Call on an expert to find out what your piano is worth.
Restoring your piano can take a big bite out of your budget, and if you are a novice, you don’t want to engage in especially risky parts of restoration and ruin the piano. Try to get an idea of your piano’s worth and overall condition before you sink money into restoring it. You can contact a local piano tech or other knowledgeable party and they can help you determine the structural and musical condition of your piano, as well as whether or not it will be feasible to restore it. If you have a piano from during or after the great depression, evaluate the materials used to construct it. If main panels are primarily composed of particleboard, it is likely less worth restoring. If it is primarily composed of wood, has a fairly thick iron frame, and is from a reputable brand it is more likely to be worth restoring. Pianos from the competitive market of 1890-1925 are often of higher quality and more comparable to well respected brands today. If you don’t know the age of your piano, you can determine what it is if you know who manufactured the piano and if you have the serial number of the piano.
Find the serial number.
It is usually located on the plate of the piano between the bass and tenor strings. It is sometimes found on the top of the piano when you open the lid.
<img src='https://i0.wp.com/www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/c/c7/Restore-a-Piano-Step-3.jpg/aid2442756-v4-728px-Restore-a-Piano-Step-3.jpg' alt='Locate your piano on the chartto see how old it is.’ width=’900′ height=’599′ />
Locate your piano on the chartto see how old it is.
Regardless of the age or manufacturer, keep in mind that ornate carvings and inlays, or any unusual design, can mean your piano is moderately more valuable, even in the face of poorer condition internals.
Discuss the age and overall musical and structural integrity of your piano with a trusted technician.
A pro can suggest to you the best stains and methods to use if you plan to restore the wood yourself. Unless you want to restore your piano so that it is a furniture showpiece only, consider consulting a piano tuner to determine if your piano is musically sound. A professional tuner can also advise you about replacing worn or damaged piano keys.
Disassemble the piano.
This will require removing all the hardware and labeling each part so that you can reassemble it. You might want to take notes as well to help you remember the disassembly process because the project may take you a long time to complete. It also helps to take photographs of each piece before and after you remove them. Unless you are repairing parts within the main action, do not disassemble the main action.
Cover all the interior parts.
Use a plastic sheet and make sure every part of the interior is covered.
Use a furniture paint stripper to remove the old varnish.
This may require several applications, especially if your piano has ornate parts or scroll work. (You can skip this step if your piano has no varnish or paint left on it.)
Clean the bare wood after you have removed the varnish.
Use paint thinner, fine steel wool and an old lint-free cloth. As almost all pianos use a very thin veneer, avoid taking off any more material than is necessary to remove the original finish.
Use a wood filler to repair dings and dents.
If you plan to use a lacquer finish coat, you must use a filler that has the same chemical makeup as the finish lacquer. (This will prevent a reaction to the stain you use that could cause uneven color after you stain the wood.)
Choose the wood stain.
Most finishes can be applied over most types of wood stain, but polyurethane varnish cannot be applied over some stains.
Apply the first coat stain.
Use a lint-free rag. You can also use a foam brush (use only new brushes). Stain a small area at a time and wipe away any excess to avoid streaking.
Allow the first coat to dry thoroughly.
You can apply as many coats of stain as you would like; each new coat will deepen the color.
Start applying the final finish.
Polyurethane works well as a finish coat. It will seal the stain and protect your piano from moisture damage. Your finish coats will dry pretty quickly, but you should allow each coat to dry for at least 48 hours between applications.
Lightly sand between each coat.
Use a fine-grade sandpaper or No. 000 steel wool to sand each thin coat of finish. (Two or three thin coats of finish will give your piano a professional sheen; it is a longer process, but is preferable to applying just 1 thick coat.)
Use a tack cloth to wipe down the wood.
After you sand each application, wipe down the wood with the tack cloth so that all dust and other particles are removed before you apply the next coat of polyurethane. If you skip this step, you will likely end up with a bumpy and unsightly finish coat.
Make absolutely sure all the parts are dry before you begin to reassemble the piano.
Touch each piece and each part of each piece; if anything feels tacky, then it isn’t thoroughly dry.
Put a piece of carpet on the floor before you begin.
You can also use a large, flat piece of cardboard or a sheet. This is a preventative step that will help prevent scratches to the wood while you are reassembling the piano.
Reassemble the pieces in reverse order.
Consult your photographs and your notes.
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