Here is how I built a custom fiberglass subwoofer enclosure for my car. This project was featured on Instructables.
Want a subwoofer in your car but dont like the idea of a bulky square box in your trunk? Why not build a custom fiberglass enclosure thats molded to your trunks interior and looks factory installed? Most car trunks have “dead” space in the wheel wells thats perfect for fitting a subwoofer without taking up valuable trunk space.
Working with fiberglass is not very difficult and can produce some great results when you need a complex or custom shaped enclosure. I will show you what you need to do to create your own subwoofer enclosure that looks like it came with your car.
Step 1: Materials
Blue painters tape
T-shirt type material
1″x1″ 1/2-3/4″ MDF board
Wall Paper roller (6″)
*warning* Fiberglass and Resin are both very nasty and dangerous to work with. Wear old and long sleeve shirts and pants as well as a respirator. If you can “smell” the resin then your respirator isnt working. If you get fiberglass mat on your skin use cold water to wash it off or you will itch. Use Acetone to wash off resin coated brushes and rollers. Their is a good chance you will drip resin on whatever you are working on. Cover the work area with drop cloths. Don’t wear any clothing you care about, it will smell or be itchy. I would recommend a cold shower after working with fiberglass.
Step 2: Define the Area
Step 3: First Layer
Step 4: Layer shell
Step 5: Check the volume
Use a dremel or similar cutting tool to cut your enclosure at the predefined dimensions. I used a heavy duty cut off wheel and multiple passes to cut the edges off the enclosure. You can also sand the edges after if you want. In both cases make sure to wear all of the same protective gear as before to prevent fiberglass dust from getting in your lungs or on your skin/eyes.
Step 6: Create the front shape
The speaker mounting ring must be mounted to the sub enclosure in such a way that it can withstand the pressure of layering the fiberglass in the next steps but also be removable when they are complete. To do this I picked up a cheap dowel and cut it into 4 pieces. I used Hot Glue to create a sort of tripod support system that held the ring in the proper 3D location.
Next grab an old t-shirt or buy a yard of cotton fabric and stretch it over the face of the enclosure. If you need to, make adjustments to the speaker ring until you are happy with the shape of the subwoofer.
Again, use hot glue to attach the cotton material to the outside edges of the enclosure and trim off the excess. Now is a good time to test fit the enclosure so that you have a good idea of what the finished product will look like. If you dont like how it looks then cut off the cotton, reposition the speaker ring and try again.
Step 7: Layer front surface
I would recommend using the same number of layers as you did for the rear of the enclosure as for the front. Use a roller to smooth out and bubbles or ripples in the front. This is more important that the rear as it will show more.
Step 8: Trim and test
You should now be able to fit your hand inside the enclosure. Remove the dowels you glued in earlier and inspect the inside for debris.
I drilled a hole in the rear of my enclosure to pass the speaker wires through. You can use a speaker terminal cup or whatever you want though. Make sure to seal the hole with silicone calk or something similar when your done.
Now you are ready to test your enclosure! Load in your sub and wire everything up. It will most likely not be 100% sealed at this point but you will be able to get a good idea if the enclosure was a success or not. If you have any leaks around the edges you can add additional fiberglass to the inside or outside of the edges in small bunches. You can also add additional support braces from wood supported by fiberglass.
Step 9: Finish
Spray both the back of the fabric and the fiberglass. Its ok to use too much glue in this case. Start laying the fabric in the center and use your (clean) roller to stretch and press the fabric over the curved surface. Sometimes a heat gun or hair dryer can help mold the fabric to curved surfaces easier. Make sure to go beyond the front edges so they dont peal up easily. When the glue is dry cut an X into the center of the sub mounting hole. Trim the carpeting so that it extends to the inside of the mounting ring. Use additional glue if needed.
When you are done you can mount the subwoofer. Depending on how flat of a sufrace you have to mount your sub to you may need additional sealing tape. Use a foam tape or weather sealing tape along the edge of the speaker cutout to seal any gaps. Pre-drill your holes and use wood screws, NOT drywall screws.
Once your enclosure is together put it in your trunk and try it out. If this is a new sub make sure to break in your sub properly and gradually increase the volume over time. You will want to check the enclosure for leaks or rattles as well as make sure the sub is tightly screwed in place. Check back in a week or two as you break it in.
Congratulations! now you have a custom subwoofer and you still have tons of usable trunk space!