I decided to spend the first couple of weeks of this year working on relatively quick and easy projects that I can get checked off of my list for this year. And now that I’ve completely refinished my piano, this is my fourth item crossed off that list so far. No too bad of a start to a new year!
Anyway, this little spinet has more sentimental value than any real value. You can read more about it here. When it arrived at my house last year, it was immediately clear that the piano would need to be refinished. The original clear coat had gotten to the point of being soft so that anything placed on it would leave behind fibers embedded in the finish.
Plus, the original finish was so thick and red.
In order to strip the piano, I disassembled it, which is really quite easy to do on spinets and uprights. (Grands and baby grands may be easy as well, but I can’t speak from personal experience.) They basically go together like big puzzles, and very easy puzzles at that. They all seem to go together slightly differently based on the brand and style, but my experience has been that once you remove the top lid, it’s pretty clear how it all comes apart.
And on both of the pianos that I’ve painted/refinished so far, I’ve had to remove at least some of the keys in order to get to the screws to remove some of the pieces.
That was a little intimidating on the first piano I painted, but I just make sure to number the keys in an inconspicuous place so that I know the order in which they go back on the keyboard.
You can click here to read more about the stripping and staining process, as well as a follow up post with more info here. I’m not even going to lie. This was a long and tedious process, and I wanted so badly to take the easy way out and just paint part of it. But I’m so very glad that y’all talked me out of it and encouraged me to strip and re-stain the whole thing. After days of stripping, two or three days of staining, and three coats of polyurethane over the last two days, here’s how it turned out…
I kept the little original knobs, and I didn’t touch the pedals. I wanted those left just as they were, rather than making them shiny and new.
I used Minwax oil-based polyurethane in a satin finish. I know I generally don’t speak very highly of Minwax stains, but interestingly, their polyurethane is my favorite oil-based polyurethane. It goes on beautifully and dries pretty quickly for an oil-based product.
I always apply polyurethane with a bristle brush (my favorite 2-inch Purdy XL cub). I know some people use those cheap foam brushes for polyurethane, but I can’t stand those. They leave ridges and way too many bubbles. I find I have way more control with a high quality bristle brush.
And the key to getting a beautiful finish is to use at least three coats, and to sand with 220-grit sandpaper between coats. You have to be very careful sanding the polyurethane (especially the first coat) and use a very light hand or you can sand right down to the stain. It’s especially important to be careful on edges.
It can be scary to sand the polyurethane. After spending all that time stripping, restaining, and brushing on the first coat of polyurethane, it can be a bit shocking to take sandpaper to the finish and see it go from a smooth and beautiful appearance to this…
But as long as you use a very light hand, that’s just polyurethane dust. When you wipe that away and apply the next coat, it magically evens out again.
After three coats of polyurethane, I allowed the pieces to dry completely overnight before putting everything back together again. The finish still isn’t fully cured after that amount of time. That’ll take several more days, so just to be on the safe side, I’ll probably wait about two weeks before placing anything on top.
But at least the only thing left to do is to wait. The work is done.
*Sigh* I’m so glad I didn’t paint any part of that piano (thanks to y’all!). There’s no question that I would have regretted taking the easy road with paint. Sometimes the most challenging route is the most rewarding.