Reader's Discretion Advisory: This is a true wood porn story. If you don't like viewing wood porn, then you should exit this thread now.
If you have been reading me for a while, you may know of my dislike for the look of oak. I have wanted to replace the oak veneer end caps and side strips for a long time, but it took a while to decide what I wanted. Many options were considered such as anodized aluminum, clear-coated etched aluminum in various colors, various colors of glossy automotive paint and various solid wood and veneered exotic wood finishes. Once I decided to go with wood, these were the top candidates:
Figure 1. Bubinga.
Figure 2. Amboyna Burl.
Figure 3. Pomelle Sapele.
Figure 4. Highly-figured Quilted Maple.
Figure 5. Highly-figured Tiger Maple.
The expense of the first four options was difficult to justify considering that most of the wood would be out of sight most of the time (end cap tops and bottoms and side strips). Also for the first four, there was the consideration of acquiring the quantities required in a reasonable length of time. Tiger maple met my criteria for cost, aesthetics and ease of acquisition.
Those of you who have sought to have this kind of work done know that it can be difficult to find a wood craftsman willing to do it. I found an outstanding custom furniture builder, Mike Delnero, in New York state (DelneroFurniture.com). Mike was a pleasure to work with and kept in frequent contact, even sending pictures as my project progressed.
Figure 6. Rough cuts of solid tiger maple end caps and side strips.
Figure 7. Insane figuring: rough cut side strips. If the figure is this pronounced
after rough cutting, you can imagine how outrageous it will look after finishing.
Figure 8. Color sample submitted for approval.
I specified highly-figured tiger maple with an aniline dyed color and oil finish. Color samples were to be sent prior to applying final color. To avoid delays, in lieu of having actual samples sent, I decided to accept color pictures. The color shown above was what I originally specified. However, I decided to go redder and darker.
Figure 9. My order arrived in a custom built padded wood crate.
Figure 10. This is a picture of me getting wood.
I was nervous when I saw the large "FRAGILE" notice. UPS sometimes takes such notices as a "challenge" to test the customer's packing skills.
The picture in figure 10 was taken with a lot of natural light coming into the room. This picture is closest to the true color of the caps and strips. In the following pictures, the wood will take on more of a red, brown or orange color due to the interior lighting and viewing angle.
Goodbye Golden Oak
I don't know why I loathe oak so much. I like looking at stately old oak trees, I just don't like looking at finished oak wood. It is a relief not to have to look at it in my home anymore.
Figure 11. Tiger maple and oak end cap.
Figure 12. Tiger maple and oak side strips.
Figure 13. Tiger maple top cap angle view.
Figure 14. Rounded top and bottom edges.
I requested the corners of the maple end caps to have the same 5/8" radius as the original oak caps. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the upper and lower edges of the caps, as well as the two visible edges of the strips, were rounded. I was also pleasantly surprised that all pieces were sanded to a glassy-smooth finish.
Figure 15. Finished side strip figure closeup.
Figure 16. Finished side strip with striping and "burl" pattern.
Two of the side strips had the typical tiger striping pattern and two strips had a nice combination pattern of striping plus a "burl-like" pattern underneath the stripes. I put the stripe and burl strips on the inside sides of the speakers since I would see these the most when I am at the stereo equipment cabinet.
Unfortunately, these casual photographs cannot capture and convey the thrilling iridescent, three-dimensional "strike" (chatoyancy) of this wood.
Including time spent buying assembly hardware and cleanup, assembly took a tedious 20 hours. Care must be exercised when measuring the placement of drill holes for the feet and hanger bolts. The drill must be held steady and level. For the top cap's hangar bolt holes, I used a band of colored tape as a stop marker for the hole depth. If I would have accidentally drilled all the way through one of these caps, people in Siberia would have wondered who was screaming.
Figure 17. Backs of my SDA SRS 1.2TL side panels.
Figure 17 shows the backs of my SDA SRS 1.2TL side panels. The two panels at the left, which were assembled by Ms. Molly Jones, had an abundance of glue securing the oak veneered particle board strips to the side panel cloth. When the cloth was pulled off the back of side strip, clumps of particle board came off with it. These clumps of glue and particle board had to be cut off or else the new strips would not have fit flush. The two panels at the right were dated and initialed by "V. E." V. E. used a much smaller amount of glue. Therefore, only tiny bits of particle board peeled off with the cloth on his panels.
Figure 18. Each oak strip was secured to the side panel with 6,855 5/8" finishing nails.
The side strips had to be carefully pried loose from the side panels. This was not easy due to the glue and the 6,855 finishing nails holding the strips. There were already 11 pre-drilled countersunk holes behind the strip slots in the side panels. Rather than use nails, I secured the new strips to the side panels with 5/8" long, #8 wood screws.
Figure 19. The old "hammer in" insert nuts for the speaker feet (left) could not be reused.
New heavier duty "screw in" insert nuts were used.
Figure 20. Original oak veneered trim ready for attic storage.