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  • calling all woodworkers

    Hi all, I have been tossing this idea around in my head for a while. I'm not a fan of veneer, but want the real wood look. We've got a pretty decent shop, and I have made several projects over the years (I'm 23, so we're talking 10 years, not 50 ). Can anyone share any success stories or any foreseeable pitfalls to building a inner box out of MDF (probably 1/2 inch) and then "laminating" cherry or mahogany to the outside? I would spread titebond over the entire surface where they meet. Also, knowing that I don't want the wood to expand/contract, I will seal this puppy up with no less than 6 coats of sealer. I seen a lot of mixed reviews on this site about this subject, some say they've done it with success, others say never again will they work with real wood. Comments?

  • #2
    Re: calling all woodworkers

    I have had a lot of success with maple. here is a double baffle attached on a pe .75 cu ft box
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Re: calling all woodworkers

      It's kind of a mixed bag working with real wood of any thickness. The reason it's a problem is because if it wants to move, It Will! And it always does, at least a little. Phil's baffle shows that it can work if you do it right.

      Here is a pic of "The Beast" my quad 12" Titanic subwoofer box. It has solid 3/4" maple top and front baffle.

      It was very dry when I made it and it didn't move much, but along the width of the front baffle where it meets the sides, as well as there the top meets the sides, there is some very slight expansion. The type where the fingernail will catch it when it was perfectly smooth before finishing. It's not a problem and it has remained stable for about 2 years give or take.

      If you do make the box with mdf or something similar, then top it with real wood, just make sure the mdf is dry before you apply the real wood. Make it, finish it, then let it sit in a nice dry place for several months before gluing the wood on to make sure the MDF is dry.... because that stuff moves quite a bit also! Since you plan on using 1/2" MDF as opposed to 3/4", that works in your favor.

      Sealing it very will is a great idea, but it will not stop the movement... it will move some eventually most likely. By the way, I felt the same way about veneer a few years ago, but after using it on half a dozen projects, I have now become a big fan. It's not like the cheapo-looking plywood veneers of 20 years ago, there is a bunch readily and almost cheaply-available from many online sources, and it works real well! You probably already know this, but I thought I'd share my thoughts on the matter!

      Keep us posted on whatever you decide to do.

      TomZ
      Zarbo Audio Projects Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEZ...aFQSTl6NdOwgxQ * 320-641 Amp Review Youtube: https://youtu.be/ugjfcI5p6m0 *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
      *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF

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      • #4
        Re: calling all woodworkers

        Wood will move.
        You need to account for that fact in constructing your enclosures.
        As the panels increase in width so does movement.
        No practical finishing method will stop this movement.
        (don't waste 6 coats of sealer, finishes are maximally effective at ~3 coats).

        It's very difficult to build a sealed, 6 sided box out of solid wood. You always have grain meeting at right angles (or close enough). This is where the biggest problem lies. Wood will expand across the grain and if restrained where it meets a long grain panel it will self destruct to some degree.
        Nothing will stop this.

        Most every method of solid wood construction that accounts for this movement will introduce a new set of problems in a loudspeaker enclosure. You don't want panels that rattle or whistle when the tunes start.

        If you build one or two sets of small speakers and keep them in the same environment and follow Tom Z's advise your chances of success are ~50/50.
        It's a gamble. Some guys get lucky, some don't.

        I'll echo Tom again and say that there are very fine veneers available. In fact, in commercial lumber production the very best logs are culled at harvest and mill sites and cut into veneer, and at very premium profit levels too!

        Don't mean to sound discouraging but this is a daunting task!
        I hope you find some creative solutions, it would be a nice benefit for all (if you share! ).
        ~99%
        Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery
        Make me a poster of an old rodeo
        Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
        To believe in this livin' is just a hard way to go

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: calling all woodworkers




          i did this with mdf and 4/4 white oak. attached with big screws into big Tnuts. used a LOT of black caulk instead of glue to allow a little give but not allow and vibration. baffle is inset about 3/8 or so..
          " To me, the soundstage presentation is more about phase and distortion and less about size. However, when you talk about bass extension, there's no replacement for displacement". Tyger23. 4.2015

          Quote Originally Posted by hongrn. Oct 2014
          Do you realize that being an American is like winning the biggest jackpot ever??

          http://www.midwestaudioclub.com/spot...owell-simpson/
          http://s413.photobucket.com/albums/pp216/arlis/

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          • #6
            Re: calling all woodworkers

            How would you handle this if the entire enclosure was covered in 1/2 - 3/4" thick solid wood?
            How would you do the joints where the panels meet?


            Originally posted by [email protected] View Post
            ...
            i did this with mdf and 4/4 white oak. attached with big screws into big Tnuts. used a LOT of black caulk instead of glue to allow a little give but not allow and vibration. baffle is inset about 3/8 or so..
            ~99%
            Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery
            Make me a poster of an old rodeo
            Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
            To believe in this livin' is just a hard way to go

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: calling all woodworkers

              you failed to mention what you don't like about veneer? It has been used for hundreds of years so most of the methods a fairly proven. You can use much more exotic woods without worrying about movement and splitting...

              if i was going to cover a inner mdf box with real wood, I would do all the laminating on the rough cut sheets and then cut all the panels and glue them. Buy a meter to make sure the moisture content is low before you start...
              Mark


              http://www.diy-ny.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: calling all woodworkers

                Originally posted by bobbarkto View Post
                Wood will move.
                You need to account for that fact in constructing your enclosures.
                As the panels increase in width so does movement.
                No practical finishing method will stop this movement.
                (don't waste 6 coats of sealer, finishes are maximally effective at ~3 coats).
                I agee. An option is the "inlaid" approach as arlis has done. Personally, I really like the contrast between "real" wood and painted MDF. The front can be sealed with foam behind the baffle and then screwed on. Shrinkage and expansion of the baffle would be allowed as long as holes for fastening are not too small. You can drill a larger hole than the fastener which will allow some movement. If you fastened the baffle so tightly to the enclosure that it would be the same as gluing, then the solid wood baffle might crack. With the narrow width baffle and not gluing you shouldn't have any trouble.

                The other approach would be the same as above for the baffle and the back but instead of mdf sides, bottom and top, you could made them of solid wood and minimize the potental of the wood splitting by running the grain in the same direction all around. I would not run the grain from from to back if the enclosures were tall but rather from top to bottom and then across the bottom and across the top. Most of the shrinkage doesn't come from the length but rather from the width of a piece of wood. If the width of the wood ran from front to back all the way around the enclosure, shrinkage would pretty much be the same all the way around and splitting would not likely happen unless the pieces used were of quite different cuts from a log or different logs. The top, bottom and sides would move as a unit and the front and back, being "loosely" fastened, would not prevent movement. Just make sure the front and back don't fit tightly inside, allow some space.

                I made some large enclosures many years ago out of 1" thick mahogany. They were large because they had to accomodate a 15" woofer and horn midrange. I used the approach above and never had a problem.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: calling all woodworkers

                  To me, veneer looks fake. I know it's real wood of course, but it generally, at least what I've seen, is free of knots and color variation and character (somewhat, it has its own brand of character). Plus, I have zero experiance with veneer. That's not really a good enough excuse not to try it, but that's my excuse right now.
                  A very appealing aproach is trying to 'inlay' some 1/4 wood. I would probably make the sides soild wood and the top/back/bottom/front out of painted mdf to compliment whatever wood I use. That way the wood could 'float' and not split using the technique described by whatatrip.

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                  • #10
                    Re: calling all woodworkers

                    if your going to inlay, consider flooring. the thick real solid wood would and has worked real well. i think the thin stuff with foam backing would work too.
                    " To me, the soundstage presentation is more about phase and distortion and less about size. However, when you talk about bass extension, there's no replacement for displacement". Tyger23. 4.2015

                    Quote Originally Posted by hongrn. Oct 2014
                    Do you realize that being an American is like winning the biggest jackpot ever??

                    http://www.midwestaudioclub.com/spot...owell-simpson/
                    http://s413.photobucket.com/albums/pp216/arlis/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: calling all woodworkers

                      I was inspried by this thread earlier in the week.
                      http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...d.php?t=210115
                      I just might try this. The only thing I don't like is he stagered his flooring like a real floor, but then the side looks like a floor, not like real wood. I like it though.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: calling all woodworkers

                        I've made a couple boxes out of hardwoods, but only with wood that I know has a lot of age on it. Right now I have a stack of 6/4 curly maple boards that I think are now ready, after 5 years sitting in the garage ... it was fairly fresh when I bought it.

                        Veneer looks fake? You haven't seen enough veneer then, because I've gone through stacks and stacks of exotic hardwoods over the years, and never seen anything that can match the amazing figure and patterns you can get in veneer. Browse around here a bit, it might change your mind

                        http://www.wood-veneers.com/veneer_extra.html
                        Vapor Audio

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: calling all woodworkers

                          not fake like it's not real, but you can tell it's veneer because you see no gluelines. Too perfect for me. But you said it right doubletap, I really haven't seen enough to say something blanket like 'it looks fake'. Done properly, it looks ok. Just not my thing.
                          The drivers I want to use are kind of ugly, so they will be covered by a grill. This wasn't where I was originally headed. I originally wanted hardwood because I wasn't going to use grills. Now I think it will do to find a color scheme that compliments grill color (not black), mdf color (up in the air), and choice of hardwood. If I can find colors that go well together, then I might limit the hardwood to just being on the sides like it has been said, inlayed somehow.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: calling all woodworkers



                            It requires patience & planning.

                            This is 1/4" thick shop-made veneer over mdf, about 2 years old. Just beginning to show joint creep...most noticeable where the lacquer finish is cracked due to the movement. Movement in this construction is more likely to be noticed because one face is restrained. Still, the restraint of the mdf overcomes the expansion/contraction of the wood to a large degree. We're talking about movement in the single-digit thousandths of an inch.

                            Movement is likely to become noticeable where there is a change in character of the wood on either side of the glue line. Harder wood (the bubinga) is more likely to do this than less dense wood (sycamore). A mis-match in grain can cause this.

                            Dark wood is bubinga...light wood is quartered sycamore.

                            4/4 boards were surfaced, band sawn, thicknessed, matched for panel edge glue-up, edge glued, finish surfaced, glued to the 3/4" mdf, edged, mated to adjoining panels...whew!...
                            baffle round-over is 1-1/4" rad.

                            What else?

                            pm me with questions...we can talk
                            Last edited by edlafontaine; 02-06-2010, 09:43 PM. Reason: add contact invite
                            Mongo only pawn in game of life
                            ____
                            Ed

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                            • #15
                              Re: calling all woodworkers

                              My TCW. I have found that using a locking joint on the mdf, along with a slight roundover, then laminating the veneer on top, will give long lasting and excellent results. The best equipment, and easiest to use is a router table with the locking joint bit. I do NOT recommend doing your wood working in a damp environment. It's best to keep the humidity in your working evironment to no greater than 30%. If you live in the southwest that's a 'no sweat' condition. For those of you in a colder/more moist environment, I say use a dehumidifier, or move to the southwest. I have had no creep in my box joints in over 20 years, doing this.... but then again I live in a rather arid environment, but with humidity climbing to around 70-80% for several weeks at a time.... my driver foam surrounds have rotted/deteriorated from this but the cabinets are in excellent shape with NO visible seam separation. That's both in the veneer and painted gloss black format. BTW, use a good 'contact cememt' type of adhesive for your veneer, as glues tend to go hard with time and if there is some seam separation, they can crack because the glue was not pliable enough to allow for expansion. Remember that mdf mated to another surface, being it wood or other, expand at different rates and you need to account for that.
                              It's a good day, and all is 'said and done', when you have wood dust in your nose and an ice-cold kraft brew in your hand...

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