Sunday, 10 March 2013

Using Antique Piano Keys

antique piano keys decor

A couple of years ago, I took apart my beloved and battered antique piano.  It was a bit of a white elephant, and with a cracked soundboard it never stayed in tune for more than a month or two at the most.  It was falling to pieces.  So one day I decided to take it apart.  I wanted to save the cherry-wood veneer to use for building furniture one day, and I wanted to do something with the keys, to memorialize this formerly-lovely old piano.  But I couldn't decide what.  So the keys sat in a dusty box in the basement.

antique piano keys clock display

I finally pulled them out and did something with them.  I wanted to make something that I could give to my siblings, most of whom loved this piano as much as I did.  This is how I did it.

  • Step 1: Acquire an antique piano.
  • Step 2: Take apart said antique piano, narrowly avoiding being squished numerous times when large heavy pieces of the piano decide to fall over.
  • Step 3: Reassemble keyboard on a large flat surface, and decide how many keys you'll use for each wall-hanging. 
  • Step 4: Cut off the long wooden piece from each key, leaving just the ivory/ebony section (for the black keys you'll have to leave about 1 cm more, to make them the same length as the white ones).  It helps to number each key at this step to keep them in the correct order, since the gold-stamped number of each key is on the part you're cutting off.  Sand the cut end.  I forgot to do that step.
  • Step 5: Dig through your stash of crafty junk to find just the right backing.  I used 1/4-inch thick cork tiles (from Walmart). I had three left from another project, and they happen to be exactly the right size, when cut in half.  I should have just enough for the rest of the piano keys.
  • Step 6: Starting from the middle and working outward, glue on each piece.  I did all the white keys first, then fit in the black pieces.  Make sure you glue the sides that will be touching other keys as well as the back.  I used white glue.  Use something that can be easily cleaned up if it oozes out.
  • Step 7: Let it dry.
  • Step 8: Figure out how to hang it.  I haven't done this step yet.  Any suggestions?  For now I have it propped on my mantle, but I was thinking of hanging it in a gallery wall sometime in the future.
  • Step 9: Make four more (the other four will be narrower...sorry siblings).

antique piano keys vintage books

antique piano keys

antique piano keys cork diy tutorial


  1. I don't know how heavy your piano key art is, but you could try those sticky 3M squares that are supposed to come off without ripping off any paint/drywall. Or you could buy a picture/mirror hanging kit (screws, wire, etc.) from Walmart - I think it's around $3 - if you don't mind drilling holes into the piano keys. Very cute!

    1. Thanks Christine! It's not too heavy, so I'm sure the 3M squares would be strong enough. As long as they stick to the cork, anyway. I do have some other things that might work too, I just haven't tried them yet.

  2. You are so crafty Joanna! One man's junk really is another man's (woman's) treasusre.

  3. Looks Good, I'll have to make one now!
    Antique Piano Emporium

  4. Thank you for this. I've been thinking of a shadow box with mine and a few of my grandma's things. Great job!


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