This project was actually a re-do version from my first attempt at this mirror from several years ago. These pictures show the original piano key sunburst mirror - you can see it's larger and has more keys attached than the one recently recorded.
Also notice that there are no side pieces included on this one - I thought including these on the latest project would be a nice addition and make it feel more complete.
For the original mirror, I used Gorilla Glue - the kind that is the expanding foam. It worked great; the keys have held on for many years and there is no indication of them coming loose. However, for this newer version, I wanted something that wouldn't include the extra oozy mess on the sides of the keys knowing that I wanted to include those previously mentioned side pieces. That is why I chose epoxy for this version. More thoughts on the epoxy to follow.
This project can be done fairly inexpensively as long as you have access to a supply of old piano parts. I was lucky enough to ransack a piano store that was going out of business, and the owner literally said, "take what you want, what you can, because they are going in the dumpster on Friday". He let me tear down about six or seven upright pianos all of which had significant wear and tear from years of use, and I was able to gather a very large collection of piano keys, a few parts, plus two full grand piano manuals. I have quite a few ideas for these in the coming months, but for now the recreation of the original piano key mirror seemed like a good use of keys.
So, before we go any further, here's the truth: the mirror broke.
Probably not from what you suspect, but the mirror did indeed crack at the final stage. At the very conclusion of the build portion of the video, I attached a hardboard disc on the back to conceal the cuts of the keys and side pieces. The force of the staple going into the hardboard caused flex in the keys, therefore causing the mirror to flex and crack. Devastated being so close to completion. Fortunately, there was enough room on the front of the mirror to glue another mirror right on top. And that's what I did. A little construction adhesive did the job just fine. Mistake covered, and we breathe.
In the spirit of teaching and learning, here are my suggestions for you on how to complete this project for yourself:
1. Mount the mirror on a piece of hardboard or plywood. Use this backer piece as the surface attachment for the keys and side pieces. Wood glue will hold these pieces perfectly and will be further reinforced if you attach another backer piece on the back side for wall mounting. And, after all of the pieces are cut, glued, and adhered solidly to this backer piece, then glue your mirror on from the front. Construction adhesive works well. Even if you don't include the side pieces or back piece, the rigidity of the backer piece is good insurance for the mirror.
2. I used a Loctite epoxy on this project (you can see the product at 2:58 in the video), and I wasn't totally happy with the holding strength. Some of the side pieces came loose after moving the mirror around for a couple of days probably because of the smooth surface of the mirror backing, so I would shop around for another type of adhesive. Again, if you use a wooden backer piece to attach your pieces, wood glue would be ideal. Or, the foam-type Gorilla glue has definitely held up well over the years.
3. Piano keys have different designs on how they move the felt hammers inside the piano. These particular keys had a metal rod with a wooden piece attached at the end, and those in turn activate the felt hammers to strike the strings. If you have those striker pieces on your keys, and you want to include them on your final project, I would advise hammering them into the side pieces FIRST, then attach the entire side piece to the backer at one time. It was much easier to hammer those in place when the side piece was free rather than attached to the mirror. These aren't necessary; you can definitely create this project without this smaller pieces.
4. And for the plethora of piano keys I found: reach out to local businesses to see if you can salvage parts or pieces. I found the 'store closing' post for the piano store on Craigslist and contacted the owner. I was hoping for some parts and pieces from pianos, like the metal pedals or pins used for tightening strings, and got way more than I anticipated. Don't be upset if owners say no. But it's always worth a call or visit to see if it's possible.
Hopefully this gives you some insight on how to create one of these for yourself. Please like, comment and subscribe to the YouTube channel and share the video with your friends. What would you do different on this? Every little like and share helps keep me in the shop.