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MMD > Archives > January 2003 > 2003.01.05 > 05Prev  Next

Dismantling an Upright Piano
By John A. Tuttle

[ Re: Vertical Piano Is Too Big For Doorway, 030104 MMDigest ]

Hi All,  Removing the toes and arms from an upright piano to get it
through a doorway is not all that uncommon in this part of the country.
Many of the old homes in north Jersey have been so radically changed
that the point where the piano came into the home originally no longer
exists.  Also, removing bay windows to bring the instrument into the
home was not so unheard of in the past.  Today it would cost a small
fortune.  So, dismantling the instrument as a means of getting it in
or out becomes more cost-effective.

The important thing to remember is that it is best to remove the toes
and arms when the piano is on it's back.  I use a simple piano cradle to
elevate the piano about two feet off the ground.  Then I mark (scribe)
all of the joints that will be broken so the pieces can be put back
exactly where they started (as best as possible).

Regarding the toes, which are usually only glued in place, I pre-drill
holes in the toes and the inside of the piano before the toes are
removed (two drill sizes: one for the toes, and a smaller one for the
sides).  (For those who are not sure what I mean, I can provide a simple
diagram.)  Then, when I glue and screw the toes back in place, they are
almost perfectly aligned.

It should go without saying that every single adjustment from the
casters on up must to be done over.  In the most practical sense, once
the arms and toes have been removed, putting the piano back together
is tantamount to constructing the cabinet from scratch (excluding the

Surprisingly enough, one of the most difficult aspects of the job to
get 100% accurate is setting the height of the casters.  At the
factory, they have an extremely level space where the piano is placed
expressly for the purpose of leveling the instrument.  Then, cardboard
shims are placed between the casters and the toes to accomplish the
adjusting/leveling.  Failing to re-level the instrument is asking for
future trouble.  Over time, the uneven pressure on the casters will
weaken the frame of the piano.

If you have any questions about the process, feel free to write to me
at <>.


John A. Tuttle

 [ Thanks for the lucid description, John.  I'm sure to remember the
 [ procedure only after I'm wedged between a piano and a door frame!
 [ ;-)  -- Robbie

(Message sent Sun 5 Jan 2003, 17:35:25 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  an, Dismantling, Piano, Upright

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