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Audio, Video & Electronics Showcase your speakers, LCD's, decks, amps, DVD, Car PC, alarms etc...

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Old 03-01-2010, 09:47 AM   Thread Starter #1 Profile Info.
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Default Fiberglassing Basics

This page contains the very basics of fiberglassing. After reading it you will have a better understanding of the basic procedure of applying fiberglass, and how its form and shape is created. The basic ideas presented here can be used to make anything you desire. Fiberglassing tutorials duplicated courtesy of Chris S. Visit his website.

Any practices carried out by using the information provided within these web pages should be done with extreme care. Fiberglass resin fumes are harmful, MDF particle dust is harmful and working with power tools can be potentially dangerous. Always use extreme caution and the proper safety equipement, (i.e., respirator, safety goggles...)


Click the image to open in full size.
  • Plastic Drop Cloth
  • Fiberglass resin and hardener (MEKP), most resin's come with hardeners.
  • Fiberglass. (chopmatt or weave)
  • Acetone. Soak your brush in this between coats so that the resin does not harden and you can reuse it. Also use to clean any accidental spills.
  • Rubber gloves. You can get a bag of 100 disposable gloves for $5, you will go through alot.
  • Brush(es) for applying glass.
  • Mixing Stick
  • Scissors
  • Saws and/or cutters
  • Measuring cup / pale
  • Respirator. The mask in this picture is a particle mask and does not protect you from resin fumes. If doing outside in a very well ventilated area you can use disposable respirators, however when working inside a car, you must use a full face mask (shown here). Resin fumes are not joke, and will damage your lungs and nervous system severely and easily.

Basic Structure

The box made in this tutorial is simply a small box for a 6x9 speaker. The tool shown here is a Rotozip spiral saw cutter, you can learn more about tools under the Tools Page. For small speakers, it is often suitable to use thin wood -- Here, 1/4" hardboard is used. For larger speakers and subwoofers especially, it is commong to use 3/4" MDF (medium density fiberboard). Very often, you can simply outline the frame of a speaker with a pencil and use that as your guide to cut.

For the inner diameter cuts, usually the manufacturer of a speaker will give the cutting diameter or radius. If you don't have this information, measure the offset and pencil it is. It is better to cut too little than too much, so if it doesnt fit after your fit cut, cut more in small increments or sand down the edges until the speaker fits. You want to make sure the speaker won't fall through the hole, and also that there is wood under each screw hole so you have material to screw into.

This will serve as the base for ths box. Usually when fiberglassing you want to make as much as you can out of wood, mainly because its easy to work with, and if you have any flat sections, wood will be stronger than fiberglass for flat runs. When you use speaker mounting rings, like I do in most of my glassing, you need something to hold the ring in place. Here, i simply used cut peices of plastic (pen). For larger boxes, use dowels, metal strips, or MDF.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

This is a shot of the plastic in place. I used a hot glue gun to hold them in place. You can get a cheap one in home depot for $3. It will also come in use later when you start pulling fabric.

This shows the speaker mount glued in place. Once all is dry, give it a little push and make sure it wont fall apart. This structure is going to be wrapped in fabric, and that fabric soaked in resin -- When the resin dries it heats up and has a tendency to pull the fabric -- if this structure isnt that strong, the stretching will actually pull it apart and ruin the entire project. Especially for when you make subwoofer boxes, make a strong frame (screwed/nailed MDF, metal strips).

For the fabric, you can pretty much use anything. Try to avoid anything 100% cotton as it will shrink the most, and anything very thick will absorb alot of resin, which will cost you. The material needs to be decently strechy, so thin (polyester) fleece is often chosen, as well as grill cloth. In this pic, i used an old t-shirt. You want to pull the fabric around the front and make it as smooth and seamless as possible. Hot glue or staple the ends to a part of the same that wont be seen later on.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Cut away as much excess as you can, this will make it much easier to work with, and finish later on.

This is the top side of the box. You want it to look like this -- no wrinkles and you cant see the staples or curved edges. It is ok if you have wrinkles, they can be either cut out, sanded down, or made curves with bondo later on. The fabric should also be decently tight, you dont want it to sag once you start applying resin.

For applying the resin, I always use cheap paint brushes. Get the cheapest ones you can find at Home Depot, and cut the bristles to abou 1" in length. You will be using this to 'jab' the resin onto the fabric and its much easier with shorter/stiffer bristles.

Applying Fiberglass

The resin you buy will have instructions on how much MEKP to mix with the resin. You want to mix relatively small amounts at a time, because if you take too long the resin will 'gel' up and become useless. Also, note that the mixtures listed are for 70degrees F. If it is warmer, you can use slightly less, if colder use more. If you use too little, it will never harden -- to much and your work time will be cut to less than 5 minutes.
Here, Bondo recommended using 14drops per 1oz, so for 2 oz (as measured here), use 24 drops. I used 32 (to let dry a little quicker). When doing very large sections, you obvisouly can mix larger amounts as you will go through resin pretty quickly.

The fabric will suck up alot of resin, so you will need to keep mixing up batches. Saturate the fabric all over and make sure you miss no spots -- sometimes a darker fabric is better here becuase you can easily see where you may have missed a spot. You can simply paint on the resin here, no need to use the dabbing motion. Let sit till dry to the touch.
When the structure has dried, you can remove the mounting peices (the pens here). In this project, fiberglass was laid on the inside of the enclosure. Once fiberglass is dry, it is not perfectly smooth and needs to be sanded and covered with body filler in order to get a smooth look. That is why is it better to fiberglass from the inside, rather than the outside -- however this is usually not practical in most instances (and in all my other tutorials, fiberglass was applied from the outside).

While that resin was drying, get your fiberglass chopmat and cut / rip some pieces. It is often better to rip them, because you will get frayed edges, which conform better to existing peices. The fiberglass used here is chopmatt. Visit the tools and materials section for more info on fiberglass types.

This is a picture in the middle of the process of laying fiberglass. The way I do it is; Put a small amount of resin down first, then lay the chopmatt over on top of it. Then load up your brush with resin, and with a stabbing motion, saturate the peices until it becomes transparent. While doing this you might notice air bubbles start to form, where the fiberglass starts to curl up upon itself. It is essential that you remove as many of these air bubbles as possible, as this will serisouly weaken the structure. You can also buy a fiberglass 'roller' that lets you roll out the air bubbles, very useful for larger surfaces.

You can lay a second layer of fiberglass right on top of the first one. Although I would not go more than 3 layers thick before waiting for it to completely dry, then restarting the process. When you're done layering, clean your tools and wait. If you mixed you mixture right, it should be dry to the touch in about 1.5 - 2 hours. You can then lay more layers as needed. For this small box, only 2 layers were used. For larger fiberglass boxes I usually use between 7 - 9 layers, thicker if there are any flat runs that i couldnt make out of wood. Also if you use a thicker matt, you obvisouly can use less layers. Keep in mind, however, that a thick matt will not conform to tight corners very well.

Inside shot of the enclosure. You can see I went over the edges. This is the best thing to do, you can just cut away the excess later.

Next, when it is all dry, and you are done adding layers, you need to cut away the excess glass. Here I used the flex-mate attachment for the rotozip, however you can use a dremel ($19 Walmart) or any kind of saw that you can manage to chop off the matt.

This is what the edges look like after they are cut. You want to cut away ALL the excess -- that means cut it right up to the wood. Recheck to make sure the speaker fits correctly. Also in this picture you can see how the fleece and dried resin look -- It's all a bumpy hard mess, but most of that will be sanded away -- and the pits left over can be filled with body filler (bondo / rage gold).

Sanding and Finishing

To make things go quicker -- use an electric sander if you have one. If not, doing this by hand will work as well. Sanding blocks are a big help here, also get the 'blue' sandpaper, as it doesn't fall apart as easily. Start with a rough grit (~60), then move up to about 120. I suggest wearing long sleeve t-shirts, and definitely wear a particle mask and eye protection while doing this. If you get any glass fibers on you, you will become very itchy and taking a shower will be unpleasant.

This is a shot after done sanding. Even though the entire structure is alot smoother, you can see there are still pits. If you want to smooth these out, you need to apply body filler. You can apply bondo/rage gold, and spread it with a putty knife and it will fill the dips. Let it dry, then sand with a high grit sandpaper (200-400). If you still have pits, you can apply glazing putty to fill those spots. Sand again, then prime and paint. If you are going to carpet, it does not need to be very smooth. If you are going to cover in vinyl, bumps will show, but crater will not -- so you can usually just give it a good sanding and perhaps a quick bondo job.

Primer applied. If you can find it, use high build primer, this will also fill in more pits and result in a smoother surface. You can usually find high build primer in an automotive supply store. Use several coats. As with any painting, paint from a distance (12-18"), use even light coats. Let dry between coats. Time is everything here.

This picture just shows how strong fiberglass can be. This is two thin layers of fiberglass matt, and your friends can jump on it and it won't even flex In all actuality, a good test is to stand on your box, if it doesnt flex, it will be strong enough.

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Old 03-03-2010, 11:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: Fiberglassing Basics

or you can do things my way, which is the same exact thing only with more beer
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Old 03-03-2010, 01:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Fiberglassing Basics

im getting pretty good at this maybe ill make a write up on something cool soon!
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