I'd like to discuss a bona fide tone wood source here.

and the logistics involved in gathering it for recycling into newly built instruments.

I gathered a couple pallets, just the other day, that had some mahogany and boxwood...  but darn it! there's just too many nails holding them things together, and they destroy a bunch of the decent runs of wood that could be used for necks and such.

So I'm working on a new source!

This morning I responded to a craigslist ad for a freebie piano that is apparently nearby.

Don't yet know if I can prevail, but it will be interesting, in a number of ways...

First thing abt a piano is the bloomin' thangs are HEAVY!  REAL HEAVY!

and I don't think the party would feel very good if I showed up with my 8lb sledge to make manageable pieces of their family heirloom they no longer use and don't have room for, so they wish to pass it on.  :-)

We're talking abt a 100 year old piano here!  Of course it's scuffed and scratched, needs to be repaired and tuned, to be playable...   but the wood it's built of is some quality level of tonewood and hardwoods that have been aged for many, many years!  This has GOT to be a bonus over pallets!

What lengths, and dimensions I am able to salvage will be interesting....

I'll do a follow up post with the results, if it happens....

Included in the package deal will be a whole flock of strings!  Great for diddley bows and CBG's!

and zither pegs...

and also the cast iron framework that makes an interesting piece of garden art!  lol

and all them celluloid keys which might serve as inlay material???

Has anyone attempted this???

gotta find my 4 wheel coaster dolly thingy...  and a helper!  lol



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Sounds like recycling at it best. Interesting to see how it works out. Just don't go chopping it up if it has Steinway or some other famous name on it. Then you might consider turning it for enough money to buy a bunch of wood. :)>

stineway who?

A friend and I disassembled a dead piano once for the sheer fun of it. Had I been active in woodworking at the time I probably would have gone crazy for the lumber.

You'll end up with a giant iron thing (the harp or stretcher) that you can probably sell as scrap.

BE CAREFUL with those strings. They are under a lot of tension and if you break or cut one it could fly out with quite a bit of force and do some serious damage to your soft tissues.

Wood that old is going to be HARD. Make sure your tools are sharp and carbide tipped. Expect to see some smoke when cutting and don't let your tools overheat.

Tnx DS!

Advice I can ALWAYS use!

Many years back I stumbled across that iron framework you mentioned when I pulled off a hwy for a pit stop.

Someone had tossed such a cast iron frame over the edge of the roadway, and there it sat, rusting away, a few feet down the embankment...   I thought, What a kool piece of Garden Art!

...and there I was, travelling in a honda car....

It wasn't worth the cost of a trip back after it in my pickup, even back then....

And the last free piano I got was many, many moons ago...  just about busted a gut trying to load the thing up!

SO, I'm not so sure this is gonna work, but it was so long ago, I kinda forget how bad it really was, and, like Alfred E. Newman, above, I ain't real brite!  lol

I'm gonna try it!



Getting back to those pallets for a moment though-

Are you unable to pull the nails and nail heads or just upset about the holes they leave behind? Because if you can remove the nails and screws, you can try pulverizing the worst looking chunk into sawdust, and everytime you encounter a nasty gash or hole thereafter you just add Titebond to some sawdust, roll into a thin dough and fill the holes! when you're done the repair is nearly invisible and still thirsty enough to take stain or oil nearly as well as the original wood..

Or you can take a ripsaw to that piano. :)

Well, there's a whole flock of things going on, O99...

2nd on the list is the cosmetic blemish, which indeed could be filled, as you have described.

1st is damage to my saw blades!

Most of my circular sawblades are carbide tipped, and them puppies aren't cheap anymore! Cutting through a hidden nail really dulls them, if it doesn't send one of the carbide teeth zinging across the room. Carbide tends to shatter.

And it's not that I don't pull nails that don't bust off, because they are frequently ring shank, or screw shank nails, that were generally in a wired coil from the gun, which also embeds some of that wire with each nail shot into the wood. 

Before my retirement I did renovations on many wonderful homes, even some on the historical register! So I still have about a dozen different nail pulling devices, of varying sorts.

Many of 'em fail when the old rusted ring shank pallet nail, sunk down into the board, snaps off !  Not to mention the air is turned up on the gun, to bury the nail head in the wood, and the shooters are moving quickly, so they take a lot of shots!

Then we've got to consider that pallets themselves are frequently recycled, and repaired, using parts from other pallets, with embedded nails that can't be seen because they are cut off with a sawzall when the other pallets are disassembled!  Those hidden nails are tough on the carbide sawblades, and planer blades.

Sound...  a significant factor in our musical instrument projects!

...Just recently I was over at the fiddlehangout where a fellow described building a kit fiddle..  He said it came out quite nice looking, for his first attempt at building a violin, but there was a problem with the tone he had difficulty tracking down. Eventually it was determined there was a void in the wood of the neck, which caused the tone of the instrument to be unacceptable, even though it looked quite nice.

Personally, I'm with PK, who once stated that certain blemishes were 'features' of an instrument, and not to be considered shabby. Well, fact of the matter is that they do cause problems with tone of the instrument.

And I would say, even if a nail hole is filled, in the common fashion you have described, the anomaly now forever a part of the grain structure of the wood is probably not conducive for the best tone to be produced.

In my own crude experiments I have discovered that quite a bit of the musical sound generated by a string instrument comes from the neck, itself, so a proper and suitable wood should be selected for that purpose.

...and getting a long enough piece of wood from a pallet is difficult.


That reply got long, didn't it!




And now my wife will wonder where I got the idea to look for free pianos.....

Ed, if I'm to blame :-) pls let me advise you....

Pianos are really HORRIBLE things to move.

i can't stress that enough.

You, and/or your helpers can be seriously hurt moving these monstrosities!

I only do stuff like this cuz I'm not very smart.

Wheeled dollies and four helpers is what I would advise if you are even thinking abt moving a piano.

....i make most my presentations in a lite-hearted, frivolous manner i think might be entertaining for people to read, BUT, moving pianos is a very serious thing to undertake.

Whew!  there's my disclaimer and health warning advisory statement!   

(I'm very afraid of some young wife coming after me with vengeance in her heart over a broken husband.)



Been there, done that. Helped a friend move a "free piano" once. "How difficult could it be"? Actually loaded an upright into the bed of a pickup truck. No permanent injuries, but NEVER AGAIN!

I know where you're coming from about hidden nails, Rusty-coincidentally, I just cut into an old, cracked maple tennis racket last night in order to glue a joining shim along the crack...and a hidden woodscrew sent my best Woodcutting blade flying off my dremel in pieces, some poor dude had made a very bad 'repair' attempt years ago and buried the scew deep! Had to pound the screw out and clean, close, reglue and clamp the whole frame, fill the hole with an Oak peg and level it.. :(

In other words, that free piano is looking really good right now-pity i'm limited to a dremel and handtools or i'd be looking for a free piano myself. Any chance you can get access to a small truck, ramp and a winch? Don't fprget you can get scrap metal for the iron frame if you don't want it in the garden.

(and before anybody asks 'why an old tennis racket-Dulcimers, man,Dulcimers!)

By golly that dremel must have been spinning a gazillion r's, too!   Whew!

I wear spectacles nowadays...  with plastic lenses, but I did lots of work over the years and never wore safety goggles...  only caught up with me a few times...  but them dremel tools go real fast!

Glad yah made it past that obstacle without getting hurt!

Well, O99, I'd sure like to see pics of the tennis racket dulcimer when you get her up in playing condition!

Sounds like fun!

I looked at tennis rackets a few months back in the thrift store, but them folks have almost doubled their prices recently.  Tennis rackets, baseball bats, and even hockey sticks are $4 apiece, now...  some even more!

Abt the only deal I can find on a regular basis is cookie tins for a buck and sometimes a cooking pan or ashtray that might make a good resonator, for a buck or so.  

It's not like the days gone by when I could drive around on a saturday morning and look for yardsales...   cost too much to go motoring around, with no specific destination.

I guess there's a silver lining to it all...   this economy thing stays in the tank, I might learn to write blues songs!



Dremels have amazing RPM but the attachments generally have little mass, so exploding wheels tend to leave annoyig scratches more than anything else.

As far as the upcoming Dulcimer, it's going to look a bit like its guitar brother:


Only shorter neck and no resonator this time.

Back to the original subject though-did you get your piano yet? And did your spine survive?


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