Staining the enclosure


(Bart Nagel) #1

I have a vague feeling that this is going to horribly offend somebody, but I hope not!

Now that I have my second Model 01, I’m considering modifying the first. I think I want to stain the wood black, to match the rest of the stuff on my desk. I’d like to do it in such a way that I can still see the grain.

I’m no woodworker. Any tips?

I would have imagined it’s a case of sanding down the surface to take off the clear coat, then applying the stain (any particular kind I should use?) one or more times, then adding a new clear coat or two.

Anyone know whether I’m on the right lines?


(Jennifer Leigh) #2

get some hard maple to practice with, in order to learn how the stain reacts with the wood. Try methods of application, dilutions, and length of contact time (most stain is designed for wipe on, wait, wipe off application) until you get a look that you like.

Only THEN should your start removing the clearcoat.

I like sanding sponges for working with curves. 3M and Norton are both good brands.

You will want to re-apply clearcoat after staining. I recommend spray cans of poly. Again, test first until you can get a consistent application before working on your project piece. :slight_smile:


(Jesse) #3

I’ve had at least one report that with the polyurethane used by at least the first supplier, this is…not likely to work well.

The first customer who tried it said that removing the coating caused significant wood damage.

The original supplier was supposed to show me some stained pieces the last time I was in town…What they showed me instead had been spray-coated on TOP of the polyurethane. I was not pleased.

That said, you might have luck with a similar process, using a dye or paint. I’d recommend doing your tests on the inside of your enclosure where nobody will see it if things go badly wrong.


(Jennifer Leigh) #4

huh! Wood damage from removing a poly coating? how odd. I would love to see pictures and understand methods. I’ve never had an issue sanding off a coating.

What ever happened with the black stained enclosures you showed a couple months back?


(Jesse) #5

We finally got samples.
It turns out they never intended to stain them. They airbrushed them AFTER sealing then.

We passed.


(Bart Nagel) #6

Thanks for the input. In light of it all, I chickened out of doing it myself (more time than I’m willing to put in to experiment and make sure I don’t mess it up), so I asked a carpenter I’ve hired a couple of times in the past and he’s confident he can do a good job. I’ll report back!


(Bart Nagel) #7

Incidentally, it actually looks pretty cool without the case, and is very comfortable with the Purple squishies to add some height at the wrists. (I threw some scrap fabric over them so they don’t stick to my wrists!)


(Toon Claes) #8

So chances are pretty low for after-market stained enclosures?


(Jesse) #9

We’re not giving up hope. We hear that one of the suppliers may have samples of Walnut and Cherry enclosures for us soon.


#10

Would it be possible to just buy enclosures?
The keyboard I already have, so I can just switch enclosures.


(Jennifer Leigh) #11

Oooh. I’d still love a raw wood enclosure to finish myself, and Cherry’s my fave. :wink:


(Toon Claes) #12

They already mentioned unfinished enclosures cannot be shipped: https://twitter.com/keyboardio/status/916877513820749826


(Jennifer Leigh) #13

I can dream my happy little dreams. :stuck_out_tongue:


(Jesse) #14

Once we’re not horribly behind on everything, we can certainly talk to the wood suppliers about some solution like, say, vacuum-sealing unfinished enclosures.

But these guys aren’t really set up for orders of less than 100 sets.

If you were going to hand-finish it, is it the type of finish you care about or doing it yourself? If it’s the former, what kind of finishing would you want?


(Jennifer Leigh) #15

I prefer traditional oil and resin finishes to poly. Most of my fiber arts tools, my kitchen counters, and lots of my wood furniture have hand rubbed finishes. Primarily boiled linseed oil and pine tar based. I particularly like the Tried and True line of products. They are zero VOC and don’t contain heavy metals or other drying and penetrating agents. For something I have my hands on all day, I prefer to avoid potential irritants.

I would be happy to have someone else apply them, but that’s not realistic. It takes a skilled person many thin coats to build up the finish. Even the modern “Boiled Linseed Oil” has become something very far from the original preparation, and that’s as close as you can get to my ideal in commercially produced wood products. :slight_smile:


(Bart Nagel) #16

I have my refinished enclosure back. I asked the carpenter to take photos along the way and give a few details.

Sanding was done with a festool Rotex detail sander with the sponge attachment. Worked up from 100 to 120 to 150 to 180 grit.

The finish that was on there was done well and was substantial. Once the wood was sanded to a degree which I thought most of the previous finish was removed I wet the case with a cloth. As the wood dries differences not before apparent appear. The sanding process took longer than anticipated because of the good quality finish that was applied and the great care needed to not change the shape of the case. Great care must be taken to keep the sander moving at all times and not square off the contours, of which there are many.

An orbital sander is a must to avoid cross grain scratching. Not recommended for first time sanders/woodworkers.

The finish applied was 2 coats of black India ink buffed with 0000 steel wool after the first coat. Then 3 coats of wipe on poly by minwax. Light sanding between clear coats.

Expect to spend about 4 hrs. Not including dry time between the various finish coats.

This one shows one sanded and one untouched:

Examples of where getting the wood a little wet makes areas to keep sanding more apparent:




Closeups of getting around the countours:


Finished product:

There’s one area on the left half which isn’t quite the same and which you may spot above, and here’s a closeup:

When I picked it up he mentioned something about the wood in that spot being a little different somehow (the details escape me) in such a way that the ink didn’t set the same. There also seems to be a little gouge there so I’m not sure if there was also a small mishap while sanding that spot, or if it was there before, only filled in by the original finish. Either way, it doesn’t bother me.

The clear coat is not as silky and smooth as it was before, which is a bit of a shame. This is something I’d be interested in trying to improve, but the way that he described the original finish above (“done well and was substantial”) makes me think I wouldn’t be able to do a good job.


(Toon Claes) #17

Thanks for sharing, that’s really looking good (although maybe a bit too dark for my taste, I would prefer to see a bit more of the wood grain).

I’m also happy to hear the factory applied coating turned about to be of high quality!


(Bart Nagel) #18

Yes, in a perfect world I would have liked to see the grain a little more too, but given what the others said above about how difficult this enclosure is to refinish, I’m just happy it came out looking good.


(Bart Nagel) #19

The rougher finish is actually starting to grow on me. It now feels more like the wood it is – the factory finish is so smooth it feels like plastic. I’m in two minds.


(Michael Richters) #20

I am reminded of the smoothest “finish” I ever felt on a wood surface — a handrail on the stairs leading down into the belfry at Notre-Dame de Paris. There’s nothing like the hands of millions of tourists to really rub wood smooth…