Monday, October 1, 2012

Staining Finished, Time to Fill the Grain

Finished staining the cabinet.
Very happy with the color. The next step is to fill the grain.  Filling the grain allows the final lacquer finish to go on smooth without sinking into the pores of the wood. Mahogany is very porous and if the grain is not filled, you may not be able to rub out (wet sand) the finish perfectly flat, critical to a high gloss finish.
Here I'm preparing & mixing the filler to a color that will be darker than the stain color. If the color is too light, it would not look good at all. Even though the filler dries lighter, it will darken when final finish is applied. It took some experimenting to get the color just right. Not too dark, not too light.
After staining, I apply a coat of lacquer sanding sealer to lock in the color. This way, I can fill the grain without changing the color of the wood. The filler only remains in the pores and gets wiped off the surface.  In this pic, I'm "shaving" the sealer coat, removing any fuzz or lint stuck in the lacquer. I take a flat razor blade and very lightly scrape the surface. Careful not to gouge or scratch the sealer. Works very well for removing anything stuck in the sealer.

Next step is to brush on the filler, using the brush to work it into the pores.

Once I've worked in the filler, I remove the excess with a squeegee. Once the excess is removed, I wait a few more minutes to let the filler haze over (similar to waxing a car) then wipe off the haze with a paper towel. Some people use a cloth or burlap to remove the haze but I feel that I will leave more filler in the pores and not pull it out using a cloth. I hope my technique pays off. Still learning as I go. 

This is what the filler looks like in the pores of the wood. It looks light now but the finish will soak in and darken it just enough to blend into the color and look natural.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chosing a Stain Color....Not a Simple Task!

To say that I experimented with color would be an understatement.  I finally chose Modern Mahogany NGR dye stain from Mowhawk. A very nice burgundy-red color.
First step was to condition the mahogany with a wash mixture of 70% lacquer thinner and 30% sanding sealer. This will allow the stain to cover more evenly and allow more working time to wipe off the excess.
Next, apply the NGR (non grain raising) stain in a 50/50 mixture of stain & denatured alcohol. This also allows for more working time and lightens the color just a bit.
Wiping off excess stain. The coverage was very even and I was very happy with the final color.
The final color after sanding sealer applied. Next I will apply grain filler then final gloss lacquer finish.
Here are all the pieces of the piano with stain applied. The darker pieces have sanding sealer applied. Now on to staining the cabinet.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sanding the Posts & Lathe Mash-up!

Well...Sanding the leg posts presented a challenge right off the bat.  It's very time consuming and difficult to hand-sand round pieces. I needed a hack a few available tools to get the job done... I had a small Taig metal lathe and thought I could rig up a temporary tail piece to accept the longer leg post.  I pulled out the bench vice and fastened it to the workbench. I also fastened the lathe to the bench as well. Using the live center from the lathe, I clamped it into the bench vise and it worked great!

I was able to get about 95% of the stain off the leg - enough to re-stain. The (square) ends I hand sanded afterwards....

To mount the leg in the chuck, I cut off the end of a drum stick and just happened to fit snug in the end of the leg.  The other end I just used a center punch to create a dimple for the live center.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Key Tops: Done!

I got back to working on the keys since I'm just about done with all the stripping & sanding of the veneer.  Once the key tops are glued to the key levers, I very carefully trim off the overhang to match the shape of the key levers.
I make very light passes as to not sand into the wood. If that happens, the gaps between the keys will be larger which won't look too good. I think I did a pretty decent job.

Once the keys are trimmed on the belt sander, I use a small hobby miter saw to trim the part where the sharps fit into. It's important to match the angle of the cut in the key lever so the sharps don't get hung up on the white keys.
I carefully cut down then turn the blade on it's side and cut horizontally to remove the tiny sliver. Then I use a file to cleanup and smooth the inside corner.

To remove the sharps. I put the key lever in a vice so that the it's clamped right at the line where the sharp is attached to the lever. Then with a hammer.....
....I knock the ebony clean off the top of the lever.  I only had to fix about 3 levers where the wood split and it didn't separate right at the glue line...Not too bad. The rest separated clean like in the photo.

Here are the keys in place on the key frame. I installed the new felt on all the pins and they'll be ready to be adjusted using the paper punchings once the frame is mounted back onto the key bed.

I'm very happy with all the gaps and how nice the new tops look. Can't wait to get it all put back together.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Pedal Installation

So I decided to make new mounting blocks for the pedals. Picked up a piece of 1x2 poplar and cut 6 new mounting blocks. New blocks on the left, original blocks on the right.

The new blocks and pedals mounted on the skid board.

I used some of the small "key leveling" felt washers between the pedals & blocks and also put graphite powder in the pin holes for lubrication, otherwise, the pedals could start to squeak over time.
New pedals looking good!  Now to hook up the levers.

Just a reminder of what the old pedals looked like.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A bit more progress while on it's back.....

Tarp on harp....'Nuf said.
While on it's back, I started sanding the stain. The tarp will keep the strings and harp free of dust and chemicals.  It's a bit tougher to sand the sides while on it's back so I'm going to finish the other side after it's upright again.
I also took the opportunity of the piano being on it's back to fix some dings and gouges in the feet. Surprisingly, the piano didn't have too many areas that needed filling. I'm using Elmers Epoxy Sticks to fill the wood. Since I'm staining it dark, this epoxy will get even darker with the stain which is a lot better than having a light spot where the stain didn't take to the filler which would be more noticeable in the finish.

Here's the largest area needing filling. About a 1 x 2 inch area. This is a very common area of old pianos to be beat up. The lower rear corners of the cabinet. Here is before & after filling with epoxy.
When replacing castors on most old uprights, the socket holes are larger than the sockets available in modern castors so the new castors include wood sleeves to insert into the old socket holes. (thanks again to Steve's Piano Service) Here I'm taking the diameter down just a bit so the wood sleeves fit into the old socket holes.

Nice snug fit after tapping in with a rubber mallet. Now to fit the castors.
Since I opted for the double rubber wheeled castors, I needed to open up the clearance around the castors so they will swivel freely without hitting the wood recess. The drill mounted sanding drum worked well for this.
Castors done!  Ready to tip the piano back up.

Spending a lot of time on something no one will ever see?

I admit, I really didn't need to do all the work that I did on the kick board but what can I say.....

The kick board was pretty beat up so I sanded and filled what I could with Bondo, knowing it would be painted anyway.

The filled & primer-ed kick board ready for paint. Should be getting my new pedals in a day or two then I can mount them and the levers and re-attach to the piano bottom.