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 Post subject: Factory Original Walnut Vs Mahogany Finishes ??
PostPosted: Dec Thu 25, 2008 11:12 pm 
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I have been wondering this question for a while and a nice photo by Ken G of his 15 tube Zenith in the clubhouse section got me fired up to see if anyone has a good answer.

There were several companies that offered the same model console in several 'finishes' and Ken's Zenith is either a 15U-270 (Walnut 'finish') or a rarer 15U-271 (Mahogany 'finish').

So would the woods used be different or does this usually refer to the stain tones used ?

EH Scott also offered several of his cabinets in either of these same 2 'finishes' as did a few others including Capehart on a select few styled cabinets and perhaps other high-end companies as well.

I have several cabinets in walnut wood veneers and the stain seems to be either a dark walnut color or more commonly a golden oak color but I would not call them an 'oak' finish but was wondering what a good difference really is: wood grain vs stain color as far as definition of 'finish'.


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PostPosted: Dec Thu 25, 2008 11:47 pm 
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First, when you cite Capehart or Scott cabinets, versus Zenith, you're comparing wood to cardboard (so to speak). Zenith's cabinets were stylish, but far from expensive.

Zenith did offer different woods....some times, to accomodate the customer's special wishes. In general, decorative woods (Walnut, mahogany, oak, etc.) were finished in dark tones. Most Zenith customers were content with the standard finishes, so you don't see many variations in those sets. You won't even see many variations in Philco or RCA.

Another thing, not commonly known, is that the entire cabinet was finished with toned lacquers, in order to make all parts of the cabinet match. Stains were not commonly used, if at all. Look at a deteriorated finish, where the finish is flaking off. There is bare walnut, or whatever showing, and not stained wood. There's the proof, right there.

Toned lacquers were colored with aniline dyes, instead of pigments, so the lacquer is colored, but transparent, and you can see the wood grain through the finish.

So, you see a lot of "professionally" refinished cabinets or furniture, with woods in several colors. The "pro" doesn't know that stain never was on the original finish, and he has a crumby mess on his product.


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PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 12:50 am 
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While doing my research on the Pooley radio I came across this interesting bit of information. It was published in the 1929 issue of Furniture Manufacturing Magazine.

According to a Mr. Walter K. Schmidt of the National Furniture Institute there were in 1929, one hundred ninety two different finishing shades for Walnut furniture. This was the most popular wood in use at that time. Mr. Schmidt had made a recommendation that this number should be reduced to six.

Richard

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 1:17 am 
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I think there's a vast difference between mass production and hand made cabinetry of the '30's. The cutting edge, stream lined, art deco that the general public got was the modern look that sold. If it took 5 different types of woods toned 3 different ways then that's what companies did to move a product in hard times. Sometimes it's hard to imagine that such radios were once modern pieces of furniture, very much in the forefront of styling. They tend to look classical as opposed

Then there's the opposite end of the spectrum, that Capehart of yours, Bruce. I can't be sure but I'd bet there's not a sign of secondary wood showing anywhere on it's exterior. No sign of plywood anywhere in it's construction either. It's all solids and veneers....the sign of true craftsmanship. While the use of burrels and straight grains add some contrast it's all finished one tone, adding to it's simplistic beauty. It's true classical lines constructed using time honored, hand made methods and it's high tech mechanicals make this type the last of it's kind. Could somebody identify a post war example of any radio built with all these qualities? Nothing comes to mind here.

Bruce Webster

P.S. I'm off topic just a tad :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Factory Original Walnut Vs Mahogany Finishes ??
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 1:31 am 
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Bruce its TONERS TONERS TONERS ..... thats one word that should forever be banned from this Forum... stain.... dirty word.... doesn't belong here.... wish Alan would put that word on the BANNED LIST.

That said... Mahogany and Walnut on the 15U270 and 271 are different woods. See the original advertisements from Zenith for the models.... yes both had some toning done to them to try to make
all of the same model radio look alike.

Now and then we also find a screwup in Zenith cabinets. Example is 7s363 cabinets. 99 and 44/100ths of them have birdseye maple for those light colored stripes on them... same stuff is on 12s265 cabinets. We have found two 7s363 cabinets where they used a straght grained walnut for those strips on the cabinet. Guess someone at the factory messed up.

John k9uwa /w4


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 1:59 am 
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Hello all.

From THE Zenith collector site, Old-Radio-Zone, here's his 15U-270 in a Walnut 'finish':

Image

Here's Ken G's very nice 15U270 (walnut) or perhaps a 15U-271 (mahogany):
Image

And here's mine: I was told it was a 15U-271 (Mahogany) version:
Image
Image

I can't really say i can see much difference BUT perhaps there is some wood grain difference on the vertical curved sections on the sides of the dial.

It appears to me that Ken's and my set are more similar with the wood grains than the view of the ORZ photo. The Toners appear to be very similar in color but I guess I really don't know and that's why this thread to discuss in more detail everyone's views.

Thanks to all

Bruce


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 2:08 am 
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I would agree 100% that toners are the original and preferable method of coloring for a finish. Unfortunately I (and I'm sure there are others) am a heathen who would without doubt destroy any cabinet that I attacked with toners. Faced with a cabinet that is beyond just cleaning up I guess I will have to resort to other methods.
best regards,
Sandy


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 2:08 am 
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Bruce Webster wrote:
...Could somebody identify a post war example of any radio built with all these qualities? Nothing comes to mind here.
Bruce Webster

A 1947 Magnavox Regency Symphony, cabinet by Drexel comes close. This one was refinished 20 years ago with polyurethane and then sun bleached from setting in an atrium for 10 years but all of the trim is made of the same wood as the top and side panels. 3/4-inch Veneered plywood is much more stable than solid hardwood. It won't shrink and split at the glue joints.

Image

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 2:32 am 
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Bruce,

The main difference I can see is that the the Old Radio Zone cabinet and Ken G's cabinet both appear to have a burl veneer on the front panel. Your cabinet appears to have a straight grain veneer on the front panel.

Ed


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 2:37 am 
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Location: Ga
Philco offered their top of the line 16 tube model in 1948 in either walnut or mahogany. Normally post war radios did not seem to have as well made cabinets as any pre-war models but I can attest to the fact that the 48-1276 http://www.radioatticarchives.com/radio.php?radio=2131 was a monster, with AM and later version FM along with 16 tubes was one of the last great radios from Philco. I hauled one of these from Ron's house to another member's house in WVa and it was a horse. This one was the walnut version but from the quality of the cabinet it might have been possible that Philco did use mahogany veneers on the other version.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 2:41 am 
Silent Key

Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
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Location: Sandpoint, IDAHO 83864
I find this discussion of the various woods and finishes quite interesting. But my other hobby goes much deeper with various rifle stocks. Walnut, versus Beech, versus Elm and everything in between. How the Finns used wood that was in two parts and finger jointed together to prevent stock breakage and warping in extreme cold climates and such. You got to admit some rifle stocks are a beauty to look at. Some species of wood has what is referred to as tiger striping in it, and they are beautiful when you look at them. I have several of these.

But us milsurpers NEVER, and I repeat NEVER use anything like polyurethane or any of the modern finishes on a rifle stock! Just the mention of using it can and will get you kicked off a forum for doing the rifle injustice. We use boiled linseed oil (BLO), tung oil and a lot of wiping to get them to look good.
Curt

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 3:03 am 
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First `Doug` .. i agree most Zenith cabinets are fairly thin but the 270 is real well made .

John i respect you 100% ... but i dont agree about the stain . While reproducing a finish after stripping something , the only way i can get it back the right color is to apply some stain .
It is impossible to tone a large area with mohawk spray cans . I need to mix stain in my lacquer to toner a whole cabinet side .
All the Mohawk or other brand toners are all to redish looking to be original . Adding stain first starts it off with a better color that makes the redish toner spray cans look better .

Interesting all the pictures of these 270`s here . I could not get my camera to take i lighter picture :?

First thing i noticed id all of these cabinets have no toner on the trim . Its all about the same color all over .
My cabinet was stripped clean when i got it . It sits with all bare wood now . I see no junk woods at all . All the trim all over it is all solid Walnut .
I was told this cabinet was covered in teak oil ( many years ago )
It has had no other treatements sence . It all looks like bare walnut to me .
Even the mahogany ones shown look like they have burled walnut on the corners .
Usually cabinet tops have a rail at the back and the top board is thin . This 270 cabinet top board is solid 1-1/4 inch thick all over .


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 5:43 am 
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Ken G wrote:
It is impossible to tone a large area with mohawk spray cans . I need to mix stain in my lacquer to toner a whole cabinet side .

Usually cabinet tops have a rail at the back and the top board is thin . This 270 cabinet top board is solid 1-1/4 inch thick all over .


Ken your starting to sound like my wife re: the stuff is too red etc.

But... keep in mind ... when you mix that stain into your lacquer then your NOT staining the cabinet... your Tonering It... the stain is mixed
into the finish... as in... if you don't like it... and remove it.. all comes off and you start over... have seen Jean start over 3 and 4 times on a cabinet because she ... didn't like the color ... so what your doing is totally different than staining the wood.. which is something that if it works the first time then OK... if it doesn't then its Ahh Phooey forever since you can't get it back OUT OF as opposed to ON the wood ...

That 15 toober you have .. is LOOKING GOOD ... not sure if its
as good though as the JUKE...

John k9uwa


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 5:45 am 
Silent Key

Joined: Jan Tue 16, 2007 11:48 pm
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Got into a little refinishing very late in my career and most of my radios are the inexpensive models, and most are walnut veneer with a few mahogany thrown in, not many mahogany pre WW1 apparently. So far I haven't encountered a set that I figured would be improved with toner or even look non-original if I didn't use toner, in fact I have never even tried toner preferring stain if needed, not often. Oil stain washes off with mineral spirits if you screw up! At least for the most part! Of course I doubt I have refinished more than 50 radios, console and table combined so qualify as a rank amateur. But mine come out looking good. Lots of lacquer, steel wool and wet/dry 400 grit. Keep it simple. Lacquer responds to 0000 wool and a final buffing with a fine semi-gloss finish that may not look exactly like the original but I like it and it's reversible! To me, mahogany is a monotonous wood. Walnut comes in all kinds of grain and even shades of "dark", my favorite. Have been know to build a few pieces of furniture of solid walnut with a poly (gasp!) finish. Don't have to be too careful where you set your glass or leave the wet dishrag!

Can one of you tell me how they handled the open grain back then? Made a quick trip thru a cabinet finishing operation a LONG time ago but don't remember many details.
.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 5:59 am 
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jkaetzjr wrote:
Can one of you tell me how they handled the open grain back then? Made a quick trip thru a cabinet finishing operation a LONG time ago but don't remember many details.
.


Yes Grain Fillers. Either colored grain fillers or clear grain fillers. Then the lacquers and lacquer toners until they made every cabinet coming down the finish line look alike.
John k9uwa/w4


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 7:24 am 
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y2k Bruce wrote:
Hello all.

From THE Zenith collector site, Old-Radio-Zone, here's his 15U-270 in a Walnut 'finish':

Image

Here's Ken G's very nice 15U270 (walnut) or perhaps a 15U-271 (mahogany):
Image

And here's mine: I was told it was a 15U-271 (Mahogany) version:
Image
Image

I can't really say i can see much difference BUT perhaps there is some wood grain difference on the vertical curved sections on the sides of the dial.

It appears to me that Ken's and my set are more similar with the wood grains than the view of the ORZ photo. The Toners appear to be very similar in color but I guess I really don't know and that's why this thread to discuss in more detail everyone's views.

Thanks to all

Bruce


The cabinet in the first picture has walnut veneer, the next three have what looks to be mahogany or some species with similar grain. The first cabinet looks like it was refinished with lacquer or some other gloss finish,without shading (but that may be just the picture) The second cabinet looks like it was stripped and tongue oiled, so you can't really use that as a reference at all. The next two photos look like a very good original cabinet, or a top notch restoration (or are they the same set?) It looks like what they were referring to by "finish" was actually the species of wood used in constructing the cabinet and not simply the colour.
Happy Christmas
Arran


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 7:46 am 
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y2k Bruce wrote:
Hello all.

Here's Ken G's very nice 15U270 (walnut) or perhaps a 15U-271 (mahogany):
Image[quote/]

This set is walnut. note the distinctive curly grain of the flat panel around the dial. The walnut burl trim and crotch mahogany trim can appear to be very similar, but plain mahogany never exhibits the curly grain characteristic of walnut.


y2k Bruce wrote:
And here's mine: I was told it was a 15U-271 (Mahogany) version:
Image
Image

I can't really say i can see much difference BUT perhaps there is some wood grain difference on the vertical curved sections on the sides of the dial.



To the practiced eye, the difference between the crotch mahogany used for trim on your set and the walnut burl used on the other mdels is readily apparent IN CLOSE UP. the principal difference is in the apparance of the medullary rays of the geain of the wood. this does not show well in a photograph. Besides, the general effect of the two trim woods is similar.

On the other hand, the flat panel behind the dial on your set is very clearly quartered mahogany. Note the pronounced regular "tiger stripe" effect. This is a sure sign of rift-cut mahogany.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 6:02 pm 
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Location: Gormley, Ont., Canada
vitanola wrote:
y2k Bruce wrote:
Hello all.


This set is walnut. note the distinctive curly grain of the flat panel around the dial. The walnut burl trim and crotch mahogany trim can appear to be very similar, but plain mahogany never exhibits the curly grain characteristic of walnut.

To the practiced eye, the difference between the crotch mahogany used for trim on your set and the walnut burl used on the other mdels is readily apparent IN CLOSE UP. the principal difference is in the apparance of the medullary rays of the geain of the wood. this does not show well in a photograph. Besides, the general effect of the two trim woods is similar.

On the other hand, the flat panel behind the dial on your set is very clearly quartered mahogany. Note the pronounced regular "tiger stripe" effect. This is a sure sign of rift-cut mahogany.


Vitanola,
It's obvious you know how to distinguish wood types, cuts and species. Your observations bring to light an important issue. Once coated with toners it does become difficult to identify them properly as opposed to viewing these woods in their natural bare condition. Grain fillers and toners can easily hide their identity, which I assume was the manufaturers goal, so that the end result was an overall matching finish. Walnut seems to have a tight grain, less likely to absorb coatings whereas Mahogany is coarser. But in bare form the colors of the two are markedly different....Walnut being grey/black/brown in tone whereas Mahogany is just plain brown with varying degrees of light and dark. At least this is how I've been able to identify the confusing straight grains.

Bruce Webster

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 9:22 pm 
Silent Key

Joined: Jan Tue 16, 2007 11:48 pm
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Location: Hueytown, AL
OK on grain filler. I have to assume (there's that word again) that these fillers were either quick dry or they didn't need to wait for it to dry much with use of lacquer as they surely didn't waste much time in the "drying room" as I recall!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Dec Fri 26, 2008 10:55 pm 
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Thank you all for some good and enlightning discussions. Here is another mystery from my own collection:

Mr EH Scott often gave away a free cabinet in slow times to keep his factory busy. Usually this was the low cost $20 Braemer cabinet, available supposedly in ONLY Walnut per original order forms and brochures.

I have 2 Braemers and the 'finish' of the 2 could not be more different as seen below.

Here is the 1st one, circa 1937 Phantom, and an obvious WALNUT wood and toning:

Image

So, what is this one then, a circa 1940 with a Masterpiece chassis ? Different cutting method or a different wood perhaps ?

Image


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