Proac Yew Owners


Does anyone know about this? The grills were left on a pair of Proacs in the Yew wood. When the wood aged and darkened, the part under the grill remained light. I the grills were to be left off now, would the lighter part darken so that is would even out, or will there forever be an inconsistance in the look? Thanks for your help.
I suspect it will eventually even out. I have yew 1.5s and they have aged well with more detail emerging as the finish darkens.
Hi, I had the same problem with my Soliloquy speakers, I took the grill cloth off and left the wood exposed, within a couple of month the wood color started matching.
I can give you some background on yew wood having worked with it quite a bit in a former life as a furniture builder. There are two types - European and Pacific. I imagine the Proacs use the European "version". Yew was highly prized for making longbows in England and France and became quite rare for a time. The Pacific genus is also not found in abundance and is priced accordingly.

Both kinds have reddish to orange heartwood with much lighter sapwood (sometimes almost white). The sapwood is what I see on most speakers. Either heartwood or sapwood will darken some with age and exposure. Yew is actually a softwood (evergreen). It is one of the "hardest" among the softwoods, though, and takes a good polished finish. As a softwood, Yew contains more oils than the hardwoods usually used in speaker cabinets. As such, you can expect darkening - the degree to which is usually governed by the thoroughness of the drying process.

Hate to be the bearer of bad news but I doubt, from my experience, that your will ever see a "matching" of the wood that has aged. It will even out some but will never match without being "touched up" with stain. Don't know how long the exposed portion has been so exposed but if it is on the order of a year or two "a couple of months" will not result in anything close to a match. I would advise against staining, however, because that portion will not subsequently match in the long-term. Let me know if you would like to know more about yew (not you!).
4yanx....thanks for the great information on yew wood. What type of wood polish or conditioner (if any) would you recommend for my yew ProAc 1SC loudspeakers?
Jla, I am not familiar with the finish that Proac gives to their speakers, so I am hesitant to give a suggestion that might otherwise ruin the effect of your finish. If the speakers do not have a high gloss lacquered or a varnish-based finish, you cannot go wrong with 100% tung oil or boiled linseed oil. Most of the commercial wood care products are crap. They don't protect the wood and just kinda float on the top of the surface. They look good for a time, but quickly lose that "fresh polished" look and those with beeswax can buildup and look cloudy over time. Tung oil or linseed oil penetrate into the grain of the wood, offering decent protection.

Yew is a very hard, though rough, open grained wood. As an aside, yew is so dense that it will not float! That being said it can be highly polished without using lacquer/shellac, varnish. But, because it is open-grained, often a sealer is used followed by varnish. If this is the case, a high-quality paste wax is more appropriately in order.

My grandfather and I used to highly polish yew by rubbing it with boiled linseed oil. We applied a generous film of the oil, allowed it to settle for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle with powdered pumice (hard to find these days), and rubbed vigorously with pieces of old cotton bed sheets. We then repeated the process 3-5 times. This provides a very hard, lustrous, and rich finish for yew. This is a super excellent finish for birdseye maple, among other woods. I finished a clock I built 30 years ago in this fashion and other than normal dusting, it required no maintenance and still has a hard rich finish as though it was done yesterday. Might be appropriate if you ever need to refinish your speakers. For simple maintenance, I would suggest rubbing with tung oil maybe twice each year. There is also a product called Danish oil that is part oil and part varnish. It works well, too, but I would inquire as to the finish products used in your Proacs before using any varnish-based product. As with any wood, keep out of direct sunlight if at all possible. If not, rotate the speakers if only one is subject to sunlight.

Sorry to blather on, but I love speaking of wood. For those wondering why yew might be more expensive as a choice for speakers, consider that the yew does not grow much more than 20 feet high and about 18 inches across. The sapwood is rarely more than an inch deep and can contain NUMEROUs knots. So, those very light colored yew speakers are made from wood that comes from a relatively scarce, short, limited-girth, and limited-sapwood tree. The veneer is "peeled" off on a lathe-type machine with the log positioned horizontally. Fun to watch.

Thanks for the invaluable advice. I found this thread fascinating and incredibly informative.
No problem. I wish I had more time and my grandfather's former shop to work with wood again. I had forgotten that after the 3-5 rubbings with pumice powder, we then finished off with 1-2 passes with rottenstone. I did a little poking around on the net searching for rottenstone and was pleasantly surprised to find the link below which mentions the use of rottenstone. I think this short article is HIGHLY informative and the steps, if followed, will ensure a very hard, silky smooth finish. One would probably be shocked to find how well this works with using no other product except the oil and powdered stones - no lacquer, varnish, or shellac. I'd wager that I could produce a luster in this fashion that would rival many a commercially produced furniture piece using varnish and a buffer. Of course, it IS a lot-o-work!

I used pumice&oil and rottenstone&oil to finish a highly figured walnut top on a shaker table I made for my sister. It was positively stunning and still is today more than 6 years later. Not sure if walnut was appropriate for this technique, but the result was incredible! But I also used the same technique on a hall table for my mother (mahogany apron and legs, walnut top) and really messed it up. A very small pebble stuck to my rag and as I wiped vigorously I basically gouged the surface. Aaahhhh!!! Great info BTW! I love working with wood as well.

4yanx, thanks for sharing your knowledge. I have a question regarding hand rubbing with pumice and rottenstone. Is it safe to use this finishing technique with veneers like those used on speakers, and how about the joints or corners? And will it aid in removing small nicks and scratches? Thanks.
Gunbei, yes this is a very safe method for use on veneers. Because the pumice and rottenstone are so fine an abrasive, you are not nearly as likely remove more than thousandths of an inch of anything, whether it be a varnish finish or wood. What you are really doing is polishing - not "sanding". Be extremely careful near corners and joints, though. I have found the joinery on most speakers (even $15K+ speakers) to be highly suspect, at best. Not all mind you. Sonus Faber is one exception, though their sound is not my cup of tea, they are generally well built. Anyway, the joints, especially mitering at the corners, is often slip-shod. Where there is not a perfect fit, the miters are often "rounded over" to give the illusion of a better fit. In these instances, the veneer becomes very thin and can be only paper thin above the underlying composition board. This is less an issue with the pumice/rottenstone process than using sandpaper when refinishing, but it pays to be extra careful.

As for nicks and scratches, this is an obvious problem with veneers due to their thickness (or lack thereof). VERY shallow scratches are best sanded out (CAREFULLY) using a sanding block to ensure even removal of the surrounding wood. You should try to determine just how thick is the veneer on your speakers BEFORE attempting any sanding of anything more than superficial scratches. If you go through the veneer at all you will be most sorry! That being said, most veneers will be thick enough to allow you to sand out most scratches.

Dings, if they are not TOO deep can sometimes be lifted using water and heat. First, I should make a distinction between dents/dings and nicks. Dents/dings are where the wood is compressed, though none is "missing". Nicks are where a piece of wood has been physically removed. I have used this method successfully for dents/dings many times on both veneers and solid wood. Nicks, on the other hand, need be filled. I would suggest this only if you feel comfortable working with wood. For a small ding, take a paper towel, fold it in fourths and saturate it in water. Get an old soldering iron (an iron not a gun) and heat it up. The electric ones work fine but fire heated ones work, too. Lay the wet toweling over the ding. Press the hot iron on the toweling directly over the ding. Try to position the iron as much as possible to only cover the area of the ding. The water in the towel will create steam and will hiss and pop. Apply pressure for just a few second, then remove the toweling and check for effect. Often, only a couple tries will swell the fibers and grain and "lift" out the ding. Be extremely careful not to dry out the towel and cause a fire or a scorching of the wood.

The other alternative for dings, of course, is filler. You can buy fillers to match. But, if you have sanded out scratches be sure to save all the "sanding dust". Put it in a small jar or can and mix in a drop or two of Elmer's woodworkers glue. Use this to fill ding holes and you will get a very good match. If there is a distinct or highly contrasting grain pattern, you can some times follow up with a bit of stain to match the darker grain applied with a very fine tipped artist's brush.

Both the sanding and "sweating" methods will entail a refinishing of the wood and should be used only when you are comfortable with the subsequent process of REFINISHING the wood. That almost always means the entire speaker, not just the repaired area. As with a lot of DIY projects, what sounds easy can be less so in application. Maybe practice on some wood that is of no importance first to see if you feel comfortable tackling those rosewood Proac's, not to mention someone's $20K floorstanders!
Thanks 4yanx, I'll definitely practice on wood scraps before performing the actual surgery on anything important.
I have a pair of the 2000 signatures. I listened to them the first few years with the grills on and now with them off. They are about 8 years old and I don't have that problem.

Do you have your speakers near a window? Is there direct sunlight on them for part of the day? I am sure that is the problem. Sunlight bleaches out the color over time. Furniture too.

You could try to oil the lighter part of the veneer to try to darken the wood. I suppose if you leave them where they are with the grills off that part will also lighten up over time form the sun. But perhaps the rest of the speaker will too.

By the way, I have seen that same problem on other Proac speakers before with other wood finishes. Not sure why.

The veneer is chipped on one of my Proac 3.8 yew finish speaker. The .250 X .250 inch chipped area is located on the top surface of the speaker and ends on the edge of the speaker. I do not have the piece of veneer that chipped off, so I can't simply re-glue it. What would you suggest as a repair? Thx.

I also have the same issue with a lighter section under the grills. I am now using the speakers without the grills but I doubt that the finish will ever match up over time....the contrast is simply too severe.