View Full Version : Making furniture out of old piano.

08-17-2002, 06:43 PM
I just got an old(1903) upright piano from my mother-in-law that is in poor playing shape but most of the wood looks fine. MIL just bought a house and piano came with it. Some idiot shot it with a shotgun on the back but it barely damaged the wood.

There is a ton (almost literally. I had to use my tractor and gin pole to pick it up) of wood on this piano and I am looking forward to making a beautiful hall bench out of the top and the front panels. The back of the piano has some HUGE pieces of hardwood that will make great legs for a new daybed. The piano is loaded with hard rock maple and other fine wood.

I do dread destroying a piano that could be refurbished, but we already have a piano and they really don't fetch much after restoration. Probably make more on the bench than the piano.

Anybody got any other/better ideas for what's left?

Thanks all,

08-17-2002, 07:19 PM
Uncanny! When I lived in England, I dismantled an Edwardian upright piano that was beyond its music making days. I didn't really get a lot of useful wood out of it. It was also very, very difficult to disassemble, and there were hidden screws.
One thing you'll want to look at is the keys, which I found to be most useful. The white ones on mine were Ivorene, in lieu of ivory. The black ones were of ebony, and very useful for contrasting pins and plugs in furniture making. In Italy, it is common to do tiny paintings on the top layer of the white keys and frame them in a kind of shadow box.
Best of Luck,

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost

Norm in Fujino
08-18-2002, 01:55 AM
The sound board is probably made of spruce or cypress; check with any local luthiers to see if they would like to buy it, since it could be excellent in guitars or other stringed instruments.

08-18-2002, 01:34 PM
I hope that by using my come-along and 4ft pry bar I can get it apart. The back of the piano has some huge pieces that I hope to use for daybed legs. If i can't pry them out, I will use my tractor or chainsaw to free the pieces.

I already have found a use for the piece that comes off of the front. It's the piece that covers the strings and mechanisms. I will add a small board to the bottom of it and use it as a mantle. I will take pictures if it turns out well.

I have thought about making an ivory covered jewelry box out of the keys.

As far as the soundboard goes, I don't know of anybody around that makes stringed instruments. It is in perfect shape though.

Thanks for the input.


Chris Moore
08-18-2002, 07:53 PM
Have you actually looked at the soundboard? A normal upright piano from that era should weigh somewhere in the neighborhoor of 400 to 600 pounds. If it, as you say, weighs closer to a half ton, then you may have on your hands what is called an "organ piano." I don't know why it's called that, but an organ piano has a brass sound board. That huge chunk of brass makes the buggers weigh 1000 lbs. or more. If you have one with a brass soundboard, do not under any circumstances dismantle it. Run, don't walk, to the nearest instrument appraiser and hire him to come look at your piano. You may have a high dollar antique on your hands.

Chris Moore
Montgomery, AL

"... and remember, there is no more important safety rule than to wear these - safety glasses."

08-19-2002, 06:15 AM
Naw. I looked this one up on the net. It was made by the Starr Piano Company of Richmond, Indiana in 1903. The sound board is wood. I really don't know how much it weighs but it's quite a bit. I have a Ford 2000 tractor (ca. 1972, not a tiny tractor) and used a gin pole to lift the piano. The front wheels came off of the ground on the initial lift but settled enough to control the tractor safely.

The highest dollar value I saw for a refurbished Starr was about 2 grand. That's good money, but I could probably get more out of the parts in the long run. I hope I am not wrong on this piano. It doesn't have the detail work of the higher end pianos of it's time.

BTW, this piano was the 44323rd piano made by this company by 1903. These folks made tons of pianos 'till they went out of business in 1949.


08-19-2002, 11:28 AM
A friend of mine had a similiar situation. He is not a woodworker so he paid to have it done, but using all the original parts they could, and duplicating the rest, he now has about the coolest freestanding bar in town. The upper cabinet has a drop front door, which was the original front piece. It has a great carving on it. Shelves inside etc. etc.

08-20-2002, 11:01 AM
While it saddens me greatly to think of dismantling a piano for parts, it's better than being allowed to rot into obscurity.

For my .02, call some of the local piano tuners/repair folk and see if they'd be interested in buying some of the parts. It's only a shot in the dark, but then again, if the internal mechanics are in good shape, a professional restorer might be willing to give you a good price for them..even help get them out of the piano. This will leave less work for you to do to get at the wood.


Windows 95: A 32-bit extension of a 16-bit shell for an 8-bit program written for a 4-bit processor by a 2-bit company that can't stand 1-bit of competition!

08-23-2002, 11:06 AM
Old pianos are about as rare as snow in January. Piano technicians costs tend to be in labor not parts. So it is unlikely that you are sitting on a chunk of money. However, another cool thing to do with an old piano is convert it to a computer desk.

08-23-2002, 01:45 PM
Just a point of curiosity, did you have your counterweights on the front of your tractor?

08-23-2002, 01:49 PM
The keys may also look great resawn and used as inlay material.