Cabinet Finishes

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Could everyone give me some ideas of what you use for cabinet finishes and how well they work or what experiences have you had with them. The obvious choices would be wood veneer, paint, or vinyl. I would like to know how people have done with these materials and if anyone has used anything else, like a piano type lacquer or fiberglass, etc.

Plastic laminate would be one of the best bang for your buck finishes, but you need some basic tools to get going. Wood veneer is not much different than applying laminate and can look great.
For a low build, subdued type of finish, try some Danish oil or Tung oil applied with a rag. For a higher build finish that can be applied by hand, try polyurethane, either apply with a brush or can be wiped on with a rag. If you want a deeper finish, put a 2-3 coats of varnish or poly on with a brush, then rub down with steel wool to a final smooth finish that can range from satin to high gloss, depending on the steel wool and effort you put into it. A high build laquer finish is a lot of work, and it really should be sprayed on.

Not sure what you are looking for... I just covered a cabinet with carpet I purchased from a specialty store that sells unbacked carpet for speaker cabinets.

I used 3M spray adhesive, typicaly used to put on head liners, etc. It was fairly easy, took about an hour and it looks great. This was for an automotive application, again I'm not sure what you are looking for.
Something I have been thinking of using is plain cotton fabric. There are literally millions of colors and patterns. Applies easy enough with the 3m super 77, is a lot cheaper than most other options. I think I am going to stick with black, or a dark shade of grey to start though. cleaning/dusting them could be a little difficult though.

Where can you buy the plastic laminates in their simplest form? i.e. not attached to countertops. What is required to apply it?

I think painting will give you the best finish, but it sure is a pain to do correctly. All the sanding, waiting, and messes.

Laminates and Fabric

Thanks everyone for your ideas so far, they have all given me lots of ideas about what to do with my cabinets.

To respond to jt, I was actually thinking of a fabric of some kind too, pretty much apolstered speakers, just like a piece of furniture.

As for the plastic laminates, I know lowes (a local home store) sells laminates from diffrent companies in just about every color, wood grain, or marble/granite finish you could want. They only have about 10 styles in stock but seem to be willing to order just a few sheets for you, and at 30-40 dollars per sheet it wouldn't be that expensive if you could decide on a style you liked and could use for a few projects.
Formica at Lowes was 43 dollars / sheet here(The formica countertops next to them that had about the same amount of material on them were 35 including the wood?), and the only thing they had in stock that might even remotely work was an off white. Not really Bang for your Buck if you ask me.

I went to the Formica homepage and noticed the DecoMetal line. Would Lowes order this for me? My amp is a good looking brushed stainless steel. I dont know how tacky it would be to have my speakers look the same... The black anodized aluminum might work though. The furniture in my place will definitely not be extravagant, hard to pick a finish for the speakers when you dont know what the rest of the room will look like :).

Any ideas as to how much the metal laminates cost? If I could get 2 MTM's and 2 small TM's out of a sheet then they or the plastic laminates might be a reasonable buy.

The founder of Schrock Cabinets is one of my neighbors. I might have to go re-introduce myself and see if he knows where i can get a deal.

Laminate is manufactured in a few different grades. The stuff you are probably used to seeing for sale in a home center is called horizontal grade. It's about 1/16" thick and will sell for about ~$1.50-$2.00 sq/ft. Vertical grade is thinner, ~1/32" thick, and will sell for ~$1.00-$1.50 sq/ft. There are others, but these two are most common. The vertical grade is fine for speaker enclosures. Also, while horizontal grade can be ordered in a wide range of sizes (25"x72" to 61"x145"), vertical grade is usually just available in 4'x8' sheets.

The Deco-Metal line (and similar) can go from $4.00 to $10.00 sq/ft, and that's my wholesale cost! They do have some very nice stuff, tho.

Try calling local countertop or cabinet shops in your area. They will usually have quite a bit of material laying around (over-ordered for jobs and such), and if you offer some dead presidents, they would probably order whatever you want.

I veneered my kit speakers with some iron on melamine which went on fine and the panels look good but finishing the edges was a nightmare. Even using an edge router requires a spacing jig to keep a consistant edge.

I did some others using an iron on wood veneer which has the huge advantage that you can use a sander to cleanup the edges. It does require staining and varnishing to finish but looks very nice when completed.
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