John Biermacher
John Biermacher
  • Hometalker
  • Kalamazoo, MI

Piano Bookcase

5 Materials
3 Months

I had seen a number of pictures of pianos repurposed into bars and bookcases. I made the mistake of telling a friend that I was considering doing one myself. Very shortly afterwards, he called me and told me there was a baby grand available for a mere $40.

Piano  with most of the working parts removed
Piano with most of the working parts removed

It was a Cable Nelson and the serial number suggests it was from the late 1930s. I failed to take before photos only in progress photos, but they are available on the internet. It had seen better days so I had few reservations about converting it.

Even after I dismantled it and removed the large metal harp I was amazed at how heavy it was. YouTube has multiple videos about dismantling pianos, but one should pay special attention to the safety precautions because the strings are under extreme tension. 

Carcass with the cabinet added.
Carcass with the cabinet added.

Once I got it dismantled it sat for several months before I returned to the project. 

When I returned to it the the major steps (hurdles) were:

Removing the bridges. A chisel and brute force was required because even with the screws removed, the bridges (which support the strings) were still glued to the sounding board. 

Repairing the carcass. The interior of the piano and the sounding board required considerable filling/sanding with auto body filler. 

Adding a cabinet. There was a depth difference in the area between the keys and the sounding board so I added a cabinet. Luckily I was able to cut panels from a door to make the sides and used plywood to make the top, bottom and back. My wife had the idea to put a door on the cabinet using another door panel. Bun feet were added to raise the bookcase slightly off the floor. 

A good representation of the before keys.
A good representation of the before keys.

Re-doing the keys. The white keys were in terrible shape . I removed the ivory that remained and gave it to a friend for use in his luthier hobby. I then recovered the keys with iron-on oak veneer. 

Keys after veneering
Keys after veneering

Covering the sounding board. Because the sounding board had so many repairs, I decoupaged it with very old sheet music I purchased for a song (pun intended) on Craigslist.

Inside the cabinet
Inside the cabinet

Creating shelving. The cabinet and bookcase shelves were cut from the original piano top and the front edges were veneered to allow them to be stapined and varnished. 

Painting and finishing. As mentioned earlier, the interior back was decoupaged with sheet music, The interior was painted black, and the exterior and shelving were stained. Everything received several coats of urethane varnish. In hindsight I think I would have done the finishing and painting and then the decoupaging. 

Finished bookcase with the door closed.
Finished bookcase with the door closed.


It is designed to be a bookcase, but could serve as a back bar. I am happy with how the project ended up, but it took much longer than anticipated- primarily because of the head scratching required, and the cooler (winter) temperature in my shop made finishing difficult. I hope to share a photo

 of it “at home” with accessories after I find a buyer. 

piano bookcase

It was a challenging project and I still have parts and pieces of the piano I hope to incorporate into future projects.

Thanks for viewing,


UPDATE: 4/21/2019

  • Most of all I wish to thank everyone for the interest and kind words.
  • This piano sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2018 and another person asked me to repurpose their family piano. I was reluctant, but they already had a new piano and sincerely wished to keep their old one.
  • It is a baby grand that will be a bookcase, yet with a different orientation and details. I was able to remove extra pieces of the piano to lighten it up. I should have it done and posted in the next couple weeks and will provide a link on this posting.
  • Once again, thanks to everyone the support.


6/14/19 I have posted the new piano repurposing project, see link below.

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 12 questions
  • Maria
    on Apr 27, 2019

    Comment GREAT JOB

  • Donna
    on Jun 2, 2019

    Incredibly creative! The keys especially, I LOVE them!! Cant wait to see your next piano project. Following.

    • John Biermacher
      on Jun 2, 2019

      Thank you very much. The new piano should be delivered and installed this week so I can get some after photos and post it.

  • Jennifer Wright Bandy
    on Jun 2, 2019

    Was the piano not playable anymore (before becoming a bookcase)?

    • John Biermacher
      on Jun 3, 2019

      I am not a musician so can’t really say. It made noise, but it was lingering in an auction house and wasn’t getting any bids. I paid $40 so I just have to assume its musical life was over and it was unwanted. I have an opportunity right now to get a beautiful looking upright, just for picking it up. This happens quite often. I am struggling with passing on it.

      Not being defensive, but this is a common concern when one repurposes/transforms an item. If you follow postings here, people are often scolded for painting wood furniture. I lean to towards the person doing the work, making the call.

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