How to re-finish a Kemble Minx piano

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Nath6684
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How to re-finish a Kemble Minx piano

Post by Nath6684 » 15 Jun 2013, 21:31

Just got a 1958 Kemble Minx piano but the exterior needs some work. The wood has water stains, scratches and some spots where the finish is crusted. I was told not to sand it and varnish it as it would change its sound. Any advise on how to give it a bit of TLC?

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Colin Nicholson
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Re: How to re-finish a Kemble Minx piano

Post by Colin Nicholson » 16 Jun 2013, 17:43

Nath6684 wrote:I was told not to sand it and varnish it as it would change its sound. Any advise on how to give it a bit of TLC?
Not heard of that before - its mainly the soundboard that amplifies the sound.

It depends on the wood surface finish how you refinish it...... is it....?

1. Natural wood
2. French polished on veneer
3. Painted grained veneer

Send a photo and we might be able to see colour/ finish.

If the wood has not been previously finished in French polish - and natural wood/ veneer.... then a gentle sanding down. Clean wood with linseed oil & vinegar [mixed 50/50 in a jar].... using a cotton swab. When wood dried out - apply an appropriate stain or wood dye - preferably spirit based. Some water-based stains may repel.

You can buy wood dyes on Ebay for about £5. Put about a teaspoon in a jar and mix with meths - apply stain with a cloth or brush.... try it first on a part of the piano that cant be seen.

Leave to dry overnight, then either buff up with bees wax, or varnish with Danish Oil.
French polishing is a specialised art - so best use Danish oil. Make a swab 'rubber' from cotton wool & wrap it in a cotton cloth. Apply about 2 coats of D Oil lightly with a brush - sand down between coats with fine wet & dry - about 5 coats should do it.

Best to remove keys/ action/ key rail/ panelling etc if doing a proper job - remove hinges/ mask pedals etc ....

However - your overall quality will depend on your knowledge of finishing wood and good preparation needed. Fill holes/ scratches etc first with a shellac stick of the same colour.

Hope that helps
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classic-keyboard
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Re: How to re-finish a Kemble Minx piano

Post by classic-keyboard » 17 Jun 2013, 08:39

I refinished a Leslie tone cabinet for a Hammond organ a few years ago. I stripped the original finish with careful applications of Nitromors and darkened the colour somewhat with stain to match the colour of the organ, then french polished it.

I bought this book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Furniture-Resto ... /094681964

and found it really helpful. The chapter 'French polishing for absolute beginners' is actually pretty comprehensive and I was able to do a really nice job - but it took a very long time and an awful lot of patience...

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Re: How to re-finish a Kemble Minx piano

Post by Colin Nicholson » 17 Jun 2013, 18:11

For some reason the link didn't work?

The thing is with French polish, you also need to know the expected finished results way in advance.... many of the initial applications look like varnishing a shed! .... then as each coat is built up evenly - the results are astounding. To French polish a piano successfully - it needs to be stripped down completely - about 25-30 individual panels/ sections of wood. Removing legs etc - depending on the design, you occasionally need to up-end the piano onto its back [using a bench truck] - then remove the front castors to get to the leg screws. I remember making hundreds of tally marks on my dry wipe board to signify how many coats each section had.... then I leave the whole thing for about a week to fully dry so when you burnish it - the polish doesn't go cloudy.... if it does - its back to the drawing board!
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Colin Nicholson Dip. Mus. CMIT CLCM PTLLS
Piano tuning & repairs. Full UK restoration service
http://www.aatuners.com
Tuition ~ Accompaniment ~ Weddings
http://www.pianotime1964.com
Member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen

dboyce
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Re: How to re-finish a Kemble Minx piano

Post by dboyce » 15 Sep 2013, 01:53

Best way to refinish a 1950s Kemble Minx might be with a flamethrower......

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