Thursday, January 5, 2012

Music from another room

Hello Lindsay's readers! I recently worked on a very cool project that Lindsay asked me to guest post about, and I'm so excited to be doing this! I have to begin with a few disclaimers though.... *My pictures are nowhere NEAR as nice as Lindsay's (or any other blogger's for that matter)*
*No working, salvageable piano was harmed in the making of this post (this is especially important to me since I am a pianist and would never purposely dismember a working instrument)*
*I can't spell*
So, now that that's out of the way, we can begin! I began this project on accident... I was actively looking for a used piano to call my own, and we have this fantastic local website here where I live for just such used listings as I was looking for. I found a beautiful old piano for free, and was fully planning on restoring it to working order...
I somehow got the beast home (seriously, it weighed probably upwards of 800 lbs. Funny side note, it took 2 adult men, 7 teenage boys, and 2 women to lift this monster into the back of my dad's truck... no kidding) and upon closer inspection realized the soundboard (what the strings are attached to and where the sound resonates) was cracked in several places, and while the basic mechanics where all in tact, it wasn't worth the time, effort and money it would take to restore it.
Sooo.... I decided to use the keyboard and platform to make a shelf for my house!

I love the antiqued look this piano has, so I decided not to stain it or paint it, but just to leave the natural wearing. I took it apart piece by piece, and was able to get everything I needed and discovered much about the piano along the way... And left behind the shell, if you will. The picture below is an in-the-process picture of taking it apart. I set the keys on top of the piano with some of the misc. pieces, so it's a little jumbled looking, but that is the inside of an upright grand everyone!
(Another funny story... The screws that were holding the piano together had been in there for over 100 years, and were so rusted and fitted into place that I actually bent a screwdriver trying to turn them out.)

Once I had the keyboard off, I took off all of the keys (88 in case you were wondering) and began cleaning. This poor guy had been stored in a barn for upwards of 15 years, and had been sorely abused by its previous owners. It was COVERED in spider webs and dirt, and underneath all of that was a lot of crayon, scratches and carvings.
*I shake my fist in the air at injustice*
Ultimately, I was able to get it looking reasonable again.

What you see above is the keyboard base after the keys are off... each of the 88 keys uses two of those pins you see. That green felt circles there are originally to keep the keys protected against landing on bare wood and chipping or denting as you played, but I used those and a strip of green felt from the back to prop up the keys... When they aren't attached to the hammers (the felt things that smack the strings and make sound) anymore, they fall forward and can't be seen from the front, so I re-purposed some material there.

I used my dad's circular saw to cut down the base board right behind that second row of pins, taking off about 7 inches or so. You can see in that same picture some lone pieces of silver hardware in the very back... Those are gone too :)

I also have to give a shout out to my good friend Jill... She let me borrow her husband's miter saw. *drool*. This one even has a draw on it!
One day... One day I tell you... I will OWN all of these tools!

I used the miter saw to being the hair-cutting process of the keys. Each of the keys (after being scrubbed and sanded) was trimmed down to a size that would be manageable on my wall. You can see below how I cut the keys... those five on the right are un-cut and pretty darn long.

So with all the pieces cleaned and cut, I put the keyboard back together.

Below is a view from the back side of the piece, since I'm sure you all wanted to know how the back of a piano's keyboard looked... But be impressed readers! This is something you'll never see again!
The keyboard cover is 'up', and the final top piece isn't on yet, but I wanted to show off my nice even cuts using equipment way above my pay grade. And I wanted you all to admire my beautiful plastic counters.

Here is the logo on the key cover... It was luckily still very much intact, and I was so pleased that it could be appreciated.

I was able to use all the original hardware to reassemble it which made me happy, and below is the final product on my wall!
Don't ask how it got up there... I just about killed myself doing it. But it is mounted to the wall on 3 large wrought iron brackets which are screwed into studs. And let me tell you, these studs are super studly... I ended up breaking off my drill bit into the last hole. I couldn't get the leverage I needed, so I had to stand on a chair to put my weight into the drill, and torqued the bit and broke it off.
Ugh. The story of my life.

Anyway, I'm absolutely in love with it. It took ALOT of time, and a lot of dirty work, but I love the way it looks, and the style it brings into my house.

So there you go. Thanks again to Lindsay for letting me post! I really enjoyed doing this project... I don't usually do things quite so involved, but I couldn't let this piano be scrapped, and I love the end result!


  1. Oh my gosh Ashley, it is Gorgeous... Hope you don't mind me glancing at your blog, saw it on someone else's blog. You are so amazing! Unbelieveable you could do all that and with a little one! Absolutely love it and I can imagine how much it adds to your house.. Great job!

  2. I will call you an overachiever for that piece of work and please realize that is a compliment! Not that you wouldn't but I thought I better cover my bases. That is a freaking lot of work for a shelf! Does your husband think you are nuts? ha ha

  3. Of course he thinks I'm nuts, I hauled a thousand pound piano home and tore it to pieces :)

  4. Looks awesome! And it's so unique. I bet you get compliments when anyone comes to your house.