How can I repurpose a baby grand piano into a bookcase?

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I am in the middle of repurposing a baby grand piano into a bookcase. There are lots of examples on the internet, but I am looking for advice on how to blend finishes for various areas of the bookcase.

For the exterior and shelves I was hoping to simply strip and refinish the original walnut veneer, with the shelves being cut from the original top. I have had a lot of experience with that.

For the sides of the interior and the added section I am planning on painting.

The back of the bookcase (originally the sounding board of the piano) took quite a beating during deconstruction process, specifically prying off the string supports. Therefore I am planning on decoupaging sheet music to the back of the bookcase. I have lots of experience with oil based paints and finishes. But i have no experience with decoupaging, other than viewing some YouTube videos.

Questions-

Should I prime? paint? the sounding board before decoupaging? Oil or latex?

What should I use as decoupage medium? Videos show diluted PVA glue, acrylic varnish yet discuss urethane varnish as a top coat. Can I I decoupage with urethane? Perhaps shellac? The answer to this question might help me determine the best order of decoupaging and painting.

I hope this makes sense and thanks in advance for any and all advice.

John

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This is a photo from the internet that can give you an idea of what the project should look like when I am done.
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A photo of the deconstrucetd piano.
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A photo of the piano with an added compartment.
  18 answers
  • Robby Treichel Robby Treichel on Jan 09, 2017
    That is going to be amazingly beautiful. I love the idea of the sheet music. I have tons of it I don't use anymore and think it would be a good idea to use it on any piece of furniture. As for decoupage...you can buy it (the medium) at any craft store. I have experienced polyurethane turning yellow with age, so I would go with varathane or shellac.

    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case.

  • Cheryl Markus Reynolds Cheryl Markus Reynolds on Jan 09, 2017
    The decoupage medium is called Mod Podge and can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, etc. There are different kinds, even a sealer, so you might want to do some homework before you head out to purchase it. The choice is yours to paint before adding the sheet music. I would love to see it when finished.

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    • Cheryl Markus Reynolds Cheryl Markus Reynolds on May 07, 2017
      John, I just looked it up. It's Beautiful!! I LOVE the keys! You and your wife did a fantastic job.

  • Tha214201 Tha214201 on Jan 09, 2017
    NICE!

    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case.

  • Kelly Kelly on Jan 09, 2017
    That's going to be super cool, I like the suggestion of using the sheet music, you can find some old music books and stain them with tea to age them. I can't wait to see your finished project

    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case.

  • Laura Kackman Laura Kackman on Jan 09, 2017
    i love the idea! Where did you get the original idea from? Good luck with the project...Can't wait to see the finished project!

    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case.

  • Attic And Barn Attic And Barn on Jan 10, 2017
    I am unfamiliar with the "sound board" material in your project.
    Is it hard like plywood or soft like acoustical board?
    If its plywood, fill with putty, sand smooth then paint on latex based primer.
    If is soft....I'd hate to see your music sheets damaged by book corners or other sharp objects. Best to install a sheet of 1/4" plywood for a solid backing, prime and proceed.
    After that your basically wallpapering. You can use a decoupage/Mod Podge product, white water based school glue, Cellulose or Wheat wallpaper paste. Something that dries clear.
    I don't think you need to seal the sheet music unless your going to set a glass of red wine on it?

    • See 1 previous
    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case.

  • Dav10521751 Dav10521751 on Jan 10, 2017
    Wozer !!

    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case.

  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Jan 10, 2017
    I can't get over what an amazing idea this is...wow.

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    • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Jan 12, 2017
      I know!!! I am looking forward to meeting you!! Whether or not you can take credit for the idea, the execution is just so impressive..

  • Joanie Joanie on Jan 10, 2017
    I can't suggest anything. I like the keyboard on the end, it's definitely a piece of work!!! LEAVE it......it's an outstanding idea. YOU have come this far and YOU will figure out the finishing touches.......Good Luck, I am in awe with your idea!! I think the keyboard accentuates your project!!!!

    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on Jan 10, 2017
      Thanks for the encouragement. I definetly plan to reincorporate the keyboard. Most of the white keys are missing the white covering ( ivory? plastic? ). I plan to veneer them with oak or birch then finish them natural. They should contrast nicely with the ebony keys.

  • Lucy Marie Bernier Lucy Marie Bernier on Jan 10, 2017
    Love it! 👍👍👍👍👍🎹🎹🎹🎹🎹

    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case.

  • Joanie Joanie on Jan 10, 2017
    Hey John! You WILL figure it out.....((.I wish I could figure out my keyboard with my computer???)........anyway, you got one hellava great project and I'm anxious to see your IMAGINATION and how far it takes you.........Good Luck Bucco!!

  • Myriam Drachman Correa Myriam Drachman Correa on Jan 12, 2017
    Great idea !! Attached pic of a similar project. I would love to see your piano-bookshelf finished. Good luck !!

    • See 1 previous
    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case.

  • Phil a Phil a on Jan 12, 2017
    Looks like an interesting project. Just be careful when disassembling a piano. The "Harp" that holds the strings can have a ton or more of tension on it from the strings and has to be "un-stringed" carefully. Check out this YouTube search on how to safely disassemble a piano.

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    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on May 07, 2017
      I want to thank you for the input on this project. I finally finished it. If you would like to see it it is posted on Hometalk under piano book case. I specifically mention the safety issue because of your input and my experience.

  • Robby Treichel Robby Treichel on May 09, 2017
    Thank you for the heads-up. I checked it out and it turned out beautifully! very well done.

  • Bar Bar on Aug 25, 2018

    We have a beautiful 1930s Knabe baby grand, burl walnut veneer, that is tragically beyond repair as a piano. We would love for someone to have it and turn it into something beautiful. Any ideas where to find someone who will be able to turn it into something useful and beautiful like these dramatic shelves?

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    • John Biermacher John Biermacher on Apr 04, 2021

      Where are you located?

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 03, 2021

    Hello there,

    Look for a cabinet maker or Carpenter with a design eye. or maybe a Collage.