Construction Materials, get what you need cheap
Not everything needs to cost you a fortune when it comes to car audio... with some lateral thinking you can save money and still get awesome results.
Ports - Don’t want to crack the cash for PVC pipes? There are two solutions...
Cheap Solution: Build slot ports. But that costs you extra when buying your MDF.
FREE Solution: No, not stealing the pipe from a construction site. Visit the local carpet center! Inside each roll of carpet is a mega-thick-walled very strong-to-hold-the-weight-of-carpet cardboard roll, with an ID of between 2" & 6". When a spools finished, they just throw these out so most places will be happy to hand them over to get them out of their hair.
MDF - This can be pretty expensive, especially the thicker stuff, and not all of us get trade prices.
Thick MDF Cheap: Need 32mm? Can't afford 32mm (or can’t get it)? LAMINATE! Get two sheets of 16mm MDF, spread some PVA over the side of one and sandwich them together with clamps. 4-8 hours drying time later you're the proud owner of a 32mm thick sheet.
Bracing: if you need to chop down your MDF, keep the off cuts! They can serve you well as bracing. Save the sub hole & port whole cut-outs too! They are perfect for the task. Might not look pretty, but who's looking inside the enclosure?
Cheap MDF: "Outside panels" are good for this. They're the ones on the top & bottom of the pile that cop the digs, scratches & marks in transit, and therefore can be picked up DIRT CHEAP. Just use bog on the holes and cover the box, voila! No one knows the difference. Also, lots of construction companies use it for building barriers, etc whilst building, and tend to dump it after it’s served its purpose... talk to the boss and he might hook you up, cheap!
Coverings - Covering the box can be achieved pretty cheaply, here's a list of places you can get what you need, cheap!
Some hardware stores have car carpets for 1/3rd the price you'd pay at the audio shop/carpet shop.
Carpet stores sometimes have off cuts & odd squares for next to nothing.
Sewing stores tend to keep vinyls in various colours in their bargain bin. Sometimes you can get all the vinyl you need for under $10!
Most $2 Shops sell cheap spray paint... this stuff soaks into MDF like crazy, making it perfect for doing a quick paint job on your new enclosure for only $2 a tin! They even have clear coat, for giving it that custom gloss look.
Cables - Check out the AWG table (just click here...) to find out what size, in mm^2, the AWG (Gauge) cable you're after is. Next, visit the local welding supplies center and ask for "**mm square welders flex cable". This will save you a fat wad of loot, ESPECIALLY if buy thicker sizes, such as 2 or 0 gauge.
Everything Else - Glue, screws, etc can be had cheap if you know where to look and what you’re buying. Always remember these rules:
- It’s cheaper in bulk. Buy a large quantity and you'll get it a LOT cheaper. Don’t need 20litres of PVA glue? Get some mates in and do a group buy!
- It’s cheaper from a specialist warehouse. Buying screws? Buy them from a specialist fasteners store; you'll usually pay a whole lot less per unit than in a hardware store.
- If you buy enough, people will negotiate. This is a Golden Rule... buying 20 tins of paint? Don’t pay retail! Ask what their best price is. If they don’t play ball, go to the next place and try them. Someone’s always willing to deal if you're buying a large quantity. (Quick note: if you're not buying a lot, don’t insult the salesperson by trying to negotiate).