piano refinishing

I've acquired a antique piano made of mahogany I believe. The original stain must have faided and sometime during its life a newer darker stain was applied. I'd like to remove all of the stains as much as possible and try to refinish it. What exactly are the process steps that will yield the best results. Without much consultation with an expert this is what I was thinking but was hoping to get better advise.
1. Dry scrape and dust off 2. Chemically remove stain with Citristrip, water, and steel wool 3. Sand coarse, then smooth 4. Stain 5. Sand 6. stain 7. Coat with lacquer of some kind.
Currently we are expermenting with water and steel wool. Using water tends to restain the entire area into a reddish color. Haven't tried soap and water. Any ideas or thoughts? Any help would be appreciated.
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STEP 1:
Consult with a professional piano refinisher.
You might find out the piano is only worth a paint job (hope not)
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

I think that Step 1 should, as with any antique one is tempted to monkey with, be "Get it APPRAISED". While it's not likely that it's super valuable, FIND OUT--if it turns out to be some oddball collectable that's worth three times the price of a new Steinway then the solution to the problem is obvious.
But one should do that _before_ one starts monkeying with the finish.
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Yes, the appraisal was already considered. The piano restorer and mover appreciates the age but obvisously not a steinway or any hidden gem worth anything valuable. Even if it worth a more note worthy brand of piano the best one could get in resell is either a few hundred dollars or "free if you haul away". I see value in it because of the sound quality. A decent sound board and keys that are in tact. With that said I'm continuing with step #2 which is trying to find a chemical that works best. Last night we tried the citristrip at Homedepot but i'm thinking there is got to be something stronger like jasco or something else. We are experimenting with the detachable front cover to see how good we can get that piece. What I'm finding out is that a dark dark stain is probably the way to go to hide the dark spots. It seems like they come out with steel wool but the stain turns everything red. I'll have to find out if the light red stain leftover will come out with aggressive sanding. Stay tuned.....
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J. Clarke wrote:

I think I'd agree with all aforementioned advice, but it sounds like you may have already been "monkeying" with the finish, so it may be too late for that. One thought that crosses my mind is to pick an inconspicuous area and try rubbing it with a small bit of FINE steel wool dipped in denatured alcohol. I'd guess that part or all of the existing finish is probably shellac, and this test would confirm it. If so, the alcohol is probably going to work better than any other chemical stripper.
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When a piano gets beyond 75 years of age the wood in the pin block loses its elasticity and it will no longer stay in tune for an extended period of time, or sometimes even at all. No sane person will attempt to change the pin block in an upright, this is major construction. and the expense never stops. It may be worth it as a labor of love or an educational experience, but not just to save an old piano.
With that said, I have a 107 year old Baldwin that is a beautiful piece of furniture and it fulfills this role very nicely.
I assume that the piano is at least partially veneered, most were. Whatever you do be aware that the veneer on most pianos is very thin, so you can do no course sanding or you will go through the veneer DAMHIKT. The stain used on the piano most likely darkened the entire thickness of veneer.
The best use for the come and get for moving pianos is to gently remove the casing with a sledge hammer, recover the spruce sound board for other uses and throw the rest away.
None of this is what you wanted to read but my 2 cents worth.
basilisk
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On Sun, 24 May 2009 20:38:45 -0700, point.vicente wrote:

Be very careful with sanding. I once refinished an old upright grand and found that what I thought was solid wood was a very thin veneer.
--
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

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I have restored both uprights and grands in the past along with organs and harpsichords. Your pictures do not tell me enough but this appears to be an upright from around 1920. It is not worth putting a lot of money in it for resale but if you are keeping it, it is probably superior in sound and touch to most of the "spinets" (excepting some of the big namds) now on the market, if it is reasonably intact and properly restored. I would certainly move forward on your project if you are keeping it. Most of these instruments were sprayed with a shellac/stain mixture in a factory and this finish becomes opaque through the years. What lies underneath is often far more attractive than found on a modern piano. Usually it is a mahogany veneer, thicker than the modern stuff- sometimes as much as 1/16. The standard finish that most shops apply to this type of piano is- 1) Strip the old finish (as Steve indicated) with alcohol (shellac thinner) and steel wool. Woods chips also help a lot to sop op the mess. Plastic putty knives work well on the flat surfaces, toothbrushes on the mouldings. 2) Still wool the wood with more alcohol to remove any uneveness. 3) Restain-try a light stain and move to dark if you want. 4) Apply 2 coats of lacquer sanding sealer and sand between coats with 400 (or use the instructions on the can) 5) Apply 3 coats of lacquer, using 0000 steel wool between coats. 6) If you want a real shine try some of the polishing methods such as rotten stone or micro-mesh. This usually is reserved for the black Steinway finish however and it is a lot of work, probably not needed.
I did not use water based lacquer when I was doing this type of work (it did not exist) but I expect it will work well based upon my experience building violin cabinets.
Basilisk's comments should be heeded however do not be easily deterred from restoring. Uprights, unlike grands, usually do not have cracked pin-blocks since they are mounted to the wooden frame and do not circulate air as well. If the pins are worn in their holes, oversize pins can be purchased from American Piano Supply. Usually if every 3rd note in the base is out of tune after tuning it is a hint of a cracked pin block.
Email me if you have further questions above and beyond the finish (e.g. keys, hammers etc). You probably will end up with a better piano than you can purchase new.
Cheers Fritz
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I do not expect that sawdust will help much. The wood chips are used because they are somewhat abrasive like steel wool, yet they absorb the shellac. I think that leeching out the old stain with alcohol as best you can is the best approach. Don't soak the veneer however as this can start dissolving the glue underneath .Usually these type pianos, when refinished leaving only the original stain, have a reddish brown hue which is quite attractive. The final look can be tested by wetting a stripped area with alcohol-this gives a pretty accurate rendition of the final appearance-
Regards, Fritz
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About 100 years ago in a prior life I did some piano refinishing. We would dissambled the entire unit. Placed the wood parts in a 10' square galvanized floor pan about a foot deep. We used 5 gallon pails of Jasco, wore rubber waders, gloves and resperators. Wire brushes, sharpened putty knifes, paint scrapers, screw drives, etc.
I do expect to get liver cancer at some point in the future but have survived so far. I assume my good friends from south of the border who also worked as labors in the shop and wouldn't wear any protective gear have already passed.
I was actually hired to work there to run a machine, designed and built by my friend that was a an air actuated, 10 headed drill made for drilling roped brass tubes for making brass beds. I put the machine through it's paces, made all the patterns and set up all the pre-set cutoff table and production methods. Once again, manned by my spanish speaking friends once I was done and they cranked out beds sold by Sears and others.
On May 24, 8:38pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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