The process begins with completely dismantling the cabinet - all
hinges, buttons and cabinet components. Hardware that requires
plating is sent out. Next comes the structural repairs. Legs,
lyres, benches, and music racks bear the brunt followed by
examining all the veneer and gluing loose edges and patching
chips.(ALL pianos are veneered. There is no such thing as a
"Solid" walnut or mahogany piano.)
Now the task of refinishing can begin. First, areas that are not to be refinished are masked. A caustic solution (Stripper) is applied to the rest. After the old finish has sloughed off, a neutralizing agent is applied to deactivate the stripper residue. The veneer is re-checked and re-glued.
Next comes the sanding, sanding, sanding, and still more sanding, starting with
a coarse grit (#80) and finishing up with a #220 grit. During this process,
comes the discovery of more loose veneer. Small nicks and gouges are filled in and sanded flush.
If going natural, the wood is stained followed by several coats of sealer. Again,
the entire cabinet is sanded with even finer grit. During this process more nicks
turn up and are filled by a process known as "Burn In".(A stick of solid lacquer
is melted and troweled into the crevice.)
At last, comes the finish. Several coats of gloss lacquer are applied and sanded yet again. This time soapy water is used as a lubricant and the grit works up to the #1200 range. The process is called "Wet Sanding" - "Duh". Abrasive pads are used as a final step to obtain the desired sheen and "Hand Rubbed" appearance.
Not finished yet. All the hardware that was not plated has to be buffed. Polished brass is a beautiful thing; green and tarnished not so much. Finally the cabinet is assembled and the job is finished.
Now consider the hidden costs. Working with caustic chemicals and spraying flammable materials into the air induces additional risks that are reflected with inflated insurance premiums. Additionally, a "Stand Alone" building is the only way to go. In the event of a disaster, damage would be confined to just the refinishing operation and not other businesses which may otherwise be neighbors.
Refinishing is very much a "Specialty" repair. It is labor intensive under hazardous working conditions. For the last thirty years we've been using Gedminas and Son Furniture Refinishing (913.829.8337) and recommend them wholeheartedly.