Thursday, August 9, 2012

On the face of it, really, what is veneer?

This entry is a continuation of the previous two. If you haven't read them, you should check them out.

Or, be confused. What do I care?

The last pile of chunks in an otherwise empty shell of what was once, a piano.
This past weekend, I went back to the grunt work and removed the veneer, also pulling out the last of the chunks I intended to pull out, and then rough smoothed (how do you like that oxymoron?) the inner surface with the scraper attachment on my oscillating tool. 
Veneer off. Notice the fragments, sitting inside to the left...
That means, I pulled off the obvious slivers and gouged pieces that made the surface uneven and then used my oscillating tool and 60 grit sandpaper to clean up every newly exposed surface. 
Exposed: The gutted result. As much as bar as a piano, or a casket, or, or, or...
I then deposited one whole sixteen ounce can of wood filler into the crack and gaps, starting on the left of the case. That left me with no more wood filler, and two-thirds of the piano yet to be patched. (Not to mention I have to glue the case together again.)
Weighing chunks. A pound here, a pound there, and soon, you're talking heavy!
It doesn't sound like much, I know, but you can look at the pictures and see, it really was four full weekends of work just to get that far. Finally, though, the cosmetic (and comparatively easy) work can now begin.
Patching has begun. Long, long way to go, I know.
By the way, the bruise on my hand? It formed a lump that I ended up taking to my doctor. He says I definitely fractured a bone in my hand when I hit it with the hammer back in late June. Some of the other bruises that were not broken bones are shown in the photo below.

You don't have to look too close to see my arms are pretty mangled.
I haven’t thrown out all the pieces of the piano that I removed. Yet. I’m saving select things in case I find some use for them as I assemble the piano into a bar. If I don’t, out they go. I still have to drive all the metal to the scrap yard and collect my $20 (?) for that. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Keys to the kingdom

Sometimes, you just can't hack away. Especially if you've broken a bone in your hand, you want...need... must.... take a break. (Oooooooooh, that hurt!)

When I just couldn’t stand to do more grunt work of tearing up the piano, I did some “artistic” work preparing the keyboard. The first step was to glue down all the keys to stabilize them for cutting. I used contact cement for that, and managed to start and finish the gluing process just prior to a rainstorm that would have probably ruined the keyboard if I had started five minutes later. The next day, even though the keys appeared to be securely glued down (which was a tedious process to get the spacing right as well), I put some more glue on them to make them a little more secure. The following weekend, I moved back outside and took my circular saw to the keys. 
The first cut is the most unnerving, but once it's done, surprisingly, reassuring.
Even with the lumpy pivots in the cutting track, it made quite short work of the key arms.

From here, there's no turning back.
I then removed the rest of the metal from the frame and cut it down to size, right behind the keys. 

It was a surprisingly quick process and I ended up with a pretty good looking, short, compact, antique keyboard. 
You can't tell me that doesn't look cool. Admit it: You wish you had one to put on a bookshelf at home, just for a conversation piece.
I still have to do some finishing on the cut edges and I’m going to pour some acrylic or something in the cracks to make them even hardier, but I’m quite happy with the result and I think it definitely gives the bar a unique look.

Tomorrow: The feeling of emptiness...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No longer a piano, not yet a bar

Where has the time gone?

Here it is, over a month since my first entry on the dismantling of my piano. In between, I’ve been to Japan (one week) and Mexico (three days), and, I’ve actually succeeded in completely gutting the piano. I’ve kept detailed notes, taken pictures at each stage, and weighed everything that’s come out of the piano so I know what it used to weigh. And still, I call it a piano, however, it is not a piano and will never be a piano again. (Mrs. S calls it “junk”, which is essentially correct.) So, here’s the rundown (with photos):
Here's what some big chunks and a bag of small chunks of pin board and support board from a 130 year old piano look like...

The hardest part of dismantling these antique square grand pianos (I have determined) is getting down to the base wood. With animal glue bonding the boards, and having dried over a century ago, it becomes nearly impossible to tell where one board ends and the next starts. So, it was with my Stone. The key was getting down to the base. This had to happen from the sides, because the side support blocks both tied in to the back support block. Not surprisingly, in my hurry and resultant frustration to get down to the base so that I could speed up my progress, I pulled a little too hard on the pry bar and ended up cracking the case. 
Left rear corner: Cracked like a gang-banger's head at a homecoming football game...

Without being able to use the case for support against the pry, I basically had to extract each board in chunks, piece by piece. I ended up with four bags of chunks, and then some, but eventually, I was left with just a piece of pin block on back support blocks. Again, I was confronted with space issues, as there was no good way to get the pry bar or claw hammer between the support boards and case. Eventually, I figured out a chisel was better at getting between boards than a screwdriver was, even with the small (6” long, half in diameter) one that I had in my tool box. I soon succeeded in prying a piece from the rear right pin block, and from there, I was able to just work my way across the back, pulling off chunk after chunk of the pin block and support boards. 
Look closely: Upper pin board piece separated from the case, held out by a screwdriver (the one with the broken handle).
Two weekends of this left me with an essentially empty, but badly scarred, piano case. 

Tomorrow: More gutting, and some artistry (with photos...of course!).