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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / Help--building a extension speaker cabinet--material ?

Contributing Member

Kansas City, Mo.

counting it all joy
Aug 12th, 2017 08:20 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

So I want to make either a 1x12 or 2x12 or both cabinet.
I know I can get 3/4" void free baltic birch plywood and it is an industry standard.
But can I use the clear pine from say a Home Depot or Lowes and joint two pieces together for the sides and top?? Wanting cabinet to be 16" deep----or the big box stores have pine already joined to projects and some is 16" wide but made up of say a bunch of 3 inch wide boards....
This cabinet will look like the Forte 3D with ports on the sides...

1x12 Ported Cabinet

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Aug 12th, 2017 01:37 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've made cabinets out of Home Depot "whitewood" (usually pine or spruce) with good results. It's inexpensive, light and quite durable if the construction is sound. It can crack if it's really abused, though, which plywood won't do.

You have to pick your boards carefully and avoid any that are cupped or warped or twisted. Pre-glued wide, clear stock would also be fine, but more costly.

I'll use stuff with knots as long as they're small and tight. If the knots have any cracks in them or small voids around them, I fill them with superglue.

I wouldn't go with lots of narrow boards, but just two, either 1x12s ripped down to 8" or 1x8s, which would give you a 15" deep cabinet.

If you have a biscuit joiner and a few pipe clamps, it makes edge-gluing the boards a lot easier.

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 05:32 PM, Aug 12th, 2017)

Contributing Member

Kansas City, Mo.

counting it all joy
Aug 14th, 2017 02:56 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Does cabinet material REALLY make a difference??
So say a solid clear pine or marine grade baltic birch??
If it is really not a big deal guess I will use the plywood---
But your opinions matter.

Contributing Member

American Patriot

About as ordinary as you can get.
Aug 14th, 2017 04:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I personally like pine over plywood. Baltic birch is nice stuff but for cabs, it is pine for me.
I've been building cabs off and on since about 1976. Since I got my dovetail gig and finger joint jig, they are a piece of cake.

Lowe's has some "finger jointed" pine that might also work nicely. I picked up a couple pieces the other day but haven't built anything yet. I have used this stuff in the past and it is great.

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Aug 14th, 2017 05:04 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"...Does cabinet material REALLY make a difference??..."

My true answer to that is...I don't know.

It's generally accepted that lumber has better acoustic properties than plywood, which has better acoustic properties than MDF or particle board. But do acoustic properties really matter when you're just building a box to hold a speaker? A lot of people will say absolutely yes, but do they really know? Can they prove it?

Good science experiment: Build two identical cabinets, one of lumber, one of plywood and do a multiple listener blind listening test, including swapping speakers from one cab to the other.

I just like working with lumber better than plywood, especially for dovetail or box joints and routing. I do always use birchply for baffles, though.

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 07:06 PM, Aug 14th, 2017)

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Aug 14th, 2017 05:26 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Does cabinet material REALLY make a difference??"

I've never built a cabinet, nor am I an acoustic engineer, but my understanding has always been the density of the material effects the resonance of the box.

Contributing Member

The rain sounds like

a round of applause
Aug 14th, 2017 08:28 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've built combo cabinets and speaker boxes for years, and I've used all kinds of material.

MDF and other composition-type boards are favored by many high-end speaker makers precisely because of their 'dead' quality. It helps assure the cabinet won't introduce artificial voicing to music playback.

Combo and speaker cabs for guitar are a different story: solid pine adds a distinctive tone to a guitar's sound, especially when paired with a floating baffle as used on many early Fender amps.

Some of the really good cabs seem to just come alive when played loud, and are a huge part of the guitar's tone.

Fender went to particle board in the late 60's-early 70's, and that stuff is terrible. It takes a hit and crumbles like a graham cracker. It gets wet and swells up. It holds moisture and the screws and metal feet rust right out the wood and the Tolex falls off. Terrible.

High-quality plywood makes good sense because it is dimensionally stable, extremely durable, and it sounds good. But it is heavy.

I've built several cabs using 5/8" seven-ply birch. I rout parallel grooves on the inside surfaces to remove material; it decreases the weight without sacrificing strength too much.

I've tried acrylic, polycarbonate, and GRP sheet, but that stuff needs damping material bonded to the inner surfaces to control weird resonances because it acts like a drum head if left undamped.

Most all commercially-available molded speaker cabs are internally asymmetrical with non-parallel surfaces to control the weird stuff that happens with plastics.

My favorite approach is how some early Ampeg combo cabs were built: they used 3/8" five-ply. It's lightweight and sounds great. I'm currently building a small Leslie-type speaker cab this way.

The drawback is it's not as durable as the thicker stuff. But take care of your gear, don't use your amp as a step stool, and it won't get too chewed up :o)


michigan usa

Aug 15th, 2017 06:00 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'll share my limited experience:

I have built two cabs. One is pine with a birch ply baffle. It's a 2x10 but I made it big enough to house two 12s. It is uncovered, no tolex or anything. It is a bright-sounding cab, quite sharp and boomy, "woody" sounding. I think that in this case the cab itself is a more significant part of the overall tone than with usual cabs.

The other one is a Thiele cabinet. This one I made out of 3/4" birch multi-ply. Granted, this type of cab was designed for a specific EV speaker and for a specific purpose, presumably for a more hi-fi type sound. I put a JBL K-120 in mine and it sure sounds like what I'm hearing is more speaker than cab. Very clean and even across the spectrum.

So, kind of an apples and oranges comparison cab-wise but still goes along with the usual idea that solid wood will contribute a lot more to the overall voice of the cab than plywood which is generally more "dead" sounding as mentioned above.

Just remember that if you use void-free plywood then be prepared for a heavy cab. My 1x12 weighs more than my 2x10...

FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / Help--building a extension speaker cabinet--material ?

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