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#1702553 - 06/26/11 07:09 PM Refinishing a grand piano
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Has anyone here refinished the cabinet on their own piano?

I just bought a 1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" grand which is now at a rebuild shop for some major work. At some time during the process I need to decide if I want them to refinish the case as well. However, I'm hesitating, partly because I just want a good playing, good sounding piano to play, and it will be located in my basement so no need to look fancy. The other reason is the cost; $4000-6000. From an economic and resale standpoint, it doesn't make sense, because it's not a "famous" brand.

On the other hand, because it's not a "famous" brand, and I don't intend on it being a perfect display furniture piece, I'm considering refinishing it myself. I've started some research on it, and it looks like a huge project, however from what I can see, patience, care and time are a virtue, along with a bit of space. I think I qualify!

I have done some very minor refinishing before, enough to know that it's sometimes smelly, messy, dusty and time consuming. But I've tackled and finished big projects before, and have certainly received a lot of satisfaction from them, both during and after.

One big advantage is that it is the simple spade style (which BTW I happen to prefer). The wood is mahogany with only minor nicks and scratches, and the finish is slightly checked. The keytops are perfect. The lid, music desk, lid, lyre and legs are solid and in good shape.

Any first-hand experience from you DYI’s out there?


_________________________
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
GigaStudio GS3 Ensemble (Bosendorfer & Estonia piano samples)
Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

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#1702556 - 06/26/11 07:25 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Lluís Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/09
Posts: 313
Loc: Barcelona,Spain, European Unio...
Hi MrMagic,

I'm refinishing an old upright right now. What to say, I'm 20 years old and I've never done nothing before. The problem is that this upright is from 1850 , the veneer (Of rosewood) is very thin and can be damaged if not sanded properly. I must do two things, first of all, remove the old finishing and second, remove the 50% of the surface because it has been afected by sunlight. I have to say that it's been easier than why I expected. My piano have some pieces that are quite dificult to restore due some complicate shapes ,but well by the moment... The work is been done quite good. But you need to know that yes , this task is very time consuming, but not very expensive at all!.

Ofcourse you will need to remove this white carpet if you're going to do this job there!! I use to sand my piano with 180 grit sandpaper and universal oil.

Whilst all old finish had been removed then you need to refinish , wich is something I can't tell you anything because I didn't started that task on my piano yet!. How are you planning to refinish? With French Polish? I will polish my piano with french polish, but maybe your piano will need another kind of polishing!

Hope with that project ,and... 4000-6000 only for refinishing??
_________________________
1942 Challen Baby Grand Piano

1855 Pleyel Pianino (Restoring -> www.pleyelrestoration.blogspot.com )

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#1702715 - 06/27/11 01:43 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
James Scott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 157
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
I've done it before and am doing it now. And I have to say that it is the biggest and most time consuming job in a piano rebuild. Most of the other jobs can be done in a day or so for each one, while a refinishing job can take months. The sheer amount of work in time and elbow grease is staggering. That's why it can easilly cost as much as the rest of the rebuild combined, 4 to 6 thousand for a typical 6 foot grand.

The most important thing to do is to prepare the wood underneath the best you can, because any flaw or irregularity will show through, especially if you're doing it in black satin. If you're doing a natural color with a traditional coating then it might not show up as much. That was my mistake the first time and I'm having to redo the whole thing over again because of it. Do as much research as you can and practice on scrap. As they say, if you don't practice and experiment on scrap, then you'll be doing it on your piece.

The older veneers were much thicker than the newer ones, about 3 to 4 times thicker so it's kind of difficult to match new and old together unless you're quite experienced in it. Plus back then when they were made they had a much wider selection of good grained wood to work with than is available now. They could make the veneers much wider, enough to cover a large area without any seams, unlike the kind you can typically get as a normal consumer now.

The piano in the pictures looks like it's done in a dark brown varnish, or maybe it was ebonized. What type of finish are you going to use?

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#1702726 - 06/27/11 02:07 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Refinishing a piano is not technically demanding in the sense that, say, replacing the soundboard requires a certain amount of background knowledge and skill.

I’ve known several piano owners that have done reasonably credible jobs of refinishing their own instruments. The amount of time it will take and the amount of skill required depends greatly on the results you expect. If you want an absolutely perfect, pore-filled, hand-rubbed finish—the kind of result you should expect for $1,000 per foot—it is going to be both very time consuming and difficult. If you’re willing to accept a nice looking finish that has a few character flaws and a more-or-less open-pore look the job becomes much more manageable. It doesn’t even have to be dangerous.

Soy-based, non-lethal strippers are available. They are expensive and a bit slow but they work quite well and their fumes are not flammable nor will they kill you. Yes, you still need adequate ventilation but they are not all that unpleasant to work with. Depending on the condition of the wood surfaces after they are stripped you will probably not need to do all that much sanding. Sometimes none.

There are reasonably good stains available from hardware stores and/or big-box stores. They are not as good as those available from commercial finish suppliers but for the amateur they are much more forgiving.

There are also reasonably good water-borne finishes available that can be applied with a brush. These finishes are quite forgiving to an amateur’s mistakes. They can be dry-sanded within a few hours and recoated until you have the flatness and depth of finish you desire.

If you do not have access to a good buffer, hardware can be cleaned with stripper followed up with steel wool and brass polish. Or a rag and brass polish if you want the look to be shiny. Your piano tuner can help you with the various felts and rubber buttons that will need to be replaced. New keycover decal as well, if you want one. He/she can also help you disassemble and reassemble the instrument.

You might want to avoid stripping and finishing the inside of the rim. It can be done without damaging the finish on the frame (or plate) and the soundboard but it can be tricky. Often the finish on the interior of the rim is in reasonably decent condition anyway.

So, go for it. Save your money for a decent rebuild down the road.
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1710015 - 07/09/11 01:18 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Thank you all, especially Del for your expert tips.

It’s interesting Del that I by chance had been reading about you in Larry Fine’s book just a few days previous, and recognized you here. Hopefully I can visit your store some day, I travel to WA fairly often.

I don’t know what type of finishes were typical back then, but it looks like plain varnish, possibly stained. If it was ebonized, is that permanent?

I would like a finish that will display the natural appearance of the mahogany, probably pore filled, maybe with a hint of red color that we associate with mahogany. What I don’t want is the “dipped in plastic and hung to dry” look!

I’m not opposed to purchasing special tools, after all, any project like this is an excuse to do that isn’t it?
_________________________
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
GigaStudio GS3 Ensemble (Bosendorfer & Estonia piano samples)
Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

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#1754591 - 09/18/11 10:23 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
MetalMan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 79
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I realize I'm a bit late to reply to this thread. MrMagic, I saw your piano in the classifieds and was quite intrigued by it myself. I was surprised when I saw it in the rebuilder's shop, which is located fairly close to me. They've done a really nice job on the inside of the cabinet, and the few chords the tech played on it sounded pretty good too.

I recently purchased a satin black 1982 Baldwin SF10 from Washington state, which I should have installed in my residence within a month. I really lucked out in getting Yuri Melekh, a well respected RPT in the Seattle area, to do the evaluation and the post-purchase repair work, consisting of: key re-bushing, proper voicing (the thing had virtually new, completely unshaped Renner Blue hammers), key levelling, etc. I also had to have the pedals and the casters replaced. Nonetheless, I now have an SF10, which I have been dreaming of owning for the past 25 years or so.

I share your sentiments on refinishing, although given that I have something with a bit more marquee recognition and also that I lack shop space, I would probably only consider DIY as a last resort. I was quoted $6-7K for a satin black refinish, but not hand rubbed. Clearly, the $1000 per foot rule is being used, but I thought that was more of a benchmark for a hand rubbed finish. For a spray job, I see this as being quite high.

I had a great discussion with a fellow working at Attica Furniture; I am planning to bring him my fallboard (once I get the piano), for a bit of test work. My piano had some sort of DIY spray on finish applied to it, which, while not terrible, eventually needs to be done. I will let you know how this progresses. Feel free to PM me.

Cheers,

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#1754619 - 09/18/11 11:13 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MetalMan]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Hey MetalMan, thanks for your message. Interesting that you saw the ad then later the piaon in the shop! Yes, Don and his crew have done a pretty nice looking job under the "hood". They are finised with it except for a few more tunings, and I hope to have it home in November. I plan to pay them a visit this Thursday the 22nd to give it a test run. Last time I was there Aug 22, they had just finished stringing it, and was unplayable.

The original story about finding my piano is here if you're interested. The lady I bought it from bought a new Yamaha upright. Apparently her husband didn't like the grand taking up the whole living room.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1738962/What%20is%20Chas%20M.%20Stieff?.html


Congratulations on your SF10! Definately a "dream" piano for most of us! And satin black is sooooooo much nicer than the high gloss "dipped in plastic & hung to dry" look! Baldwin's are wonderful pianos, in fact after I played an "L", every piano I played I compared to that.

TTYS
_________________________
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
GigaStudio GS3 Ensemble (Bosendorfer & Estonia piano samples)
Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

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#1754636 - 09/18/11 11:45 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8077
Loc: Georgia, USA
Nice looking vintage grand piano, MrMagic! I like the style of the legs... it is unusual.

And, congratulations on you Baldwin SF10, MetalMan! A nice piano! When I was looking for a 7 footer, I looked at a 1927 vintage Baldwin 7 foot grand that had an older restoration. It was a nice piano, but was a little too pricy for me at the time. The owner wanted $12K and it hasn't sold in a year... now, he has come down to $9.5K but I'm no longer in the market.

I’ve done some cabinet refinishing on a couple of old uprights, with decent results. It is not easy, and I can see why a pro would charge a $1000 a foot to refinish a grand; but, that still seems a little pricy to me. I guess I’ve never had that kind of money to spend on a piano anyway.

I was wondering, however, what would be the best approach/procedure to use when refinishing an ebony polish finish and convert it/refinish it to a nice, satin finish? 0000 steel wool rub? 900 grit wet sand? Would a new top-coat of sealer/clear satin polyurethane be needed after sanding or rubbing with the steel wool?

Just curious…

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1754638 - 09/18/11 11:48 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20766
Loc: Oakland
The Stieff is a mahogany veneer under the darkened piano. The problem with refinishing a grand piano is that there are a lot of parts that take up a lot of space when you are refinishing. An ebonized (black) finish is a lot messier, because whenever you sand or drip, that really shows up everywhere.

If you want to refinish a piano as a do-it-yourself project, it would be a good idea to get a small piece of furniture from a second-hand store and refinish that in the way that you want to refinish the piano first. That will give you an idea of your ability to do it without risking your piano. Even then, it will not prepare you for everything. I once did a quick and dirty repair to the lid of an old grand piano that someone had started to refinish. They began to strip it, only to find that the striped mahogany finish was a rather ordinary cherry veneer underneath.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1754789 - 09/18/11 04:20 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: Rickster]
MetalMan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 79
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Rickster, that's so ironic, because my seller also wanted $12K and I got him down to $9.5K, so I put the savings into repair work instead!

I just want the rim, lid, legs, lyre and fall board redone. I would have the harp and soundboard masked and action removed. I don't need the finish stripped right down to bare wood if the finisher can get a good finish by applying over the existing layers (some sanding would probably required, no doubt). I'm already tired of getting gouged for owning a grand, lol! crazy

Going from polyester gloss to satin; interesting and probably something more than a few would want to do. I don't think you would be able to get the kind of sheen that one would associate with satin. It would probably just look like scratched plastic, but I am absolutely by no means an expert.

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#1754833 - 09/18/11 05:18 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Swarth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 365
Loc: SF Bay Area Ca.
I was a firm believer that pianos come in one color, black. That was until I got a Mahogany Monster of my own. I can now appreciate that yes a piano can be a piece of furniture as well. I like to refinish trashed antiques and bring them back to usefulness. I don't have to worry about ruining a valuable antique that way and you can get some very old pieces for next to nothing. However I have refinished my last painted piece. I still use the MC based strippers, to me, the soy just doesn't cut it. Then again I have an outside area with ventalation. Yes it will literally eat through your skin. We like quarterswan oak and prefer the open pore look of a hand rubbed Tung oil finish. Mahogany is another story. I'm doing an 1860's armoire (solid mahogany) right now just so I could practice french polishing technique. It takes a bit of practice, but once you understand what's going on it's not difficult, just time consuming. Filling the pores is tedious but the results are worth it. I also refuse to fix every nick, dent and flaw just because something that is 100+ years old should have some character to it. Besides the amount of time it takes, well that's why it costs $1,000 a foot. Another plus is you can add as many layers of shellac as you like, when you like. Want to fill the pores of a section better? No problem, anytime is pumice time. Touch ups are a breeze as well. Still a grand...that will take a while.
_________________________
Quid est veritas?

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#1754942 - 09/18/11 08:27 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: Swarth]
MetalMan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 79
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Swarth, do you think $1000/ft is reasonable without the hand rubbing? That's my major gripe here; a satin "un-rubbed" finish (a la Bosendorfer) should be substantially cheaper because it dispenses with a major source of cost - labor.

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#1754956 - 09/18/11 08:50 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Glen@pianoHQ.com Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/11
Posts: 38
Loc: BC, Canada
I had an SF done 10 years ago... If the finish is not 'checked', fill in any unsightly chips or zings, scuff the surface and spray black out of the gun followed by satinized clear. This job is NOT worth 1000/foot. I had a shop do this whole thing for between 1-2000 if my memory serves me correctly. 1000/foot applies to full strip and finish w. hand rubbed top coats. That's my opinion anyway. Cheers
_________________________
http://www.pianopricepoint.com/

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#1755026 - 09/18/11 10:42 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: Glen@pianoHQ.com]
NFexec Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/11
Posts: 106
Loc: NE Ohio
Hi,

I had a similar situation a few years ago. I had a grand about your size and the wood was in excellent condition, but the finish was dark, hazed, checked, and pretty ugly. I didn't want to spend much money cleaning it up, so I used products from this:

http://www.formbys.com/index.cfm

Yeah - formbys. You will be hard pressed to get a super hand-rubbed, expensive looking finish... but that's not what you are after. The final job on my project was very satisfying. It cleaned up everything just fine - and the mahogany grain was extremely nice. The formbys products made it relatively painless and it probably didn't take me more than a couple of weeks of part time effort. Good luck - and be sure to post before and after shots!

Doug
_________________________
Anyone know about the 1920's "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organs? Click here: www.wrtos.org or here: www.atos.org

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#1755076 - 09/19/11 12:38 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MetalMan]
Swarth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 365
Loc: SF Bay Area Ca.
Originally Posted By: MetalMan
Swarth, do you think $1000/ft is reasonable without the hand rubbing? That's my major gripe here; a satin "un-rubbed" finish (a la Bosendorfer) should be substantially cheaper because it dispenses with a major source of cost - labor.


The main shop here in the Bay Area charges those prices and I believe that is for a Polyester finish, but I'll talk to him in the morning. $1,000 a foot is the base price and doesn't include veneer replacement/matching, if needed. However you are talking about an ebony finish which is a whole other kettle of fish. I can't say for sure but I can imagine the extra time it takes to get the surface prepped so that it looks right is what is going on. I would not attempt that one myself.
_________________________
Quid est veritas?

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#1755080 - 09/19/11 12:56 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Thanks again for the tips. It will be a while before I tackle mine, partly because I'm going to enjoy just playing it for a while! In the mean time I can learn more about refinishing.

Oh and by the way metalman, isn't it fun to add SF10 to your signature?? smile
_________________________
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
GigaStudio GS3 Ensemble (Bosendorfer & Estonia piano samples)
Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

Top
#1755091 - 09/19/11 01:42 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
MetalMan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 79
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Yes, absolutely! This instrument has already challenged me, though. I'm a firm believer that some instruments are especially suited to certain genres and composers; this one is screaming for Liszt. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.... whistle

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#1755189 - 09/19/11 09:01 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MetalMan]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Originally Posted By: MetalMan
Yes, absolutely! This instrument has already challenged me, though. I'm a firm believer that some instruments are especially suited to certain genres and composers; this one is screaming for Liszt. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.... whistle

Scream?

I've heard pianos growl, I've hear them roar, sing, shout, talk, laugh, cry, but screaming I thought was for piccolos. smile
_________________________
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
GigaStudio GS3 Ensemble (Bosendorfer & Estonia piano samples)
Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

Top
#1756611 - 09/21/11 01:12 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Originally Posted By: Del

Soy-based, non-lethal strippers are available. They are expensive and a bit slow but they work quite well and their fumes are not flammable nor will they kill you. Yes, you still need adequate ventilation but they are not all that unpleasant to work with. Depending on the condition of the wood surfaces after they are stripped you will probably not need to do all that much sanding. Sometimes none.


This statement is somewhat misleading and could have the potential to give someone a false confidence in what they are handling;

"All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison…." Paracelsus (1493-1541)

Never concern yourself with the chemical, only the concentration. Water, oxygen and (literally) everything else is toxic at the proper dose.

Originally Posted By: Del

There are reasonably good stains available from hardware stores and/or big-box stores. They are not as good as those available from commercial finish suppliers but for the amateur they are much more forgiving.


There are also places that sell finishing products and stains such as Mohawk. The brand name Target Coatings comes to mind which is one of the brands names we do not see here in Canada. Minwax is another brand name found in the US I believe…..
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#1756872 - 09/21/11 07:50 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1047
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: MrMagic
I would like a finish that will display the natural appearance of the mahogany, probably pore filled, maybe with a hint of red color that we associate with mahogany. What I don’t want is the “dipped in plastic and hung to dry” look!


That sounds like shellac, which also offers excellent protection for the wood. Zinnser was for decades the leading maker, it looks like they're owned by rustoleum now:

http://www.rustoleum.com/CBGProduct.asp?pid=245
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#1756920 - 09/21/11 09:10 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
James Scott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 157
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
To mention Minwax, how do you pros rate it? It's readily available, but here in Phoenix we have a few specialty stores that sell better brands. Being just an amatuer schlub myself, it's really hard to know how to do it properly and what kinds of materials to use.

And regarding shellac, there's a web site that has everything you always wanted to know about shellac but were afraid to ask (for fear that you'd learn it). Go to www.shellac.net as they've got quite a lot of information on how to use it and how to do French Polishing (if that's your taste, and times being what they are).

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#1757047 - 09/22/11 01:07 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: Silverwood Pianos]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: Del
Soy-based, non-lethal strippers are available. They are expensive and a bit slow but they work quite well and their fumes are not flammable nor will they kill you. Yes, you still need adequate ventilation but they are not all that unpleasant to work with. Depending on the condition of the wood surfaces after they are stripped you will probably not need to do all that much sanding. Sometimes none.


This statement is somewhat misleading and could have the potential to give someone a false confidence in what they are handling;

"All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison…." Paracelsus (1493-1541)

Never concern yourself with the chemical, only the concentration. Water, oxygen and (literally) everything else is toxic at the proper dose.

Misleading? In what way? I wasn’t suggesting that we drink the stuff or even bath in it. Only that I find them to be less bad than the more caustic alternatives. (I should emphasize that soy-based strippers do not work as quickly as their more caustic counterparts. In fact, they may not work at all on some latex-based paints or other house and wall paints. They do work reasonably well on old piano-style varnish.)



Originally Posted By: Silverwood Pianos
Originally Posted By: Del
There are reasonably good stains available from hardware stores and/or big-box stores. They are not as good as those available from commercial finish suppliers but for the amateur they are much more forgiving.


There are also places that sell finishing products and stains such as Mohawk. The brand name Target Coatings comes to mind which is one of the brands names we do not see here in Canada. Minwax is another brand name found in the US I believe…..

Generally when I am advising an amateur on the practice and process of refinishing I stick to materials that are designed for the amateur refinisher. These materials may not be as good as those preferred by the professional refinisher in some ways but they are formulated to be quite forgiving of the mistakes commonly made by the amateur. They do just what they are intended to do; they go on fairly easily, usually provide adequate application time, level out well without being overly prone to runs and sags, etc. Do I use them in my shop? No. But few amateurs are willing to make the investment in facility, equipment or experience necessary to safely and efficiently use professional materials. They just want to get the old finish off, the surface smoothed and stained with reasonable smoothness and a new finish applied with a minimum of fuss and mess. Not that piano finishing by either the professional or the amateur can ever be without some considerable fuss and mess.

For those wishing to know more about the subject than can ever be covered in this forum I’d suggest one of two books:
Understanding Wood Finishing—2nd Edition by Bob Flexner and Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide to Finishing by Jeff and Susan Jewitt. Both give a pretty good overview of hand-applied and spray-applied finishes.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1757103 - 09/22/11 05:43 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Mark R. Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1866
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Del,

About those two books... I could get both of them through a local online bookstore, at much the same price (about $50 each). Between the two of them, which one would you recommend? I'm also wondering whether they are "American" in the sense that they refer to specific American products (brands), household names or terms, e.g. "white spirits" vs. "(mineral) turpentine".
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

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#1757132 - 09/22/11 07:44 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8077
Loc: Georgia, USA
My brother, who lives in Ohio and recently retired, has a small furniture refinishing business. He says business is booming and he has more than he can do...

He does not used chemical strippers... he says he only uses various grades of sand paper, steel wool, a scraper and steel-wire brushes to remove the old finish.

I too have always enjoyed restoring and refinishing old things... I've learned though, that you are often better off to buy something already restored. But, where is the fun and excitment in that? laugh

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1757366 - 09/22/11 01:11 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: Mark R.]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Mark R.
About those two books... I could get both of them through a local online bookstore, at much the same price (about $50 each). Between the two of them, which one would you recommend? I'm also wondering whether they are "American" in the sense that they refer to specific American products (brands), household names or terms, e.g. "white spirits" vs. "(mineral) turpentine".

I started to write that you should be able to get them for a whole lot less than $50 each—Amazon lists them for $21 and $23—then recalled that you are in South Africa.

I have them both but, were I to pick just one I’d probably go with Jeff Jewitt’s Taunton book. As is typical of Taunton’s publications it’s very well illustrated and it covers a lot of territory. Probably more than the amateur will want to deal with but useful for those wanting to go some further. I don’t remember how “American” the book is; my copy is still packed away someplace and I don’t expect to be able to get to it for another month or so.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

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#1757635 - 09/22/11 07:32 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: Rickster]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1047
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: Rickster
He does not used chemical strippers... he says he only uses various grades of sand paper, steel wool, a scraper and steel-wire brushes to remove the old finish.


For someone with experience and skill, that's fine. First time out, it's dangerous. You can sand through veneers surprisingly fast.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#1758245 - 09/23/11 10:53 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Wow, thanks again for all your input everyone, especially you Del. Someday I hope to meet you, I do get to WA occasionally.

I don't expect I will be refinishing my piano for a few year, but that will give me time to gather more information (and courage. Ha!)
_________________________
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
GigaStudio GS3 Ensemble (Bosendorfer & Estonia piano samples)
Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

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#1758308 - 09/24/11 01:11 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5067
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: MrMagic
Wow, thanks again for all your input everyone, especially you Del. Someday I hope to meet you, I do get to WA occasionally.

I don't expect I will be refinishing my piano for a few year, but that will give me time to gather more information (and courage. Ha!)

You're welcome any time--well, anytime I'm here. I still travel some so you might want to call first.

We're kind of out in the country and the shop is some smaller but there is usually something interesting going on. And the coffee grinder is always close by.

ddf
_________________________
Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon

Top
#1822667 - 01/11/12 10:16 AM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
Mark R. Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/09
Posts: 1866
Loc: Pretoria, South Africa
Mr Magic,

While trawling through the archives on some refinishing questions, I stumbled across this thread - hopefully still young enough to revive without too much fuss. Are there any new developments, a few months down the line?
_________________________
Autodidact interested in piano technology.

1922 49" Zimmermann, project piano.
1970 44" Ibach, daily music maker.

Top
#1822921 - 01/11/12 06:14 PM Re: Refinishing a grand piano [Re: MrMagic]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Hi Mark, no fuss from me!

No new developments tho. For now I'm just enjoying the heck out of the piano, especially after a fresh tuning and regulation on Monday. All I've done is go over it with Scott's Liquid Gold which performs a minor but somewhat short lived miracle to the finish. It is very easy to do tho.

For now I'm leaving it as it is. As I've mentioned before, it's in a large basement room, so it doesn't need to impress with it's looks. And when my 23 year old niece saw it and very emphatically told me to never change it, saying "it has character!", I had to agree. At least for now. She has plenty of such ‘character’ in her cute little cottage.

_________________________
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
1920 Mason & Risch Upright (actually my mother's)
1971 Hammond R-100
Roland KR577
Roland VK-8M Tonewheel organ module
GigaStudio GS3 Ensemble (Bosendorfer & Estonia piano samples)
Roland E20, JV30 (retired)
An old concertina which I can't play

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