Recommend you try the new stain and topcoat on bottom of speakers first to see what the color looks like. Putting a dark color on walnut might just end up being really really dark.
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My experience has been any color stain added to an already dark color, darkens it even more, even if it does change it towards the color you want. Trying the bottom of the speaker first is very good advice although alot of speakers may not be veneered on that side.Darkening also can destroy the texture of a beautifully grained wood depending on the style of the veneer cutting process.This is from someone who has destroyed a few finishes and learned the hard way. Good luck.
I would get a couple pieces of walnut at you local lumber yard or woodworking supply store and test a few stains before even touching the speakers. The veneer on the speakers is probably thin and won't permit much sanding.
If you can't get good results with the sample pieces you will have to re-veneer the speakers with rosenut or a wood tha can be stained to match the color/effect you seek.
But the re-veering may change the cabinet dynamics of the speakers.
Thanks for the suggestions..all good. I've stained & finished enough wood over the years to appreciate the comments about dark wood just getting darker with added stain. I hadn't considered that..yet, but no doubt it's true. Typically on fresh wood I use Transtint dyes and often make several applications of different colors without it going muddy & dark. A "Mission" finish starts out with fresh (qs)white oak getting a canary yellow dye and ends as a glazed golden reddish-brown. Transtint has some pretty pure colors, but hitting the speakers with a straight red dye may not get me there. The Transtint carrier (you mix it up from concentrate) is either ethanol or water. Not thrilled with wiping down the speakers with either, but ethanol would be better. Though any ethanol you can buy contains 5% water and this could raise the grain...requiring a light sanding. I'm sure the veneer is paper-thin.
The suggestion of bleaching and then restaining is actually a very good one that I hadn't considered. There are a number of options to bleaching..the ones I know involve water. Lots of risk with this path though. It could only be done as a shortcut to reveneering..as, if it didn't work, I'd be reveneering anyway. In the end, the "shortcut" may turn out to be going straight to reveneering in the first place.
I haven't pulled the bottom halves of the speakers out of the closet they are in, but I don't think the bottoms are veneered. I have some walnut in the shop..guess some experimenting may be in order...thanks..
I would not recommend using bleach or alcohol. You could dissolve the adhesive that holds your existing veneer onto the base wood. If your veneer is over particle board you could wind up curling the ends and corners of the veneer. Or causing the veneer to separate.
If your speakers have an existing oil finish I would suggest products from DOF (danish oil finish). It requires detailed work and is labor intensive. How do you plan to protect the speakers in the cabinet and the guts of the speaker? I would empty the cabinet, noting wiring and even marking the screws.
A passing thought..If I put a coat of shellac(universal sealer over nearly any finish) on the existing veneer-finish it would seal it. This would give me control over how much of the gel stain to apply and allow me to back-up to a point where no gel stain remains on the veneer. I'd test first, but I believe mineral spirits doesn't dissolve shellac, but it does remove the gel stain.
hififile..I considered danish oil, probably what is on there now, and watco does have a cherry danish oil(I have some), but the color is very light and wouldn't be enough to get me to the rosenut color. I agree the ethanol might lift the veneer edges. Hard telling what kind of adhesive they used back in the 80's. The veneer on the corners right now are perfect.
I've done some searching on the web on how to do this and I'm not finding anything...not even when you start from unfinished walnut.
Good luck with you project. You have a lot of work ahead. But for a little elbow grease and a few bucks you will have a very nice pair of speakers. By the way the post above makes a lot of sense. A new veneer job would be my choice. You could pick out the exact wood you like, have both speakers matched, and not deal with refinishing. I used to sell the Snells in my father's stores a long time ago and they make fine speakers.
yeah..lot to be said for new veneer..short, sweet, & just "pay da man". More than once I've tried 'creative' solutions and found that just pay da man is the better choice. I'll have to beat the local bushes to see if there's anyone around that can do the job. I've done some veneering, but I'm not sure I'd want to take this job on.
Any thoughts on whether new veneer would have any impact on the sound?
What is the impetus for wanting to refinish the speakers? You state they are in fine condition.
I believe you may be unhappy with the end result. Rosenut over walnut? Does not sound right and doesn't conjure good visuals for me.
Why not just find something similar to the snells acoustic signature in rosenut and be done with it?
If you use stripper , use it with coarse steel wool no sanding. as a natural looking top coat, use tung oil or shellac. use the shellac like a french polish. cut 50/50 with Denatured alchohol and wipe on with a cheese cloth pad with the grain, several coats. it dries in minutes then fine steel wool and rub with wax. thats how fine antiques are done.
I think Corazon makes the most sense. Leave them alone. In my opinion if you add veneer over the existing veneer. You run the risk of 1st)ruining the sound quality as the dynamics of the cabinet will change, 2nd)a good chance the top veneer may loosen the original of the glues interact somehow. 3rd) getting a telegraph of the orginial veneer graining through the new layer. 4th) ruining the resale value as you leave the "original" condition behind.
Just my opinion.
Points well taken.
Why change the color?..the room where I listen has a mix of chocolate-brown oriental furniture and a couple pieces of furniture that are dark wine-red in color. The Snells are the odd-man-out with an oiled-walnut color. This is driven purely by aesthetics. If the Snells were rosenut..it would look very nice.
No doubt I might be unhappy with failed results, that's why I'm looking into options. "Rosenut" is just walnut stained with a red mahogany or cherry stain(or more likely dye..fine furniture is often dyed due to greater transparency). So this isn't odd..just converting from one color to another is odd.
One veneer over another and sound quality..yeah..that's a big unknown & if I mess it up, going back won't be so easy. Top veneer glue raising the bottom veneer/glue..surely possible, but in my woodworking experience, unlikely. Any veneer adhesive these days is high solids(low solvent) and the first adhesive is cured to a brick by now. Telegraphing..possible if the base veneer were flat-sawn oak or ash(ugly wood..to me), but what's there is a very fine walnut surface. Add adhesive and more veneer and it would be fine. Resale..I know & I don't care. We're not talk significant money here. If they were worth 5-10K on the resale market, then I'd care. The sound appraoches 5-10K..which is why I'm keeping them. All the possible reveneer issues is why I leaned toward restain(dye)initially, that and cost. I'll admit, given everyone's thoughts, I'm reconsidering the entire project.
I would be interested in your(anyone's) thoughts on other speakers that have the Snell's sound signature. I'm aware of Vandys, but not of others, first hand at least.
The new veneer will not damage sound quality it would improve it. The new veneer will not loosen glues thats just crazy to suggest and shows no understand of wood working. You will not see the grain of the old veneer through new again I question the posters experience with any wood working. The last might be true if loudspeakers newer might loss value if re-veneered.
I just refinished a 30 year old pair of walnut JBL's. I used 0000 steel wool on them and then I applied Howard's Retore a Finish. Howard's comes in many different wood colors and I used walnut. They turned out darker and richer looking. Here is a link to some photos. This a miracle product that is so easy to use.