Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Owner, Vintage Blue (repro cabinets)
    If you want to keep things as clean as possible, you would need 4 yds. of Tolex. That would allow you to cover your cabinet and just have 1 seam, which you would put at the bottom. The down side to this is that you would only use about half the Tolex you bought. If you had more seams (4, for example) you could probably get by with 2 yds. My personal preference would be to go for the cleanest look and just have 1 seam (and less chances to mess up a cut).

    If you go with a Tolex with a pattern in it, be careful. If it's a directional pattern such as the blue-checked pattern used on some Ampegs, you must be much more careful in applying the Tolex. You must be sure that the pattern starts out square and stays square with the cabinet or it will look bad! Seams are also more noticeable in Tolex with a pattern. Plain black Tolex may not be real exciting but it is much more forgiving to apply, especially if this is your first time.
     
  3. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I imagine you'd wrap around the top and sides, but how is the back of the cab done without any seams?
     
  4. Vintage-Blue

    Vintage-Blue Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Owner, Vintage Blue (repro cabinets)
    You mean this isn't a completely open-back cabinet? :eek:

    This is why I shouldn't go answering questions until I'm fully awake! You're correct - there will have to be a lot more seams, especially since most of the material you'll find will probably only be 54" wide.
    :bag:
     
  5. GabeN

    GabeN

    Feb 27, 2006
    Chugiak, AK
    On my Acoustic 2x15 the tolex is run with one long piece from top to bottom around the top, rear, and bottom. The sides are done with their own pieces. The trick to make the seams look good are to get them super tight. I don't know how it's done but maybe you can find someone locally who knows how to cover cabs.
     
  6. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY

    Here's how I do it.

    I use one piece to wrap around the top, sides and bottom. This piece should have a seam on the bottom of the cab. I leave enough material on the sides to wrap around the front and at least an inch onto the baffle, and enough to wrap at least and inch onto the back panel. Always test the piece of tolex before laying out any glue. Mark the center of this piece of tolex on the glue side, and start by gluing this mark to the center of the top panel. Lay the cab on its side and glue down one half of the top, the side, and enough of the bottom so that you go more than half way across the bottom panel. Always start in the middle and work your way to the outside edges. Now flip the cab over and do the other side, again starting from the middle and working out. You want there to be an overlap on the bottom panel. Using a straight edge as a guide slice through both pieces of the overlap where you want the seam to be. Now peel back some of the tolex near the slice you just made, remove the cutoff pieces and lay the tolex back down to form a perfect seam.

    I use a similar "overlap and slice" technique for the back panel and if there are any cuts needed on the baffle. Wrapping from the sides to the baffle corners can be tricky. If you are using corner protectors they help to cover up any sloppy cuts.

    I use 3M spray adhesive as glue. For tight spaces I'll use a brush and spray some glue on the brush for easier application. You don't want to over spray onto the tolex.
     
  7. Myth_103

    Myth_103 Supporting Member

    Well.. I'm in Starkville, MS. Cabinet construction or covering is pretty rare. The only company based around the area is Peavey? So.. I don't know. I buddy of mine actually interned there over the summer. I guess I'll check and see if hey caught a preview of that.
     
  8. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    +1

    Overlap and slice through both. Comes out perfect every time. Don't try to cut individual pieces and match the edges. It just won't work. Overlap and slice.
     
  9. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    It really isn't that difficult. If you need more detail Google "Tolex Tutorial" and you'll come up with a lot of how-to info.

    Here's a link I found that does a good job.
     
  10. Vintage-Blue

    Vintage-Blue Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 13, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    Owner, Vintage Blue (repro cabinets)
    Have you ever had problems with the 3M adhesive releasing over time? The first thing I ever covered was a board for a new B15 dolly and I used the 3M spray adhesive. Everything seemed to turn out fine but after several weeks the Tolex had almost completely released from the wood. I received an email from a friend awhile back where he had problems too. He had tried the 3M product on a couple of jobs and customers sent them back because the Tolex starting lifting. I know some companies advertise the 3M product for use with Tolex so I assume it has to work for some people. I've only tried it on Ampeg Diamond Blue Tolex, which has a backing to it. I wonder if it works better on unbacked Tolex?
     
  11. Myth_103

    Myth_103 Supporting Member

    Great info guys! I appreciate it!
     
  12. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    It might have to do with the specific Tolex being used. I used the term "Tolex" very generically. There are a lot of cab coverings out there similar to Tolex, but each is a little different.

    With the 3M 77 spray adhesive, I've never had anything come undone on me. I've only done a few cabs with vinyl or Tolex-like coverings though. I do more rat fur. IME, the 77 works best if you can spray it onto both surfaces, then wait 30 seconds or so for the glue to set up a bit before joining the parts. A lot of contact cements work like this too. I'm sure a good contact cement would work well too, I just prefer to apply with a spray.
     
  13. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    Chicago
    The '70s Peavey cabinets were covered in 1 piece but had four seams. The back gets covered first (in the middle of the tolex). The four seams run front to back 3/4 inches in from the edges so that the edge of the tolex just brushes the sides when you fold it over at the front and the corners hide a lot. Clever folks there in Meridian, MS.
     
  14. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    That's one way to do it. But like Vintage-Blue mentioned, you're going have a lot more scrap this way and you'll need a very large piece to start with. Depending on the size of your cab it might be too large.
     
  15. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    Chicago
    No doubt and I would never cover a cabinet that way...but I thought it was clever.

    I do the wrap the box with a separate piece on the back method. The seam on the bottom is usually off to one side.

    I didn't read the tutorial, but I always paint the area that will be under the seams with paint of the same color as the tolex/carpet. It helps hide flaws very well.

    I use a very sharp Xacto knife, and may change the blade once midway through the process. A very (very) sharp knife is one of your best friends for doing a professional looking job.
     
  16. when i do mine i route a small channel (1/8" wide, 1/8"deep roughly) around 2-3" from the edge on the back of the cabinet. i cover the top, bottom, and sides, with enough to reach that routed line. i cover to the routed line, and on the other side. i put some piping in the routed slot of a contrasting colour, and turn it into a feature.

    heres a pic to give you an idea. you can see the seam which helps explain

    cabback-1.
     
  17. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Very nice! Looks great!

    What material do you used for the piping? Where do you get it?
     
  18. zac2944

    zac2944

    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Very good idea. I do this as well.
     
  19. i used some chord from a fabric shop. a bit odd, but works fine. im cheap with things, as im a uni student.
     
  20. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    Tip on tough seems or other tolex adhesion problems. I learned this a while back and it never fails to solve the problem. Use Super Glue or something like it. One of them comes with a small brush for easy application. Keeps pesky tolex in place, whether it is new, old or a scuffed peeling piece. :cool:
     

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