Introduction: Guitar FX Case
I have built this orange pedal case. Previously I built a brown case for all my pedals (the one in the back) and the minimixer I use for mixing and monitoring in my gigs. It was 9 kg empty, and with all the gear inside it nearly reached 19 kg!
I needed to improve the design and make it lighter, more comfortable and better looking, so I have built this orange case (the one in the front) that is a little shorter and lower, but wider, more adapted to the stuff I use by now.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
For the wooden case:
- Plywood: I have used 1 cm plywood and some scrap 0,5cm (if you use MDF, it will be cheaper, but also heavier)
- Wood glue: Titebond or the one you like
For the outer covering:
- Tolex, fake/artificial-leather, vynil. You choose the color
- Contact adhesive in spray
- Contact adhesive
For inner covering
- E.V.A. Foam
- Contact adhesive in spray
- Adhesive Velcro
- Some 0,5cm plywood stripes
- 4 latches
- 8 corners (plastic or metal)
- Lots of screws (preferably black)
- 1 good quality handle
- Jigsaw (or a saw)
- Sander and/or sandblocks
- Metal saw or Dremel to cut bolts if they are too long.
Step 2: Cut Plywood Pieces
I was making a 75cm x 35 cm x 15 cm case, using 1cm wide plywood, so I needed:
- 75 cm x 35 cm (2 pieces)
- 35 cm x 13 cm (2 pieces)
- 73 cm x 13 cm (2 pieces)
Theese give our case 73cm x 33cm x 13cm inner measures
Step 3: Assemble the Box
Using wood glue and clamps (Titebond, Gorilla, or the one you like) assemble the case, so you get a fully closed box. We will cut it in two sides later, to get case plates. Try to keep all angles and corners as straight as possible, to avoid tensions in the wood that will release when we cut it, eventually making our case plates not to fit properly.
Step 4: Thin Plywood for Hidden Latches
A pair of latches is going to be facing the floor when the case is closed. By adding another 1cm wide plywood pieces (in this case these were 2 layers of 0,5 cm plywood from scrap) in this place and leaving space for the latches, we can insert them and ensure that latches are not going to touch the floor, making case unstable when whe leave it on the floor. When we will glue the cover and add the corners, we will gain extra mm with the same purpose.
Glue the plywood to the lower side of the case except in the places where the latches will be mounted.
With a chisel and sandpaper (or a router) we have to get rid of sharp edges so the covering does not break.
Another alternative to this method is to directly use 2cm wide plywood and cut the inserts for the latches with a chisel or a router (but you will need some kind of guides, jigs or templates for routing, and you have to build them before)
Step 5: Get All the Edges Rounded and Sanded
Use a router with a nice bearing bit to get all the edges of the case profiled and routed. Keep in mind the inner curve ratio of the corners you are going to use (in my case, this flightcase plastic corner have rounded inner sides around 1 cm). Then use the sander to get a nice finish.
You can also improve the case by filling all the gaps and imperfections with wood putty (or sawdust mixed with wood glue). This way, you will get a nice smooth surface before starting to glue the cover. The artificial leather we are going to use will cover all the little inperfecctions, but not the big ones (gaps, projections, big holes, bad joints...)
Alternatively you can use sand paper or a sander to smooth all the edges to measure, but it whill be slower and not so precise. And also veeery tiring.
Step 6: Mark Carefully the Lines Before Cutting and Use the Jigsaw
Take good care marking the cut lines with a pencil. Keep in mind that the inner side of the case is 1 cm smaller, so if you want one plate to be its side 4cm tall in the inner side, you want the line to be marked 5cm from the edge in the outer side (the one you are seeing by now).
I started using a japanese sawin the corners to get a nice smooth beggining for the jigsaw blade, and the insert it in this little gap to star cutting. As you can see, the shape of the plates is strange, because i try to avoid the audience seeing all cables and gear, a really mess, that , in my opinion, can be distracting.
Step 7: Cover the Case With Leather
Use Tolex©, artificial leather, vynil or leather, the material you want. I got mine on amazon, i think orange is a classic and elegant one, and you will never forget it whe you return home after performance, ;) I used spray glue to fix it. It is a good way to avoid barnishing or painting, whic is more difficult to do adn takes a lot more of time.
I used contact glue in spray. Every time you use contact glue, you have to spread it in both surfaces, let them dry for a while, and then join them, aplying certain presure and leaving them fixing. Some contact glue brands, as the one i used, say that you only have to spray in one surface, but in my experience it was more effective to spray it in both.
(Alternatively, you can use traditional contact glue instead of spray, that comes in cans, and aply it with a brush, but even when it is cheaper, you will use and spoil a lot more, and in my experience, it smells a lot more.)
Ensure that all surfaces are clean from sawdust and other dirt and go covering one side at a time. Use some kind of rubber or cardboard to spread the leather when gluing it to the wood, from center to sides. Even though, it is very easy to get a nice, smooth finish when using spray glue. Get yourself, also, contact glue in tube or a tin with a little brush, to apply it in the smaller surfaces or corners and ending edges, etc. when spray it is not so convenient and you need strong gluing.
Step 8: Covering the Hidden Plates for Latches
As you can see, the shape of the hidden latches seems a little challenge for covering, butartificial leather is a bit elastic if it is not to thick. The way to do this is to cover those sides the same way as you would do if no hidden plate were there, and then, with a clamp and a piece of wood the same width of the plate, presure the covering for some hours until it gets glued in place.
Step 9: Screw the Corners
Srew the corners. As you can see, mine were black, and i decided to paint black the upper side of brassscrews i was gone to use with some black satin paint. Mounted them in a scrap strip of wood and gave them a single layer of paint.
Step 10: Mount the Handle
First, get a good quality, comfortable handle: pedals, multi-fx, mixers and cables are pretty heavy, and you do not want a cheap plastic handle that hurts your hand and fingers every time you lift up the case.
You will need bolts or screws, and also nuts and washers in between. The purpose of the washers is not only to avoid the nuts form moving, but also to keep the nuts (metal) from breaking holes in the softer plywood and ending with a loose handle or, directly, no handle and broken upper case.
As you can see in the picture, I did not have the proper length bolts, so once known which measure they should be, I shortened them by cutting with a metal saw.
Step 11: Make Inner "fitting" Sides
In the upper plate of my case I decided to use some additional inner "edges", so two plates will fit better, and theres no gap between them. This avoids cables from getting trapped between the edges of the two plates and also protects up to a point the gear inside from spilling liquids, light rain (this is not a flight case).
As you can see i used thin plywood, cut in shapes that were 1cm bigger than correspondig sides, covered in the outer side with the same orange artificial leather. Then fix them to the sides of upper plate with glue and some staples.
Step 12: Mount the Latches in the Front and Lower Sides
Here you can see how the lower side latches go inserted, so they do not touch the floor.
As you can see, these surface latches have two sides. Make sure when mounting in place that you leave 1 mm (or so) gap between them, because if they are totally pushed together, the mechanism will be loose, and if they are too far one from other, you will not be able to close them. That little gap between latches both parts ensures that there is some kind of stregth when closing.
Step 13: Cover All the Interior With E.V.A. Foam
To cover the inner sides I used E.V.A. black foam (also known as foamy). It pretty elegant, very easy to cut in shapes and to stick with contact glue. It is not so heay as some carpet like fabrics and easier to clean, and soft, so ads additional protection.
You can see in the pictures the way that look the inner fitting sides and the case
Step 14: Strips for Velcro
To get and extra height for my pedals so they feel confortable and the case sides does not interfere when pressing the pedals (even when they did not), I cut some 0,5 cm wide plywood strips, black painted and screw them in place. Then I covered them with adhesive velcro and ensured it with some staples. This way, i also can move the velcro strips where and when I want.
Step 15: Finished
Here you can see how it looks when finished.
All the cables and stuff get inside when closed, and help maintaining the multi-fx and mixer protected and in place.