Repairing Black Ash veneer

This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.
I'm repairing some Proac speakers with their basic 'Black Ash' finish.

The veneer had lots of scratches so I tried using scratch repair wax (crayons) and using a black wax polish but they didn't really help much.

So I just wet sanded with 600 grit back to the white wood under the finish and succeeded in getting all the scratches out. After allowing time for the wood to dry I dry sanded with 1000 grit and then rubbed in Nitrostain black wood dye. I've put on a few coats but it's no where near as black and opaque a finish as the original. Some areas of the wood haven't taken the stain so well and generally it looks dark brown rather than black. Basically it's been a failure!.

I can tell the original finish was sprayed on because of the overspray on the inside of the cabinet, but does anyone have any idea what they sprayed on? It has to be a completely opaque black with a medium glossy finish, but also the coating needs to be thin so it doesn't obscure the texture of the woods grain.

I'm thinking maybe they stained black and then put on a coat of thinned down very black varnish. I'd really like to get the panel I sanded looking like the rest of the speaker again although if I can reproduce the finish I'll probably the :bawling:

I would try wood wax with graphite powder as pigment, but I am not sure this will overlay the brown. The only pigment that is REALLY black is active coal (artists call it bone black). This will definitely overlay the brown, but without the glossy look.
Disabled Account
Joined 2007
BarakaBloke said:

I'm thinking maybe they stained black and then put on a coat of thinned down very black varnish. I'd really like to get the panel I sanded looking like the rest of the speaker again although if I can reproduce the finish I'll probably the :bawling:


First, you sanded too fine. When you sand raw wood (or veneer) with very fine sandpaper, it "burnishes" the wood, making it harder to stain. 120 - 220 grit with the grain would have been good for this finish.
For stain, use thinned alkyd based paint. Yes, I said paint, not stain. You thin this with mineral spirits (Varsol). You can paint this on and let it dry. DO NOT wipe it off. It can be sprayed, and this would give the best results, but if you're careful it can be done very well with a good quality brush.
More coats will make it darker until you have the right colour. You can then clear coat this with satin polyurethane.
MJL is DEAD ON the money here.

Many ash finishes are done with "paints" that fill the pores rather than "stains".

I have done striking finishes by: sanding the wood smooth (no more than 220 -320) and PAINTING the wood black, then sanding to re-expose the pores while leaving the pores blackened.

Thanks folks. Hopefully these pictures will convey what I was trying to

These are shots of good areas of the original finish which I want recreate on
the face I sanded.

It's hard to photograph black but I think it gives the idea.

How can I recreate this finish on the face I sanded?


  • black ash small.jpg
    black ash small.jpg
    84.1 KB · Views: 793
I'm inclined to agree with R-Carpenter, likely the finish was simply painted on; that is it was 'paint' not stain.

It's difficult to experiment on the actual cabinet itself. I would be better if you had a spare piece of wood. I think the first thing you need to determine is the degree of flatness of the finish; flat, satin, semi-gloss, or gloss. I'm thinking likely satin or semi-gloss. Then see if you can duplicate that.

It is possible to paint with flat black, then coat with clear satin or semi-gloss. Or any other combination to achieve the desire result, like paint it with gloss black then finish it with satin clear.

At any rate, it's a complex process trying to match an existing finish. It would be better to simply put a new finish on the whole thing. Lightly sand, choose your undercoat and spray, then choose your finish coat and spray.

Are you familiar with Candy paints. They are the clear colored paints they put over metal-flake on custom motorcylces. You could spray an undercoat of flat or satin black, then sand it lightly, and coat it with a clear gloss or satin black 'Candy'. That would give the appearance of a very deep finish.

Not worth much. Just a few thoughts.

Think of it this way. 99% of commercial speakers are sprayed in the spray booth. 99% of them use pre catalyzed or regular nitrocellulose lacquer. From the picture, it’s obvious that these cabinets are spray-painted. So, just do the same thing.
Where to find it:
Look in the phone book at “furniture restoration supplies”, “finishing supplies” Call them and ask them if they carry Satin Black nitrocellulose in the form of spray can. In US, it’s about $7 a can.
How to spray:
Nitro stinks; so either do it outdoors or with the fan in the window. It’s also flammable, so no smoking.
Lay your speaker on the side and give it a couple of thin crosshatch coats. If you get a hang of it, you could give a entire cabinet a quick overall. One can should be more then enough.
If you concern about abuse, get a can of clear satin lacquer also and topcoat with it.


  • m104-0009-1.jpg
    49.9 KB · Views: 606

I'll bet the ProAc rep can get you a spray can of the "Paint." It is better than having to re-do both boxes to get them to match because the brand of paint and clear coat are a different manufacturer and just aren't right on color wise and texture or sheen wise. Maybe with the exact product you can feather it and make it look like new, like a car at the body shop! I know that Roman does this all day long for a living so I am sure he can give you better advice than me. It sounds like all the guys are telling you the same thing. The only thing I can add is where to get the original product. Maybe anyway!

His name is Richard. You can email him:

He has always been real helpful with me!

Good luck! I have to hear about people with ProAc problems!

Thanks for all the brilliant advice folks :)

I'll try ProAc for the proper paint. If they can't help or want silly money I
can resort to car spares/repairs type shops near me who stock loads
of cellulose type aerosol paints.

I still have problem though: I didn't realise sanding would reduce the
amount of the large open pores (or whatever they're called) in the
wood surface. Without them the painted surface won't have the wood
grain texture you can see in my photos. Is there a trick for reopening
the woods pores ? The only idea I've had is wire brushing followed by
a light sand, but that's a total guess!

Disabled Account
Joined 2007
That veneer originally might have been treated with a chemical to open the grain more than normal. The wire brush could scratch the summer growth (hard, flat parts), and make a real mess of it.
I would sand the entire side with 120 grit paper. Then 220 grit. Clean with a vacuum or blower, brushing out the grain with a toothbrush.
Then paint it and see how it looks. Worse comes to worst, you completely refinish both boxes on all sides.
Ash as any other wood has pores through out the thickness, solid or veneer, doesn’t matter. You didn’t sand off the pores, you just made the surface so smooth that you can’t feel them. Lacquer or whatever you going to use, will make them reappear again. Wipe the surface with moist rag to see the pores again.
It could be that you sanded the veneer through to the glue line. That would be bad but I hope it’s not the case. If it is oh well - wire brush.
ProAc aren’t using any special lacquer. Any commercial speaker manufacturer, just as if a furniture manufacturer is limited to a cost involved in to finishing. Cabinets have to look as good as possible and as cheap as possible. There’s no magic, no campaign and no secret sound absorbing military grade lacquer. There are also minimum of handwork involved in producing these cabinets. No gnomes running around the factory with witch hazel, opening the grain. I’ve done this finish quite a few times. The variations come from the type lacquer. Some environmentally friendly companies are switching to water base lacquers or polyurethane.
Thanks again. My first thought was that the pores I could see were
probably distributed throughout the wood which was why I was
shocked to see them vanish. But I've just checked again and
surprisingly they look fine now! Either I didn't look properly before
or perhaps the wood's dried out more since I wet sanded and
stained it and this has re-revealed them. Anyway, problem solved.

I totally agree with the observation that the ProAc's are
manufactured, like everything else, in a way they minimises
construction effort. I know nothing about wood (metal yes, but
wood is strange imprecise stuff!) but the general structure and
electrical construction of my Tablette 2000's looks very ordinary to

I was particularly disappointed to note that the current paths in
from the huge golden coloured connectors on the back are through
single tiny steel spring washers to the tin plated copper pcb traces!
They're on the wrong side of the pcb too so the first thing a current
has to do is pass back down a plated through hole! It makes
manufacture straight forward but also makes a mockery of the use
of huge connectors and all those 'magical' tweaks people believe
improve their HiFi's! So that makes me wonder if my ProAcs (which I
got dirt cheap by the way due to one having a blown woofer) are
really that good or have I just been hypnotised by the brand
image? I hate the thought I might just be a techno-fashion victim!

Talking of which, I've noticed that the car spray paints I've been
looking at all seem to be acrylic rather than cellulose nitrate. I hope
that gives a technological advancement in the paint finish rather
than just a reduction in manufacturing cost?



  • spring washer.jpg
    spring washer.jpg
    91.5 KB · Views: 387
Welcome to the wonderful world of commercial loudspeakers. You forget to mention a 15c electrolytic capacitor there.
Car paints have different expansion-contraction properties then wood paints. They are usually more expensive then a majority of wood coatings. Basically, they design to stick to metal and hold up to the sun, rain and bird droppings.
The reason, I suggested NC is because 99% of cabinet factories (and ProAc either has their own factory or sub out cabinet work to someone local) will use it for price-value relationship and easy (in commercial environment) application. It dries fast, gives good enough scratch resistance and it’s cheap. The next step or I should say upgrade is Pre catalyzed NC. The application involves more precision and it’s very sensitive to the thickness of coating. Another words, you spray too much, it’ll spider crack. However, better scratch resistance and only 3 coats needed to achieve a nice finish.
Looking at the crossover picture, I would guess that ProAc is extremely budget oriented and it’s probably just NC. Can’t say a 100% without running a test.
I have to mention that not all of these coatings are compatible with each other. Acrylic lacquer may pill off from NC base after a while. It may not. Either way, wet sanding wood is overkill and you may find out a hard way how good the veneer job on that cabinet is. 220 or 320 are perfectly fine.

Ok, things have moved on a little:

I tracked down Mohawk Lacquer Enamel in the UK to
But they sell to trade in boxes of 12.

Instead they pointed me to "an identical product", which I guess is
the same stuff rebranded.

However they have a minimum order of £20 and charge over £9 for
making the order about US$60, but I couldn't find nitrocellulose
lacquer anywhere else so I went for it.

Meanwhile I contacted ProAcs Richard at
He said "The speakers are stained not spray painted".
This was annoying obviously as I originally thought they were
stained but had now spent a packet on paint. Asking for more detail
as to the nature of the stain I was told, "I've never attempted to
repair or stain speakers. I've always relied on a professional who
refinishes and repairs cabinets to do the work. They can match the
color with greater accuracy," so I'm not even sure how much
detailed knowledge underlies his original claim that they were

I also contacted ProAc in the UK but had no reply. :xeye:
Shame. They were almost chatty when I wanted to give them £100
for a new woofer a few weeks ago :rolleyes:

Looks like I'm going to be doing some experimenting then, I guess!

This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.