Broken Piano becomes a Hope Chest

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Project by NJBirdman posted 01-08-2015 01:35 PM 2424 views 16 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

About a year ago I was contacted by my third grade teacher, (I am 31 now and probably have not talked to her since third grade!) she had heard through some relatives that i was doing some woodworking on the side. The project she had in mind was to convert this very old piano into a hope chest. The piano had a cracked sound board which renders them almost useless. After looking at the piece I told her it would be no problem, her only concern was that the upper, hand carved portion of the piano stay intact. She gave me no time frame, and told me no pressure…...really.

Here are some pics of the process, after completion I realized there weren’t nearly enough photos taken. I ran into many speed bumps, which taught me quite a bit along the way. The piano is mainly constructed from poplar with a quarter sawn mahogany or sapele veneer. The base is also veneered except for the profile which is solid. Everything except for the lid/top came from the piano. The lid is constructed out of sapele to match the original veneer. Figuring out how to make the grain run straight through the top with no interruptions was challenging. Clamping the sides together in order to increase the depth of the piece was also difficult, notice the custom clamping blocks! I lined the inside with aromatic cedar and delivered the finished project 2 days before Christmas! She loved it and hope you guys do as well. The stain is minwax red mahogany, sprayed old masters semi gloss for the top coat 4-5 coats on the entire piece.

*Comments, criticism, advice all are welcome

Some framing for the bottom.

Prepping the inside for cedar.

Attaching the top and installing the cedar.

-- --Denver-- Any society that will give up a little liberty for a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

29 comments so far

View A.Scott's profile


227 posts in 1397 days

#1 posted 01-08-2015 01:44 PM

Beautiful work!

View Sergio's profile


464 posts in 2113 days

#2 posted 01-08-2015 01:45 PM

Awesome work! Congratulations.

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View Redoak49's profile


1820 posts in 1409 days

#3 posted 01-08-2015 01:59 PM

Very nicely done

View JoeinGa's profile


7370 posts in 1427 days

#4 posted 01-08-2015 03:09 PM

Beautiful chest. And you’re right … you DIDNT take enough pictures LOL

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View grantd's profile


82 posts in 903 days

#5 posted 01-08-2015 04:16 PM

Not sure if the last picture is playing tricks on me but the color match looks fantastic. I’m amazed that old veneer will still clean up that well and match new material once stained. Did you end up removing the finish off of the old pieces first? If so how did you go about cleaning up the carved panels? If you have it I would love to see a straight on picture of the finished project.

Good Job.

View sras's profile


4363 posts in 2550 days

#6 posted 01-08-2015 04:19 PM

A wonderful job of repurposing some nice woodwork! Thanks for sharing.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Eddie G's profile

Eddie G

44 posts in 995 days

#7 posted 01-08-2015 04:41 PM

Really great project. I have seen an old piano nearly every time I go to the GoodWill and they usually are priced around $100. Definitely gives me some ideas… Nice work sir.

-- Ed G., Hillsboro, Oregon, U.S.A.

View Marty 529's profile

Marty 529

344 posts in 1140 days

#8 posted 01-08-2015 04:47 PM

That is gorgeous. Nice repuposing. The work is beautiful and the piano lives on. Did you keep a lot of the rest of the piano to use for other things?

-- Marty, Ohio

View Halc's profile


107 posts in 1023 days

#9 posted 01-08-2015 06:37 PM

Fantastic project! I’m sure you saved some history for your teacher.

View clieb91's profile


3491 posts in 3355 days

#10 posted 01-08-2015 06:54 PM

Really nice reuse. It looks great and I can see why she would have wanted to save the carvings.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View NJBirdman's profile


35 posts in 1492 days

#11 posted 01-08-2015 07:23 PM

Thanks for the kind words guys. My photo taking skills suck sorry about the lack of quality pictures. All of the ‘flat’ pieces were stripped with zip strip, then sanded. The carved panels were stripped with Rock Miracle liquid no wash remover, a toothbrush, and some fine steel wool.

Straight on shot…...kind of

-- --Denver-- Any society that will give up a little liberty for a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

View hoss12992's profile


3811 posts in 1313 days

#12 posted 01-08-2015 08:33 PM

great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5955 posts in 1749 days

#13 posted 01-08-2015 08:35 PM

very nice job….

I’ll bet you didn’t learn how to do THAT in 3rd grade :^p

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Tim Royal 's profile

Tim Royal

202 posts in 907 days

#14 posted 01-08-2015 09:40 PM

Beautiful work… the piano was a piece of craftsmanship and you managed to retain the spirit of it while adding yours. Again… fine work.

-- -Tim Royal... Always reminded of this when I see the amazing work LJ's do (I have no choice but to be humble!), "Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." -Thomas Merton

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 1848 days

#15 posted 01-08-2015 10:43 PM

Wow!!! re-cycling taken to a new level…. Well done

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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