anyone repurposed an old upright piano

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Forum topic by lathman posted 10-29-2012 07:29 PM 12037 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 2038 days

10-29-2012 07:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: repurposed vintage piano rod skramstad

i came across an old upright piano…over a hundred years old….great looking zebra oak body with a birdseye maple inside….i am thinking of turning it into a desk or bar…..anyone with experience tearing the guts out of one???just looking for any tips before i start…..why am i doing this….....just crazy enough to try i guess!

-- "just crazy enough to try"

19 replies so far

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3548 posts in 2251 days

#1 posted 10-29-2012 07:39 PM

Before you start cutting it up, you might want to find out if there is any greater value in that item as an antique piano. There should be some manufacturer’s information, and maybe a serial number, inside the piano. The internals of an old piano are very heavy. Make sure you have some help when you take out the sound board. I wouldn’t recommend cutting the strings until they were loosened—some of those strings are very tight, so loosen the tuning pegs before removing the strings. I’ve seen one show where they repurposed an old piano to make a bar. There were not a lot of details presented though. Good luck with the project.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2856 days

#2 posted 10-29-2012 07:43 PM

You got my attention

I got two upright piano’s and I’m

looking at re-skinning one of them

with natural edges.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2563 days

#3 posted 10-29-2012 07:58 PM

sounds like a cool project.. cant wait to see the photos

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4931 posts in 3960 days

#4 posted 10-29-2012 08:01 PM

The “plate” holding the strings can have upwards of 14,000 lbs. of string pressure.
The sound board could have valuable wood for guitar makers using the board for tops.
The body will likely be veneered.
The keys might have ivory surfacing. Underline “MIGHT”.
My first job, a zillion years ago, was working in a piano refurb shop. We found some astounding wood and other material in those old beauties.
Look at the piano with the thought of further use.


View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3108 days

#5 posted 10-29-2012 08:10 PM

If you take it apart, do not throw away the keys. If they are wooden, the black keys are more than likely made of ebony, the white out of holly. Both fairly expensive woods and useful for small projects or accents to larger ones.

Have fun,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View lathman's profile


29 posts in 2038 days

#6 posted 10-30-2012 02:12 AM

end of first day…..i don’t work all that hard so…...all the easy stuff off….now how should i go about “removing the beast”? any thoughts.otherwise i will figure it out tomorrow

-- "just crazy enough to try"

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29 posts in 2038 days

#7 posted 10-30-2012 02:14 AM

oops here’s the end of the first day …...

-- "just crazy enough to try"

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2286 days

#8 posted 10-30-2012 03:24 AM

That’s beautiful lathman. Once you get down to wood and refinish it with something that will make it pop. Age has dulled it. I bet that wood is crazy hard now too.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2850 days

#9 posted 10-30-2012 03:41 AM

Wow. Coincidence. I saved a spinet piano from the landfill and it’s in my shop. I think it will hold a TV inside when I get done with it.

Here’s the general idea:

I think it couild be done without any visual clues. Keys showing, music on the music holder, push the button on the remote and up comes the plasma.

Anyone done this?



-- " 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"

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3108 days

#10 posted 10-30-2012 03:52 AM

I think I would be the type that would more likely make a rustic bookcase out of a TV than use a rustic bookcare to hold one :)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View knotscott's profile


8015 posts in 3375 days

#11 posted 10-30-2012 10:18 AM

That’s a really nice looking ornate piano….my opinion is that it’d be a shame to do anything but restore it as a beautiful functioning piano.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2514 days

#12 posted 10-30-2012 11:54 AM

Hate to say this, but that piano is most likely worth more as a…piano. Tiger oak, nice Empire styling, that could go for well over $1200-1500 refinished, maybe even $2000, as long as all the hammers, tappets, and other parts are there. All the keys there? Boy, I’d be hard pressed to dismantle that one.
I refinished a few pianos in my time, not that hard. Hope you have not taken it apart past the point of no return yet.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View 489tad's profile


3366 posts in 3011 days

#13 posted 10-30-2012 12:21 PM

From my experience if its not going to be played take it apart. We have a 100 year old up right. The kids started taking lessons. Called a tuner he did the best he could. Said it needed new strings. New strings way too expensive. Your piano is beautiful on the outside, maybe there is a nice sound board. I’d go with a bar instead of a desk.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View kizerpea's profile


774 posts in 2367 days

#14 posted 10-30-2012 01:09 PM

there should b a big hunk of hard rock maple in there…really good wood for a gun stock or woodn plane..

look for old money under the keys..i found a few bufflo nickles under the one i wrecked..


View lathman's profile


29 posts in 2038 days

#15 posted 11-01-2012 02:54 AM

just finished up with my second day on the piano…..not two real intense days since i’m a month removed from back surgery and am supposed to take it easy for a couple more weeks, but the piano is disassembled… was actually a bit easier than i thought and quite a bit of fun too…..amazing how something that big and heavy is basicallly just screwed together…..only a couple areas that i saw were even glued…it was kinda something reflecting on what it must have been like 100+ years ago when this was going together…..those folks were some real craftsmen back then…..everytime i backed out a screw it was kinda neat thinking that that screw was last touched over a hundred years ago…..anyway….it is in manageable pieces and now on to starting to clean up the wood….i have to admit that after 30 years in the wood business i have very little experience in refinishing….i am open to suggestions…..i want to keep the color as original as possible so i dont really want to grind it down to bare wood…..formby’s refinisher??? is that my option? i do want to put a nice finish on it so i was wondering if i can still spray lacquer over the formby stuff….i will hang up and listen….oh and a couple pix…...

-- "just crazy enough to try"

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