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Old October 6th, 2012, 01:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Reclaiming and repurposing historic wood

Got this ancient piano carcass sitting in my driveway.. It came from a music conservatory in Chicago. I found a date inside from 1922, but will do more research when I have some time. We got it as seen, stripped and irreparable, but will try to do something cool with it. Kindling is out of the question...





In the meantime, it looks like I have my work cut out for me... LOL

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Old October 6th, 2012, 01:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I pulled out some huge screws, but it's all glued together, too. This thing was built like a tank!
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Old October 6th, 2012, 01:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old October 6th, 2012, 01:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The rear leg mount came off pretty easily.


The main supports from below gave way with some persuasion, too. Lots of screws, glue, and dowels. It was definitely built to stay together for a long time. So far, so good.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 02:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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There was a piano works near here that closed about 20+ years ago and one of the displaced workers ended up working at my place of employment. We talked about things there and all the gargantuan, minimally guarded shapers. He had worked in many different capacities there. Jobs were paid depending on skill level needed to do the tasks.

He had mentioned that they used a lot of veneer on their grands. I wonder how much solid wood that carcass has? The sound board is probably glued up pieces of quartered spruce right?
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Old October 6th, 2012, 02:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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What a coincidence
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Old October 6th, 2012, 02:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Im sure Rich would save that little piece for you 8-))
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Old October 6th, 2012, 02:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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So I flipped it back over, trying to find the best places to cut. Obviously, it wanted to stay a piano.. but I have other plans.. LOL.


That cross-support was a real bugger, doweled in at both ends.. No match for the mighty Sawzall, though.


I removed all the visible screws that went through the soundboard and held the string anchors in place..


Then flipped it back over and tried to remove the anchors. The small one came off, but with a bit of splitting to the spruce. I'm going to rethink things before trying to get the big one off.. They were screwed in from underneath, and are glued directly to the soundboard from above.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 02:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Lots of laminated wood in this piece.. Most of the solid stuff has holes in inconvenient places, too. Still a worthwhile project, though. Talk about a relic! Ha!

Yes, the soundboard is quartersawn spruce, and has multiple shrinkage cracks. I'm hoping to salvage most of it, though. You long-time TDP'ers know how nuts I can get with reclaimed stuff- I love the challenges.. ;)
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Old October 6th, 2012, 02:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I had to get those big timbers out of the way, but they were glued and doweled into place. A little Sawzall surgery proved to be successful, however..


I cut it as neatly as I could, although I'm not sure what I will do with the outer curved plywood just yet.


There are a few major cracks in the soundboard, as well as some holes from fitted parts. If I can manage to get it out in a reasonably neat fashion, I hope to repair the cracks and reuse the soundboard. Talk about some seasoned wood.. Should be really cool as top wood for semihollow electric guitar. It looks to be pretty thick, so I may need to thickness it down, but that would be OK, too. I will probably make some frames for the bodies from the timbers, and see which parts of the woods will work best for the rest. Even the laminates appear to be very nice wood..

Here is a better shot of the soundboard. Notice the shrinkage cracking. With a little luck I can either refit and glue the cracks, or trim and joint them. It's really nice spruce. ;)
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Old October 6th, 2012, 03:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Cool thread.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 05:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Gotta give it up for today, I'll try to get some more progress on there tomorrow. It's getting dark and cold outside.. Summer is too short in Chicago..
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Old October 6th, 2012, 05:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
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This is gonna be good. keep the pictures coming RR
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Old October 6th, 2012, 06:57 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hmmm, can't wait to see what becomes of this

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Old October 6th, 2012, 08:45 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm interested, too. I'd like to get at least one, if not two instruments out of it- but there is a ton of wood that isn't up to it. That's the reason I'm going slowly. I would hate to destroy a piece (or a corner of a piece) that would otherwise be useful. The last time I did a reclamation project I hoped to get two instruments- and ended up with four very cool and different ones.. Never know until the pieces are all laying around me. That's when the real thinking comes into play. I will try to limit the builds to only reclaimed woods, use non toxic glues, and natural finishing materials- Definitely not "production" guitars, but hopefully cool in their own concept and execution. I expect them to be comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and sound great.

...No problem.. ha.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 09:42 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Old October 6th, 2012, 10:25 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I'm looking forward to following this thread. Thanks!
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Old October 6th, 2012, 10:34 PM   #18 (permalink)
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cool thread, my mind went straight to the spruce.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 11:19 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Cool thread, turn an old piano into a guitar. I have thought of this idea for a long time, even considered doing this as a challenge build, but I never followed through on it. Happy to see someone do it. I can't wait to see how this progresses. Just seeing the care you're taking on dis-assembly I foresee a beauty coming out of this.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 11:26 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Interesting how the soundboard braces are shaped almost exactly like the top braces on a flat top acoustic!

Always wondered what was deep inside a piano. I'm enjoying this a lot!
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