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Doomlord_uk 24th November 2012 06:07 PM

How to restore oak burr veneer on my subs?
I have two M&K MX5000s in an oak burr finish and I want to restore both these subs to pristine condition, as best as I can. One sub is basically fine condition and I think it just needs polishiing and maybe varnishing...? The other is in worse condition, the veneer looks faded and almost grey in places, there are a few chips/scratchs and in places the veneer appears to have shrunk and split.

They also came with oak feet but these (obviously) aren't a burr finish. I want to make sure that these are stained/varnished/polished up to the same colour of wood as the veneer and the same degree of polish if possible.

Can anyone give or point to any good advice on how to go about this?

I will post pics tomorrow to show the actual problems.

Renron 3rd December 2012 09:47 PM

I just finished a Burl veneer refinish. Do you mean Burl? or Burr. I used a water based dye and stain to bring back the colors, then did a french polish with dewaxed shellac. Came out very well. I'm happy with the results.
You said it was grey, sounds like you need to either bleach out the grey or sand it back and start again.

Doomlord_uk 28th December 2012 11:10 PM

Hi, sorry for the awfully slow response. Here are pics:

The 'good' one:

Right hand side


Left hand side:

Left hand side (close-up):

And the not so good one:
Right hand side:


Top (close-up 1):

Top (close-up 2):

Left hand side:

Left hand side (detail 1):

Left hand side (detail 2):

Apologies for the big images, but I don't know how to thumbnail them.

So is that burr or burl? And what do you think are my chances of restoring the finish?

AMV8 28th December 2012 11:40 PM

Do you know what the original finish on the oak is? It looks like it might be a shellac type finish from the look of the pictures. However the veneer seems to be physicall ok.
If it is shellac finish then I think that the best polish to use in the future is Danish Oil instead of any shellac type of finish. Shellac is a purely surface finish and does not soak into the wood; it is difficult to apply with a cloth and marks and scratches easily. Danish oil as a finish looks virtually the same as shellac but soaks into the wood slightly and does not scratch or mark easily.
1 I would prepare the wood by sanding with fine ( flour grade ) sand paper untill the existing polish is all scored and loose bits removed. Sand along the grain only.( Personally I would sand both cabinets and repolish both so that they look the same when repolished ) If the existing finish is varnish then it all needs to be removed as stain and Danish oil can not be applied over varnish.
2 I would restain to a light shade using a spirit stain - not a water stain as this would lift the surface of the veneer. I normally use very light oak stain and reapply as needed untill I get the colour I want. The final colour when polished will be just slightly lighter than when the stain is first applied.
3 Sand lightly with flour grade sand paper.
4 Polish with neat danish oil. The first coat with a fine bristle brush. Later coats with a cloth around a cotton wool ball.
5 All finished
6 For future cleaning of the veneer some folks use wax polish. However I never use wax as it attracts dust and dirt. My normal cleaner / reviver is a traditional mix as follows;
25% meths
25% white spirit
25% linsead oil - natural not boiled
255 vinegar.
Apply lightly with a cloth and then wipe off.

Enjoy the music

Einric 28th December 2012 11:42 PM

It is Burl, and I would use some denatured alcohol or mineral spirits to test the base that the original finish is made of.
Be very sparing with the solvent because you don't know what type of adhesive was used to hold the veneer on.
If they used glue and a press then you are golden and can use whatever you want.
If they used contact cement you need to be very sparing with the solvent.

You will use the solvent to remove the majority of the buildup from the finish then I would use some 400grit on a random orbital sander to flatten and prep the surface.
Then wipe the surface with the alcohol and let it fully dry.

At that point I would use either a spray on Shellac or Spar Urethane for a basic finish.
If you wanted to get fancy you could use a hand rubbed oil finish for something that will really POP.

prairieboy 29th December 2012 02:03 AM

By appearances, there has been some water damage (the grey areas), and there are some areas where the veneer is chipped and missing.

1) Is there any structural damage to the substrate under the veneer? Is it mdf, or K3 (particle board) and has it been damaged? If so, are they worth repairing?

2) How serious about this are you? Veneer can be patched, and quality veneer is available through a number of sources, but you'll want to practice first and get a very good resource (start with an online subscription to Fine Woodworking and a trip to your library)

3) To determine the best process to refinish, you probably should check with a qualified furniture restorer in your area.

Bottom line, I'd do a bit of research before touching them.

Doomlord_uk 29th December 2012 07:46 AM

Ken Kreisel apparently is easy to contact so I will ask him about the construction, they must be 20 years old maybe though... The wood looks like a kind of dense particle board?

I will have a go cleaning a patch and maybe cleaning off the existing varnish, however I have to say I'm rather nervous about the idea of sanding them! This would be my first veneer restoration job, I must admit.

I will indeed look up a professional furniture restorer in the new year and see what they have to say. I'd be prepared to spend up to about 100 or 150 absolute tops per cabinet if I really had to, if the result was worth it.

Einric 29th December 2012 02:08 PM

If you are really nervous just use a higher grit sandpaper maybe 600grit or higher.
You would really have to sand a long time in one spot to cut through.

You could always just try stripping the existing finish and using 000 or 0000 steel wool by hand to prep the surface for refinishing.

Renron 29th December 2012 03:07 PM

Well, it appears that there are multiple choices / opinions on how you should proceed.
A couple of Please don't s.
Please don't use oil on these anywhere. (yet)(maybe later) You don't know what the finish is or how an petroleum based product would react with the top coat or the adhesive that holds the veneer to the sub structure.
Please don't use steel wool. Micro fibers break off (even when your careful) and will rust if you choose to use water based products in the refinishing schedule later.
Please don't use synthetic steel wool either, it tends to burnish rather than remove.

You have water damage to the finish in multiple places, to repair these you need to either bleach them out or sand them back (slightly) 600 grit is a good start (you may need to drop down to 400, depending on the damage) and ALWAYS with the direction of the grain, never against. Yes, I know burl is a swirl grain, do your best. I would sand them out myself. If you look at the bottom of your speakers you should be able to tell the relative thickness of the veneer. Use a sanding block when hand sanding, this is important, or use a random orbital sander. You'll have to hand sand with the grain after that, but it will go fast. Stay away from the edges, you can catch them later when you are almost finished with the prep.

First you should determine what the top coat is made of. I too suspect it is shellac from the looks of it. Put some denatured alcohol on an old T-shirt and try to rub the finish off in an inconspicuous location. If it comes off after a little saturation time and rubbing, then you are in luck. Shellac is one of the easiest top coats to apply and refinish.
If it does not come off on the rag then you need to try the same with mineral spirits or paint thinner. If this works and alcohol did not, then it's a petroleum based finish and that's easy to work with too.
We (You) need to know which it is so you can reapply the same top coat after you have completed your repairs to the burl veneer. If you apply a water-based finish over Shellac it may not stick well. We don't have any way of knowing if it was a dewaxed shellac original finish. Water based finishes stick great to dewaxed shellac. I do it on a weekly basis.
Here is the real question, do you want to do this yourself? Do you have a random orbital sander? A clean, dry place to work on them? It's going to get dusty so don't do it in the kitchen if you've got a wifee. If you are prepared to do this yourself and you think you have talent and/or skills / willingness to learn, then find out what the finish is and get back to us with that. Other wise take them to someone you trust who won't rip you off and be done with it.
Either way they will look great when completed.

Renron 29th December 2012 03:38 PM

The finish could also be Lacquer, probably the easiest and fastest finish to use. Dangerous, but easy. Put some lacquer thinner on a rag and try rubbing the finish off.
Lacquer thinner IS different than paint thinner.

Check out some of Charles Neil's Youtube videos. He's a funny kinda gruff Yank. Sure knows his stuff.
Finishing Fixes with Charles Neil - YouTube


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