The DDawg head cab is based on the AX84 head cab. I make my cabs out of clear pine 1x12s. Clear pine has no knot holes. 3/4" plywood could be used but it has gaps in the layers that have to be filled before the cab is tolexed.
BUILDING THE BOX
The head cab is a box, approximately 19" x 10" x 10". I say approximately because 1 x 12s typically are 3/4 x 11 1/2, but that is not all ways the case. Before you start you need an appropriate workspace. I use a picnic table as it provides a large working surface and I can easily clamp boards to it. You need two 3" C clamps for this. I can't express enough the need for these clamps. They greatly increase the accuracy and safety of working on the project and can be used for any woodworking project. Good quality tools also lead to a project's success and are a joy to use. I can't tell you how many Black and Decker tools I've been through over my lifetime, but of all the quality tools I've bought, I've only bought one. You may think you can't build a cab because you don't have a table saw. That is not the case. As will be discussed, a circular saw with a framing square are all that are needed to make straight, square cuts. With the tricks discussed in this tutorial and a little practice, you can even trim off 1/32" or less off the end of a board to make it fit. I have a table saw, but don't bother to drag it out for projects like this.
You need a 6' 1x12. The first thing I do is rip 3/4" off either side of the board using a circular saw with a rip fence. I chose a Porter Cable circular saw because it has one of the longest rip fences available and I thought it would be more accurate. The rip fence on my saw, pushed all the way in, is set on about 3/4". This leaves me with a board approximately 10" wide and has the advantage of trimming off any nicks or defects from the edges of the board. After that I cut two 19" pieces for the top and bottom and two 8.5" pieces for the sides. Use the C clamps and the framing square as a rip fence to produce straight square cuts.
When using this method, the first thing you want to do is to clamp the square on the board and make a test cut. The test cut need only touch the board so that the distance between the cut and the square can be measured. With my saw, the distance is 5". Your distance may vary.
Once the sides and bottom boards are cut, it is time to start assembling the cab. I use a biscuit joiner. A biscuit joiner has the advantage in that it produces a stronger joint than a butt joint because the biscuit adds surface area to the joint. Butt joints are acceptable for head cabs as the front and back plates provide lateral stability and they are not intended to support heavy weights. In any event, it is important to keep the grain of the wood in mind. Trees are round so when looking at the end of a board, the grain tends to form a U shape. Top panels and side panels should have the U grain of the wood pointing into the cab. This allows you to use clamps to rid the board of any warps.
WARNING. Working with any wood in direct sunlight may cause it to warp. Work on your project in a shaded area out of direct sunlight. It only takes a minute or two for 3/4" wood to warp in direct sunlight.
When using biscuit joints, 2' clamps will be needed to hold the project together while the glue dries. I use Tightbond wood glue available at any hardware store. If using butt joints, simply screw the top and bottom to the sides using wood screws. The screws act as clamps and will be removed when the glue dries and the screw holes filled with wood filler.
Once the basic box is assembled, it needs to be squared up. I use another 2' clamp for this. For the tool challenged, you can simply put two screws in the appropriate corners, tie a loop of rope around them, and use a stick to twist the rope until the box is square. The stick will have to be tied off after twisting to prevent the tension from being released. I'll add a pic later. Here is a pic of the clamping process.
Once the box has been left to dry overnight, use a router and a 3/8" quarter round bit to round the edges of the box. It isn't necessary to round the inner edges of the box. Fill any larger nicks caused by the router splintering the wood with wood filler and let dry 30 minutes. Use coarse sandpaper and a sanding block to smooth out the edges and any wood filler.
Next add the battens to attach the front and back panels. Be aware of the thickness of your tolex if you plan to cover your cab. The tolex I use is about 1/8" thick when folded over so I recess the battens from the front and back of the cab 1". This gives the front panel a 1/8" recess to avoid scratching the logo. The battens are 3/4" and ripped from a 3/4" oak board. You could also use the strips of pine ripped from the 1x12 but you will have to be careful as pine is easier to split when inserting the screws. The front battens are 6" long and the back battens are 2 1/2" long. I drill 2 holes in each batten about 3/4" from the ends and countersink the holes. Glue and screw the battens to the sides of the box using 1 1/4" exterior wood screws. Then spray the inside of the box with flat black paint.
TIME FOR TOLEX
The tolex I use is Bayou Crocodile from Your Autotrim Store. You need two yards. Place the box on the tolex pattern side up and cut it about 3" wider than the cab and long enough to cover the top and sides with a couple of inches left over. The bottom will be covered with a separate piece of tolex. Don't forget to keep the pattern in mind when cutting as you want either the head of the Crocs touching in the center of the cab or have the entire body of the Croc centered on the top of the cab. Turn the pattern face down and center the cab on the tolex. It helps if you make a mark on the backside of the tolex so you know where the center of the pattern is. Draw a line on the tolex around the box so you know where to brush on the glue. I buy my glue at Veneer Supplies. It is water based for easy cleanup. Keep a wet rag handy.
Brush the glue on the tolex square and the top of the cab, then carefully align the cab and roll it onto the tolex. Use a cheap 1" paint brush as you won't be able to clean and reuse it. The instructions on the glue call for a flashoff time. Just ignore that and glue immediately. This gives you a little time for adjustments if necessary.
Do the same with both sides and staple them to the bottom of the cab.
Next it is time to work on the corners. Use a straight edge as a guide to cut a straight line. For all the corners except the bottom, start the cut about 3/4" from the cab so that it will just reach the inner corner and not be visible from outside the cab.
Coat the cab and tolex with glue and pull the tolex tightly against the routed edge of the cab. You will have to trim around the battens.
Once the top and sides are done, it is time to cover the bottom. Cut another piece of tolex just large enough to cover the bottom and staple it at the edges of the cab. Though it is not shown, staple it in the middle too. Do not glue at this time. Flip the cab over and cut the corners as before except this time make the cuts as close to the cab as possible and cut through both layers of tolex. This technique leaves two seams on the bottom but makes it easer to hide the seams in the corners. Seams in the middle of the cab will always be visible.
Again, use a straight edge as a guide and line it up with the previous cuts you made flush with the cab. Cut through both layers of tolex. Yes, thats my old couch in the yard. You know you are a redneck if ya mow the grass and find a couch in the yard. LOL
Once both seams are cut, remove the staples on one side and carefully fold the tolex back. Coat the tolex and the cab with glue and fold it back down on the cab. Make sure there are no gaps in the seam. The tolex will stretch a bit so you can use your thumbnails to push the edges of the seams together until the glue sets. Once the glue sets, repeat on the other side.
By this time you should have little flaps sticking out on all the corners. Fold the flaps as shown in the picture and use a straight edge as a guide to cut from the inside corner to the outside corner. Don't try to cut flush with the straight edge. It is easier to cut about 1/16" from the straight edge and only cut through one layer. Flip the flap to the other side of the cab and use the straight edge as a guide to make that cut. Make sure the straight edge is right against the previous cut. This is important so I'll add more pics later. Make the cut.
By this time your corner should look something like this. Use a Q-tip to apply glue under the cuts, on the tolex flap remaining, and the wood. Then fold the flap over and glue it to the cab. The seams may not match up perfectly. That is OK as long as they are close. You can use your thumbnails to stretch the tolex a bit and push the seams together. This will push excess glue out of the seam which can be cleaned up with the damp rag.
The finished seam should look something like this. The seam shown is a bottom seam so there are actually two seams, one for the corner and one for the bottom panel. Snip off any excess in the corner with curved toenail clippers.
One of the advantages of using black tolex is that you can use a black Sharpe marker to further hide the seams like so. Once the corner protectors are installed the seam will be hardly noticeable.
BLA BLA BLA Under construction