“I need you to make a piano”, said my lovely wife. At least it didn’t need to actually work, merely be something pretending to be a piano on stage. A non-piano assuming the role of a piano in our youth production of Copacabana.
“But there’s a real piano at the theatre, why can’t we use that?” I asked.
Because it’s not ours and it’s too bloody heavy to be whisked on and off stage, apparently.
I had to make a piano.
As luck would have it, we’d just had some new bedroom furniture delivered which came in some very interesting cardboard packaging. Interesting because some of it was very light and very strong due to a honeycomb interior. A plan began to form that would end in cardboard acting like wood…
I took the design and basic measurements from our real piano and got to work with the cardboard, some saws, duct tape and glue.
I used the two large pieces of honeycombed cardboard to make the ends of the piano and created an internal joist out of other long pieces to connect them.
I made four beams in total, one at the top, one at the bottom, one at the back and one where the keyboard would go. I cut into the honeycombed sides and glued the beams into place. I then cut channels in them and slid two pieces of card in to make the back. More glue and lots of tape…
I didn’t have a single piece big enough to make the back, so joined two bits together and secured them to the rear beam.
Next job was to add a keyboard and a firm hardboard top.
More cardboard to create the front and the keyboard is painted white. A couple of chunks of wood are also added underneath the bottom beam to lower the centre of gravity and make it a bit more stable.
The play requires the ‘pianist’ to take music manuscript and pretend to play, so I needed to add a music holder. I also added some stabilising feet.
I had made a load of black keys out of low density fibreboard – I think it was originally the base packaging for a cake. All that was left was the painting. I chose gloss black because I thought it might help make it look more solid and believable. What do you think?
It fooled my mum – she thought we’d moved our piano into the lounge. But admittedly she didn’t have her glasses on…
The only bits of wood in the piano are the chunky weights at the bottom. The only proper DIY material is the hardboard top. This means that it should be easily moved on and off stage. But it also means it’s a little fragile and susceptible to damage. Here’s hoping it makes it through the transport to theatre, the dress rehearsal and the two performances.