I’ve been wanting to do a repurposed piano for a couple years. I’d seen some really cool repurposed pianos on Pinterest and other places. I kept my eye out for a piano on Craigslist. There are plenty of used pianos being given away on Craigslist. The problem was whether or not I could get the piano to my house.
Piano movers cost a couple hundred dollars depending on how far away it is and how many steps you have to go up or down. I look at one very cool piano but didn’t want to spend all that money and didn’t want to bug my friend who has a trailer.
I finally got one from a friend of mine who didn’t want there’s any longer. It was broken in a couple places and the keys weren’t working right because it had been accidentally left in the rain at an outdoor wedding.
My piano was a console Wurlitzer. It was probably 30 years old and wasn’t high end at all. The carcass of the piano was basically particle board with a thin veneer. The wood wasn’t nice enough to refinish so I decided I would paint it. It took up space in my garage for a couple months before I got going on it.
One Saturday afternoon I decided to start taking it apart to see what was inside. I took off the top and the other pieces to see what was inside. I found out that each key had three different pieces to it that moved. They are pretty interested and will do something with them. For now, they are stored in bags in my garage.
The hard part was trying to figure out what to do with the harp (really called the frame). It weighed more than a hundred pounds and knew it would be harder to sell if it was that heavy. I laid it on it’s back and start taking out big screws. It didn’t pop out easily.
I went on YouTube and found out you need to take off all the strings before the harp will release from the back. Some of the notes had two strings. I would cut them and would go flying all over the place because they are under such pressure. Plus my wire cutters weren’t that heavy duty so it took a lot of time.
WARNING: You don’t want to take the harp off the sounding board without loosening the strings because the pressure of the strings can cause the brittle cast iron can basically explode.
I used a socket wrench to loosen all the strings and then used my wire cutters. This took a ton of time. If I were to do it over I would tape down all the strings really well and cut all the strings using an electric hand grinder. This would have saved me hours of time from cutting each of them by hand with the wire cutter.
Once I took off all the wire I was able to get to all the big screws that were holding the harp to the sounding board. But it still didn’t come off. Then I found out you had to take out the pins that the strings were tied to. I loosened the pins and used an electric drill take them out. There were probably 120-150 of these. That took a lot of time, too. Next time I would make sure I had the right bit and use a heavy duty drill so I didn’t have to loosen them.
So, now the harp finally came out and I was able to start the decorative part of the project. BTW, I took the harp and other pieces to a recycling place and got less than $5 for everything. At least I didn’t have to take it to the dump and it was being put to good use. Plus I learned more about recycling metal.
The first place I started was the working surface of the bar. It was about a foot and a half deep. The wood wasn’t good enough to stain it, plus portions of it were already stained so it wouldn’t look very nice.
I decided to decoupage something on it. I painted the wood white with a sponge roller so it had a nice surface and then sanded it down smooth. My wife is an Amazon reseller and had a book of Brahms’s music that was still unsold after a couple years so she gave it to me.
I experimented on a scrap piece of wood to see what would be the best way to make it stick to the working surface. I tried using diluted glue but it was too bubbly. I tried polyurethane but the that made the music transparent and showed the wood underneath. I wanted to maintain the whiteness of the music.
I bought some [Mod Podge] and it seemed to work pretty well. I’d never done decoupage before and should have experimented more before trying it on my piece.
I wanted to highlight some of the pieces of music that had titles on it and also had interesting note structure on the page. I had laid out all the music in the place where I wanted, staggering them for interest.
I rolled on the decoupage onto the surface and then put the sheet music on top. I did 2 or 3 at a time so the decoupage would stay wet and rolled over the top of it with more decoupage. The surface started bubbling so I had to keep pressing it down with my hand. I wish I had a little rubber roller to use. It ended up coming out very smooth.
I took special care on the sides and corners to make it sure everything was precise. Once everything was dried I cut off the excess paper on the corners and glued them well and made sure it was glued well to the back.
I rolled three or four layers of polyurethane on the surface to protect it from staining.
Wine glass rack
I tried using one of the pieces from inside the piano as a wine glass rack. It looked cool but wasn’t very functional. I ended up using one of the other pieces from the piano and cutting in slots for the wine glasses and then attached it to the top with a couple of the old keys.
Wine bottle rack
I decided to put a wine bottle rack under the working surface. I measured out everything and figured I could make a rack big enough for eight bottles. I used one of the leftover pieces and cut it down to size and then created supports from one of the other pieces.
My wife suggested I make the bottle separators more interesting so I used some of the keys. I attached them with hot glue but found that wasn’t sturdy enough so I screwed them in, too. You can’t see the screws.
I found some leftover paint that would work on the outside of the piano bar. I mixed some dark red and black to come up with a wine color. I used a sponge roller to give it a smooth finish.
I bought some rope lights from [Home Depot] to light up the inside of the wine bar and after several trials and errors to get it to work. The switch is on the back of the wine bar.
I used parts from the piano to cover up holes that I had drilled for the string lights and also holes from screws.
Put the Wurlitzer emblem on the piece. It was originally on the part that covered the key. It had small nails but I broke them off and used hot glue to stick it to the piece.
I didn’t want to take pictures of it in the garage so i brought it into my dining area again our textured wall. In the pictures, the color looks brown but there is a tinge of purple to it so it looks like a cabernet. I only had one half full wine bottle in the house so I borrow eight new bottles from my neighbor for the picture.
There are lots of cool parts leftover, especially the ones from the keys. They are made of wood, metal and felt. I haven’t decided what to do with them.
I’ll keep the good solid pieces of wood around for other projects and probably throw away the particle board pieces that have the thin veneer on them.
Equipment I used
- Palm sander
- Table saw
- Miter saw
- Socket wrench
- Drill press
- Putty knife
- 6-inch sponge roller and tray
- Hot glue gun