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!).


LB said...

Wow, that was a job and a half. Kind of sad, no?

Eric said...

It was never "sad". I actually got a lot of therapy out of it. When I crossed the point of no return, I briefly felt disappointment that it had come to this, but I was never sad.

Thanks for your comment.