Introduction: Piano Harp Coffee Table
Hi all! We just moved into a new home, so of course we need a ton of new furniture. Whenever possible, I try to make things so that they are exactly what I want, and certainly much cheaper than buying new. I searched online and found a few designs that I liked for this coffee table, but they ranged anywhere from $4000-$8000 (yikes!).
Step 1: Materials
Obviously the most difficult part to source is the piano harp itself. I had an old piano from my grandfather from the 1930s. It was in completely unplayable condition having been through several home moves and basement floodings. I dismantled the whole thing, and actually made several other things for my home using the other parts (see photos). If you don't have an old piano laying around, they are very easy and cheap to find. Many people will give you a busted up piano if you lug it out of their home for them.
For the wood components, I used a red oak board I purchased from HD, and red oak legs that I found online. I do not have a lathe or CNC router/mill so manufacturing these legs on my own would have been impossible.
For the glass spacers, I used hardware I bought online at McMaster-Carr, and aluminum pipe from onlinemetals.com.
Step 2: Harp Preparation
There are tons of YouTube videos of people dismantling pianos. I was able to free my harp from the rest of the wood pieces, leaving only the board into which the tuning pegs are screwed, and the two bridges. I removed all of the strings and tuning pegs using a socket I bought on amazon which I attached to my drill.
I numbered and saved all of the brass wound strings. They were dirty and corroded looking. I used brasso to clean each of them.
I cut and tossed all of the steel strings, as they were also rusted and corroded.
After all of the tuners were removed, there were still a few wood screws holding the board onto the harp. Once they were removed, the harp was free from all wood. I scrubbed the harp with steel wool in order to remove some imperfections, then vacuumed and washed it clean.
Finally, I spray painted the entire harp bright gold.
Step 3: Wood Tuner Board
I used a 3/4" red oak board for the new tuner board. I cross cut the board, and glued it up to a 1.5" thick board. I jointed one edge using my router table and a 2" straight router bit. I then ripped the other edge of the board on the table saw.
On the jointed edge, I ran it through the router table twice more; first to make a round over edge, and again to add an ogee shape (see photos).
Finally, I cross cut the ends to the final size.
Step 4: Spacers
The glass top needs to be spaced from the top of the harp. I decided to have a 4" clearance from the top of the harp to the underside of the glass. Also, the harp surface is extremely irregular, making it a challenge to level the glass. To solve this issue, I used 4.5" 1/4" bolts that ran through the harp to a weld nut which I placed on the opposite side of a 3/4" aluminum tube (see drawing). I can add washers between the aluminum and the nut to adjust the overall height in order to level the glass. I finished the spacer with rubber caps which easily covered the nut and all washers, and provided a non slip surface for the glass.
Step 5: Wood Finishing
I refinished both bridges to match the legs and board.
I wanted the wood to be a medium dark color. I stained each piece. Once dry, I used Minwax satin wipe on poly to finish. I applied approximately 10 coats. It all turned out beautifully.
Step 6: Reassembly
I clamped the board in place under the harp, and attached it with wood screws through existing holes. I then drilled the holes for the 2 legs which will be situated under the wood board. I used the original screws to affix these. Next I attached the other 2 legs directly to the underside of the harp. (2 legs under board cut 1.5" shorter to account for board thickness).
Next came the grueling task of drilling the holes for each tuner pin, driving in the tuner, and restringing the whole harp. I bought stainless steel piano wire to replace the strings.
The brass wound strings went on last.
Step 7: Final Product
Finally, it was all finished. My dad helped me carry this 250lb beast into the family room. The leveling was almost perfect from the beginning. I had to add a few washers to the spacers to get it perfect. All,in all, I am thrilled with the result.