refinishing a piano

noodlesportlandNovember 16, 2013

Our piano is 32 years old, a nice sound--H plays often--and is Oak. We would like it to not be oak but a darker color--espresso, is what we are now thinking.
I have refinished a number of pieces of antiques in the past but would not claim to be an expert at all.
My question is --do you think that we could do this ourselves?
It has clean lines (purchased in1981) and in very very good condition--so nothing that needs repairing.
What products would you use?
In many year gone, I used Forby's on a lot of antique's
(the 60's and 70's) and then usually only used mineral oil after and so no stain. Always successful.
Now there are different products. We are open to any ideas and hope some of the experts here will respond.

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Take off all removable pieces, like the music desk, fall-board, lid, trap, cheek blocks, etc, then scuff sand, apply a gel stain of your choice, then a wipe-on gel varnish, and regret or enjoy at your leisure, depending on the outcome.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 2:42PM
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    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 4:53PM
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I neglected an important step: you need to clean any wax from the finish before proceeding. It will be particularly tricky if you ever used pledge (or anything else containing silicones) because it will cause any brushed-on finish to get "fisheyes". Now, in professional refinishing shops they take this into account, and have a workaround. In your case, you have a good fighting chance that gel-type finishing products will not be bothered by the silicone. But brushed-on stains and varnishes will definitely be very bothered.
Cleaning with paint thinner followed by denatured alcohol wipe-down will clean the finish and at least you can say you tried, should there be problems down the line.
If you think the gel-staining is going horribly wrong, you have a small window to wipe it all off with paint thinner before it sets, provided you didn't go overboard with the sanding. It does set really fast compared to liquid oil-based stains.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 7:08PM
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I'm in the last stages of refinishing an oak student desk. I first tried gel stain because it sounded simple and gets such rave reviews, esp. for going really dark on cabinets and vanities.

In my case it was a disaster. I won't bore you with details, but the whole thing had to come off and the next thing I knew I was down to bare wood. I then used an oil-based stain and my faith in all that's right and good was restored. I'm now nearly finished with my top coats. Photos will ensue.

My point is, a bathroom vanity and a piano are different. My experience with gel stain was full of regret (and a lot of swearing). A cheapo student desk and a piano are worlds apart.

All the products I used are from General Finishes. Their oil-based stain was a dream to work with. After the gel stain fiasco I called their 800 customer support number and talked to a guy who was very helpful. You might give them a call, describe your project, and ask for their recommendations.

Good luck. Despite my initial setback, I have so enjoyed refinishing my desk.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 10:28AM
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