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Blog entry by BarryW posted 10-17-2007 11:41 PM 799 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

While I’m sitting around watching Mom…now that I have a CCTV in the shop to keep an eye on her…I have been tearing apart a piano for the wood. Not the best decision I ever made, but I am getting some good hinges and a few fair pieces of wood. The thought now occurring to me is about slicing the piano I have in half, just below the keyboard, and letting the bottom half of the piano be a base for a decent workbench. It has a very heavy base and sides. The casters are removed. With a laminated top out of the posts of this and other pianos, well it might just make a decent workbench. Ever hear of anybody doing that? This old piano just can’t hold the tune anymore, that’s why the need to tear it apart. And my piano tuner friend has brought me another piano today. Lots of work tearing them apart. I can vouch for that. I’ve traded him some of the good pieces of wood from the front of the piano…but that’s okay. It’s best to have a friend sometimes…and the pain of a lopsided trade early in the friendship. One never gets something for nothing. And he’s invited me to scavenge the “burn pile” at his shop…more of those solid back posts, says he. Oh, sure, I’m probably making more work for myself than I would if I just went and bought some beech or rock maple…but at the prices for the wood, well, I’ve run out of cash, for the most part since I spent so much on my big bandsaw, jointer, thickness planer, Leigh jig and Tormek. With the exception of the electrician, my big cash outlays are over…and I have to start doing something with what I have. As always, things happen slowly since I’m also chief cook and bottle washer here. Pictures of the piano destruction/recycling here. Oh, the horror movie sound effects happen everytime I drag a string out of the piano. It sounds like the workshop is haunted. And in a way it is. I feel the spirit of George Nakashima shaming me and shaking his finger at me everytime I waste time or do something wrong. I never knew the gentleman, but reading about him and other great woodworkers has probably given me more sleepless nights than any real ghosts could do. Did I do this right?
Did I do that right? Am I going in the right direction for the last, hopefully, 20 years of my life? All I know is that I’ve never been happier. That’s all anyone needs, I’ve come to learn…going the direction their heart takes them. This needed to happen years ago…and I was always trying to make someone else happy. That’s the easiest way to waste a life…trying to make someone else happy. It can’t be done.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.



5 comments so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3558 days


#1 posted 10-18-2007 12:30 AM

It sounds like lots of fun to me Barry. I’m always up for a treasure hunt.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 3621 days


#2 posted 10-18-2007 12:49 AM

the old piano is probably smiling underneath all the surface pains – to think that you get a second life and get to be cherished all over again!! yah.. definitely worth it :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4012 posts in 3524 days


#3 posted 10-18-2007 08:26 AM

Barry, you are my hero. This recycled piano thing really interests me, but hauling, space constraints and fear of the potential for civil commitment proceedings instigated by my wife have made me pass on the few that have shown up on Craigslist around here. Are the ivory key skins and the black keys easy to get out?

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View BarryW's profile

BarryW

1015 posts in 3367 days


#4 posted 10-18-2007 08:59 AM

Douglas, I’ve learned a couple of things about pianos….some over the years since I played them since I was four and I was a piano salesman for about a year…ah, well, I’ve done it backwards. The keys and the actions can come out first…there are screws under the keyboard that releases the key sections…and the actions on the old uprights just lift out usually after you remove the front cover and side front pieces…the two pianos I have now are not ivory keyed…maybe replaced sometime…who knows. One date in the piano on my blog is 1915 and I found a 1936 penny down inside. I should have the plate out in a couple of days if I can get to working on it steady enough. Essentially, I’m gutting the piano, taking out the plate and then cutting it in half side to side…leaving me a “shelf” that held the keys…and front and back supports. I think it’ll make a great heavy base for a workbench. Then from other pianos I’m cutting out the back supports. I’ll glue them together to make the top of the workbench…oh, I’ll have a bit of planing and such to do before I put them together and I’m going to have to make some kind of tenon to go into the four corners of the piano base. Pictures on my website and here as I get it done. Taking the strings out involves using a solid electric drill to unscrew the metal pins counter clockwise. But the string has to come off first. Wear eye protection. A wayward string on a piano can be nasty if snapped. I’m told by a tuner that one can just snap the strings with a wire cutter, but I’ll take a more conservative approach here…but maybe that’s me. A bit of labor in this.
The pin blocks can be layered rock maple or beech…and sometimes they are 6 or more inches thick, the width of the piano and 8 to 10 inches deep. Really heavy suckers. So I’m probably going to have to plane off alot of the holes…oh, use a metal detector every step of the way. I’m finding screws where screws ought not to be. Anyway, I’m beginning to think I’ve found something kinda novel…but I’m certain others may have thought of this before…surely….building a cabinetmaker’s workbench out of old pianos and parts of pianos. Somebody has to have done it before. I’m not that original.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View 's profile

593 posts in 3432 days


#5 posted 10-18-2007 05:01 PM

Very interesting post Barry, keep up the good work and please, don’t stop feeding your blog at LJ. As Mark said in one comment to a former entry, I also don’t always have time to go to other blogs and even a simple cut and paste here will be great.

Regarding the piano-made workbench… wouldn’t it be too low for a comfortable position when working on it? Maybe for an assembly table though… In any case, I love the idea: it melts together two of my greatest loves, classical music and wood.

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