Expunging the 1980s - removing black ash finish

When I bought my Roksan turntable in the late 1980s, everything was finished in black. Black 44cm amps/cassette decks/CD players, black stands, black ash speakers and turntables. In a moment of boredom I wondered what it would be like to change my record deck to a proper wood finish, rather than just black. Fortunately it is a real wood veneer, with a black paint job - not a plastic vinyl wrapping. I've used a chemical stripper and some scraping to get rid of the blackness, and it looks pretty good. But there is still a small amount of residual black paint in the fine parts of the veneer grain.

I've attached a picture of the bare veneer, it looks kinda grey. I'd like to apply a darker stain but want to get rid of the blackness in the deeper parts of the grain first. Should I try a chemical based approach or maybe very fine sanding/wire wool?


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Leaving the blackness in the deeper parts of the grain may actually help to emphasise the grain after applying a brown stain.

This is a well known technique called 'pre-shading' which is used to emphasise the panel lines on model aircraft.

Try it out first on a section which will be hidden from final view.
There is a pretty large area (if you can imagine a 12" diameter circle in the middle of a record deck :)) which I can play with. I had thought about the contrast of black in the depth of the grain, which would probably work well with a brown stain. I was wanting to try something more at the red end of the spectrum - autumnal colours, as I look out if the window. Off to the paint store tomorrow.
With ash being as open pore as it is, I doubt you'll be able to get that color out before damaging the veneer. Maybe try using a light colored grain filler to cover it?

Bill -- brave! Clean it thoroughly and see how much it lightens up. Rosewood is going to be pretty dark (and *is* pretty, dark)
I'm not big fan of buying something just for the looks. When I was in the market for a new turntable 30 years ago, I really, really wanted a Michell Gyrodec as an upgrade to my Focus One S. I listened to lots of decks at that time, but the dull, black ash Roksan, annoyingly sounded the best. No point paying more for a fancy colour option.

But changing the colour of the veneer is lowish on the list of things I've already had to fix on that deck - the sagging arm board, one power supply that gave up the ghost, and another, wallwart one, that was so badly made it should have been recalled from sale.
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Oddly enough 30 years ago (exactly) when I was chosing this I also got down to gyro vs Xerxes. I was lucky and the shop had the rosewood demo model going cheap as it had an SME cutout. I also am on 3rd PSU as it seems in the 80s that british turntables were expected to have power supplies that would burn out every other year. The saggy top plate was adjusted out by the factory and have left that.

I like the nude look of the newer models without the skirts but the price!

Edit: from your username I assume we are similar ages :)
Edit: from your username I assume we are similar ages :)

Close, maybe. But my user name is derived from the year that my Alfa Spider was built. I'm a little older, but not by much.

When I bought my Roksan I had the choice of arm, not finish. A Rega RB300 + an Audio Technica MC cartridge was the accepted norm. But I would have to wait a few weeks for a new RB300 (so very popular at the time). The shop had an SME IV in stock, and the price was about to go up next month. I had to have a long discussion with my bank manager (remember when they were real people who could make a real decision) about why I needed to increase the loan I had previous arranged for the turntable. The possibility of spending, what would now be, a more serious four figure sum on a gramophone caused a lot of head shaking, but fortunately he said yes.
If you're not opposed to contrasting grain, you may be almost where you want to be. I used to use black acrylic paint and epoxy to fill grain in oak, then sand it smooth. The grain pops like mad and the surface can be sanded to a smooth glassy finish if you'd like. What's cool is you can use other paint colours to get cool effects. George Furlanetto makes some great basses and features an optional ceruse finish that looks really cool:

fbass ceruse - Google Search
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My Father had an early series 1 then later of for his midlife crisis got a '75 Series 2. Quite how he fitted 2 adults 4 children and a labrador into it still remains a mystery. I do prefer the boat tail look. SMEs do look good on a Xerxes. And yes it needed dusting.


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Have you tried using some 320 grit sandpaper on a hard foam sanding block?

I'm somewhat impatient, and went for 240 grit in a multitool. But I was careful to keep it flat and not roll around any corners. I also didn't go in very hard so the original black paint is still in the deeper grain lines. Looking at it now, as a white ash finish, it is quite growing on me - the attached picture doesn't do it justice. A little bit more work, and a plain satin varnish? Hmmm....


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If it were me, I'd be putting 1 lb cut blonde shellac on it and call it a day. A few coats, sand smooth through 1000 and then 0000 steel wool with paste wax to get that nice sheen. Shellac dries quickly so you can get it done pretty quick.

Bill -- I wouldn't touch it beyond keeping that wood clean and waxed.
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I too think that looks rather good. Quite like the light oak finish they used to offer.

Yeah, mine does need a polish. I do keep wax polish for the drive belt (this is factory recommended) but been a while since I used is on the wood. I have a fear of dusters and stylii and am daft enough to not have a cartridge with a stylus guard on there at the moment.
keeping that wood clean and waxed.
I favour the wax treatment - the furniture restoration programmes on TV swear by it!

Fiddes Supreme Wax Polish | Fiddes Wax for Furniture & More
What is the advantage of a wax?

A wax finish has a unique look and feel to other finishes and can make a piece of furniture or other wood look and feel like it's worth much more. It can be re-waxed as many times as you like and buffed until the required sheen level is obtained or indeed left un-buffed if a more natural low sheen look is preferred.