Adam Schaaf Upright Piano – Action rebuilding

November 19th, 2017
Adam Schaaf Piano bottom board is reinstalled

The reconditioned bottom board is re-installed. Pedals are buffed and new bushing cloth is installed for squeak free performance. Trapwork is reconditioned for fault free operation.

Keys have been rebushed and reinstalled on the reconditioned keyframe. This effort will help to provide the excellent touch response we seek to provide the pianist.

New treble dampers installed on Schaaf upright piano

The action brackets have been cleaned and painted for a fresh appearance. New treble dampers have been installed and regulated for uniform lift. At this point, The action rails and damper levers have been cleaned by blasting with corn cob grit. The wippen rail has not yet been re-installed. The old hammers have been removed, making damper work straight forward. This process emulates the original process order utilized in the factory 98 years ago.

New Renner piano hammers custom bored for installation

New Renner hammers have been custom bored for installation.

Restringing the Adam Schaaf Player Piano

November 19th, 2017
Piano Restringing in process

1919 Adam Schaaf upright piano restringing in process

Adam Schaaf player piano - stringing complete

Stringing is complete, and treble pressure bar is re-installed. This photo is taken from the perspective of the stringer while the piano is on its back.

Adam Schaaf Player Piano – Preparation for Restringing

October 4th, 2017

After completing work on the bottom board and keyframe, I’m preparing the piano for restringing.

Original Condition

Adam Schaaf player piano original condition of the low treble strings

Original condition of the low treble strings


Adam Schaaf Player piano: Original Condition of bass strings and tuning pins

Original Condition of bass strings and tuning pins

Preparation for Restringing

In preparation for resstringing: old strings and tuning pins have been removed, new understring cloth has been installed, tuning pin bushings have been removed, and the plate has been cleaned.

In preparation for resstringing: old strings and tuning pins have been removed, new understring cloth has been installed, tuning pin bushings have been removed, and the plate has been cleaned.
In preparation for restringing: old strings and tuning pins have been removed, new understring cloth has been installed, tuning pin bushings have been removed, the plate has been cleaned, and plate bolts have been tightened.

Additional work to be performed before restringing

  • Soundboard cracks will be shimmed
  • Separated ribs will be re-glued to the soundboard
  • New tuning pin bushings will be installed.

Adam Schaaf Player Piano — Bottom Up

October 1st, 2017

An Adam Schaaf player piano recently arrived in my shop for a complete rebuild.   I’ll be doing the piano work, and the player work will go to a player expert.   I’m pleased that my client has recognized the need for good piano work to precede good player work.   With good piano work, the player mechanism can perform at its best.

Work began with restoration of the keyframe, bottom board, and pedal trap work.



Adam Schaaf player piano keyframe before restoration

Keyframe before restoration

Adam Schaaf upright player piano keyframe after restoration

Keyframe after restoration


Bottom Board and Pedal Trapwork

Adam Schaaf upright player piano: bottom board and trapwork before restoration

Bottom board and trapwork before restoration

Adam Schaaf upright player piano: bottom board and trapwork after restoration

Bottom board and pedal trapwork after restoration

Drill Press Chip Ejection

September 1st, 2017

When boring piano hammers, keeping chips away from the jig surface is a constant need.  I was tired of clearing the debris with a hand-held air nozzle.   $36 in parts from Amazon helped me to create a nice solution.   The heart of the solution is a 12V DC solenoid that is controlled by a magnetic switch.   The magnetic switch closes when the drill press quill descends.    Like a lot of shop improvements, I didn’t get payback in the first use, but the drilling process is much more efficient when using this new fixture.

Here’s the parts list:

Old technology meets new: Installing pedals on an upright piano

August 13th, 2017

While installing pedals on a 90 year old upright piano, I had the opportunity to upgrade materials, and have a little fun at the lathe. The old pivot system employed a hardwood dowel bushing in a cast iron bracket. The system was likely a good one for the first 30 years, but with wear, it became floppy and noisy, and broken. I chose to fabricate new bushings to be used in the old brackets using UHMW (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene) rod. UHMW is ideal for this application, since it is self-lubricating. For someone who doesn’t do a lot of lathe work, it presented a bit of a creative challenge, and I’m pleased with the result. I’m sure it will be serviceable for many years, and earns a lifetime guarantee.

Trimming Damper Heads

July 23rd, 2017

I wanted to trim 4 mm from Tokiwa damper heads for better geometry in a 1927 Leonard upright. Here’s the jig I built to get the job done.

Stieff Rebuild — June 2017

July 3rd, 2017

The soundboard was tapered (diaphramized in Steinway terminology).   First contour lines were routed into the board, and then the board was sanded to the contour lines on the stroke sander.


Profile of countour lines tapers the board from 0.26″ to 0.33″

The video shows use of the stroke sander to achieve the taper by sanding to the contour lines.

Ribs were shaped to a radius of 60 feet, then glued to the soundboard using cauls and compressed air clamping pressure.    The photo below shows the last rib in the cauls.  Typically I clamped 3 or 4 at a time.

After the ribs were glued, a radius was planed onto the ribs.   This is a craftsman touch.   Few will ever crawl under the piano to inspect this detail.

Steinway A-3

March 27th, 2017

The cobbler’s children go without shoes. But this piano technician is breaking out of that paradigm. New to my living room is a Steinway and Sons Model A-3 built in New York in 1922. After I completed three days of work on it, the piano is very pleasing to play. At some time, it will be completely rebuilt; but for now, it is a very nice “daily driver”, to borrow from classic car enthusiast lingo. That time will not come until the high-end restoration of the 6’3″ Charles Stieff (1911) is complete.


Stieff Rebuild – February 2017

February 28th, 2017

An update on the Rebuild of Stieff 28334 has been a long time in coming.   I’ve been disappointed with my inability to focus energy on the project!   But progress has been made.

Cauls for gluing ribs to soundboard.  Note the concave or convex shape for top and bottom cauls.  These are sixty foot radiuses.

Prior to working with the actual ($$) new sound board, a sound board mockup was prepared using inexpensive quarter-inch plywood.   This step was taken to work out the bugs in the system before working with the new spruce board.

For the mockup, I used some clear fir as ribs that was available at no cost.  The picture below shows a jig with a 60 foot radius for shaping the topside of the ribs.

Below, the mockup progressed with the ribs fitted to the frame.

The mockup continued by gluing “ribs” to “sound board”.  A few issues were noticed, and I was glad that I did this mockup, so I could proceed with confidence.  The cauls use mill hose pressurized at 30 psi.   I’m doing four at a time, and progressively moving cauls to a new position as glue dries.

Below is the completed “trial soundboard” which fit well when placed back in the frame.