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View Full Version : Luthiers, Honduras Mahogany...



Tudorp
02-27-2011, 03:19 AM
An inquiry to the Luthiers out there...

I have an old Player piano. It was built in around 1924. It's history starts in a honky tonk in Texas and ended up in central California over the years, where I found it and bought it. Yes, it still plays, but looks like hell really. But I always kept it that way, because of its history and charm even in it's looks. But, that is not the reason of the inquiry. It is half stripped of black paint (was that way when we bought it), and under the paint IS Mahogany, and I "think" maybe even Honduras mahogany. Most of us know that Mahogany has never been admired for it's beauty, thus was many times used and then painted. This piano has allot of mahogany in it's cabinet. The wife and I have been thinking about selling the old piano, but I can not bring myself to do it, because it really is a cool piece. And as an old simple player piano, isn't worth but a few hundred dollars. The other option I considered was to harvest the priceless Honduras mahogany, and scrapping the mechanical works. But I can not bring myself to that, because the brass clock work type mechanism itself is beautiful to me, and really a relic art piece and a marvel of mechanical technology in itself. I can not bring myself to scrap that, especially since it is a working piece.

The question however is. Is there a market for this mahogany if I were to take the cabinet apart? There is allot of sizable planks and would make 40-50 or so Honduras Mahogany ukuleles if milled in thin sheets for tops and backs. The wood itself, is it a priceless commodity that could make several really nice ukulele from this old growth mahogany? Or is it junk?

southcoastukes
02-27-2011, 06:19 AM
Something from that time frame will almost certainly be Honduran. It would probably make good sets. If I were you, however, I'd strip and sand one section really well and take a good look at how nice your figure and color apear. Get an edge clean as well to make certain it's not veneered.

Even if it checks out, however, I'd consider leaving it as a piano. You'd might not make more than what you could get for the piano as is, unless have the machinery to mill it into sets yourself and feel comfortable with your ability to select your set material from the piano boards.

OldePhart
02-27-2011, 08:17 AM
The really sad thing is that the rocket scientists who wrote the international accords regarding endangered woods have made certain that reusing the wood from that piano is not a practical thing to do. Apparently, they would rather see the piano filling up a landfill somewhere. If the wood the piano is made from is on the "list" then anything recently manufactured (as in, after the accords were signed) from that wood can be seized. Never mind that the wood for the piano was harvested probably over a hundred years ago and has been a piano (or a wardrobe, or...) for all that time. What matters to the idjits is when it was most recently fashioned into something else - like a uke, or a guitar, or a toothpick.

John

Tudorp
02-27-2011, 08:23 AM
It would really piss me off to no end if I was sitting in my lazy boy, picking the pork chop from my teeth with my custom made honduas mahogany toothpick, that I used to play ragtime on, suddenly to be interrupted with the sound of choppers and federal swat team repeling down onto my front porch armed with automatic fire commanding me to show them my hands. As in the background the faint but firm command "take the shot" being heard by my neighbors. That would cause me to go anti government in a flash really..

OldePhart
02-27-2011, 08:26 AM
It would really piss me off to no end if I was sitting in my lazy boy, picking the pork chop from my teeth with my custom made honduas mahogany toothpick, that I used to play ragtime on, suddenly to be interrupted with the sound of choppers and federal swat team repeling down onto my front porch armed with automatic fire commanding me to show them my hands. As in the background the faint but firm command "take the shot" being heard by my neighbors. That would cause me to go anti government in a flash really..

BWAAA-HAAA. Actually, you'd probably be okay as long as you never took your toothpick across an international border...

John

Tudorp
02-27-2011, 08:29 AM
Hmm.. good to know.. Because I am only about 2 hours from Canada.. The Canadian Air Force doesn't frighten me too much though.. You can only fit so many Mac 10s, or M16/AR15s in a Piper Cub.. lol..

ksiegel
02-27-2011, 11:15 AM
The other option I considered was to harvest the priceless Honduras mahogany, and scrapping the mechanical works. But I can not bring myself to that, because the brass clock work type mechanism itself is beautiful to me, and really a relic art piece and a marvel of mechanical technology in itself. I can not bring myself to scrap that, especially since it is a working piece.

Take a look on eBay with search term "steampunk", and then think about if you would want to even consider scrapping a working player piano mechanism.

You could probably sell it for enough to fund a pretty fine ukulele.

I've got a couple of old fire alarm box mechanisms I'm still considering selling as Steampunk wind-up mechanisms, simply because they may be worth more to someone with that mindset, than they are to fire service collectors.

-Kurt

Tudorp
02-27-2011, 11:47 AM
Familier with the term, and you got a point with all the mechanical works, chain linkages, air bellows, etc. If ya have never looked inside one of these things, especially while they are working, you should. they are really amazing works of art in motion. really cool to watch..

Tudorp
02-27-2011, 11:57 AM
Here's some of it, with the bellows and chain drive etc. http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff490/Tudorp/piano3.jpg?t=1298847388 Actually, just the mech alone would make pretty cool steampunk art piece..

ksiegel
02-27-2011, 12:06 PM
And the graphic illustration of what camshaft is, and how it works is better for someone like me who never got into working on cars than all of the pictures of an autoengine I've ever seen. And the chains that can illustrate how a timing belt works (that's a guess on my part. Automotive engineering is still one of the Black Arts to me, kinda like Computers were when I started working on them back in the early 80s....)

I've also seen several places where they used the piano harps and keyboard assemblies as art. I'd love to have large enough wall to do that myself.

-Kurt

Tudorp
02-27-2011, 12:21 PM
And the graphic illustration of what camshaft is, and how it works is better for someone like me who never got into working on cars than all of the pictures of an autoengine I've ever seen. And the chains that can illustrate how a timing belt works (that's a guess on my part. Automotive engineering is still one of the Black Arts to me, kinda like Computers were when I started working on them back in the early 80s....)

I've also seen several places where they used the piano harps and keyboard assemblies as art. I'd love to have large enough wall to do that myself.

-Kurt

Yep, your talking to an old gear head, lol.. I have built countless speed motors,hot rods and classic cars in my day. It is an art, and some of the steam engines, and early gas turbine engines of pre 20th century are unbelievably awesome to think guys tinkered and came up with some of that stuff in an old barn using hand made and forged parts. Crazy.. Look at an old exposed head turbine engine of the turn of the century, where the push rods, rockers and all are visable. Fun to watch run.. I can watch one for hours in a trance.. hahhah

Gillian
02-27-2011, 02:29 PM
What always amazes me when I watch "Antiques Roadshow" is that intricate mechanisms like your player piano and beautiful wood-worked pieces (unless they were owned by George Washington) are valued way below some butt-ugly piece of pottery donated to a Goodwill thriftshop, yet is worth $30k.

Bradford
02-27-2011, 02:36 PM
Be aware that just because it may be Honduran mahogany, does not mean it would necessarily be good for making ukes out of. Unless the boards are quartersawn, I would not use it for tops, backs and sides. H. mahogany is not that rare or expensive yet, that most luthiers will use flat or riftsawn wood.

Brad