Tolex is brand name of a durable and flexible vinyl material that is used to cover amplifier cabinets, guitar cases and other surfaces. Tolex serves a practical and an aesthetic purpose for an amp or guitar case and is easy to clean when it becomes grungy or dirty. Properly gluing or bonding Tolex is important when building a speaker cabinet or restoring one. The procedure can be done at home with a few required tools and some special bonding glue.
Clean and prepare the surface properly before gluing the Tolex. Scrape off old glue and adhesive. Sand the surface area of the speaker cabinet where the Tolex will be placed. Repair imperfections in the surface. Fill dents and dings in wooden cabinet with wood filler. Clean the surface with warm water and a mild detergent to remove dirt and grime. Dry the surface with a towel, and allow it to completely air dry.
Brush on a very thin coat of Tolex glue to the surface and to the Tolex. Allow the glue to sit for 20 to 30 minutes until it becomes glossy and transparent. Use a hairdryer pointed on the glue to speed up the drying process.
Develop a strategy for gluing the Tolex to the surface. Determine how many pieces of Tolex are necessary to cover the surface and in what order to apply them. Pay particular attention to the areas where the different pieces of Tolex connect. The seams are the most difficult part of the job. Overlap the seams a little bit. The Tolex stretches as it dries.
Glue the Tolex to the surface. Continue apply low-level heat with the hairdryer to make the Tolex pliable. Smooth the Tolex by hand or with a veneer glue roller. Smoothing the tolex ensures that air bubbles do not become trapped under the Tolex. Allow the glue to dry on the first piece of Tolex before installing additional pieces.
Re-smooth the Tolex several times by hand during the curing process. It takes up to 12 hours for the glue to dry completely .
Work in a well-ventilated area when working with Tolex glue or contact cement. Practice working on seams a few times with scrap wood and Tolex.