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Fixing scratches

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Hello everyone. Looking for some advice for a friend. He has the speakers seen in this picture. They are RF-5's As you can see they have a fair amount of scratches. He has some kids that are just terrors and a dog. He wanted to know if there's anything he can do to fix them. They are wood veneer. As someone on another thread mentioned, he can't just stain them because they are already stained. What can he do to fix them? IS there anything he can do?


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I see you received some responses to an earlier post.

There is rumor, maybe better than just that, that when Klipsch found that a box had an imperfection in the veneer of a natural wood grain, which would be stained to nice wood color, they would use a black finish and thus sell it as black. It makes sense.

I wonder if that is the case here because the cut sheet for RF-5 says cherry or black ash. This would indicate they're not just re-working the cherry. OTOH, maybe they have a lot of ash veneer wood sitting around.

In any event, my best guess is that these were sprayed at the factory with black tinted lacquer. Lacquer is used in a lot of commercial furniture because it dries quickly and can be tinted. No need to apply a stain or dye first. The veneer is probably not stained, in my view, because stains are absorbed by the wood veneer going to some depth and therefore superficial scratches do not remove enough wood to expose clean underlying grain.

Therefore, I reason that what you're seeing is the effect of the thin coat of tinted lacquer being eroded by scratches and showing bare wood. Believe it is a thin coat of tinted lacquer because we can still see the grain of the wood in undamaged areas.

Of course all this is a bit of guess work.

What to do?

1) As fellow suggested, black stain. There is a technical issue here. Stains are usually like thinned out paint with small colloidal colors while dyes are a liquid which has color itself. I think the best dye is the non grain raising from Garret and Wade and I've not seen anything equivalent at HD. I've used this (though not black) and it is excellent for coloring wood before applying a "finish". It will color the bare wood exposed by the scratches in the lacquer. http://www.garrettwade.com/behlen-solar-lux-ngr-dye-stain/p/99P10.01/

2) Black shoe polish (wax) in a can like Kiwi from Walgreens. I think there is enough pigment to get to the raw wood and then give a wax finish on top of the lacquer. Wax should not harm the existing lacquer. You can shine up the whole box. Buff with a clean t-shirt. I'd try this first or 3). You can't go too far wrong or do much damage.

3) Black liquid shoe polish from Walgreens - type with the foam applicator. This will definitely get to the raw wood. Buff it off with a clean t-shirt. Again, this is not dangerous. This is in tie with 2) for what to do first.

The advice from Klipsch is to only use a clean cloth to clean lacquer. Of course I agree. However, wax is relatively harmless and if the finish has been compromised and you're patching it up, a coat of clear wax might do well. Like "butchers wax' or maybe Walgreens has clear wax for shoes. The advice from Klipsch does not address how to remedy instances of actual damage, like we have here. Traditionally, wax is a fairly good treatment to build a sheen. The good point is that it can be removed easily with spirits if necessary.

4) Nail polish remover (acetone) from Walgreens. Put it on a little swab and work gently on the finish. This could be dangerous. Acetone should dissolve some of the existing tinted black lacquer and deposit it into the scratches. The problem is that it might dissolve too much and you'll have a gooey mess of dissolved black lacquer.

5) Use a lacquer based spray to re-do the finish. Lacquer overcoats will melt into the first layer.

The suggestion of using oven cleaner (lye - caustic - sodium hydroxide) to remove lacquer (or anything else) is, I think, very bad advice.

Just to comment on lye. We had a go around in posts about using Murphy's Oil Soap on bare wood or good furniture. It is potassium hydroxide based soap where the fats are replaced by oil and sodium hydroxide is replaced by potassium hydroxide. Very bad for wood.

The classic advise is to try anything on a small spot first. Same goes here.

None of the above applies to oil finishes which are used on many Klipsch speakers.


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I'm not saying the black stuff could be an oil finish. It is not.

I've written here quite a bit about finishes and its based on a lot of reading and some experience. Forum members may wish to snooze through the repetition.

"Oil" is used to refer to a lot of different products. The most elementary are actual petroleum products like "lemon oil" from the grocery or HD which is actually petroleum oil (light motor oil) with a lemon scent. The wood veneer will absorb it and it affect the optics to give contrast and some protection against water. Raw oil from the tung tree or linen plant is used too, in a general sense. If you put olive oil on a wood spoon you see the same. Animal fat on a cutting board does the same.

How can we identify these? Generally, we can still see and feel the wood grain surface with increased contrast and some deep optical effect. The French term is chatoyance. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chatoyance All the guys here have seen it with Lemon oil on Klipsch walnut or a rifle stock with Casey Tru-Oil. Formica makes wood grained plastic but it is not remotely the same up close.

This works , with wood, I think, because the cells, when living, have some oil which coats the internals of the cells and controls the water which is transported. But without the oil when the cell is dead, water will swell the cells and we see the bloat and destruction.

The overall problem is that we want to make raw wood more beautiful and protect it from water. An application of oil or fat will do that. But we must keep on supplying the oil as it evaporates over months.

The next step is that we want to put on a coating (at least sometimes) which builds a solid layer on top and has a sheen. So we want some substance which can be applied as a liquid and then changes to a solid. It may be sophomoric, but this is the theory behind some aspects of "finishing." Go to HD and ask for stuff which brushes on as a liquid and then turns to a solid. There are many.

Some are oil type things like varnish which is oil with some solids which harden up after exposure to air and cross link. These do have the chatoyance generally, and penetrate the wood cells on the first coat.

Shellac is lac bug shells dissolved in alcohol which solidify when the alcohol evaporate. But it can be dissolved with alcohol. But beautiful. Rarely used these days.

A modern equivalent is lacquer. Easy to tint and spray and when the nasty chemical solvent evaporates, you've got a plastic coating. But it doesn't have the chatoyance because the wood has not absorbed it, and may not be as well attached to wood as an oil, prone to chipping, and looks "hot" and glossy. It can be dissolved with lacquer thinner which is mostly acetone.

As I always point out, nail polish is lacquer. You may recall a line in the James Bond movie "Goldfinger" (1964) were Bond quips that the name sound like a French nail varnish. Not so 007, it is lacquer, not varnish. (So take THAT, Sir Sean. Who in the same movie said that Champaign not properly chilled is like listening to the Beatles without earmuffs. What does Sir Paul think of such a comment? In 1964 who could predict they would both be knighted in the next century?)

None the less, our lady friends have been using lacquer and become expert at application, colors, removal, re-application, etc., while we males don't have a clue about lacquer.

Okay, so back to the question.

What you're seeing is essentially black nail lacquer on wood. Like a lady is saying that her nail polish is chipping. If it were oil, it would be more like the kitchen cutting board example.



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Will, if something needs to be filled in with, what is recommended?

...This is difficult to answer without a photo...

As to the finish issues, I think that a wipe on type stain or dye will meet your friend's needs. It won't take much product to darken the raw wood, and as long as the already finished areas are entirely wiped clean, the existing finish won't be obscured, and any contrast with raw wood will be significantly lessened.

Even a Sharpie can work wonders...

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Elmer's wood filler works for me. It does need raw wood to adhere to. It should take paint or dye. My guess is that things are not so deep and bad that you need a bondo type product which is like an epoxy and is very hard when cured.

This project seems to be getting more complicated, or at least the level of damage seems to be increasing. Smile.

If your friend wants a very professional result he could bring them to a professional painter. Things being all black in all places should keep costs down.

Like I always point out, much of what people here do are the first efforts by the inexperienced. If it were the second or third project a lot would have been learned. Nonetheless the goal is something which will not be closely examined, he should get some decent results.


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He has some kids that are just terrors and a dog. He wanted to know if there's anything he can do to fix them.

The dog can be fixed at the vets, that should calm him down quite a bit. He's just going to have to live with the kids though. You don't want child protective services involved.

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When I got my Bose 601s they were sun bleached and put away in an attic for years. When the guy was bringing them down I knew what they were and saw they had all 4 woofers rotted $20 later I cleaned them ,refoamed them and on to the cabinets.No woodworker here but the drift wood look didn't work for me so I did a litlle experiment.A very light sanding I used Olde English polish and what came out was a very living room presentable piece.After that dried I used some bees wax and shined them up.I finally did sell at a nice litlle profit and the work was both theraputic and rewarding at the same time.

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After reading this post, I thought my RF 7's were a little dull due to sunlight and age compared to the newer VF 35's. I used Kiwi, black shoe polish on the 7's. They are now a deep rich black, like new. I have alway cleaned them with Old English furniture polish for the shinning finish but, it never restored the deep rich color.

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I did not spit shine the speakers but, it is nice seeing them shine and nearby pieces of furniture in their refection! These things look brand new. I got the Ideal from William F Gil McDermont in the second or third post on the 1st page of this post.

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