3. How I did it.

Did you know you can take a piano apart?

The first part was easy.  I loosened a few screws in each part and the top, front panel, bottom panel, and key cover all came off.

Next I took off the keys and detached the wooden control rods from the pedals.

Then the vertical piano action was removed.  (That’s the mechanism with all the felted hammers and springs.)

The front section that holds the keys was removed next.  With all the connecting screws removed, it just slid away from the piano. 

Then, I laid the piano on it’s back and removed the bottom panel with the foot pedals.


Removing the cast-iron harp was the hardest part of the whole project.  Eventually, my Dad and Buzz helped me cut the strings and pry the thing off.  Actually, I just stood back while they pried.  It took a lot of muscle! 

The cast-iron harp later weighed in at 190lbs. at the salvage yard.

Next, the piano was uprighted and the key tray was temporarily reattached.

At this point, I considered using the soundboard and tuning peg beam as the back of the bookcase.  I eventually decided that the beam just added too much weight and took up too much space.  The soundboard, which had a narrow crack in it to start with, had cracked clean through during the removal of the harp.  It turned out to be very brittle and I wasn’t able to use it.

  The piano was moved out to the garage.  There, I removed the soundboard and, between sawing and prying, got the tuning peg beam (and the 5 vertical beams that supported it’s weight) off.

This is the turnaround point!  I’ve finished dismantling and started reconstructing.  You can see I’ve added a hardboard panel and the pedals to the bottom of the basic frame:

Next, on the back of the piano frame, I attached some of the original wood  across the top and bottom.    

The next step was figuring out how to make the upper and lower front panels act as doors.  After much consideration and internet research, I decided to try making them work the same way as  Barrister bookcase doors work- the doors would lift up from the bottom and slide in on the top.

The upper panel already had hinge pins at the top.  Their purpose was so the panel could be tilted away from the piano, letting more sound out when played.  I remounted them a little higher on the panel and used them, instead of wooden dowels, as part of the slide mechanism.

This shows the little hinge pin on the back of the upper, front panel.

 On the lower panel, I mounted 2 barrel pins.  The finish on the lower panel was a little rough, so I actually turned it around, so that the worn side wouldn’t be visible.

The back of the lower front panel.

 I used some of the hardwood from the support beams to make the grooved slide pieces.  A real woodworker would’ve drilled a hole and glued in a wooden dowel (to support the panel when in it’s raised position).  I just screwed in a little wooden block.

 One of the Barrister slides for the lower panel. A real woodworker would have drilled and glued a wooden support dowel in it. I just screwed in a wooden block.

 This picture shows how the lower panel slides in:

The block at the back is there to keep the pin from sliding out.

 Next, I made 2 grooved pieces and attached them inside the keyboard tray.  That was so I could have a desktop that would slide in or out just above the piano keys. 

(I also had to modify the original hinged key cover.  I removed the two long piano hinges to seperate the parts, trimmed a little wood off one piece, then reattached one of the piano hinges so that the cover would swing up and down -depending on whether the  desktop was in our out.)

For the back of the bookcase, I cut and installed hardboard.  I also made 2 shelves.  One for the bottom, just above the pedals, and one for the top.  Then, the piano was moved back into the house.

At this point it’s just a matter of putting the parts together.

Replacing the keys:

Putting the modified keyboard cover back on:

Then the top cover and door panels:

This shows the piano/bookcase with the upper and lower panels in their open positions.

 Finally, the desktop was placed: 

This shows the desktop as it looks when slid out over the keyboard. I made a wooden slide-out piece that holds the modified keyboard cover out of the way when the desktop is in use.

 Ta-dah!  It’s finished:

And in use!:


3 Responses to “3. How I did it.”

  1. Sherry Lukoski Says:

    It is Just amazing!!! You worked very hard!!! Its beautiful!!!!

  2. Megan Matthews Says:

    WOW thanks so much for putting all the steps. Am considering this as a project and this is very helpful. You are an inspiration.

  3. Piano Upcycle ~ Finally! | Cindy Roy Says:

    […] to see how hard this is for me to pull off, but one thing I would like to do is use the concept Vicky Newman described in her piano make over in which she made the upper cavity of the piano into a shelving […]

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