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Oct 20, 2019 - 6:37:29 PM



64 posts since 5/29/2018

We have a variety of trees here in Georgia. I often cut trees for the neighbors so free stuff is always available. I wonder about using them for making instrument parts.

A few examples are dogwood, juniper, tulip poplar, and just about every strain of oak. Southern yellow pine is plentiful, if somewhat ugly. There are fruit/nut orchards within driving distance. I could probably get pecan, walnut, cherry, peach, and apple. Are any of these suitable?

Another source of wood that seems to be plentiful comes from free pianos on craigslist. I don't know how much of a piano is made from veneer plywood. The freebies are not Steinway grands. Any wood from a 100 year old piano should be suitably aged.

Oct 20, 2019 - 7:03:38 PM



2307 posts since 2/20/2016

Walnut and cherry have been in use for necks, banjo rims, and guitar bodies for over a century. They have faded in and out of popularity over the years. I expect to see an increase in their use in the near future, especially since rosewood and mahogany are becoming more expensive.

You need a pretty thick trunk to provide boards big enough for instrument building.

Oct 20, 2019 - 8:10:49 PM
Players Union Member



11944 posts since 8/30/2006

Dogwood, poplar and the Oaks
I don’t like Juniper, yellow pine, neither

Pecan and Hickory, Peach and Apple, Cherry and Walnut are all fine for both rims and necks
There are Lemon and Grapefruit rims

Use a magnet on alley finds
I use trunk and large limb
Pianos sometimes don’t have enough bigger pieces, lots of moulding

I use a super ball on a bamboo skewer to get the best tap Tone

Every city has a recycling yard for timbers and beams
I use my sawzall
Seek some Persimmon, Osage Orange and Chestnut
any questions. Have fun with this, we do


Oct 21, 2019 - 10:09:50 AM

22 posts since 5/27/2019

I have some veneered parts from an upright piano that someone was throwing away. I started to peel off some of the loose mahogany veneer from a large panel and found that it was edge-glued hardwood underneath. However, it looks like they used whatever random wood was available, so for example there is an oak board glued to a maple board glued to something else. The boards are wide enough that they could be ripped and glued up into neck blanks or what have you, but it will be a fair amount of work just to get the veneer off to see what's there and if it's clear enough to be useful.

And while I'm doing that, should I feel guilty about destroying a sheet of mahogany veneer, which theoretically could be removed in sections and stripped for reuse? I'm thinking that would be a hell of a lot of work. The back of one large panel (the side that no one would ever see) has beautiful bird's eye maple veneer with sound original finish. I would feel bad about destroying that, but again it would be much easier to just scrap it.

Oct 22, 2019 - 8:37:18 AM

6252 posts since 8/28/2013

Pianos vary widely when it comes to wood use, but most cases are made from poplar with a rather thin veneer. The veneer is pretty useless, as it's too difficult to remove, and the poplar underlay is generally only about 3/8-1/2 inch thick. Back posts might be usable; some are maple, some oak, some pine or spruce or other soft woods, and many of those are glued up from three or more laminations.

One must bear in mind that many of the pianos that are junked were inexpensive to begin with, and so the quality of wood used was usually pretty low. Even Steinway didn't always use the best stuff for their uprights, and when they ebonized a case, it could have been from almost anything. I once touched up the finish on an ebony Steinway and found small parts made from rosewood, maple, ebony, poplar, and cherry. The "ebony" finish was over a cherry veneer, which had been patched together from random sheets.

I don't think I've ever salvaged much usable wood from any piano. About the best I've managed is cutting a few real ebony keys into one or two banjo nuts and wedges for neck attachment hardware, and on old uprights, you don't usually find ebony keys, as most are a cheaper, softer wood.

One problem with an old piano is its weight. People don't like it when you saw things up in front of their houses, so you have to move it or have it moved. That requires a couple of strong guys and a truck with a ramp. You can also get cut very badly should you start removing the strings improperly. A piano string can hold 140-290 lbs tension, and can fly 6-10 feet when it's cut. And when you've salvaged what you can, you'll still have a couple hundred pounds of cast iron to get rid of.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 10/22/2019 08:38:56

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