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  • Writer's picture7-DAYZ

It finally happened... From old to new again!

It took 2 years, but I finally worked up the initiative to refinish my second set of vintage studio speakers. This time its a pair of Celestion Ditton 332s. These were used in studios in England in the 1980s - and put out some great sound, particularly for brass heavy pieces. They also give some solid bass and are particularly fun to listen to with my Carver amp.

But they had a problem. They weren't very pretty, and didn't fit in with my home studio look at my workstation. They'd gotten some worn spots and gouges during their long life (I was not the first owner).

So - time to get out the Milwaukee Rorbital power sander and do some gentle sanding on the veneer so I could re-stain them to a more modern ebony finish. A few passes at 3000rpm with 220 grit sandpaper should be enough to open up the surface for staining, but not gouge too deep and damage the veneer.

And it was at that point in the plan that I hit a snag. On my other pair of speakers (the Infinity set I posted about back at the start of the blog), I simply removed the components, taped off the front side of the speaker, and then did my staining and polyurethane top coat without the valuable speaker cones themselves in the way. Then I replaced the individual speakers once it was all dry. That wasn't going to work this time, because after I undid all the screws on the Celestions, I discovered the mid range and woofer pieces are actually glued in place! And whatever 1980s era glue they used, wasn't going to budge!

So I had to choose whether to try to dig out the mid-range/woofer possibly damaging the speaker box itself, or else very carefully cover them over and stain/poly the set while ensuring not to damage the speaker pieces! No project comes without its trade-offs, I suppose.

After some more prying at the components, I decided I'd really have to risk damage to both the parts and speaker box if I used enough force to get them free. So instead I covered them over with plastic and painter's tape and grabbed the sander. Time to get to work.

Sanding the fronts was tricky because of how narrow the small wood surround was. Keeping the sander level enough to not accidentally round one of the small edges took maximum effort.

With everything sanded down, I put three coats of Minwax Ebony stain on each side. Fortunately it did much better on this veneer than on the Infinity speakers I did a couple years ago. Those had an oak veneer that didn't want to take stain. I ended up having to stain each side about 6 times to get it to be truly black. These only took 3 coats per side to get to a nice rich black color.

Now the next phase of the project is to use a Polycrylic sealer to protect the finish, and then redo the speaker grill covers so they are a matching black rather than brown. I'll share those steps and some finished pictures of the Celestions in a future post.

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