Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 26

Thread: Old piano wood

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    SW Mo.
    Posts
    44

    Default Old piano wood

    Just curious if anyone here has dismantled an old piano to salvage the wood. I've seen some nice old uprights go at auction around here for under $10. How thick are the soundboards on a piano? If I had a nickel for each time I've help move a piano............

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    12,296

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    I've got some piano scraps that I keep around to make patches in repair work. Also, piano braces can be a source for brace stock. Piano sound board wood is seldom particularly good for instrument tops because many makers of pianos accepted considerable amounts of grain run out in their spruce, and often the pieces making up the sound board are cosmetically "off" because they were made up or relatively narrow pieces. All that doesn't take into account working around the holes in the spruce. In short, if you have the wood and it will work out for instrument work, fine, but tracking down jink pianos for their wood is not likely to lead to good sources of high quality woods.
    Some pianos have pretty good hardwood in the case, but often they are veneer over mediocre wood.

  3. #3
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York and Washington DC area
    Posts
    16,217
    Blog Entries
    24

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    I have friends who have done that more than a few times.


    As you probably know, $10.00 for an old piano is kind of high. When perfectly serviceable pianos that sound great and play great are available in the paper "free to a good home" almost twice a month. Among my musical friends I know many who have a piano, and few who paid anything for it. They paid to move it and tune it and move it again perhaps, and tune it again, and get some minor repairs, or to refinish it, but mostly to move it.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
    We cannot put off living until we are ready. -- Jose Ortega Y Gasset

    The entire staff
    funny....

  4. #4
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    5,883
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    According to this article the standard thickness of a piano soundboard is 5/8" (16 mm).
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

  5. #5
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    12,296

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    I've never seen any 5/8" thick piano soundboards, more like 1/4".

  6. #6
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    5,883
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    I've never seen any 5/8" thick piano soundboards, more like 1/4".
    Steinway's website confirms John's observations regarding piano soundboard thickness:
    "The Steinway Diaphragmatic Soundboard is 8-9 mm (~ 11/32") in the center tapering to 5-6 mm (~ 7/32") at the edges." (the parenthetical conversions to inches are mine)
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

  7. #7
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Orcas Island, Washington
    Posts
    4,983

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    The wood from salvaged pianos that looks interesting to me is the Brazilian Rosewood ply...
    I have some large sheets from an old Steinway box piano here somewhere...

    I think you might be able to resaw this material into sets for Selmer/Maccaferri copies, which were originally made from ply...
    I was thinking that you might be able to keep the original finish too, and make a pretty convincing antiqued Selmer copy...

    Am I crazy??

  8. #8
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    12,296

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Spruce View Post
    Am I crazy??
    Well yeah... but what's that got to do with it? (That's what I like about you! )

  9. #9
    Registered User Grommet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    559

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Mine was 3/8"" thick with a few cracks and a fair number screw holes, but otherwise nice 80= yr old spruce. I gave most of that to a dulcimer maker. Still have the large vertical maple posts that supported the harp frame, and the thick mahogany sides. Wish I had kept the braces and a few other bits. So far I've only used some of the smaller maple scraps for bridges.

    Scott

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    My piano tuner gave me a piece of a 1920s grand piano soundboard which I used to make this uke:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Dias 18-5-11 001 front (small).JPG 
Views:	126 
Size:	167.7 KB 
ID:	80261

    The soundboard was around 8mm or 3/8 inch thick, very close-grained spruce with almost no runout. The boards from which it was made were about 65mm or 2 1/2 inches wide.

    I believe this was a high-class piano (one step down from a Steinway), so cheaper uprights might use less good wood.

    I resawed the board into two pieces, using the front/top for this uke. I planed the bracing off the back, which then took up a huge curve. But over 3 months or so it flattened out, and that part is now with a Swedish uke maker to see what he will make of it.

    I wouldn't buy a piano, unless it had a solid mahogany carcass, because disposing of the iron frame would be a pain. But a piano restorer would probably swap you a soundboard's worth of wood for a bottle of wine.

    PS, the finish on this one is Tru-oil, which soaked in to the wood a little unevenly. Were I doing it again I'd use shellac.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Glendora, CA
    Posts
    361

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    I tore apart an old upright and didn't find the soundboard to be very useable. There are lots of big spruce braces, though, that run across the soundboard that can be cut apart for brace wood. In the back of the piano were some +/- three-inch-square braces made of solid curly maple. These were big, hard, heavy braces. I think there were five of these and they ran up the entire back of the instrument. There's some really good neck wood.

    The best thing, though, is to lay the harp on the ground and snip the bass strings while they are still at tension. Those things give a downright cathartic POW and fly across the street.

    And I almost forgot, lean the harp against the side of the garage and give the neighborhood kids some tennis balls. The neighbors will all come out and listen appreciatively to the soothing WHANGS and SPROINGS.

    I say go for it.
    Steve



    "They're approaching. That's very forward of them."

  12. #12
    Registered User Rob Grant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    FNQ, Australia
    Posts
    1,165

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Years ago I salvaged an old upright piano for the ebony of the black keys and hopefully the ivory of the white keys. As it turned out, the white keys were an early celluloid of some sort, but the black keys were good ebony (bridges and nuts). I couldn't bear to throw the rest away, so I removed the iron frame, strings and soundboard and mounted it all in a 4X2 frame on the front wall of our house as a sort of "doorbell."

    It's still there today and it still provides a rather novel way to announce guests. I measured the boards (photo below). The numerous main soundboards are ~8mm with some of the boards near the tuning bar going as thick as ~20mm.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Piano 2.jpg 
Views:	168 
Size:	37.5 KB 
ID:	80276Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PIano 1.jpg 
Views:	263 
Size:	73.1 KB 
ID:	80277
    Last edited by Rob Grant; Dec-29-2011 at 6:53pm.
    Rob Grant
    FarOutNorthQueensland,Oz
    http://www.grantmandolins.com

  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Palo Alto, CA
    Posts
    359

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    A few years ago I was given a full set of keys (sans ivory) from an old Bosendofer. I started a project - now on the back burner - to make some banjo bridges using the salvaged maple and ebony. . .

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Nashville
    Posts
    4,824

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    I've seen a few older, but really nice pianos that the cases were solid Mohogany or Brazilian Rosewood. They are not thick enough for mandolins, but might be good for a guitar or other flat top instrument. We have used pieces of the spruce for pathces or braces or whatever we needed a chunk of wood to do. Most pianos are a laminate and the case is pretty useless. The soundboards are not a great source of wood very often. However, if you want to tear one apart to see what you can do, go for it. You may have some real fun... and some really hard work ahead!
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

  15. #15
    Registered User oldwave maker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    caballo nm
    Posts
    1,383

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Recycled a piano that came to NM in 1909, used the soundboard for an ok 000 size guitar and a great flattop octave, the beech 4x4 uprights made worthless neck material, shoulda kept the harp for a windchime, the best part (as Big Joe says- some real fun) was the silencer button I salvaged to put on my child brides mastertone banjo!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSCF2904-1.JPG 
Views:	104 
Size:	92.8 KB 
ID:	80303   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	DSCF0799.JPG 
Views:	90 
Size:	148.7 KB 
ID:	80304  

  16. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    334

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    I have salvaged several pianos, using the soundboard braces for bracewood. The soundboards on the ones I have dismantled were 0.32" to about 0.35" thick, and made of pieces 2 1/2" to 4" wide. I also have saved some of the BR or mahogany veneered casework, and a couple of months ago, I resawed some veneered panels from a BR square piano for a fellow luthier. After doing the resawing, I had renewed interest in making a guitar from some of it.
    I have also used the support posts on the back side, for necks and other odds and ends. The support posts can be almost anything...from Doug fir to spruce to maple.....or even elm.
    By far, the best use I have made of piano wood has been the maple pin planks, which are invariably rock maple. It is the best maple I have used for guitar bridgeplates....equal or even better than Timeless Timber. And I heard that Snuffy Smith likes it for banjo bridges.
    John

  17. #17
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    2,516

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    We have salvaged a couple of piano's. The braces we use for base bars and sound posts for violins (shhh... it's a secret!)
    We also have procured some nice ebony and Ivory from the keys. The sound boards were not very useable.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

    "I plan to live forever or die trying" Groucho Marx

  18. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    SW Mo.
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    It sounds like there are several uses for the old piano. I have an old baby grand piano that I'm going to gut and put an electronic keyboard in. I hate to throw stuff away if I think there can be a use for it. What is work to some is enjoyment to others, I guess it's all in how you look at it. Thank you for the input.

  19. #19
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Orcas Island, Washington
    Posts
    4,983

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Murphys Bread & Beer View Post
    It sounds like there are several uses for the old piano.
    I use an old small piano carcass for a reverb chamber...
    Blast the amp into the carcass, and close-mic it...
    You can hear this all over the electric mandolin tracks on "Overhead at Darrington" below...


  20. #20
    Infrequently Smelt Gregory Tidwell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Grant View Post
    Years ago I salvaged an old upright piano for the ebony of the black keys and hopefully the ivory of the white keys. As it turned out, the white keys were an early celluloid of some sort, but the black keys were good ebony (bridges and nuts). I couldn't bear to throw the rest away, so I removed the iron frame, strings and soundboard and mounted it all in a 4X2 frame on the front wall of our house as a sort of "doorbell."

    It's still there today and it still provides a rather novel way to announce guests. I measured the boards (photo below). The numerous main soundboards are ~8mm with some of the boards near the tuning bar going as thick as ~20mm.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Piano 2.jpg 
Views:	168 
Size:	37.5 KB 
ID:	80276Click image for larger version. 

Name:	PIano 1.jpg 
Views:	263 
Size:	73.1 KB 
ID:	80277

    Got any pics of your "doorbell?"

  21. #21
    Registered User Rob Grant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    FNQ, Australia
    Posts
    1,165

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Greg T wrote:
    "Got any pics of your "doorbell?"

    See photos attached to my original message (above). That be the "beast" itself attached to the front outside wall of me dwelling.
    Rob Grant
    FarOutNorthQueensland,Oz
    http://www.grantmandolins.com

  22. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Bucks Co., PA
    Posts
    2,745

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    If you're disassembling an old piano with real ivory keytops, please provide the old keys to a piano repair shop. Don't bother removing the keytops, just send the whole keys. Try calling a local member of the Piano Technician's Guild probably found in your yellow pages. I'm a member, but I tune more than repair. Elephants don't appreciate their own tusks being used for anything.

    Blackstone Valley Piano does restoration in Uxbridge, MA.
    Wye Knot

  23. #23
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Just make sure your careful with the piano wires. I know how everyone says that but my brother was hurt when he was disassembling a piano. There was a wire that snapped and shot out into his calf. It was a medium gauge wire about 5 in. long. It stuck in his leg about 1/2 way.

  24. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Bucks Co., PA
    Posts
    2,745

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    The total tension of all the piano strings measured together is somewhere in the 20-30 ton range. It's dangerous. When removing the strings, do it gradually back and forth. It's possible to crack the cast iron frame. Wear safety glasses.
    Wye Knot

  25. #25
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    SW Mo.
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Old piano wood

    Thank you for the heads up. I haven't started taking this old piano apart yet, but I appreciate the warnings, I'll take it slow.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •