Turning an Old Piano into a Bar | Carhartt DIY

By Brian Lemay 42 comments

My name’s Aaron Massey
from mrfixitdiy.com, and today I’m here
to show you how to turn an old upright piano
into a speakeasy-style hidden bar. During the prohibition
era of the 1920s, illegal alcohol was a highly
sought-after commodity, giving rise to
famous bootlegging gangsters like Al Capone. These gangsters peddled
their illegal booze through speakeasies, often
inside existing clubs or businesses, so as to not
raise suspicion of the police. Owners of these speakeasies
went through great lengths to hide their illegal
alcohol from being discovered by the police, including hiding
it inside everyday objects. So, the first thing
we’re going to do is we’re just going
to start taking this thing apart
and figuring out how we’re going to lay out our bar. [MUSIC PLAYING] Now that I’ve got
it all apart, now I’ve got to brainstorm what
I’m going to do to design it. After a bit of drinking
and a lot of thinking, here’s what I’ve come up with
for the design of the bar. It’ll have a built in
wine rack down below, a pull-out butcher block cutting
board where the piano keys used to be, built in
wine glass storage, and a custom Edison bulb
light fixture under the lid. To get started on
the build, first I’m going to build the light
fixture for under the lid. I’m building the fixture
out of black pipe because I like the
industrial feel, and it’s flexible for the design
so that I can easily change and move things if I need to. For the sake of
time in this video, I’m not going to go into
a great deal of detail on the steps for
building the light, but if you’d like to watch
a step-by-step video of how to build this type of light and
the tools you’ll need to do it, click the link in
the description below to watch that video on
the Mr. Fix It channel. The basics of the build are to
mock up a design that you like out of the black pipe,
wire the light sockets and use a Dremel tool to
make sure they seat well in the pipe. Feed the wire through the
pipe and glue them in place with some five-minute
epoxy, and then wire the whole light together. OK. The light fixture’s done. And the reason why I did that
first, or the reason why it’s important that I got that done,
is because I need to mock it up, figure out exactly
where it’s going to sit and how low it’s going
to hang, because that’s going to determine where my
shelves and all that stuff are. So I wanted to get that knocked
out of the way early on. The gas pipe is nice
because it’s adjustable. I can twist it and
figure out which way I want the bulbs to face. Whether they can be
straight out when it’s open or whether I want them to
be facing up like that, but I’m pretty pleased
with the light fixture. Oh, so close. Wow. We’re going to keep moving. That’s one of about 1,000 things
that needs to be done on this. Next, I’m attaching a locking
hinge to support and lock the lid in place in
the upright position when it’s being used as a bar. From there, I move on to
installing the drawer track for the pull-out cutting board. I’m cutting some
scrap four by four to attach inside the piano
to act as a backing plate to attach the tracks to. I’m attaching the four
by fours with some decking screws to the piano
and then installing the track. I make sure that the tracks
can slide back all the way and that everything can be
closed up so the piano appears normal when it’s not in use. Next, I start
mocking up the hinges for the front face of the piano. At first, I thought I would
keep the existing flip up style of the face. But since it would
get in the way, I thought maybe
having it removable would be the best option. But after a little
more thinking, I decided having it open in
the middle and outswinging would be the best way
to get it out of the way and still keep it
attached to the piano so you can close it easily. It requires cutting the
front face down the middle and turning it into
two pieces, which is a little sketchy
because I can’t replace it if I screw it up. But it worked out just fine. I mock up the two
pieces in place and attach the hinges
with some screws in the pre-drilled holes. The music rest has to
be removed on the front of the piano in order
for the new doors to be able to swing out. So, I used an oscillating
tool to remove it. Now the doors can freely
swing open and close whenever you need to. There’s a small gap
the width of the blade in the front of the doors, so
I cut a piece of the music rest and used it as a
piece of trim to cover the gap on one of the doors. From there, I attached a piece
of scrap wood I previously removed from the piano
to act as a backer that I could attach
some magnetic cabinet latches to to keep
the doors closed. I start laying out
the measurements for the top shelf of the bar. I know how low it needs
to go because I’ve already attached the light
fixture to see how low it hangs from the lid. Once I have it
laid out, I attach a shelf support with some
screws and check it for level. I do the same thing on the
other side, cut a piece of wood to fit, and then install it. From there, I move on to
building the wine glass racks. Originally, I was going
to buy a couple of these but I don’t want
to spend the money. So, I figured I’d just make
them out of some and scrap wood. I mock up where the
glasses are going to sit on the underside of the
shelf, cut some strips of wood to act as a side
rails for the track, and snap a few lines
with my chalk line to make sure everything
stays lined up. Then I glue the rails
in place and attach them with some brad nails. Then I cut a piece of
old hardwood flooring that I could use as the track
for the glasses to slide on. I re-installed the shelf,
and then test the tracks with a few wine glasses. Next, I can move on to
building the wine rack for the bottom of the piano. I have a bunch of
red oak left over, so I decided to make the
wine rack out of that. I rip strips on the
table saw and set up a stop block on my shop saw
to cut a bunch of pieces the same length. Then I laid them
out to figure out the overall width of the rack
and the spacing for each piece. I temporarily attach each
piece with a brad nail to make a template
for the first shelf. I’ll come back in later
and glue each piece once I’ve solidified the design. I rip a bunch more
pieces of oak to create the pieces for the
remaining shelves and then put them together. Next, I lay out a couple
wider pieces of oak to serve as the
legs for the rack. Once I determine the height
I want between the shelves, I glue and nail the
shelves in place. Then I dry fit the
rack in place to make sure it fits under the piano
and put the front casing of the piano back on. The original opening
for the bottom piece isn’t large enough to
access the whole rack, so I have to widen the opening. I make some marks and
cut out the piece. I saved this piece though
because later on I’ll glue it back together
with the original door to create a new larger
door to hide the wine rack. Next, I’m going to be working
on the pull-out tray that goes where the keys used to be. I thought that it’d
be good to have a cutting board in case
you need to cut some fruit or something for cocktails, or
hors d’oeuvres, or whatever. I’m going to be using
a combination of maple and walnut. I had a little bit of each left
over from a previous project, but because of the size
of this cutting board, I had to pick up a
little bit more maple. Because it’s a
piano bar, I thought it’d be fun to give it kind
of an abstract piano key kind of look. It’s not going to be
exactly like piano keys, but I thought if
I used the maple and offset it with
pieces of walnut here and there it’ll kind of
look like piano keys. And then I’m just going
to glue them all together into one big cutting board. Once the glue sets up, I
can scrape off the excess, give it a nice little sand,
and then I’ll come back and I’ll finish the
whole thing with a couple coats of cutting board
oil before I install it on the piano. Now that I have pretty much
everything built and mocked up, now I have to take it
all back apart, sand it, and prep it for finishing. It’s going to take
a lot of work, but I can’t wait to see what
this thing’s going to look like when it’s finished. So much sanding. [MUSIC PLAYING] After three days and nights
of sanding, staining, and polyurethaning,
I’m finally finished. It sucked. It sucked real bad. Not going to lie about it. But that means we’re
almost finished. Now I can focus on putting
everything back together, getting the pieces together,
adding in the finishing touches, and getting
this thing ready to show. And I cannot wait for
you guys to check it out. [MUSIC PLAYING] Well guys, here it is. The finished
speakeasy-style hidden bar. I’ve got to say, this is one
of the most challenging, time consuming, and labor intensive
projects that I’ve ever built. And I’m so thrilled
to be done with it. As you can see, I’ve got the
48 inch pull-out cutting board. We’ve got under
cabinet LED lighting accenting the wine glasses. We’ve got a custom made light
fixture, shelving, and storage. We’ve got a wine
rack down below. And it all closes up to
look like a normal piano when it’s all said and done. Thank you guys so much
for watching this video. If you enjoyed it, please click
that like button, leave me a comment down
below, let me know. Also, if you want to check
out more Mr. Fix It builds, check out my YouTube channel
at youtube.com/mrfixit. And until next time, thank
you guys so much for watching. I’ll see you later. Cheers. My name’s Aaron Massey
from mrfixitdiy.com, and today I’m here
to show you how to build this rustic
timber-framed mirror out of an old garage sale
mirror I picked up for $25. To cut these timbers, I’m going
to need to use a chainsaw. And if I’m going to
be using a chainsaw, you bet your sweet ass I’m
going to look the part.


Raymond Massey

Dec 12, 2015, 1:16 am Reply

Amazing job Aaron!

Aaron W

Dec 12, 2015, 1:32 am Reply

Awesome, love it

Bailey Duemmel

Dec 12, 2015, 4:19 pm Reply

This is probably the coolest thing ever!

Sue Oli

Dec 12, 2015, 5:12 pm Reply


Patricia Massey

Dec 12, 2015, 8:49 pm Reply

What an incredible idea! Great job!

Betty Snyder

Dec 12, 2015, 2:51 am Reply

I love your vision for this transformation from piano to piano bar and of course your craftsmanship is impeccable. One question – where does one purchase a hinge lock?

Rebecca Parham’s Second Channel

Jan 1, 2016, 10:21 pm Reply

You should be so stinkin' proud of that thing. It's so amazing and it would fit perfectly in with my ideal house. I'm gonna steal it.

Bruce A. Ulrich

Jan 1, 2016, 4:55 pm Reply

This thing is awesome! Great job! I couldn't tell, is the wine rack on a slight angle?


Jan 1, 2016, 7:42 pm Reply

La carharrt fa schifo paghi solo 80 € per la marca e i vestiti 10€ fatti alla cazzo

AL&My ‘

Jan 1, 2016, 9:03 pm Reply

OMG, I'm just in love with such ppl with hands, which grow up from shoulders as you!


Jan 1, 2016, 5:56 pm Reply

that upright piano used to be a player piano.

Daphne Hougard

Feb 2, 2016, 4:13 am Reply

Amazing, love your commitment to your vision, its sexy.


Feb 2, 2016, 4:41 pm Reply

Just a note, it would've been easier to use a chemical or citrus stripper on that finish. I have a similar old piano and similar old finishes on windows that I am rehabbing. The combination of varnish/shellac/wax just destroys sand paper. If not that, then a scraper would take it off easier than sandpaper as well.

nn looser1

Feb 2, 2016, 7:55 pm Reply

What program did you use to make the preview?

Michael Wyssen

Feb 2, 2016, 9:48 am Reply

Cool stuff – real great.

Shaun McCartan

Mar 3, 2016, 1:24 pm Reply

Amazing up-cycle Aaron looks fantastic, only thing I would like to say is apart from the hinges there is no logic that its anything other than a piano, will try this idea with a hinge change. Its certainly a classy musical up-cycle brilliant idea.

Alysin Montgomery

Mar 3, 2016, 5:46 pm Reply

You are a friggin GENIUS!!!!! OMG!!!! I just started doing small woodworking projects from home. I ran across two FREE PIANOS!! How could I say "No"??? So now j have two pianos (plus the one I play πŸ˜‰ ). One is a newer, smaller upright. The other is a 1920s upright. This video total saved my life! AMAZING!!!!!!! I do have one question: the men that delivered this MASS of a piano told me that the 1920s piano has a chunk of cast iron in it. Do you know about that or how I go about getting it out? Your disassembly went by kinda fast. Lol Thank you!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Gotta go watch more of your videos!!!! πŸ™‚

Ginger Bakerino

Mar 3, 2016, 2:01 am Reply

your video are awesome


Apr 4, 2016, 11:12 pm Reply

where are you?…please come help me build one of these

Alexandra Land

Apr 4, 2016, 5:28 am Reply

WOW ! Im purchasing a 1910 Historical home and left behind is a 1907 Gordon and Sons player piano……I dont have your skills but I have hopes of saving the piano and repurposing now…….Great job !

Mario Sanchez

May 5, 2016, 12:32 am Reply

perfect thanks. I saw a pic on interest and acquired an old piano just like this one. haven't started yet because was scared to screw it up.

Dor shem-tov

May 5, 2016, 1:06 am Reply

awsome sauce!!!!! that came out really nice, just an idea but u coul've routed a place for a cutting board 2 sit inside the shelf.


Jun 6, 2016, 8:08 am Reply

Well done. I've seen a couple of old pianos on CL for free and guess what I'm picking one up soon. Again, great job!


Jun 6, 2016, 8:09 am Reply


Bob Czubiak

Jul 7, 2016, 7:19 am Reply

This would be cool to rent out for various events. I think I would take out the harp of the piano. I was thinking that maybe you could take a picture of it, take the harp out and replace with the picture maybe printed on vinyl. From a distance, I think it would look like the real deal especially when adding lighting to it and you wouldn't break your back lugging it around.


Jul 7, 2016, 2:32 am Reply

great job I wish I had saved more of the piano

Samantha Shelby

Oct 10, 2016, 10:39 pm Reply

This is too amazing!

Entropy wins

Oct 10, 2016, 4:26 am Reply

This made me smile. What a great hack! Brilliant.

Keith Budgell

Nov 11, 2016, 12:58 am Reply

What would you put the approximate weight of this piece at? I love it – have an old upright with a cracked soundboard that we're looking to repurpose into a bar for our home. Love it.


Dec 12, 2016, 6:08 pm Reply

les ballons


Jan 1, 2017, 4:00 pm Reply

Apothic Red, good choice πŸ˜‰

Vasiliy Kuzin

Mar 3, 2017, 12:13 pm Reply


Brett Smith

Jun 6, 2017, 11:18 pm Reply

Just found your channel. You are my spirit animal. I almost always have a project going. I just finished a fully insulated doghouse featuring upcycled vintage windows that open for summer airflow. You also seem like that guy I could just "bro down" with (I don't really know what that means). So, if you need help loading some old junk you are transforming… I'm in Utah… so…. nvrmnd.

Anyway thanks for the inspiration to find my next project, I was thinking I might take a few months off, but now I can't.

Daniel Massey

Jun 6, 2017, 6:02 pm Reply

Very cool and very nice job!!!!

Patrick McCauley

Oct 10, 2017, 12:08 am Reply

I love the build! Any thoughts on an epoxy seal on the keys to leave them on, and have a flat surface?

Griffeth Whitehurst

Nov 11, 2017, 6:52 pm Reply

This is amazing! Thanks for sharing!

Junkette Junkerson

Feb 2, 2018, 6:49 am Reply

Holy shit, this is ridiculous!!! YOU are ridiculous! This is amazing…all I kept saying was, "Wow… oh my god, wow….." xD


Apr 4, 2018, 10:23 am Reply

Skip to 1:05


May 5, 2018, 11:55 am Reply

What a nice idea! Well done. I am impressed by your skill and creativity. I also own an old piano that is stored in my garage for about nine years now. I think it's time for me to build a bar as well πŸ˜‰

Isaac Williamson

Aug 8, 2018, 2:47 am Reply

Well done, looks amazing! ?

Zane Whittington

Sep 9, 2018, 2:51 pm Reply

Great project. Thanks for sharing

douglas becker

May 5, 2019, 5:13 am Reply

Amazing project

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