Make Your Own Acrylic Cover

Discussion in 'DIY' started by thebes, Feb 13, 2008.

  1. thebes

    thebes Member

    Got a fancy turntable with no cover? Got a tube amp, receiver or preamp with cool looking tubes and you love that post-modern industrial look? Oh,oh, though, because the cat keeps knocking the tubes over and small kids are constantly poking their fingers in there and getting burned.

    Oh what’s an audiophile to do?

    Why simple, build your own acrylic cover. It’s easy to do and I’ll tell you how.

    First, the basic tools:

    A table saw or a plastic scoring blade. It’s the one with a funny looking hook on it and costs about $6 at Home Depot. If using a saw, you will need a fine-toothed blade with at least 34 teeth.
    Blue painters or masking tape
    Safety Goggles
    A tape measure
    A straight edge or yard ruler
    A Plastic asp scraper (a drywall asp should also work) or a scraper bar (the toothed thing in the picture.
    A small plastic syringe bottle
    One small can Weldon #3 water-based acrylic cement (don’t use airplane glue!)
    One sheet 3/8” to ¼ “ clear acrylic
    A propane torch
    One dresser drawer (I"ll explain as we go along)

    If you are covering an amp and need venting you will also need:

    A drill press, plunge router or power drill
    A multipurpose or plastic drill bit
    One Plastic Sketch Template
    A sheet of drawing paper, preferably the kind with the small squares on it

    All materials listed above are easily available at hardware stores except the scraper bar, syringe bottle and WeldOn. For that you need a plastic shop or buy online at a place like

    Attached Files:

  2. thebes

    thebes Member

    Oh man, you’re saying to yourself. That shopping list is longer than a recipe for fancy French cooking. Relax, most of it you probably already have and the biggest expense is the sheet of plastic.


    Take some measurements of the TT or amp and figure out how much plastic you will need. If you are covering an amp I recommend that you figure on adding an inch or two to the height of the amp’s case with enough material left over to run a small piece across the back of the amp. You want some open area back there for air circulation. Just remember that the plastic will melt at 200 degrees and you’ll see the logic of this approach. Usually one 2 by 4 foot sheet will be enough.



    This will keep you from scratching things up. Use a tape measure and lay out the top part of the cover first. All other parts will be glued to this so make sure this one is really accurate. Take a rough measurement first and lay down a line of blue tape. This step is optional but I find the blue tape very important in preventing cracks if you are using thin plastic (less than 3/8”).

    Attached Files:

  3. thebes

    thebes Member


    If you have a table saw make your first cut along the outside edge of the line you measured so the width of the saw blade doesn’t screw up your measurements. You don’t want to go to slow or you’ll melt the edges and too fast can result in cracks. Don’t even try this with a ripping blade you need at least 34 teeth. This stuff really flies when cut so don’t forget your goggles and it also smells when cut so do it outside.

    No saw, take the scoring tool and using your straight edge as a guide slowly make one pass towards you down the entire length of your line. Repeat at least a dozen times going deeper with each cut. Let the blade do the work. Too much pressure and you will crack the plastic.

    Next place the plastic over a wooden dowel or broom/mop handle. Center it over your line and putting equal pressure on both sides, bear down. You should get a nice clean break. This method works on piece down to about 2 inches in width. Any smaller and it just breaks unevenly.
  4. thebes

    thebes Member


    Next you want to measure and cut the piece that will go along the front of the TT or amp and cut that to the same length as the top cover. Side pieces must be reduced in length by the width of the plastic sheet.

    Here’s where a drawer of sufficient size comes in very handy. It’s got manufactured edges that you can be sure are square. After each cut lay the pieces out in the drawer and make sure they are squared up. If they aren’t totally even with the top part but that will be fixed in Step Five.

    The last piece for the rear you have to think about a bit. If you are completely covering the TT instead of putting it on the plinth, or if you have an off board power supply etc. you need to leave a gap somewhere for the wires to go. If it’s an amp you want some air circulation back there. The back piece must also be reduced by the width of both side pieces (in other words two side pieces at ¼ inch means the back piece will be ½ shorter than the front piece)


    Ok, you’ve finished cutting now it’s time to start scraping. You want to remove all the burrs and unevenness from the cut edges. If you are careful you can remove the protective film at this point. You’ll notice a milky white edge and you want to get rid of most of that. Take your time. You can use a vise to hold the plastic firmly, but not too firmly, pressed between two pieces of smooth wood or sit in a chair (outside is best) hold the piece between your knees and run the edger, or asp along the length of the piece.

    Go back to the drawer and keep at it until everything matches up well and there are no large gaps between the parts that will be glued.


    Attached Files:

  5. thebes

    thebes Member




    Fill the little bottle about half way, rinse off any excess from your hands and the bottle. Squeeze some out through the needle to clear out any bubbles. Prepare a damp cloth or paper towel (Hint: I line the edges of the drawer with blue tape so no glue spots on the wood to worry about.) Line up the top piece in one corner of your drawer and only the front piece. Putting STEADY but not HEAVY pressure on the top piece run the glue the length of the INSIDE seam and watch it flow into the seam. It will be readily apparent if you’ve missed a spot.

    Use the damp cloth to immediately wipe any spills and I mean immediately. Hold front piece in place for at least a minute and then proceed to the other pieces taking care to not use too much glue in the corners as it will puddle at the bottom.If you are having trouble to get your edges together use some blue painters tape on the outside of the cover to draw in the edges.

    Poor out remaining glue into the can and tighten it firmly or it will evaporate. Rinse out bottle and make sure you run some water through the syringe and all of its parts.

    Caution: This glue is toxic. Use only in a well ventilated area.

    Now wait an hour and proceed to:

    Attached Files:

  6. thebes

    thebes Member




    Flaming the edges smooth out the plastic and turns the milky parts clear. You can skip this step but it won’t look finished and could scratch things. A cigarette lighter won’t work so you need at least a small propane torch.

    Once the torch is lit turn it down! This is surgery not construction. You want the top of the blue part of the flame to hit the plastic and you want to move fairly slowly and no more than two passes on any edge at one time. If you heat up the plastic too much it will run, burn and sag. At this point you can (gently) wave the flame a few times at leftover glue spots or scratches and clear them up a bit. Again, practice this first.


    Attached Files:

  7. thilaseen

    thilaseen Super Member

    Great read. :yes: Can I place a bet on how long before it is "stickied"? :thmbsp:

    BTW Let me be the 1st to welcome you to AK. You're a slower starter than I was.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2008
  8. thebes

    thebes Member


    I like some extra air going through my amps to keep things cool so I drill holes in the top.
    After I’ve measured out my top piece, I take a plastic school sketch template (those flat plastic gizmos school kids use that have holes and triangles on them) and lay out a pattern on some paper. The paper with squares on it is handy for this. I then cut out my top plate and tape this template over it.

    Using a piece of wood for a backer I use a nice sharp multipurpose or plastic drill bit of the appropriate size (I like the 3/8” bit) and run my holes. Too much pressure at the end and you will crack the plastic around the edge of the hole. I think you can use a plunge router for this and if you only have a drill you must drill straight down and take your time. As you can see by the picture it look pretty cool too.


    Clean using only dishwasher soap and water. Windex and other common cleaners have ammonia in them and will turn you plastic yellow.
  9. thebes

    thebes Member

    Here's a picture of the finished product mounted on a Scott 299a.

    Attached Files:

  10. astumpe

    astumpe Active Member

    this could have come at a better time. i just got a revolver turntable with no cover. thanks jim
  11. Paul C

    Paul C Super Member

    Can we please make this a "sticky"?

  12. Celadon

    Celadon Well-Known Member

    Yes, please !
  13. thebes

    thebes Member

    Glad you like it. It's something I've been meaning to do for awhile. Reason I've never posted here before today is that I spend all my time fooling around over on the Klipsch Forum and I've only so much time for hanging out online.

    I do believe, however, that audiophiles everywhere utilizing a little patience and care can save a few bucks, pick up an albeit minor skill, protect their gear while still getting to look at all those tubes, gizmos and gadgets we own.

    My inspiration for making these things started with, of all things, an old Yammie audiophile grade cdp. I had taken the cover off, of course, just to see what I could see and I was amazed at all the cool stuff hidden inside. Made one for that, then a couple for myself, and a few for friends just to hone my skills.

    One word of caution. If you end up making one of these for somebody and have to mail it, you are in for a world of grief. They have to be almost perfectly supported inside and outside to survive shipping.

    Oh, and no I do not make these for sale. It's a sideline to a hobby, not a business, so be assured that I am not trying to drum up any business.
  14. jocko_nc

    jocko_nc Super Member

    Very Fine!
  15. thebes

    thebes Member

    Glad to hear that, but a word of caution. Until you develop a certain skill level your final product might not sit perfectly flush on the TT and may be a little rough on the bottom, potentially scratching the plinth. In that case just make one big enough to cover the whole turntable. You can drill out some holes and mount hardware store handles of your choosing on the sides to aid in lifting it off. If it's on a shelf make a cardboard mockup so you can be sure you will actually have enough clearance to lift it off without hitting the shelf above it.
  16. ozmoid

    ozmoid Lunatic Member

    Excellent, well-written tutorial, thebes! Nice job. :thmbsp:
  17. gearhead

    gearhead AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Where do you get the acrylic?
  18. thebes

    thebes Member

    Home Depot and probably Loews sells sheets of these. Take a close look at the sheets because often they've been handled roughly and could be scratched up.

    Also look in the Yellow Pages in your area under plastics. If you have a plastics retailer or wholesaler you can often pick up there leftovers from for a buck or two a pound. Plus they will usually have the syringe and the WeldOn.
  19. avionic

    avionic Aim High !!! Subscriber

    McMaster-carr has poly-carbonate
  20. gearhead

    gearhead AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Thanks for a really helpful how-to post, thebes.
    There are several things I've been wanting to build out of plexi.
    By the way-the cover on that amp is sharp!

Share This Page