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Talc or Teflon?
#2754718 07/30/18 10:47 AM
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A video on YouTube from a respected piano dealer and restorer in England mentioned the use of talc (magnesium silicate powder) on grand knuckles.

I responded mentioning Teflon powder, and a bit of discussion took place. They spoke of having found that Teflon can cause subsequent problems of adhesion of hide glue if replacing knuckles. They said also that Renner uses talc and supplies it for use on knuckles.

Mario Igrec in Pianos Inside Out says that talc in certain applications can give rise to squeaks.

Do you have preferences, and have you noticed any advantages or disadvantages for Teflon or talc, for various piano applications?

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Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2754791 07/30/18 03:58 PM
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I use Teflon as a rule for this. I think it's a matter of degree. It does not take much.to getvthe job done, and actually you don't want them to be slippery. Some friction is needed there.

I only use talc on my hands for stringing.

Another option is soapstone. I have some soapstone sticks that I use occasionally (only because my first reach is usually for the Teflon out of habit). It is probably safer in the long run. There are potential health risks associated with Teflon. One client (also a doctor) when he saw me using it said that he was pretty sure that it could be absorbed through the skin, though in have not been able to verify this. That made me stop and think a bit though.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2754814 07/30/18 06:00 PM
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I also more commonly use PTFE powder. I originally was taught to use soapstone -- which falls under the general category of talc but is different from talc normally available as baby powder (which also may have additives like corn starch). I get soapstone sticks from a welder's supply and grind it into powder on the spot using my sandstick. I just rub the soapstone stick on my sandstick and collect it on a piece of paper.

Either way, I apply powder with a cheap metal-handled brush available in hardware stores.

PTFE and soapstone have a slightly different feel. PTFE seems to be "slipperier" while soapstone seems to be "silkier".

I would only use talc as a third option if neither of the above were available. It would certainly be better than nothing.

Not sure where the concern about using PTFE comes from. It's used in various things implanted into the human body. One of the most chemically non-reactive things there is.


Keith Akins, RPT
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Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
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Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2754861 07/31/18 04:20 AM
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Interesting responses, Peter and Keith. There has previously been discussion about whether PTFE (Teflon) powder is potentially harmful, and it really isn't. Talcum powder appears to be more risky, health-wise. There is no risk to the body from absorbing PTFE powder through the skin. I guess if one inhaled huge quantities every day, it might in time do SOMETHING to the lungs, but that's an extremely unlikely scenario.

The guy at the piano retailer/restorer said that Renner use talc, and supply it for action work. I thought that was interesting, and wondered why talc.

Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2755036 07/31/18 10:25 PM
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I think some people have conflated the health problems some makers of "teflon" materials have in the manufacturing process into making the material itself is unsafe. Teflon is inert. If you heat it high enough to burn you can create some dangerous compounds.

The contention teflon could "pollute" a glue joint is crazy. Just blow it off outdoors with compressed air and you won't have any problems.

I never use talc or soapstone, the teflon powder works so much better.

Last edited by Ed McMorrow, RPT; 07/31/18 10:26 PM. Reason: reword first sentence

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Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2755113 08/01/18 05:43 AM
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I think you're right about the 'conflated' perception, Ed. The manufacturing process for PTFE is not without hazards, but the finished material is not toxic. I previously used the illustration of cast iron - a foundry is a dangerous place to work, full of hazards. But a cast iron piano plate is fairly inert!


According to Marcus Roberts of Roberts Pianos, Renner use, and supply for their actions, Talc, and not Teflon powder. I wonder why that is. The Youtube discussion is here https://youtu.be/jjnRKWkmHB4

Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2755121 08/01/18 06:43 AM
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Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2755257 08/01/18 06:41 PM
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There are serious questions about Talc. I mentioned it as risky a few posts ago.

Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2755260 08/01/18 07:03 PM
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I guess I will worry no more about PTFE.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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Re: Talc or Teflon?
P W Grey #2755271 08/01/18 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
There are potential health risks associated with Teflon. One client (also a doctor) when he saw me using it said that he was pretty sure that it could be absorbed through the skin, though in have not been able to verify this. That made me stop and think a bit though.
Pwg

I'm not a doctor, but I thought Teflon was safe unless you smoke it. I sure hope TALC is safe, as it's one of the ingredients in some baby powders.

Last edited by AWilley; 08/01/18 07:53 PM.

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Re: Talc or Teflon?
AWilley #2755292 08/02/18 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by AWilley
Originally Posted by P W Grey
There are potential health risks associated with Teflon. One client (also a doctor) when he saw me using it said that he was pretty sure that it could be absorbed through the skin, though in have not been able to verify this. That made me stop and think a bit though.
Pwg

I'm not a doctor, but I thought Teflon was safe unless you smoke it. I sure hope TALC is safe, as it's one of the ingredients in some baby powders.


It's what Johnson and Johnson was just sued for some figure into the billions of dollars.


Keith Akins, RPT
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USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Talc or Teflon?
David Boyce #2755342 08/02/18 08:47 AM
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Well, I am familiar with the high temperature issues such as can happen in a house fire or stove fire. I'm sure though that it isn't exactly a GOOD thing to be breathing in the powdered stuff, though it may not be "harmful"...best to try to keep it to a minimum. Hey...wood dust is also best kept out of the lungs as much as possible.

Anyway, I'm not going to fret over it.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
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