Monday, July 12, 2010

Piano Bench Refinish

Look below! That's my beautiful piano bench... albeit, somewhat ruined. That's my exquisite Kara-dog behind it too, making sure the picture is aesthetically pleasing since the bench is so ugly. That appears to be some kind of super glue spots (not dog snot!) and scrapes and other unmentionable things on it. What paint or stain was on it is now abandoning ship. You can kindof see the pretty legs on it though. It's a very fancy ornate little bench.

I went to Home Depot and got some felt pads for the bottom of the legs (haven't put them on yet) and then decided... well, refinishing a piano is a BIG job and I don't want to get 1/3 of the way through it and give up. Lets see how difficult it will be to refinish a piano BENCH instead! Oh, and look, I have one handy that needs it! How convenient is that? So I did a little research into how I would theoretically want to refinish the piano should I ever undertake that particular endeavor. Looks like French Polish / Shellac is the way to go. Yup, no easy way to do it, lots of hard work and elbow grease, and time. PERFECT! I'll just do the top of the bench, so I have a nice place to sit and if I hate the work or if I suck at it, at least I have a nice bench (top) out of the deal.

I sanded (and sanded, and slept and then sanded some more the next day), and I stained it ebony black. Then I sat back and said, "GAWD, if this was a whole piano I'd move away!" Not really, I was feeling rather proud of myself at that point. The top of the bench felt like satin! Anyway, sanding and staining and sanding some more and staining some more and rubbing and buffing and dang my arms hurt!

I got my shellac supplies and put the first coat on. Look how pretty it is! Now only 15-20 more coats and it should look great. There's some of my supplies below. Not really that interesting, but shared anyway.

Here (below) is the picture of it as of yesterday afternoon when I quit working on it out of necessity. I had a billion other things to do. But look, this is somewhere around 8-10 coats of shellac. It's getting there! You can see my reflection, fairly clearly!

Now, I have already learned some things. First: get a paint stripper, because sanding paint off sucks. Buy a nice expensive paint stripper too, don't go the cheap route. (My Mom says you -always- have to spend the big bucks to get a good stripper! ha ha ha) You will have so much sanding to do anyway that you'll still get your exercise and then some.
Second: I sanded and was very careful about getting everything glass-smooth with an extremely fine grade of wet/dry sandpaper... but I still have areas that absorbed the shellac & show grain. Next time I will use something called pummice to fill the grain after my first coat of shellac. I didn't read about that until I was already past the first coat.
Third: Shellac is extremely forgiving and easy to repair. Not just if you mess up while doing it but also if you or a kid or dog does something to it in the future. That is one of the main reasons I chose to French Polish rather than doing something easier. That, and I am completely infatuated with "old fashioned" things! Plus, shellac is a renewable resource. Just can't beat all that!

I'm going to get some paint stripper in the next few days. It seems I have a lot of projects that I can use it on. My outdoor metal chair is coming along quite nicely, and I've got a cabinet/hutch that's all different colors that desperately needs me to choose one and run with it! And the rest of this bench needs to be finished too, of course. Now, I used an ebony stain and an amber colored shellac, but the jury is still out on whether or not I like the color it has become. I was hoping for more of a warm black than a warm orange... but it's still not too late to re-do it. Even though I have a bazillion "coats" of the stuff on it already, it's really only a very thin layer that can be easily removed.
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