Woods and Plastics
**Composite Materials (manufactured woods)
**Particle Board ? This material is made up of wood chips that have been pressed and glued together. It is inexpensive and unstable. Not suitable for joystick cases. Particle board is basically the hamburger of lumber.
MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) ? This material is made up of tiny wood fibers that have been pressed and glued together. It is inexpensive and very easy to work with. Often times the glue used to bind the fibers together will contain chemicals that are harmful if inhaled.
HDF (High Density Fiberboard) ? Pretty much the same as MDF but more dense and hard.
**Soft Woods **-
Wood produced by coniferous trees and shrubs such as Pine or Douglas Fir. These are fast growing trees that are usually less expensive. Not an ideal choice for a joystick case as they are easily damaged. Next time you are in your local hardware store, go up to a 2x4 and press your fingernail into a piece. You will see why they call it soft.
Wood obtained from deciduous trees such as oak, cherry or tropical trees such as teak, mahogany, and ebony. A deciduous tree usually sheds all its leaves during one season of the year, typically grows more slowly, the wood is often more dense and less susceptible to decay.
Since Hardwoods are so varied I will include some of my experiences with particular varieties.
Poplar ? While technically a hardwood this is by no means the hardest. It is about the same density as MDF and only marginally more expensive. Poplar is fast growing and soft. The grain is often boring and dull, the color is light. This wood takes stain well.
**Oak **? a fairly hard wood with familiar grain, chances are that your grandma?s cabinets are made from oak. Oak is common, inexpensive and VERY nice to work with. It does not take stain very well; you may have to flood it with repeated coats of stain to get your desired color.
**Curly Maple **- A nice light colored wood with beautiful curly cross grain patterns
**Hard Maple **- Very dense and sturdy wood
Cherry ? Close grain with nice pattern and color. Color will darken with age
**Black Walnut **? A dark brown wood with larger open pores. Nicer grain pattern than regular walnut. Native to eastern North America
**Mahogany **? Red or yellow-brown wood with straight grain and medium density. Native to West Indies, Central and South America
**Teak **? A very dense wood that is resistant to decay. Beautiful grain but prohibitively expensive. Native to Southeast Asia.
Rosewood ? Typically South American, dense wood that is great to work with. Dark stripes.
**Zebrawood **? Nice light colored wood with dark stripes. Light weight wood, open pores and cavities. Expensive. Native to West Africa.
Purple Heart? A dense, naturally vibrant purple wood. This wood reacts to UV light and will change color if fresh cut wood is over exposed to direct sunlight.
**Padauk **? A dense, naturaly vibrant crimson red wood. This wood reacts to UV light and will change color if fresh cut wood is over exposed to direct sunlight. Once the desired shade of red is achieved, a coat of armorall under the polyurethane is supposed to help maintain the color if the wood is to be left outdoors.
Many people use plastic material to cover their custom artwork on their cases. You can use adhesive backed vinyl but often times the adhesive will fail and the CPO (control panel overlay) will peel back where it gets the most wear. If you want to forgo the plastic you could try the adhesive backed CPO offered by www.mamemarquees.com. That is some sturdy stuff.
Polycarbonate (Lexan?) ? This is the same material used to make bullet proof glass. It is flexible and you can cut it with everyday power tools. It is noticeably more expensive than acrylic. Unfortunately Lexan scratches very easily. Many people experience ?fogging? on the areas where they rest their hands on the case. This is caused by lots of little scratches. Polycarbonate is very impact resistant so if you?re going to need to deflect rocks with your joystick case, this is the material for you.
Acrylic (Plexi-Glass?) ? This is the inexpensive material that has been around for ages. Acrylic is more difficult to work with and if machined improperly it may crack. Plexiglass is however much more resistant to scratching and as a result will maintain its clarity more so than Lexan.
**Epoxy Resin **- This is probably the sturdiest albeit most permanent artwork cover. The artwork is applied to the CPT and then coated with a clear epoxy resin.