View Full Version : L-96 Restoration

03-31-2005, 05:56 PM
This is my first JBL cabinet restoration project... and I want to first off thank:

1) Steve Gonzales
2) Wardsweb

Without their e-input, I would have made far more mistakes than I did.

So- this pair of L-96's had been in storage for over 5 years. Neglected, water-damaged, kicked, beat, looked like dogsh*t. Nice name carved in the side, lacking corners, a bit piece chipped out of the top... you get the picture. I though, hmm... I guess the drivers are nice.

I'll spare you the GORY parts... here are the three sides of the BEST looking one. That round water mark has lifted/bubbled- the surface is WAVY...from the MDF swelling underneath. YIKES! I also later discover...there's a patch just under the surface... not the veneer glue, but a putty patch where there was a thin spot...

03-31-2005, 06:01 PM
Now here is the Hot Iron in action and some fill work in progress, pre-disguise.

Last pic... grain lift pretty successful after 4 passes.

03-31-2005, 06:15 PM
Take your time and follow the advice of those two. Patience is the key. When you get down to hiding blemishes via pencils, Dry or NGR stains you can really fool the folks. But for a simple and beautiful restoration, patience and finesse will give you beautiful results! :applaud:

03-31-2005, 06:43 PM
Time for the first bit of finishing. Where did the doobie's graffiti go?

03-31-2005, 06:44 PM
TO be continued... that's Day 1 (Tues) and Day 2 (Wed)

Interesting when you find a fill patch that was "original" to the JBL OG veneer!

03-31-2005, 08:03 PM
Soaking.... coat 2 There are 3 major fill areas/patches in this photo.

03-31-2005, 08:12 PM
By the time you get to finishing, the mask no longer wards off the fumes!


Watco Drying.

Minwax Finishing Wax next.

To Deft or not to Deft? That is the question.... I may leave them open grain and build up the wax a little. Thoughts?

NB: Drivers reinstalled. I rotated the woofers since there was a slight settling from them bring in storage so long.... or so that's what I figured, there was about a mm difference in top surround width and bottom surround width. Same exact difference on both speakers. I think I remember reading that this can happen somewhere in this huge archive of information. :blink:

NB #2: Steve.... thanks again for chatting with me. Where else will you find JBL devotees that will call you out of the blue to thank you for a JBL rescue of an L96. Although, for a monitor this size, these little speakers move a LOT of air. The Le10H-1 is pretty steller. You are all right about this one... :applaud:

Thanks for the tips and.. thanks for looking. This concludes the majority of this project. The rig they are connected to is still top secret!!!! :D

03-31-2005, 08:23 PM
Let me be the first to say it: They're BEAUTIMOUS!!! :D

[Sound GREAT too, I betcha....]

03-31-2005, 08:36 PM
Agreed. Very Nice.

03-31-2005, 09:06 PM
Beautiful! I need to do the same to the bottoms of a set of L96's I just picked up...


03-31-2005, 09:15 PM
Very, very nice indeed! Excellent job. I've always been a big fan of the L96.
My 4313B's were all gouged up like that too and I fixed them up using similar
techniques. I'll never understand these cases of Audio abuse...but it's always nice to see them end up in a good home, getting the proper TLC..!

Very nice work! :applaud: :applaud:

Best regards,


03-31-2005, 09:18 PM
The rig they are connected to is still top secret!!!! :D

Sure we can't see some pics of the rig?? :bouncy: :bouncy:

Steve Gonzales
03-31-2005, 11:48 PM
Very impressive transformation! You don't know how it WARMS the heart to see some abused JBL's come back to life again. I really enjoyed the chat and welcome anyone that might need an opinion or help too. It looks as though you followed the steps that were outlined EXTREMELY close, well done Sir!. I suppose a lot of people like the WATCO/ WAX combo just fine, as it is beautiful. I urge you to do a "test drive" of the DEFT SATIN on an enclosure that is broken or has no value (read: NON-JBL) but still has real walnut veneer just to see the "depth" that this final step gives to the grain, it is beautiful and really reminds me of a well cared for older speaker (JBL) that has aged gracefully and taken on that soft luster and patina; it's just a thought. Thank you for caring enough to restore those great bookshelf wonders, Steve G

:applaud: :applaud: :applaud:

04-01-2005, 02:43 AM
INCREDIBLE! :applaud:

04-01-2005, 06:20 AM
Beautiful work !!!!

04-01-2005, 07:11 AM
Those look great!!!!


04-01-2005, 08:27 AM
DMMD deserves a "JBL" medal for the outstanding restoration of his L96s.

04-01-2005, 12:10 PM
I am impressed with how great the L-96's look! They look brand new!

04-01-2005, 02:09 PM
Thanks for the feedback... the more the better. Every one of these projects should be an inspriation to someone else.... I honestly think I could do better- now, anyone want to give away some free cabinets and I'll practice...!


My touch-up ink discovery I want to share. It is as close to an exact brown match as you can possibly find.... in ink that is.

* Farber Castell - Pitt Artist Pens, Sepia.
They come in a four pack - S, F, M, B widths. $9 at Aaron Brothers
It's india ink, so its waterproof permanent, and will penetrate wood. The "s" is so fine you can duplicate just about any grain. The "F" matches the JBL grain width pretty well. The "B" is a small brush, so you can stain an area... or (what I discovered) produce uneven slightly varying widths in a single stroke with no overlap.

* Primacolor PM-61 Dark Umber. $3 This has a honey like tone in the brown that will blend in with the lighter areas of the veneer.

Together for $12, this set and single marker will be a huge asset to anyone's project toolbox. Ink is top quality and very rich. It goes on and stays where you want it. With the india ink, you have about 2 minutes to futz with it before ist penetrates. Smugge it a little and you can almost get a transitional grain effect. It's not dull and cheap looking like a lot of the products in the low-end retail market.

There are two pics attached- one a closeup to show the PL Fill and the Faber-Castell pen work. Theother shows an overview to see perspective.... the fill area was 1.25" x .75" torn down to bare MDF in a triangle shape about .5 inches deep.

I also decided to not listen to Steve.... on one point. I used a VS Random Orbital Bosch Sander along with a hand block. 150, 180, 220, 240 in varying places and differing times. One trouble area got a little hand work with 120 grit as well.

Hope that is useful info...

And hey, I'm serious... anyone have lonely cabinets with or without crossovers? PM me and we'll chat....

Also, if your in the north LA area, I'd probably be willing to work on some cabs in exchange for drivers, JBL parts, cabs, etc... I've got some free time now.

This was enjoyable work and hobby I fear is getting much more serious. Thanks again for making me feel welcomed among the JBL fans here.

Last... one more finished pic from the other side...:bouncy:

Earl K
04-01-2005, 02:40 PM
Very Inspiring !


04-01-2005, 04:49 PM
Weather is getting better, wish I was in LA and not metro Boston but anyways today I hauled one of my L200b BLACK painted "beauties" I rescued from the backwoods of New Hampshire out to the garage. Started stripping the black paint useing fine steel wool and a Zerox solvent for cleaning copy machines. It was time consuming but I managed to do the top and half of one side. So far I'm very pleased with the results, the stripped walnut veneer is very smooth with a few dings and scratches. I'm going follow the advice of Steve, DMMD and other members who have done some beautiful restorations. Can't wait to have both pairs of L200b sitting side by side making some serious JBL sound waves.

04-02-2005, 09:24 PM
Bravo! Bravo!!

04-03-2005, 05:47 AM
Beautiful restoration! :applaud:

Keep up the good work.

04-03-2005, 05:54 AM
I am envious, me and woodworking don't do well together. So I have to rely on friends who are good at it!

07-22-2005, 07:03 PM
I bought and just received these beauties from DMMD and must say that they are absolutely gorgeous and sound beautiful!


07-23-2005, 08:14 AM
Thanks for the compliments.... again. I'm glad they look as good in person as in the photos. I'll miss them, but I'm beginning to feel better about the inventory situation with my colleciton now...


10-24-2005, 03:53 AM
Hi Dave, it's been a long time since,by the way i saw the work you've done on theese l96 let me say 'bravo'!! it's amazing how you get them as new,really unbelievable.
I got a pair of L50 which is in the same condition as yours's(at the beginnning) they sound very sweet and it cause me pain seeing them sitting on the shelves,so i'm intending to do the job myself and need some help,can you please give me some advice? I'll appreciate your help as you have done for my 4350's,without whom it would be impossible,best regards,mevin:wave:

10-24-2005, 08:26 AM
Man, they look sweet ! I'm hoping to do the same with
L-112's. The only tool I have is a Sears finishing sander
(and 2 left hands !). Any other "must haves" to get the results you did (got ?) ? Tired here.....:blink:

10-24-2005, 02:19 PM
DMMD, that's an amazing job on those 96's! The results are truly outstanding....

Now you've given me fresh motivation to get my similar L100's back to what they should be!

BTW, a couple of your pics were a tad dim, at least on my monitor. I hope you don't mind that I turned the lights up in the room. http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/images/smilies/smile.gif