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Old 09-03-2013, 06:39 PM   #1
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Matching mahogany finish on a 1965 Safari?

I have to rebuild the cabinets in the back of the Safari due to previous owner abuse and delamination when I took them out for the subfloor repair. I have the mahogany ply- what I'm wondering is if anyone has had any luck matching the existing factory finish. It would be nice to not have to start blind, so any suggestions would be appreciated!


Thanks!
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:37 PM   #2
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Great Year for Cabinets.

I suspect someone will know exactly what the factory used but if not do test boards. I know it is expensive so figure out your cuts and do it on the ply where it won't show in the finish cabinet if necessary. I would guess lacquer.

If you are redoing the cabinet finish you can generally put shellac as a barrier finish and go with a finish you are comfortable applying. Good Luck

Hey could you do us a favor and post a few pictures of how at least the uppers are built?

many thanks
Tony
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:51 PM   #3
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I believe it's actually called 'luan mahogany' or lauan mahogany ' from the Philippines. There are a few types of mahogany - from South America , Africa etc. I think you'd need the right wood and finish- I'd be I interested to know what that finish is also.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:21 PM   #4
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All I can suggest is to get some of the material you plan on using and just put varnish on it then some mahogany stain and varnish etc. Shellack will also darken the wood. I would use polyurathane over whatever you end up using. You can take some wood and make some test patches then put your top coat on. Every piece of wood is different and aged wood is darker than new wood. Real mahogany does not need stain but you see it used anyway.

Perry
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
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I believe it's actually called 'luan mahogany' or lauan mahogany ' from the Philippines. There are a few types of mahogany - from South America , Africa etc. I think you'd need the right wood and finish- I'd be I interested to know what that finish is also.
I think you're right that it's not Honduran Mahogany as originally though. It is beautiful wood.

I'm trying to match some '59 vintage mahogany and have a few solid pieces left over from redoing a '65 Caravel. The solid wood pieces appear to be a match.

I haven't gone forward yet, but the sources I find best so far are Oakwoodveneer.com (Frank Yensen suggestion) and Boulterplywood.com in Somerville, MA. I plan to visit the latter sometime this month. Their Kyaha Mahogany looks interesting.

Oakwoodveneer is probably the best and claim to be able to match samples. Their prices are quite high though.

I hope someone has been through this and has a good source.
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:12 PM   #6
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When I installed a new fridge in my 68, I installed a plywood panel in the door to match the existing oak colored cabinets. My wife worked for several afternoon's mixing stains and trying test pieces until after many failed mixtures she matched it perfectly. She used stains but there are wood dyes that mix it water that might be easier to use and get the perfect color match. As for the final finish, she used a satin urethane. Most folks think the fridge is original because the panel matches so well. Good luck
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:31 PM   #7
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There are many African Species that get lumped into African Mahogany.

If it is beautiful it is not Luan.

I have up loaded a few pictures of different "African Mahogany" I have used. Some of it is nicer than others. The dresser is the same wood as the frame of the cabinet I will be putting in my trade wind. The drawer face wood I found a bit underwhelming, it is also an African Mahogany. These are example of quarter sawn or ribbon "mahogany". It refer to how it is cut from the log. It would be the equivalent of vertical grain fir.

Anyway just some examples. I believe, touch up with polyurethane is a problem if scratched or otherwise damaged.

Tony
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:31 PM   #8
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I've been working on my cabinets for the better part of a year. I've just got a little trim left to do. I also wanted to get the finish as close to original as possible and did a lot of research. Unfortunately, the colors I used won't work for you, as my woodwork is an oak veneer with a blondish finish on it. But I believe Airstream used lacquer as the original finish. In my case it was toned to get the blond color. I was unable to find an appropriate dye to tone the lacquer in a large enough volume to do the whole thing. So I did a lot of experimenting. What I came up with was to brush on a pearwood colored oil stain on the wood and wipe it off within a few minutes. That pretty much just put a whitish fill in the grain and gave the final finish the illusion of depth. After that I sprayed on a BAC wiping stain made by Sherwin Williams with an HVLP spray gun. This is very similar to a toned lacquer and Sherwin Williams can mix it to any color. After that I sprayed on 3-4 coats of Sherwin Williams Fast Dry Oil Varnish. This gives a similar finish as polyurethane but has the advantage of drying to the touch in just a few minutes which reduces the amount of dust that gets in the finish. You can also apply additional coats in about an hour. If you spray this varnish you'll want to mix in a little mineral spirits. If you don't, the varnish will partially dry out of the gun before it hits the wood. Leaves a rough finish. It all cures in about a day. I used a satin finish as gloss was too shiny. Although this process isn't what Airstream used, it looks very similar. It actually is a tiny bit yellower than the original, but I doubt anyone but me could ever tell.

Others have suggested using shellac, which is really one of the best finished there but I doubt Airstream ever used it. It makes a great base coat for lacquer or even polyurethane but it's got to be dewaxed. The cans labeled shellac are not dewaxed, not even the spray cans. Most cans labeled sanding sealer are a 2:1 cut of shellac that is dewaxed. So you can use that, just apply additional coats. Shellac has a relatively short shelf life, so most people mix their own using shellac flakes and denatured alcohol. The flakes are available in waxed or dewaxed.
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:44 PM   #9
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There is an Onterio Airstream shop, Shacksman I believe, that is quite knowlegable about the woods used in the 60's Airstreams. I recall him saying that it is Ash. Maybe he will chime in.

Dan
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Old 09-04-2013, 05:49 AM   #10
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You can take one of your old doors into a good paint store and ask them to mix a stain to match the the old door. They have an electronic process to do the matching. Stain some of the new veener with the stain and then try some different finishes on the stained veener (amber shellac. lacquer, gloss, ect.). I settled on a sanding sealer and a waxed based finished restorer. Then I used the finish restorer on all the wood work. The result was an even finish throughout and you can not tell the new from the old. The hardest part for me was to find 3/8" plywood for the doors that needed to be completely replaced.
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Old 09-04-2013, 07:49 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone for the thoughts and suggestions! I've replaced some wood along the way, here and there, using readily available 1/4 oak ply that I was able to stain to a close match. Now, I'm going to go back and redo those areas when I rebuild these cabinets, and probably freshen up the remaining originals with some satin poly. Everything took a bit of a beating when we full-timed in it for a couple of years and 30k+ miles a few years back.

I'll post some pics when I'm out there again- it all looks a little depressing with the flooring out and the interior all shuffled about, but it's starting to come together.


Brad
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Old 09-16-2013, 12:41 PM   #12
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Well, I got the mahogany ply- a kindly local cabinet maker added a few sheets to his regular order for me. It's not a perfect match, but it's pretty close and of good quality. I used what was left of the original rear cabinets as a template, and was able to reuse the inner frame of the main bath cabinet.
The real trick is still matching the existing stain. I am developing a library of Minwax stains from all of my attempts. I'd prefer to find a ready-made color, rather than have to blend my own, but we'll see. The closest thus far has been "English Chestnut".
I'm trying to get most of the interior put back together over the next few weeks, along with new flooring and gas lines.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:26 PM   #13
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65Safari65- I was also able to find mahogany ply from a local custom cabinet maker. I used it to fabricate two doors in place of the old oven. The match was very good. As the original owner had only oiled the cabinets with Watco Red Mahogany Oil it was very easy to complete the match.
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:05 PM   #14
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65Safari65- I was also able to find mahogany ply from a local custom cabinet maker. I used it to fabricate two doors in place of the old oven. The match was very good. As the original owner had only oiled the cabinets with Watco Red Mahogany Oil it was very easy to complete the match.
Well that's very pretty. Now I have to see if any of that particular Watco is available locally. However, I know there is some sort of poly on my existing cabinets, so it's probably going to be a little more complicated. It's all just so stressful- maybe I'll join a gang.
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