Finishing baltic birch ply with exposed edges

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Forum topic by jpgolf14 posted 01-08-2017 03:26 PM 3134 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 651 days

01-08-2017 03:26 PM

Hi folks,

First post here. I have a little bit of finishing experience but I have never tried this before. I am making some speaker pods for an old Camaro out of Baltic birch ply. The piece is 1” thick (2 pieces of 1/2” laminated). The sides are chamfered at 22.5 degree. I have machined away most of the face of the plywood where a speaker grill will reside. I would say about 90% of the surface area that needs to be finished is the exposed edges of the ply.

The finish needs to be black but still showing the grain of the face and most importantly, the layers of the ply.

So far I have tried the following:

India Ink: Gets it super black but it turns the edge layers into black mush.
Minwax Ebony: Blotchy on the face surface. The edges are pretty darn good but there are still areas that seem to accept the color less than other areas.
Minwax sealer + Minwax Ebony: Nice finish on the face but the edges are showing no contrast between the plies.

Any ideas?



6 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3014 posts in 2320 days

#1 posted 01-08-2017 05:00 PM

Try a dye

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 2215 days

#2 posted 01-09-2017 02:24 PM

yes to a dye. I’ve read of using regular Ritt Dye (you’ll find it in the bleach and laundry soap isle at Wal-Mart. Might try a pre-stain first.

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

View Lazyman's profile


2527 posts in 1534 days

#3 posted 01-09-2017 02:46 PM

Not sure what look your are going for exactly but you may be asking the impossible. No matter what you do, you are going to get variations in absorption of any finish you apply. Because the plys alternate grain directions you get alternating side and end grain between the plys. Paint may be the only thing that can give a hope of a uniform color and even then, you may need a primer or something to seal It so the paint doesn’t just get sucked into the end grain.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View jpgolf14's profile


4 posts in 651 days

#4 posted 01-09-2017 04:51 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I have some transtint black I will try. I will also pick up some Rit.

Lazyman, I actually want the contrast of the layers. Check out this PICTURE. I want that except the alternating layers should be black/gray/black/gray….

HERE is basically what my speaker pod looks like. I made this from MDF. I had originally planned to do a vinyl or leather wrap. So the only difference is the MDF is now birch ply and the edges are chamfered 22.5 degrees instead of 90. The top face around the speaker grill is 1/4” wide and will be the only face of the plywood that will show.

View them700project's profile


126 posts in 1166 days

#5 posted 01-09-2017 09:53 PM

Experiment with a sanding sealer. I made some floating book shelves for my sister out of BB ply because she didnt want to spend money. We ended up using sanding sealer and wipe on poly and it came out great, I was surprised. Not sure where you’d put the dye into the mix though

View jpgolf14's profile


4 posts in 651 days

#6 posted 01-12-2017 09:22 PM

I tried a few more stains.

Minwax Polyshades – Classic Black- This has produced the best looking edge yet.
Minwax Express Color – Onyx – Nice dark color on the face but it left no contrast in the layers.
Rit Dye – Black – This turned out quite brown and not that great of edge contrast.

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