Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question

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SoCalWJS

Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« on: 15 Jan 2018, 11:48 pm »
I have a pair of speakers that have Baltic Birch cabinets that have been stained to a reddish color described as "Merlot". The color worked fairly well in my old house, but not so well in the new house. The wife has mentioned trying to change the color, so I figured I'd better start figuring out if this can be done. I do not even want to contemplate taking them apart (Super V's), so I would prefer to stain them over trying to get a nice paint on them.

I know nothing about BB, and minimal about staining.

Is it possible to re-stain BB?
Could I go lighter, or would it have to be darker?
If I decide that it really would need to be painted, how tough is it to take Super V's apart? (I do not know the specifics of the assembly)

(I have this gut feeling I won't get bold with this, but since SWMBO is bringing up the topic, I figure I better be ready......)

mlundy57

Re: Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« Reply #1 on: 16 Jan 2018, 12:21 am »
It depends on if they have a finish topcoat over the stain and if so, what the finish is.

If they have a finish, the finish has to be removed (stripped). This requires using the same solvent that dilutes the finish or sanding.

If no finish topcoat (which I doubt) than how hard the stain is to remove will depend on what type of stain was used. You can bleach the wood to remove the color. Something like Clorox Pro Outdoor Bleach will work. Wear a good respirator. Once you are done with the bleach, you have to neutralize it with a baking soda/water mixture.

You can always sand the color out but BB is plywood with only the outer veneer being the nice birch. Be careful or you will sand through veneer layer.

Depending on how much of the current color you get off will determine if you can go lighter or not. I wouldn't count on it though. You will probably have to go darker.

If you are going to go darker, once the finish topcoat is removed you don't have to remove the color, just stain over it.

It is worth saying again that you are working with a veneer so you don't have much wood to work with.

Mike


fishboat

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Re: Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« Reply #2 on: 16 Jan 2018, 01:32 am »
+1..what Mike said.

If it were me..I'd put the energy/time into a good paint job.  It'll be tough to get a merlot(dark) stain off well enough to reapply a different stain and have it look like anything**.  Birch itself tends to blotch badly..as the merlot finish may indicate.  Bleaching it after removing the topcoat will raise the grain and open it up..leading to worse blotching yet when you refinish.  All this work will require some sanding.  You'll be working on a veneer, so be careful.  Sanding the open field areas can be easy with an orbital sander, but getting the same quality of sanding / surface removal / surface in the corners where planes meet.. very time consuming.

**If you want to go this route: remove the drivers, strip the topcoat with a stripper, sand a little to make sure all of the topcoat is completely removed, try bleaching it in a couple obscure sections to see what happens..bleach as Mike said or oxalic acid wood bleach(woodworking store), neutralize it, dry, sand to 120-150 grit, use Transtint wood dye using ethanol as a carrier(not water)..a darker tone will tend to cover faults better than a lighter stain.  I'd spray it with 1# shellac after the dye, and topcoat as desired.

Consider that baltic birch, even when new and stained/topcoated, isn't much to look at as birch has little grain that's very interesting.  It looks best when you make the finish-quality the key point rather than the 'beauty' of the wood.  In cases like this, the stain just gives a nice tone under a better looking topcoat.

And then you still have the edges to consider..or at least how they appear. They too look best grain-filled with a great topcoat to highlight the wood-stripes.

If the restain doesn't work, I'd still remove the drivers, fill the edges to eliminate the roughness, (spray) paint(not rattle-can), and topcoat.

jparkhur

Re: Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« Reply #3 on: 16 Jan 2018, 03:09 am »
Paint
« Last Edit: 16 Jan 2018, 01:37 pm by jparkhur »

fishboat

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Re: Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« Reply #4 on: 16 Jan 2018, 01:07 pm »
Passing thought..if you do get the stain bleached out you'll have pink-colored wood base to restart your staining** and finishing schedule.  Not a concern for a red-tone re-stain(dye), but if you try to go with a yellow/golden/light brown tone, the pink may impact what you get..in a good or lesser way.

(**unless you can sand it out..or the bleach works really well)

My biggest concern is you put a lot of time into the re-stain work and have something in the end that looks different, but not necessarily that much better than what you have, unless it's just the red you're trying to change.

One more passing thought..Given the magnitude of what you're considering..it would be worth taking a 2x4 test piece of baltic birch ply(or just a lower grade birch ply) and replicate the finish you have on the speakers, then let it dry very well, and try to strip, bleach, and refinish it. The refinish part could be done in sections to allow different restain-finish pathways(colors).  Which ever looks the best..run with it.  This test piece may be easier than than the speaker cabs, but it'll give you an idea how to approach things.  And you'll make errors and correct them during a practice run rather than in 'real' time.

SoCalWJS

Re: Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« Reply #5 on: 16 Jan 2018, 01:34 pm »
Thanks for all the replies. Sounds like I'd better be very careful and think things out. After expressing what I've heard so far with my wife, I think she has backed off quite a bit. She was interested in getting them to match the Oak we have as our predominant wood on furniture.

Sounds like Paint would be a better option. Concerned that trying to get a really nice fish on assembled speakers (after removing drivers, wiring, crossovers) would be difficult, even if sent out to a professional painter (such as high end Auto). I imagine the paint would tend to get too thick in the corners where 2 panels come together at 90 degrees or so, and sanding between layers would have the same problem.

Wonder if any of the Textured paints could be an option.

jparkhur - not from you. Purchased from another AC member who did the work himself.

fishboat

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Re: Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« Reply #6 on: 16 Jan 2018, 06:34 pm »
She was interested in getting them to match the Oak we have as our predominant wood on furniture.


A medium toned oak would be a challenge from where you are now.  The lighter birch is in finish..the less interesting it gets, unless you're going for a high-key-modern look. (all personal preference, I know)


Sounds like Paint would be a better option. Concerned that trying to get a really nice fish on assembled speakers (after removing drivers, wiring, crossovers) would be difficult, even if sent out to a professional painter (such as high end Auto). I imagine the paint would tend to get too thick in the corners where 2 panels come together at 90 degrees or so, and sanding between layers would have the same problem.


From the (HVLP) spraying I've done, primarily shellac, the opposite tends to be true.  It can be hard to force shellac (paint?) into the corners.  I wouldn't make many assumptions about what a pro (spray) finisher is capable of..there's art & science in what they do.  If you want to spend the coin, the speakers are worth it, having them sprayed would be a good move. Like any paint/finishing job, pre-paint-prep is 85% of the work.  You might ask the painter what he/she needs/prefers in the object being painted and then spend your time doing the prep.  Ask him/her what materials they'd like you to use.  Some woodworking material can be incompatible with downstream finishes.  My guess is that you'll spend the most time sealing, filling, and sanding smooth the edges.  Ask if you need to..there's faster and slower/less effective ways of doing this.

Norman Tracy

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Re: Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« Reply #7 on: 16 Jan 2018, 07:24 pm »
Another option to consider is the wrapping film by 3M and many others. Typically used for wrapping cars and signage. The rack I built for my room at 2017 LSAF is baltic birch with the edges cleared and flat sides covered in wrap film.





Available in many colors. You can source it from Amazon or most locals have sign companies and car/truck wrapping companies. 





DIY is very easy especially if in your case you kept the existing color on the edges and went to a more decor friendly hue for the flat surfaces. A bit more of a learning curve to do the entire speaker. Resources are available.

Youtube: How to Vinyl Wrap a Speaker in Red Gloss Vinyl w/ CK Wraps and Vvivid Vinyl
https://youtu.be/Zh1wwm2BkCk

mlundy57

Re: Baltic Birch Stain/Paint question
« Reply #8 on: 16 Jan 2018, 07:51 pm »
Hey Norm. Good to hear from you :thumb:

Mike