Piano Leg Repair Help

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I have an old Sohmer upright that I acquired a few years ago. It's a good piano, this era of Sohmer we're making the best uprights, supposedly, and this one has a nice sound to it. However, while it was being moved to do some cleaning today, the leg broke off. I had noticed a hairline crack at the break point before and wondered if it was just a finish crack or a prior repair. If you look at the photo, there's a ton of goop in there from a prior repair. I have solvent, but I don't know if I'll be able to get that much stuff off. it's thick and crystal-like. I'm not really sure what glue was used. Should I try to use the same glue? I have some tight bond 3 that I use for furniture, but will it stick to whatever this is? because it definitely would not be getting into wood grains... Looking for suggestions on the best way to fix this.
 

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Peegoo

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Looks like maybe fish glue or hide glue. Hot water and careful scraping (after the glue softens), followed by scrubbing with a toothbrush, should remove it.

If you don't get all that old glue off the wood, no new glue will work well at all.
 

Milspec

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Geez, that sucks, a pretty big damage wound.

I have never had luck working with wood adhesives on top of old adhesives...it has to absorb into the wood to work and that mess will not allow it. You need to sand both pieces down to good wood to make that bond again.
 

Milspec

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Looking at the size of the damage, I don't think I would try to sand it out and re-glue. Might be easier and a stronger repair to just drive 4 screws in there and patch the screw heads instead.
 

MickM

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Looking at the size of the damage, I don't think I would try to sand it out and re-glue. Might be easier and a stronger repair to just drive 4 screws in there and patch the screw heads instead.
I was thinking along same lines. Maybe 2 screws and 2 dowels? Hard to say by looking at a photo but definitely looks do-able.
When I was living with a few college students back in the Reagan era I came home one afternoon to find 2 of them trying to muscle an old upright piano that they had "acquired" from an abandoned VFW down the outdoor cellar steps. (not much headroom or width, house built in the 1920s) They progressed 1 step at a time gaining whatever room they needed by applying the BFH method.
They had good intentions to add it to the space where our little frat party/house party band practiced and played but by the time they had it all the way in, the only intact pieces were the bench and the bronze/brass soundboard.
The OP should have much better results with his piano.
 

Red Ryder

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Remove as much of the old glue as possible, try to expose as much wood as you can. Apply your tite bond 3 (excellent glue) to both surfaces. Press the two parts together and tape until dry, 24hrs. Now you can either drill and counter sink for screws or drill for hardwood dowels leaving them stick out about half an inch. Make sure to apply
glue to the dowels. After they have dried, trim, sand, stain. Good to go.
 

schmee

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I wonder if you could get most of the glue off with a heat gun?
If you could get the joint clean, I would epoxy it as it fills gaps well. Then can you screw it with a couple big pre drilled screws from the back side where they wont show? Or countersink and put a wood plug in the hole if they show....
 

Cheap Trills

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Thanks for the advice so far. Looks like there's no shortcut here... I'm going to try to get the old glue off... can anyone confirm what type of glue it is with these closeups?
 

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Milspec

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Thanks for the advice so far. Looks like there's no shortcut here... I'm going to try to get the old glue off... can anyone confirm what type of glue it is with these closeups?
No idea for certain, but you can rule out gorilla glue and other expanding glue types as they normally stay flexible when dry. That crystallized stuff comes from a different animal.
 

Cheap Trills

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No idea for certain, but you can rule out gorilla glue and other expanding glue types as they normally stay flexible when dry. That crystallized stuff comes from a different animal.
So, hot water and heat gun probably won't work? any suggestions on what would take it off?
 

dsutton24

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You're making a much bigger project out of this than you need to. It's probably hide glue, but even if it is a modern yellow glue the answer is the same: Hot water. You need to remove the adhesive and get to bare wood. If hot water won't remove it, then abrade it away.
 

Telekarster

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So, hot water and heat gun probably won't work? any suggestions on what would take it off?

Man... that sucks. Ok, here's what I would do. I would try some water first, rubbing gently with a wet cloth, to see if water might actually break it down. If that doesn't work, I'd get my heat gun out and use my razor scraper to see if the heat would weaken it so I could scrape it off. I've had pretty good luck with a heat gun and a scraper over the years, when removing glue, though it can be a tedious job.

Once the break is completely clean, I'd place the leg back onto the piano and get it lined up where it's going to be the most perfect fit. Then I'd take my drill and drill 2 pilot holes, at the best location possible for maximum hold, and once they were drilled I'd countersink the holes on the outside of the leg. I'd start my course thread screws into the countersunk pilot holes until they just breach the broken surface. Then I'd put on a goodly amount of epoxy type glue on both surfaces, put the leg where the screws are just sticking out and align them with the pilot holes you drilled earlier, and I'd run those screws on home. Wipe off the excess glue that will squeeze out, let it dry for a good bit of time like 2 days or something before I'd use the piano again. Then I'd fill in the countersunk screw heads with some wood putty and stain to match. IMO this would fix that break about as strong as it will ever be, but it should be pretty darn strong I'd think.
 

MarkieMark

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The primary glue types, generally grouped as PVA, (titebond etc) Polyurethane (Gorrilla I guess is currently the common brand) CA/SuperGlue, Epoxy and Hide.

Assuming it is an older repair, PU, and CA seem unlikely. Both however could be hard and crystallized from time.
I have never seen PVA crystallize like that.

One problem is that woods commonly used for older piano cabinets may not glue well for an initial repair much less a second (or third) repair.

Drop a little near boiling water into the center area of the previous repair and let it sit for a few minutes. Then attempt to scrape/brush up a sample.
If it seems to return to a brown glue state, it is almost certainly a hide glue.
If you are lucky, this is the case.
And if so, I would suggest continuing to use hot water and a small wire brush as needed to remove as much as possible, with the primary goal being to get as tight a fit as possible for the resulting repair.
Still, I would agree with the previous points that glue alone is not an ideal solution, and that some form of mechanical attachment would be recommended, in the form of splining, doweling or screwing, or a combination thereof.

If the hot water results in little or no reacion, we are looking at possibly CA or Epoxy.
Epoxy will sometimes loosen from smooth surfaces with heat, but embedded in end grain, theres likely not much hope of removal. In the shown example, epoxy or CA will likely need some mechanical removal to get a reasonable fitment, then once again, an attempt at glue up using a similar glue and again, mechanical reinforcement.

OK, several replies got posted as I wrote, but referring to the post above by @Telekarster I would largely agree with that, and suggest using the slowest setting epoxy you can find. It is available in 30/60/90 minute formulations which result in much stronger bonds than the typical hardware store 5min. type stuff.
 

wblynch

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As a former piano tuner-technician I would not even try to fix it but just get new legs. Unless it’s a spinet, chances are the legs are decorative more that weight bearing. If the legs have casters on them then they are weight bearing. New legs can be ordered from supply houses but you can look for cheap or used pianos near you that are unrestorable for good legs. Piano legs are more interchangeable or generic than people realize.
 

tomasz

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If it is hide glue and you would attempt to reglue with hide glue, you don't need to be surgically clean on the glue removal, as hide glue sticks to hide glue very well. I would follow the advices above to heat/soften the old glue, remove the bulk for a good fit, really hide glue and reattach. Fun little project
 

Telekarster

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Drop a little near boiling water into the center area of the previous repair and let it sit for a few minutes.

This is a nice little piece of strategy that I'm going to tuck in my brainpan for future ref. As a hobbyist antique furniture restorer, I come across a lot of goofy repairs such as this OP's situation so in the future I'll keep this little test in mind ;) As to hide glue - I use hide glue on just about everything, from guitar builds to furniture repair, and have used it for years. I only use something like Titebond or epoxy if it's a major structural problem like a piano leg i.e. things that are going to be continually stressed. IME hide glue doesn't look like what I see in his pics, it's usually a dark amber color and cracks like glass when broken, and is easily removed with warm tap water. This doesn't look like hide glue to me, almost reminds me of Gorilla glue or something like it, but yeah... either way I'd be trying to remove that stuff to clean wood. Thanks for the tip!

New legs can be ordered from supply houses

This is surprising to me! No kidding! So even for pianos as old as his, replacements can be found? How hard would it be for him to remove the old leg and install a new one do you think? If it's fairly strait forward, I'd be inclined to do this vs. repairing that leg.
 




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