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AR-2ax Cabinet Restoration


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Hello All,

I've been collecting/repairing receivers and turntables for a little while, and now moving to speakers I find myself here. I picked up a pair of AR-2ax's and am interested in getting the cabinets in better shape. They don't need to be perfect and am happy with a bit of original character. The finish is currently quite dull and dark. Also I'm no woodworking expert but it looks like these have possibly had a staining attempt. I've looked at other AR's and don't see much of this colour.

Attached are pictures of the top, sides, bottom and back. I did a light sand of the bottom with 120 and 220 grit to see what would happen. It is the worst area for scratches as usual. I'm thinking a light sand all around, but then the next step I'm unsure about.  I have used the Howard's products (Restor-a-finish, Orange Oil, Feed n Wax) in the past. I also see a number suggesting Watco Danish Oil which I can get.

I wouldn't mind the finish a bit lighter as it's quite dark. I also need more lustre. I've sprayed lacquer on turntable plinths but don't think I want to go that route here is possible.

Any thoughts are welcome.

Thanks,

-Steve

AR Top.jpg

AR Side 1.jpg

AR Side 2.jpg

AR Bottom.jpg

AR Back.jpg

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Okay, I read through Lakecat's process. Amazing work! I'll have to decide if I'm up for that, or maybe strip to where I can pretreat and restain with better results. Personally, I don't think painting is a good solution.

The drivers, pots and grills are good on these, so may be worth the effort. Unfortunately one Alnico woofer has been replaced by what appears to be an AR factory replacement. They do sound nice in the mid and top. A bit more detailed than my KLH 6's.

Thanks for the thread link IARrybody!

-Steve

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I really do like the natural pine finish. When they were new the pine was the least expensive option. People bought them either to save a few dollars or to put in consoles. Now the pine cabinets are really desirable.  Maybe because they are rarer than the Walnut veneer examples.  I see the 10 in. Alnico  woofers on eBay all the time. The AR 2 and AR 2a also used this woofer.  There is another thread where Lakecat finds a matching speaker and completes the set. I will try to find it.

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Thanks IARrybody. I found the other thread from Lakecat. Very cool. Well, I learned a ton from my first receiver repair and recap, a Harman Kardon 730. I've done a few other makes since and ironically that first job was the most difficult. With that in mind I'm off to Home Depot to get some stripper and plastic scrapers.

-Steve

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Progress update..one cabinet stripped and sanded. There wasn't any finish over the stain or the job would have been more messy. Unlike the 3a in pine with the solid birch nosing the 2ax has the thinnest of veneers on the nose. Gentle sanding and trying to prevent catching on a cloth will hopefully keep it intact.

On to the bleaching process to lighten the wood.

AR-2ax stripped.jpg

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Nice job on refinishing the pine. Isn't the graining so cool? Would like to see a closer pic of the one you done. Is there still dark streaks in the grain from where the stain got in the cracks of the veneer? Had a hell of a time with that.... good luck on next one. Coming out nice!

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Hello Lakecat. Thanks so much for your earlier thread on stripping these cabinets! I certainly wouldn't have tried doing this without it. As you see from the picture I do have the dark streaks and also a bit of dark areas that make it look dirty (this is the worst side). I have beached 3 times followed by a light pressure orbital sand at 120 grit. I would like the finish a bit lighter and cleaner still. My wife's cheap laundry bleach is probably diluted so am going to try a more concentrated solution. I've been applying with a soft brush so am also going to try something stiffer. Maybe a heavier sand as well. I've been taking it slow and easy so far.

The finish is certainly growing on me!

-Steve

AR-2ax side.jpeg

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It might seem counterintuitive, but in this case your best bet might actually be to stain the wood again. You can make a light wash of a blonde-ish gel stain that should fill in the dark cracks and also lighten the darker grain areas (which, btw, are that dark because they have also absorbed some of the darker stain). It'll also help even out that "dirty" look.

https://generalfinishes.com/wood-finishes-retail/oil-based-wood-stains-sealers/gel-stains (click on "Colors")

I would start with a test dab of "New Pine" on the proverbial inconspicuous location and see how that works. If you don't mind it a touch darker, "Prairie Wheat" will give you a color similar to the patina that develops naturally on pine over time. You will want to apply a light coat of stain sealer before staining, and then a clear matte topcoat to protect. All to simulate what it would have looked like if it had been left alone in the first place.

Here's an example of what plain old pine looks like if you leave it alone for a long, long time except for an occasional waxing:

image.jpeg

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1 hour ago, genek said:

Here's an example of what plain old pine looks like if you leave it alone for a long, long time except for an occasional waxing

To reinforce the color sample from geneK's post, I'll add this picture of one of a pair of unfinished pine AR-2's that were given to me a couple of weeks ago.

I took this picture just before I took 220 grit sandpaper to it to give it a fresh look.

AR-2 as found.jpg

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Thanks for the great information Genek, all options for finishing are definitely on the table. While stripping the dark walnut stain the cabinets got lighter which also looked nice. I've just applied a more concentrated bleach as a test to one of the bottoms and am liking what I see. The yellow hue has noticibly brightened and the dark streaks are disappearing. I'm going to let it sit for a couple of days while out of town. Then sand when I return to see what results.

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21 hours ago, sfoster137 said:

Hello Lakecat. Thanks so much for your earlier thread on stripping these cabinets! I certainly wouldn't have tried doing this without it. As you see from the picture I do have the dark streaks and also a bit of dark areas that make it look dirty (this is the worst side). I have beached 3 times followed by a light pressure orbital sand at 120 grit. I would like the finish a bit lighter and cleaner still. My wife's cheap laundry bleach is probably diluted so am going to try a more concentrated solution. I've been applying with a soft brush so am also going to try something stiffer. Maybe a heavier sand as well. I've been taking it slow and easy so far.

The finish is certainly growing on me!

-Steve

AR-2ax side.jpeg

What I did was to coat it in bleach and let it dry. No sanding. I took utility blades and scrapped in the direction of the grain. Sanding just grinds....and you want to lift what the bleach can lift. Lot of work but worth a try. I thinned almond latex paint and added a coat and then scrapped it some with the blades. Best I could do to lighten the dark veining.

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If you've only been using household bleach, you might want to look at a two-step wood bleach. This stuff will not only bleach out stains, it will actually pull the natural color out of the wood and render it nearly bone white if you leave it on long enough. If all else fails, you use that and then replace the original color with something like "New Pine" gel stain.

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Two bleaches with chlorine concentrate and I feel I'm close to the finish I'd like. The darker streaks are still visible so will investigate painting and scraping as per Lakecat. Considering a couple coats of satin poly to bring back some grain and evenly darken back down a bit. Thanks again for the many helpful contributions to this project!

 

 

AR 2 bleaches.jpg

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On 8/6/2022 at 5:58 PM, sfoster137 said:

Two bleaches with chlorine concentrate and I feel I'm close to the finish I'd like. The darker streaks are still visible so will investigate painting and scraping as per Lakecat. Considering a couple coats of satin poly to bring back some grain and evenly darken back down a bit. Thanks again for the many helpful contributions to this project!

 

 

AR 2 bleaches.jpg

 

That is awesome!...great work my man...:)  Make sure you use water poly. The graining is so cool.

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Thanks Lakecat. Just tried my first paint application. Didn't go so well as scraping wouldn't remove enough of the paint so had to sand...which reversed some of the bleaching effect. Glad I just did this on the bottom of one cabinet. Attached is prior to paint, post scrape (kinda cool), and post sand. Perhaps I didn't thin the paint enough. Also may look at some whitewashing videos.

And yes, water based poly:)

prepaint.jpg

postscrape.jpg

postsand.jpg

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Yes I used blades. They were the longer break off type, so perhaps not as sharp. Thinning the paint did help on my second effort. A scrape and then a bit of hand sanding to taste. I'm liking where I'm at now, with a bit of a wash. The cabinets pop a bit more, some imperfections are hidden and the dark lines are not as visible. The grain edges can be subtle or brought out with sanding.

In the attached picture the cabinet on the right has the wash and the left does not.

AR-2 wash.jpg

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So I think the cabinets are done. Four coats of Minwax Polycrylic Satin. Now on to cleaning up the grills. Trying to dab them with Oxiclean solution is taking time as I just chase the drying ring (probably tobacco) to the edges. It might be better to remove the cloth entirely and soak it but that looks time consuming as well. I have purchased another alnico woofer so looking forward to that.

Coincidently I gave my son a project this summer to build some speakers stands. I had him work with knotty pine for his first test pair. We were going to stain them but now I might just finish to match the AR cabinets.

 

 

 

 

AR2 ext.jpg

AR with Stand.jpg

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On 8/11/2022 at 11:53 AM, sfoster137 said:

Yes I used blades. They were the longer break off type, so perhaps not as sharp. Thinning the paint did help on my second effort. A scrape and then a bit of hand sanding to taste. I'm liking where I'm at now, with a bit of a wash. The cabinets pop a bit more, some imperfections are hidden and the dark lines are not as visible. The grain edges can be subtle or brought out with sanding.

In the attached picture the cabinet on the right has the wash and the left does not.

AR-2 wash.jpg

Looks really good! Amazing how nice you got those. Glad it worked out. The graining is gorgeous!

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