Refinishing Mahogany Piano

Old 02-07-01, 09:57 PM
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I have an old (circa 1914?) upright piano that I am planning to refinish. The old finish has turned black and is aligatorred. I think the wood is mahogany (solid and veneer). I would like to restore the finish to what it might have looked like when it was new. Many of the parts come off to be worked on.
I know that some would argue that old furniture is more valuble with the old finish. But it is dark cracked and UGLY. Also the piano is nothing special. It is the kind that sat in you grandmother's living room.
I have a few questions.
Will I need to stain the wood to even up the color?
How does mahogany accept stain and finish?
What is the appropriate finish for a piano of the early 1900's?
What are the relative merits for various types of strippers?
Is there any special caution to stripping veneer.
Old 02-08-01, 06:44 PM
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1- You can only determine the need for a stain after the piece has been stripped. Wipe it down with paint thinner - the color you see is what you'll get if you apply a clear finish without staining. Any color discrepancies will also show up at this time.

2- Mahogany will accept any stain I know of, as well as dyes, almost always uniformly. A wood conditioner is not necessary.

3- A piano of that time period was originally finished in lacquer.

4- Other than the 'war' between solvent based strippers and the 'environmentally safe' ones, you have two basic choices. paste or liquid. For your project I would use the semi liquid paste - it's about the consistency of pancake batter. It holds on vertical surfaces and since it is thicker, it's much less likely to 'get away' from you and get where you don't want it - like on the keyboard.

5- While there's no special precaution about stripping veneer, that's a good question, because you DO need to be careful when sanding veneer. It've very easy to go through it - sand as little as absolutely necessary. In conjunction with the previous question, if you use a solvent stripper, very litle sanding is usually needed. Solvent strippers don't raise the grain - water based ones do.

Come on back and let me know how you're doing. BTW you did find you can take the front fall rest off (the piece directly in front of the keyboard) by unscrewing it from underneath, didn't you?


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