Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

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hankC
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Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#1 Post by hankC » Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:08 am

Hi, Just bought my plans and registered for the forum.
I intend to build the XF210. Just for personal use because I don't perform but I just got an electric guitar so now I'm into learning about amps and speakers. I'm also an amateur woodworker so I have a fair amount of experience building boxes.
I have a couple of questions though.
I looked through the forum and the FAQ's but I didn't see much that addressed this question.
I know that the recommended material is Baltic Birch plywood which is great stuff but kind of boring from a fine furniture point of view.
What I'd like to know is if anyone has built their cabinets from solid wood?
I definitely prefer solid wood in guitars so I'm thinking why not for speakers too.
What are the pros and cons of using solid wood for speaker cabinets?
Would hardwood be better or are softwoods preferred?
If it was a guitar are we talking about the back and sides material or the top?


Has anyone used Meranti Marine plywood? It's a kind of Philippine Mahogany plywood and like the best baltic birch it uses lots of thin veneers and has absolutely no voids. It is rather softer than birch but it will finish up nicely like mahogany.

Best regards,
Hank Cohen

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Tom Smit
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#2 Post by Tom Smit » Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:24 am

Hi Hank, and welcome to the forum!

I will let others answer your questions. :)
TomS

Grant Bunter
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#3 Post by Grant Bunter » Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:41 am

Hello Hank,
Welcome to the forum :)

One thing that guitars do, or you want them to do, is resonate. More so with classical and acoustic guitars, but also with electric guitars and basses.
There are certainly a known amount of timbers used in guitar making because of these properties, like alder and ash.

The last thing you want a speaker cab to do is to resonate. That indicates movement in the cab walls, and that leads to a reduction in output.

Meranti is one of the species in a rather broad group of Asian based hardwoods often called Phillipine Mahogany, or also known as Luan (with a variety of spellings).
Our mates in the USA will know Luan best as the material used on the faces of their hollow core doors.
The Pearl drum company right up to 1980 used 9 ply luan for their drum shells.
One of the characteristics of Phillipine Mahogany is it has a fairly open grain, which doesn't lend itself generally to furniture grade finishing, though Meranti timber is one exception.

Marine ply, any marine ply, uses different glues to other types of ply. Marine ply is always heavy, and more expensive.
The goal here is to make lightweight, great sounding cabs, so marine ply is often least recommended.

Next up, most of these cabs are made to throw, or at least place, in trucks, for band reinforcement.
In the case of guitar cabs, they are often either painted, or covered with, say, tweed cloth or the like. This is one reason why not many cabs are finished to furniture grade.

Solid hard wood is harder than ply or softwood to bend back into shape if it is warped. Hard wood is more difficult to work with than softwood.
Having said that, if you want to build a fine furniture grade guitar cab that will sit in your home, then there is no reason not to try that, you have 2 choices:
1. Use a nice grained hardwood. You will get there eventually, using dewarping techniques in the plans.
2. Build a cab with ply. Then apply a lovely exotic veneer to the cab, for example, birds eye maple.

I hope this helps...
Built:
DR 250: x 2 melded array, 2x CD horn, March 2012 plans.
T39's: 4 x 20" BP102 , 2 x 28" 3012lf.
WH8: x 3 with melded array.
Bunter's Audio and Lighting "like"s would be most appreciated...

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Rune Bivrin
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#4 Post by Rune Bivrin » Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:10 am

Solid wood is certainly doable, as long as you have the necessary tools. For really fancy work you'd probably want a jointer and a planer, so you're in charge of the warping factor.

You'd also probably want to use another joining technique. Butt joints aren't really that strong with solid woods, and if you want that furniture look you would probably want something like finger joints or dove tail joints anyway.

For a cab designated for home use I'd definitely say "Go for it!"
In build order:
O12 with no tweeter.
3 x WedgeHorns.
2 x Jack 10 without tweeters.
2 x DR250.
2 x 16" T39
1 x Tuba 24
2 x SLA Pro (sort of...)

hankC
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#5 Post by hankC » Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:24 am

Thanks for the warm welcome and the comments.

A couple of points. Regarding resonance, won't plywood resonate? It surely must, there must be different spectral responses for different materials but I wouldn't think that the differences would be huge. I would expect hardwoods to be more acoustically active since being hard they can create harder echos. In this respect if what you want is something relatively acoustically dead then fiberboard would be better than MDF which would be a tossup against most plywood. Meranti Marine being softer would be less resonant than baltic birch which is pretty hard. So I'm thinking that if what I want is something that acts as an acoustic damper then softwood would be a better choice than something very hard and acoustically bright like maple or walnut. Here in Japan we have a lot of very nice clear cedar that might be a good choice for a softwood. For something harder we have cypress. Softer there's paulownia which is almost as light as yet much stronger than balsa. Not at all appropriate for road show equipment though. I might go for mahogany but it's pretty expensive.

Regarding technique and tools I'm pretty much a hand tool woodworker these days. Joinery will be hand cut dovetails. I expect to have to resize the components a bit to ensure that the inside dimensions are the same as the design specs. I agree about butt joints, certainly for joining panels they are not very good. Even for plywood dado and rabbet joints are better. However edge joining to form panels is standard practice in solid wood and tests show it's just as strong as other techniques assuming your glue lines are thin. The nice thing about dovetails is that they naturally give you very square joints. If they fit at all then your box will be pretty near dead square. Also they are not so hard to do by hand and they work even in plywood although plywood is not forgiving. You get just one chance for a perfect fit in plywood because disassembling dovetailed plywood almost always causes delamination of the tails. Box joints can't be done accurately by hand and they don't have the right angle stability of dovetails but they do look good and they are almost as strong as dovetails.

There were some comments about glue elsewhere on the forum. Fine Woodworking magazine did some extensive tests of the strength of glue and they concluded that Titebond II aliphatic resin was the strongest for tight joints. If you need to fill gaps then epoxy wins. The foaming nature of urethane (Gorilla Glue) will fill gaps but the foam isn't strong so the joints will be much weaker than epoxy with a filler. For wooden boatbuilding the standard is epoxy thickened with wood flour that you harvest from your sander.

As for warpage well I guess we just need to start with flat panels. Dovetails will resist warping after assembly.

It will probably be a few months but I'll post pictures when I'm done.

Hank

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Bill Fitzmaurice
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#6 Post by Bill Fitzmaurice » Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:46 am

Follow the plans, to the letter. :cop:
If there was a better way of doing it that's how we'd do it. Ignore any and all advice and previous experience using building techniques that applie to furniture, boats, aircraft or starships. They do not apply to speaker cabinets.
Some of the best results have been realized by first time builders who took their time and followed the plans. :clap:
Some of the worst have been realized by highly skilled professional woodworkers who used furniture building techniques. :cussing:

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Rune Bivrin
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#7 Post by Rune Bivrin » Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:45 am

Bill Fitzmaurice wrote:Follow the plans, to the letter. :cop:
If there was a better way of doing it that's how we'd do it. Ignore any and all advice and previous experience using building techniques that applie to furniture, boats, aircraft or starships. They do not apply to speaker cabinets.
Some of the best results have been realized by first time builders who took their time and followed the plans. :clap:
Some of the worst have been realized by highly skilled professional woodworkers who used furniture building techniques. :cussing:
Generally I'd agree. By building a few cabinets according to plan you acquire an understanding of how they come together, and where – given your tools and skill set – you can do things in a different way or embellish in a non-destructive way.

However, with the XF cabinets I don't really see the problem. The only somewhat tricky aspect of those is getting the angles for the baffle sections correct. And if you're doing closed back, you need to honour the air-tight aspect.
In build order:
O12 with no tweeter.
3 x WedgeHorns.
2 x Jack 10 without tweeters.
2 x DR250.
2 x 16" T39
1 x Tuba 24
2 x SLA Pro (sort of...)

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Tom Smit
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#8 Post by Tom Smit » Thu Feb 12, 2015 10:23 am

Rune Bivrin wrote:
Bill Fitzmaurice wrote:Follow the plans, to the letter. :cop:
If there was a better way of doing it that's how we'd do it. Ignore any and all advice and previous experience using building techniques that applie to furniture, boats, aircraft or starships. They do not apply to speaker cabinets.
Some of the best results have been realized by first time builders who took their time and followed the plans. :clap:
Some of the worst have been realized by highly skilled professional woodworkers who used furniture building techniques. :cussing:
Generally I'd agree. By building a few cabinets according to plan you acquire an understanding of how they come together, and where – given your tools and skill set – you can do things in a different way or embellish in a non-destructive way.

However, with the XF cabinets I don't really see the problem. The only somewhat tricky aspect of those is getting the angles for the baffle sections correct. And if you're doing closed back, you need to honour the air-tight aspect.
+1





Hank, for the adhesives we use PL Premium which is an expanding polyurathane adhesive. Built with PL, cabs can better survive the bumping around that may occur.

If you decide to build any other cab design, please follow the plans. Since the XF cabs are typically made to be "open back", it can be okay to stray a little if one knows what they are doing. :)
TomS

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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#9 Post by wounded horse » Thu Feb 12, 2015 10:23 am

There was, on this forum, some time ago, a builder who did just this. Some type of mahogany, finger joints, exhibition standard woodworking chops. It was stained, rubbed down and waxed and looked a million dollars. I don't think it was intended to ever go anywhere but it was total eye candy.

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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#10 Post by Bruce Weldy » Thu Feb 12, 2015 11:17 am

A hundred years ago, I built a 1x12 open-back guitar cab out of 1 x 12 pine from home depot. Used 3/4 ply for the baffle. Threw some stain on it. Been sitting here in my office for 20 years. Drag it out every now and then for a gig - works like a champ.

As stated before, with open back cabs - all bets are off. Build it out of whatever you want, make it as pretty as you want - with the understanding that when you haul it around, it's gonna get beat up.

I'd build an XF2XX, but I can't imagine a single instance where I'd need more than one speaker. That and a 25 watt Boogie is plenty to keep up with a drum kit and if there is PA support - then there really is no need.

Of course, I am not taking into consideration the "my d#@k is bigger than yours" factor, so often exhibited by guitarists looking to compensate for skill with size. :mrgreen:

6 - T39 4-25" 2-22" 3012LF
4 - OT12 2512 Melded/NSD2005
1 - T24
2 - XF210


"A system with a few knobs set up by someone who knows what they are doing is always better than one with a lot of knobs set up by someone who doesn't."

Bruce Weldy
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#11 Post by Bruce Weldy » Thu Feb 12, 2015 11:23 am

But, I have to admit - I like the look and profile of a XF210. With a small tube head - it would be a formidable package.

6 - T39 4-25" 2-22" 3012LF
4 - OT12 2512 Melded/NSD2005
1 - T24
2 - XF210


"A system with a few knobs set up by someone who knows what they are doing is always better than one with a lot of knobs set up by someone who doesn't."

jimbo7
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#12 Post by jimbo7 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:18 pm

Why not veneer? If you like the solid wood look, just cover the plywood in veneer. Probably more expensive than solid wood, but you'll still appease the gods
BFM builds:
XF212
T24 BP102 24"
2x SLA's 6-5" mids, 9- gt-302's
2x AT 14" MCM 55-2421
TrT 5" MCM 55-2421
AT 18" JBL GTO804
2x OT12 flat array
2x SLA Pro 2-Alpha 6's 2-Goldwoods
2x T39 24" 3012lf
Simplex 10 BP102

Grant Bunter
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#13 Post by Grant Bunter » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:23 am

hankC wrote: A couple of points. Regarding resonance, won't plywood resonate? It surely must, there must be different spectral responses for different materials but I wouldn't think that the differences would be huge. I would expect hardwoods to be more acoustically active since being hard they can create harder echos. In this respect if what you want is something relatively acoustically dead then fiberboard would be better than MDF which would be a tossup against most plywood. Meranti Marine being softer would be less resonant than baltic birch which is pretty hard. So I'm thinking that if what I want is something that acts as an acoustic damper then softwood would be a better choice than something very hard and acoustically bright like maple or walnut. Here in Japan we have a lot of very nice clear cedar that might be a good choice for a softwood. For something harder we have cypress. Softer there's paulownia which is almost as light as yet much stronger than balsa. Not at all appropriate for road show equipment though. I might go for mahogany but it's pretty expensive.
It's often thought the type of wooden material that is used in speaker cab building influences the sound.
My ears certainly cannot pick the difference if that's the case.
I can't comment on guitars or speaker cabs, but I do know in drum shell manufacture, many different wood (and metal) types have been used over many decades, and I've read quite a number of reviews. These reviews are relatively subjective though.

If you were building anything other than an XF, I would also mention that Bill's designs are extremely well braced, preventing panel movement, and resonance to some degree.

You will notice in your plans that it calls for the cab to be lined with foam.
This addresses the reflective properties of all timber (and plywood) built speaker cabs.
Therefore, you don't need to consider the timber used for construction, except for how that timber appears when finished.

Also, your opinion of the finished cab built with X timber and any perceived acoustic changes would be subjective, as you have no reference point...
Built:
DR 250: x 2 melded array, 2x CD horn, March 2012 plans.
T39's: 4 x 20" BP102 , 2 x 28" 3012lf.
WH8: x 3 with melded array.
Bunter's Audio and Lighting "like"s would be most appreciated...

hankC
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#14 Post by hankC » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:28 am

Thanks everybody for all of the comments.

I need to take it seriously when the designer says "Follow the plans to the letter" but I also appreciate it when others say that the choice of material doesn't make as much difference as things like keeping the box airtight and lining it with the appropriate foam. The choice of wood is dictated mostly by appearance but I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt the sound. I assume that means that I need to ensure that the internal dimensions of the boxes and the angles etc. follow the plans. I haven't decided what material to go with. It's not that I don't like baltic birch. One can do quite nice things with baltic birch and I think dovetailing the stuff looks pretty cool with the laminations showing at the ends of the tails and pins. The choice of hand dovetailing is because I know I can build a strong square box that way and I'm less sure of other methods especially in plywood and especially without a tablesaw. Box joints are a non-starter for hand work.

And I think that eye candy is a good thing. I'm building an amp too and that will get its own hardwood box too.

Best regards,

Hank C.

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Bill Fitzmaurice
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Re: Newbie from Japan. Likes solid wood.

#15 Post by Bill Fitzmaurice » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:44 am

This illustrates what can happen with solid wood:
http://techtalk.parts-express.com/showt ... od-baffles

I will use solid wood only with up to 1x8 nominal dimensions. Anything wider is asking for trouble. If you look at how furniture is made, or stile and rail cabinetry and doors, provisions are made to allow for the unavoidable expansion and contraction of the wood. When you're building a large speaker that must be airtight you can't use those techniques. That's why the preferred method of making speakers with a natural wood finish is veneered MDF. You can veneer plywood as well, though it can be difficult to keep the grain of softwood plywood substrates from showing through the veneer.

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