October 1, 2022

Williamston man creates custom wood products from old pianos

WILLIAMSTON, Mich. — When life gives you lemons, sometimes you have to make lemonade. And a Williamston man is doing just that by taking old pianos and giving them a new purpose in life.

Jon Boza had a stroke in November 2020. He survived but found he could no longer do his job as a high voltage electrician safely. He needed something new.

So he took his tools and started Broken brain Woodworking.

Tianna Jenkins, WSYM, March 2022

Jon Boza next to a piano that he hijacks

“I’ve always been good at fixing and taking things apart and figuring out how to do it,” Boza said. “I don’t know where this idea came from, but I love it. I also do high end, cutting boards and other custom work.”

Boza makes items like custom dog dishes, shelves, and wedding cake knives.

“I’m making a live edge desktop now. I’m making a wine cooler,” Boza said. “I like it, keep it organized. All my piano parts are separated by what they are and different things.”

Personalized Wedding Cake Knife from Broken Brain Woodworking

Tianna Jenkins, WSYM, March 2022

Personalized Wedding Cake Knife from Broken Brain Woodworking

He even managed to reuse an organ from the 1800s and plans to turn it into a wine bar. He says most of the pianos he buys are from the 1920s or earlier.

“Anyone who gives me a piano who donates it to me, I’ll make them a wooden cutting board and write their name, or have them engrave their name and the date of the piano as a free gift.”

Everything he does is basically his prime due to short term memory loss from his stroke.

“All I remember is that I was driving to work that day. And then I wasn’t feeling well that morning. And then after that, it’s like that now. Nothing bad. ‘other than what I may read about it in my little newspaper, or several newspapers,” Boza said. “One for everyday, one for big events like deaths and big things I don’t want to read about every day. And one for woodworking, all my instructions on how to do the things I I did all that.”

His detailed notes and step-by-step instructions help him build with elements he wants to repeat piece by piece.

He says his wife calls his shop her little sanctuary.

Jon Boza inside his shop

Tianna Jenkins, WSYM, March 2022

Jon Boza inside his shop

“Because that’s probably the only thing that’s familiar to me. So like when I go out, and there’s new buildings and stuff, I never recognize it. So that’s when I know everything is where I left it,” Boza said.

“I would say, there’s my little brain therapy room.”

Boza says he is happy to be able to create things for people and also to give pianos a new purpose.

“They don’t go in the trash. So I feel good about using a little piece and putting a little piece of history into everything I do.”

If you would like to donate a piano to Boza or if you are interested in his work, you can contact him via Facebook.

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