Instructables

Facelift for an old church piano

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Probably one of the most abused pieces of equipment in any church are the pianos that are mounted on rolling platforms and moved from room to room.  Every time they are moved through a door they tend to get banged up, beat up, and scratched up.  Over the years (and decades) the scars really begin to show.  Once a piano begins to show these scars, people don't seem to worry about banging it up even more.  After all, it is just an old beat-up piano.

The piano in this Instructable was being used in my wife's Sunday School room, and one day I decided to try to make it a little more presentable.  Please note that this piano wasn't a priceless antique -- it was just a cheap old beat-up piano.  Although it functioned just fine, as you can see from the photos, it looked like it had suffered through a lot in its life.
 
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Step 1: Materials and tools used

Because this piano was going to require a lot of wood filler, I decided against using a stain and varnish.  I was afraid I would never get the wood filler to match the grain (and stain), so I decided the end result would look better if I painted this piano black.   Again, this piano was not some priceless antique.

The materials and tools used were as follows:

Tools:
- screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers (to remove the top, front, and bottom panel)
- orbital sander
- paintbrush
- large vinyl tarp (to protect the floor)
- shop vacuum cleaner

Materials:
- wood filler -- LOTS of wood filler!
- sandpaper (150 grit, 220 grit, 400 grit)
- oil based satin black paint
- masking tape
- old newspapers

I also had supervision......lot's of supervision as you can see in the photo!
This turned out so awesome! Can you guys get it tuned, or is it beyond help in that regard?

I recently started renovating a house and now I'm looking around at my mom's house and at the piano that she has and loves that she bought 20+ years ago, which is now scratched to heck from kitten feet, and I keep finding myself thinking: I could totally refinish that.

Her piano is significantly different from this one, still an upright, but it has a lot of carved shapes, and the legs are rounded and carved on a lathe. I wonder how terribly difficult it would be to get the sandpaper in there. Like yours, there are many flat areas that can easily be done with a power sander, but there are also several verrrryyyy small little crevices. Any ideas for sanding tight spaces?
knife141 (author)  carnivalesque2 years ago
If you can get it outside, I'd first start with a chemical stripper. Sanding round spindly shaped things is never easy, but I've had luck with using strips of sandpaper (reinforced on the back with duct tape) and sanding sponges. I recently refinished an old spindly high chair (every part had been made on a lathe), and found sanding sponges to be a lifesaver. Good luck with your project!
caitlinsdad3 years ago
Nice. Was that a more satiny or flat finish for the paint or stain? A nice gloss might hold up better.
knife141 (author)  caitlinsdad3 years ago
It was a semi-gloss finish -- should be more durable than a flat finish, but probably not as good as a gloss. Was afraid the gloss might look too glossy. Thanks for your comment.
One possibility would be to add some clear coating that would make it shinier. That would make it look really nice.
and I bet it sounded a lot better after it was painted.
craftydan3 years ago
Nice Job!

My Wife did something like this to a piano a church sold -- in much the same condition.

She went to Lowe's to buy paint and made the mistake of telling the guy what the paint was for. He was so disturbed that she would paint a piano he refused to mix it up for her. She finally got someone to help and the piano came out great.

Can't hold a tune, but looks great. Maybe there was a good reason the church sold it . . .