Saturday, August 16, 2014

Piano face lift : Part I

My Grandmother left my cousin Rachel her old piano after she passed. This piece has definitely seen a lot in its days. Children growing up right around it; then grandchildren. It has scars, stories, and a life of its own that it has lived. I was enlisted in giving this piece a face lift since it has seen its better days as far as the looks department goes. I was chosen since as they say, I'm the "crafty" one in the family and seem to get the most joy out of these sorts of projects.
So, I have decided to share my process and journey with you as I go along. This will be a project that will last me awhile indeed. Hopefully I can truly bring a new life to this for my cousin.
To begin, you will need to gather your supplies. I purchased all of these at Lowes or you can use your local hardware store you like best.
  • Stripper.
    • I like Citristrip since it's not as harsh and low VOCs which means less fumes.
  • Mineral Spirits.
  • Chemical resistant gloves.
  • Flat scraper.
  • Stripping pads.
  • Drop Cloth if you don't want a mess all over your floor.
    • Trust me, there will be a huge mess.
  • Eye wear.
    • You could possibly splash or fling the products or the stain/paint your stripping into your eye.
  • Natural bristle brush.
  • Metal pan to pour your stripper into, or whatever your instructions tell you to use.
  • Mask if using a stripping agent with high VOCs.

**Now, before you begin. I suggest wearing long pants and sleeves. Now, I typically don't follow my instructions well so beware, you will get covered in stain that if left will stain your skin.**
First, I began with the bench. Here are a few before shots of it. You can see that is has definitely seen its better days for sure.

I began with pouring my stripper into an metal old pan (I used an old baking pan). Make sure you read the specific instructions on your stripping agent that you are using because there are many different kinds and they aren't all handled the same. Then using your natural bristle brush, begin brushing the stripping agent on the piece thickly.

Now here is where I was in for a surprise. Now, if you have ever used a stripping agent before, it will bubble up and react with the stain. But on this piece, I noticed it reacting quite quickly and a little intense. You can see the pictures below. Now typically, it will be the color of your stain. For me it was white and an odd yellow color.

 I began to use my scraper to scrape the stain off. As I got closer, I noticed that the top of this bench had been covered by some time of faux-leather or some other kind of fabric. So, if you ever wanted to know what a stripping agent would do to it, there you go. So, we got off the part that had reacted an bubbled up and started tugging and tugging. 

**The fabric after ripping it off**

**There was also a piece of black fabric on the underside of the lid**

And low and behold, a beautiful piece of unfinished wood underneath. Who would've known. I don't believe anyone in my family knew, or if they did they didn't share with me. 

I also did a quick layer of stripping agent to get off any glue but it will also need to be sanded before staining.

I continued with the stripping agent on the rest of the bench (sorry, I was too covered in goop to take pictures during this process). I went around and covered the entire bench with stripper before scraping it off. Now this poor bench seems to have had many coats of stain, finishes, and glue gobbed all over it. This took some time scraping.

After I was done with the first round, I went back around. This time, I did a small section of stripping agent and then immediately began scraping. You can typically tell if there is still stain on there. It will feel tacky/sticky to the touch or when scraping or you will see a residue almost like a tacky glue when you look at it in the light.

Now, the legs were the biggest challenge. Not only because they were round but it seemed as if stain and a lacquer of some sorts had just been poured onto them and left to dry. Each leg took about 30 minutes and there is still small traces left. The feet were definitely the hardest. Odd surfaces are very difficult to remove the finish. You can't really get the scraper in there so you're just sort of knocking and scraping at it.

Once done, here is the stripped product.
The next step will be staining. We will have to see how it turns out since the legs, body, and top are all obviously different woods. This entire process took me a total of 4 hours.
**Now, if you are like me and didn't follow my warning, you probably have stain all over you. You can use a rag & your mineral spirits to get this off but make sure you wash that area IMMEDIATLY after. Otherwise, you will have stained skin**

Until next time folks...

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