I sometimes go to Scrap in Portland. They have all sorts of donated art supplies. Last time I visited, they have a lot of piano parts. There were keys and some metal parts. The keys were not exotic woods, so we didn't buy any of it. We have an old portable pump organ in storage at our other place. I'd never thought about salvaging wood for a dulcimer, so I should take a second look at it.
Possible Source of Wood for Instruments
Most piano keys were never solid ebony or ivory, but rather maple or another hard wood with thin ebony or ivory overlays, and later phenolic and other early "plastic" overlays.
A woodworker would need some special equipment to salvage the wood from a piano. I built several dulcimers when I lived on Kwajalein, from WWII era solid mahogany desks and other military officer furnishings that I recycled. A deep-throat bandsaw with the special jigs to re-saw thick wood into thin planks for starters, and a wide-mouthed plane as well as a wide-mouthed surface sander. Otherwise the waste is horrendous.
updated by @ken-hulme: 04/08/18 10:34:10PM
This is an issue with me. At the old place ... mom's old piano is just sitting there. It's been years. The keys now stick and it's out of tune. I've tried so hard to find it a home. I've offered it for free so many times and in so many places. It's very old now and shows it. Not that beat up, just old.
I've often thought of dismantling it and salvaging the wood. It's very expensive to get it milled though. I can buy dulcimer supplies much cheaper.
So unless there is sentimental value, I don't think many old family pianos will be recycled. It's a shame too. I'm sure that many have beautiful wood in them.
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
I was lucky to find a home (Middle School music classroom) for my mother's beloved piano. Shortly afterwards I learned how lucky I was. Read an article about how many people are finding it impossible to even give away pianos. People are even paying to have them go to landfills! The article did wonder about the wood being recycled to make new instruments.
Yes, they're heavy to move, but if you can manage that, maybe you wonder how to find unwanted pianos. If you have never discovered Freecycle, Google it and subscribe. You can post a request for people to contact you -- I would suggest mentioning your wanting to recycle the wood to make dulcimers. Probably once a year would be acceptable to post the request. You can sign up for more than one Freecycle group as they are grouped by geographical area. I would add just probably one at a time so you don't get swamped.
I am not likely to ever build a dulcimer, but this sounds like a great way to find beautiful wood rather than let it rot in a landfill.
updated by @lois-sprengnether-keel: 10/27/19 12:02:25PM