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Cornwall Cabinets


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Cornwall cabinets with fine veneers were glued up with 45 degree miter joints using lumber core(poplar), whereas those of the decorator series used 9 ply birch core cabinet grade birch butt jointed at the corners, and nailed. Both of these cabinet types had glued and stapled in corner blocks as reinforcement. the "shelf" for porting was supported by blocks and glued and stapled to them. It is true that the grain of the motorboard can either be horizontal or vertical...although most are vertically grained...this was an economy measure to get the most usage from each sheet of plywood cut up for parts. Although the most commonly used FINE veneers on cornwalls were black walnut, many were made in oak...and some were made in rosewood, ebony, and some other exotic veneers. the letters found stamped into (normally) the upper left rear edge were the code for the builder...this was for quality control purposes in order to track the cabinet baqck to the builder...which was normally me from 1977-1983...look for either an "A" or an "AB". the fasteners used were duofast 1-1/8th" staples and the nails used on the decorater series were senco 1-1/2" finishing nails. The interior corner glue blocks were 3/4"x3/4" sawn up from scrap and may be either lumber core or birch plywood...i always preferred the plywood myself.

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Re: my last posting...

The plywood used the the tops and sides of the decorator models of cornwalls(CDBR or CDBL or CDBB) were standard Georgia Pacific cabinet grade birch plywood....the plys were 5 inner birch plys with two more outer veneer plys for a total of 7 plys. This plywood is still available today...about 50 bucks a 4'x 8' sheet give or take a few bucks.

The fronts for these speakers (IF THE DROP-IN TYPE OF FRONTS) were made from a number of different woods...let me explain.

1. Since they were painted black, and were to be hidden by a grill cloth, sometimes panels of the lumber core were sawn up to make the fronts...these panels had defects in the veneers on them(such as bad color or stains on the walnut, oak, etc...)....although this seldom happened.

2. Some of the fronts were baltic birch in a thickness of near 3/4" (this is made in russia, and is metrically sized, and is also not necessarily consistent in thickness from pallet load to pallet load)...it has plys of equal thickness throughout and if i remember correctly it had 9 or 11 plys. It was heavier than standard american cabinet grade birch plywood, also stiffer...it was also very hard on sawblades and router bits...dulling them rapidly...BUT IT SURE MADE FOR SOME VERY CLEAN EDGED HOLES!!!! AND...at that time...it was less expensive that the cabinet grade birch...IT SURE ISN'T NOW!!!!!

3. Sometimes the fronts were made from the same 3/4" plywood as the sides, tops and bottoms....

4. An interesting aside is that a VERY FEW drop-in front cornwalls made with walnut or another fine veneer had the fronts made from the same material as the sides...UNPAINTED...and with no provision for grill cloth to be mounted...so that the fronts remained bare with just the wood showing...these were generally CUSTOM BUILT for employees...and are by far the rarest of the bunch!!! The fronts for these were also custom cut to exact dimensions so that the fronts had a nice snug fit at the edges...really quite beautiful that way. Some of these Cornwalls ended up having a 3/8" motorboard with aluminum grating attached to it....installed inside the cabinet between the woofer and the front...this was to protect the woofer since no grill cloth was used...these are even rarer!!!! In 7 years there, I maybe built two pairs with the motorboards, and 5 pairs with the fine veneered fronts for employees...nuff said!

Most employees never bought any cornwalls, but opted for heresy, lascala, Belle klipsch or K-horns instead...starting out with heresy, then after a year selling those and buying lascala, then after a year selling those and buying K-horns. This was a logical way to upgrade one's system, since employees were allowed to buy one pair of speakers per year, and paid 40% of MSRP for them...they could sell the heresys for about what it cost to buy lascalas....and then sell the lascalas for about what it cost to buy the K-horns. SELDOM DID AN EMPLOY NOT HAVE HIS OR HER SPEAKER CABINETS BUILT WITHOUT SOMETHING SPECIAL DONE TO THEM...keep that in mind. Also the serial numbers of these pairs were purposely consecutive ending in either 99 and 00 or in 00 and 01...in most instances...and most of the employees had their names stamped into the back edge of the speakers in the same manner as the serial numbers were stamped...so that if they ever got ripped off they would be easily identified.

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HDBRBuilder, Am I understanding this correctly, Klipsch bought the plywood with the various veneers already applied. They didn't build the cabinets out of birch and then apply the particular veneer that was needed? Also if you bought a veneer cabinet were the corners mitered at 45 degrees? Do you know if Klipsch used Birchwood Casey's Tru-Oil to oil the veneered oil cabinets? Thanks for your enjoyable posts, there really great.


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Yes, for the panels that had the fine veneers (ie., anything other than birch), the panels were veneered prior to arrival at Klipsch...INCLUDING the veneer on the edges.

And these panels are not standard plywood but poplar lumber core panels....which means the core of the plywood is solid poplar, with two veneers of birch on one side and then one side gets another veneer of birch and the fine veneer laid onto it.

Klipsch is a loudspeaker manufacturer, not a lumber manufacturer....BUT these veneered panels were made specifically for Klipsch to dimensions and quality standards dictated by Klipsch.

These were the same quality of panels that were found in the finest of furniture for most of the last century.

Even the dimensions for the panels were specified by Klipsch...example:

1. For the Klipschorn, the panels for the woofer front arrived at proper dimentions with edge veneers already installed AND paired together, but with one edge slightly over dimension, but the trapezoid shaped upper pieces where not already cut to trapezoid shape, but instead, were rectangular...with the rear corners sawn off at Klipsch and used to produce the sides of the tweeter/squawker housing. Even the kickplate boards at the bottom of the Klipschorn arrived already veneered.

2. For the heresy and cornwall, the panels arrived in the form two matched panels for sides and top/bottom of one speaker to be sawn from each panel. They were already veneered on one flat surface and two long edges. The veneers on them were laid down in such a manner that the centerline of the panel was a veneer seam. The panels were ripped with the veneered edges against the saw fence, producing two boards, each of which were re-sawn in a crosscut to produce one side and one top/bottom for the cabinet, then these were mitered and assembled up into a cabinet. These miter cuts had to be EXACT and great care was taken to ensure that no chipping of the veneers occurred during the process so that a nice sharp edge on the veneers at the miters was retained for assembly.

3. For the Belles, the panels arrived pre-veneered in a similar fashion to those of the Klipschorn.

4. We had lots of veneers around for repairs and such...and when a MINOR repair was needed, it was made.

5. As you can imagine, these panels had to be very carefully handled throughout the process...especially the mitered edges. Also the saws used for ripping and mitering had to retain very sharp blades to eliminate any chipping of the veneers.

As for the oil finishes, the oil was mixed at Klipsch and applied by hand....ie., "hand-rubbed oil finish"

Yes, the miters were "45 degrees"....which is actually closer to 45-1/2 degrees when sawn with the veneered side up on a tablesaw. This guarantees a good tight "toe-fit" (where the miters meet at the outside edge) for the assembly process.

IMPORTANT: The glue used for the mitered corners was NOT standard cabinet "white" glue, but was in a finely-powdered form and was hand-mixed with water...it was a dark brown glue that was similar to hide glue...it set up fairly rapidly, and new batches of it had to be mixed up by the builder a few times a day because it would harden up fairly rapidly....for all other parts of the cabinet, standard high-grade cabinet white glue was used.

I hope this covered your questions. You can imagine the close contact that Klipsch had to retain with the manufacturer/vendor of these veneered panels to retain high quality....you can also imagine how closely Klipsch had to monitor its own quality control in the production of these speakers. The same close quality control and attention to detail was paid to ALL aspects of production of ALL of the speakers...from the tiniest pieces used in the folded horns on up to the visiblepanels the customer saw...it was ALL done right or it didnt get used in the assembly. Any newly hired employee who showed he or she wasn't quality-minded was not around for very long. Hell, even the allowed tolerances for parts was 1/64" or less!!!!!

Remember this, at a time when other speaker manufacturers were using veneered particle board in their top of the line cabinets (ie., JBL, etc...), Klipsch was still using the same tried and true materials and techniques of the finest furniture manufacturers....with the "hand-made" quality that just wasn't found elsewhere.

This message has been edited by HDBRbuilder on 04-19-2002 at 04:39 AM

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Quite a historical lesson. I always thought the veneer was applied on site. A lot of craftsmanship went into the making of each speaker. How proud you and the others must be to know that we owners cherish these speakers today.

Enjoying your posts.




This message has been edited by ShapeShifter on 04-19-2002 at 11:13 AM

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Again...thanks. I will try to answer any questions any of the folks have...but I am in no way an authority on loudspeaker design or construction. I do know that I can build the old heritage models though...from raw wood to finished product. But I am hampered by not having any of the dimensions to them other than those of the decorator heresy. With a good set of plans/dimensions I can still build the cabinets of any of em.

I have been watching this forum for awhile now and kinda wonder if there is a need for a comeback of the cornwall...in either a completed state, OR in the form of new cabinets to replace older beaten up ones...or for upgrade in cabinet from decorators to fine veneers...maybe even a few of the "custom" touches done on some of the cabinets while I was there...who knows?

C'mon, folks...give me some input here...I may just set up a shop for this if there seems to be enough demand.

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I wonder what one would have to sell a "new" set of Cornwalls for? If a mint original pair sells for $1000, I would doubt one could sell a "new" pair for more that $1500-$1800? Drivers would not be too much of a problem and X-overs wouldn't be a big deal either. And what would Klipsh think? Would they be OK with it?

There seems to be great demand for the "early" vetical horn models, so if I were to begin building them, that's where I would start.

If Klipsch would allow us to use the name "Cornwall" O might be interested in exploring this with you.

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I can't go into details now about this, but the Klipsch end is being looked into by another party...What I am trying to do is use this forum to see what a fair asking price for a new pair would be in relation to the prices Klipsch is currently asking for the other Heritage models... and whether there is consensus over whether the demand would be high enough to justify building new complete Cornwalls as opposed to just offering new cabinets to those who either have components already OR want new cabinets built for ones they already own.

From my insider, I am hearing that there has been alot of talk about the Cornwall at the company. Who knows??

Klipsch itself may decide to offer up the Cornwall again themselves sometime in the future!!!

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Well, as Paul Harvey would say, "this is the rest of the story"

I started this thread because I bought the drivers and X-overs from a pair of CWs on ebay. I was looking for help in building a new set of cabinets. The old cabinets were for sale but the owner didn't want to ship them out of the LA area. Well, he found no takers and was about to throw them in the trash. One of his neighbors, I believe a true Klipschter at heart, found out and contacted me to see if I wanted them for just the cost of shipping. We verified the cost, $60 via FedEx for both so he packed them up and sent them. They arrived today. Looks like 1 of the cabinets was dropped on a corner at one time because one of the miters has separated in one corner. Other than that, they are definitely refurbishable. It looks like they are birch. The SNs are hard to make out because they were written in red ink, but I think they are COL 28W099 and COL 28W100.

Grill cloth looks fine except the logo plates have been removed.

Thanks to all who have provided assistance, support, comments and measurements. I still may make a set of "verticle" cabinets but for now the pressure for cabinets is off.

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The Cornwall is certainly the darling of this bulletin board (the King would be the Khorns). The Cornwall offers very good sound, cool retro-esthetics, and a quality build. The Cornwall is kind of the Jack-Of-All-Trades Klipsch - it doesn't do anything the best, but it does everything well.

I certainly think if Klipsch brought back the Cornwall I's with plywood/lumber core cabinets, quality drivers, and the gentle slope crossovers, people would buy them - they just sound good and will last forever. I wish Klipsch still used super quality wood for their cabinets. New Cornwalls would need a little clever advertising to bring in the big sales (people need to know the value).

If you could build the complex folded horn section of the Khorn (you know without the top, front and sides) as a part of a do it yourself kit, I'm sure there would be an interest - myself included.

Warmest regards,


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FYI....If they are mitered, they arent birch...just the fronts are. If they are "COL" then they are "cornwall, oak, laquered"

While I was there I built maybe two pairs of birch MITERED cabinet cornwalls in 6 years...and those were made at an employee's request...generally to match up with a pair of previously purchased birch K-horns....other than the very slim possibility that your cabinets are from a former employee...AND, considering the "COL" you found on the labels, they would have to be oak laquered ones....either way, we never made that many in oak back then, so the rarity is alot more than those made in walnut, even though the veneer isn't as costly in today's market.

This message has been edited by HDBRbuilder on 04-19-2002 at 05:33 PM

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Thanks for the info on the materials. Sounds like you have a great deal of experience with these cabinets. You will be a valued addition to the forum. Any thoughts on a way to repair the corner separation?

Also, any ideas on the vintage of them?


This message has been edited by Shockoman on 04-20-2002 at 09:16 AM

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Thanks for the compliments. As for repair of the damage, it would be hard to give you any information without my being able to see at least a few good close-up pics of the damage...both from the outside AND the inside of the cabinets as far as a corner separation goes. As for their vintage...that would be determined by the serial numbers on them. I don't have that data, sorry.

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All of the talk of builder codes got me to look. I'd never noticed them before. My '81 La Scala, 28W186 had the code MB beside the squawker and F in the plywood edge. My '82 LS, 26X610 has an F in the plys, but I couldn't find a builder code. Both '87s have the code BC on the "shelf" for the xover, but no sander code I could find.

HDBR, any idea who these maight be?


This message has been edited by John Albright on 04-20-2002 at 09:21 PM

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The "F" you found stamped in the plys was sander code for Frances Hale....she did a helluva lot of LaScalas...and was the sander of choice when an employee bought a pair. I have no idea what the other codes were. If you look closely around those "F"s, you may find another faint stamp or one that has been filled in with wood putty...that would be the builder code. Like I said, I don't know all the codes for all the builders, but I do know some of them. Hope this helps some.

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  • 7 years later...

Shane, there are way too many unknown variables for anyone here to give anything close to an accurate appraisal. Type of finish, age, condition all play important parts in determining value. If you can post some pictures, and give us the information from the label (if still there...otherwise the serial number stamped in the edge of the plywood), we can be more helpful.

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Wow...these things are all over the place...



If you want a decent gauge, there is a pair of vertical decorators on e-bay right now in texas...see what they go for...the ohio ones (yours) appear to be in better shape, although not consecutive serial numbers (9 off if I recall)

I bought my '74 verticals for $550 earlier this year from a forum member...they are in better condition and have upgraded x-over, but are not decorators...which would command a premium in my book...they are more rare and would look gorgeous if a talented person like greg or marshall got ahold of them.

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