free wood, dismantling old piano


My Father has been given the task of arranging to have an old piano removed from the Church basement and disposing of it. He suggested to me that it may be a source of some decent wood. Has any one ever taken a piano apart ( I'm concerned about those high tension strings)and is there enough usable wood for the effort involved ? Thanks Dave
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wrote:

Dave, You are right to be concerned about the tension on the harp (if there is one) and soundboard created by the strings. It has been many years since I dug around inside of pianos, but I seem to remember the number 1600 as related to strings. I don't know if that was for a spinet, an upright, or a grand. Which ever it was, if you decide to do it, use care and wear safety gear.
If you don't have a tuning hammer (most of us don't) releasing the strings will not be easy. Cutting them will cause them to fly.
If I remember correctly, the process was to work the strings across the board, one from each note at a time. Do not start at one end and work to the other. This will create an imbalance that could cause things to come apart in a very uncontrolled manner.
As for the wood in the instrument, again, depending on the type of piano, there could be some useful stuff. The case, if it is a real good piano will be solid. Otherwise, you will find that it is veneer over (most likely) spruce. The soundboard will yield the biggest blocks, but the will probably be laminated, and again will probably be spruce.
You will find that many of the parts will come off with a screwdriver. The works should come out with a pair of pliers.
The main structure of the case will be glued, probably with hide glue.
If you manage to get it into manageable chunks, be sure to use a metal detector on the pieces before trying to machine any of them. Nobody knows what hidden treasures can be buried deep inside the wood.
Hope this is of some help. ____________________ Bill Waller New Eagle, PA
snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net
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Dave,
If you are not concerned about damaging the tuning pins the strings are attached to, you can use a pair of pliers or a vice-grip to release the tension on the string. Then, you can remove the string, or cut it safely.
The soundboards of old pianos are probably spruce, and that is typically high-quality wood.
I found a piano once that had five-inch-think burl walnut in the side of the case. That was marvelous wood.
Ken

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I can't tell you about the wood, but you should consider salvaging the piano hinge. They are really useful, and most "piano" hinges in catalogs are really continous hinges of poorer quality.
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Not sure the others have ever taken a piano apart. Strings are attached to the "harp, " a cast iron framework, and not the soundboard. No way in hell spruce could take the load. Leave the strings alone and hope that the junkman doesn't notice, or get some 8-point sockets to loosen them. There's good cast iron there.
Unless you have an absolutely top-end grand piano, it's not worth a nickel for the wood. Spinets/uprights are all small pieces, usually glazed to hide the poplar that edges the walnut veneer and such. Under the veneered exterior you'll find it's pretty much like upholstered furniture, made of any wood available, glue slathered all over it.
It's the church, so gather your recruits and get it out of there. That's if it's not otherwise useful. Lots of schools would like a useable instrument, though they probably wouldn't pick up.
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George (in 43e09f6a snipped-for-privacy@newspeer2.tds.net) said:
| It's the church, so gather your recruits and get it out of there. | That's if it's not otherwise useful. Lots of schools would like a | useable instrument, though they probably wouldn't pick up.
I like the way you think. So might another church, a nursing home, a youth activity center, or ...
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
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I have .... when I was about 9 years old. It was being discarded and my brother and I took it apart for fun.

hell
True, that hunk of cast iron is at least half the weight of the piano.

There's
IIRC, we used a socket wrench to get them started and a socket on a (good ole pre-cordless) drill to finish 'm off.

hide
Maybe I have not been around that many "good" pianos, but I would guess veneer is used on nearly all exposed surfaces.
Buy hey, it still might be fin to take apart, and pianos are a b*tch to move, so smaller pieces are easier.
-Steve
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I tune my own piano, and a 1/4" or 3/8" (I can't remember which) square drive socket fits the pins just fine. I just took a 1/2" socket, stuck a 1/2" allen wrench in the hex end, and use the square end to turn the pins. Since tuning a piano requires very precise turns, I screwed a 1/2" diameter hole in a 2x2x3' piece of maple into which I put the handle of the allen wrench. Presto, I have a long-handled "wrench" which fits the piano pins.
I had a good friend who was a journeyman piano tuner, and he told me that the cast iron harp inside the piano can have upwards of 20,000 pounds of force on it from the strings. Yes, that's ten tons.
Thus, I'd loosen the strings with pliers or the wrench as I described. Just turn them to unwind the wire until there's slack in the wire. As Bill said above, definitely stagger the strings as you loosen them. Don't start at one end and work your way to the other.
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Thanks for all of the input and advice(warnings).. I went and had a look at it. Most of the veneer was peeling and blistering and yes there were small steel pins in some of the wood. The cast iron harp was rusted as were all of the tuning pins and strings. This piano has been sitting in the basement of a country Church built in the 1800's and the dampness has taken it's toll .I'll leave the dismantling and disposal to the pros. Thanks again Dave
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