Willetta's Spinet Piano's New Lives #1: Getting It Apart

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Blog entry by Lee Barker posted 11-30-2012 05:23 PM 2799 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Willetta's Spinet Piano's New Lives series Part 2: Getting the Hang of It. »

There are easy things: The screws to the hinges of the top. The screws holding the keyboard cover on. The panel in the knee space. All these are a cinch.

The keys are not actually fastened in. They just rest on a bed of pins. (I’ll add that picture later.)

Then the remarkable part: The motion from a depressed key is translated through a number of pivoting, moving parts to finally reach the hammer which strikes the string (hence the classification of the piano as a percussion instrument). And this whole construction rolls up like a bamboo shade!

The deck on which the pin rack (for lack of a professional term) sits is just oak. The other internal materials are maple and the spruce soundboard. The latter is not salvageable in this spinet, anyway.

Once the strings are cut and removed with a die grinder and cutoff wheel, you’re left with removing the cast iron frame.

In order to accomplish this, every tuning pin must be removed completely. Though they don’t appear threaded as we know threaded, they actually have very shallow cuts in them and they back out quite readily if you have enough torque to get them started. That required a 1/2” Porter Cable corded drill.

Some screws and bolts hold in the cast iron frame but they were small challenges.

The frame weighs 105 lbs.

It went home in the truck. When Linda the Artist saw it, my idea of letting some shrubbery grow out of it (“Bring me a shrubbery!”) went away.

The current plan is to hang it on the wall in the music room. More of that unfolding adventure to follow.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

4 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15283 posts in 2588 days

#1 posted 11-30-2012 05:26 PM

Wow, very interesting Lee. Good pics, thanks!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View greg48's profile


600 posts in 2727 days

#2 posted 11-30-2012 05:39 PM

Can’t wait to see where this goes Lee. You many times amaze me.

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View DIYaholic's profile


19597 posts in 2644 days

#3 posted 11-30-2012 05:43 PM

I have wanted to repurpose an upright, for some time now. Your documentation of the process makes it all that much more enticing. I’ll be follow along as you progress.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3236 posts in 3682 days

#4 posted 12-01-2012 04:39 AM


That certainly is a thorough disassembly! I’ve done a couple myself (early 1900s uprights with ivory and ebony) but never went so far as to remove all the pins. What a job! We’ll be interested to see how you hang your “artwork.”


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

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