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How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
#2875109 08/01/19 10:28 PM
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Hi. First post.

I have an old 1890's Ivers & Pond upright grand.

One of the ivory key tops popped off the other day. Clean separation, no breaks or cracks in the ivory or key.

What's the best way to put this back on without making it look like an obvious DIY job, or damaging the piano? I assume a glue of some sort... (?)

Primarily, I just need the repair to be about function, as it still gets played on a daily basis.

In the Beauty Dept., even though it's not a showpiece or anything, *I* still look at it a lot, so duct tape and bubble gum jerry-rigs are out.

'Would prefer that steps taken do not impede the option to have The Thing restored in the future.

Thank you, anybody, in advance.

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Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875126 08/01/19 11:32 PM
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The ‘best’ option are the ivory wafers. But I’ve used marine epoxy and it’s been great. I’ve used it on my own pianos. It’s white and easy to work with, and can be bought at Home Depot/Lowes. Ideally you’d need some sort of clamp as well. There are nice ivory keytop clamps you could probably find on the internet, but if you’re inventive you could work something else out.

Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875164 08/02/19 03:32 AM
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I wouldn't use any epoxy to glue any key top. Epoxies are superstrong and are hardly (if not impossibly) removable without damaging either the key top or the key itself. To glue a porous top as ivory, glue should be white when dry (ivory is translucent), flexible and must allow the top to be removed without damage (whether it be to reglue, to repair, to upgrade the whole keyboard tops &c.)

Prefer the use of wafer, or traditionnal whitened hot glue or fish glue, or even PVC-E (optionally mixed with white powder).


Ulrich Guillerm
Piano technician
France
Ti Piano
Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875180 08/02/19 05:10 AM
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If ivory is porous as ulrich says, you could also try a little bit of standard wood glue.

To make it look good the most important is that it fits perfectly in the place where it came from. Epoxy might be too thick and cause a slight offset from the original correct position.


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Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875219 08/02/19 09:24 AM
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I can’t say how easy marine epoxy is to remove but it’s not the thick epoxy wouter may be thinking of.

Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875237 08/02/19 10:35 AM
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You remove marine epoxy with a chisel, or sand or grind it off. It doesn't dissolve in any common solvent.

I wouldn't use it for a keytop.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875243 08/02/19 10:57 AM
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Some guys use contact cement for quick field repairs , not permanent but it can last for years apparently.

I would try to get stuff that will dry white or i wonder if a white marker pen on the underside of the ivory before gluing with cement might work.

Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875253 08/02/19 11:32 AM
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You can use cyanoacrylate glue if you have a good surface. Use just a little fresh glue. I use five dots : four corners and the middle, plus a little to glue the edge to the front of the tail.

Keep in mind that nothing is perfect. The original glue fails because of movement between the wood and the ivory due to humidity. Water-based glues are worst because the ivory warps very badly. Contact cements tend to be too thick, and positioning is difficult. Slow-drying glues require clamping, which can cause the ivory to move out of position unless you have the specific clamps for the purpose, and know how to use them.


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Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875278 08/02/19 12:30 PM
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Mario Igrec talks about Aleene Quick Dry Tacky Glue to glue porous key top, as more moisture-resistant, in Piano Inside Out

Worth the try (I haven't tried myself, don't know if I can find this in France...)


Ulrich Guillerm
Piano technician
France
Ti Piano
Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875312 08/02/19 02:22 PM
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I second BDBs suggestion and method of CA glue. Virtually instant, and no added thickness. Like BDB, I tend to use five 'dots'.

Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875318 08/02/19 02:37 PM
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I think I know this, but CA glue = garden variety super glue, right?


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Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875333 08/02/19 03:33 PM
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I use "Goop".....seems to work just fine, no complaints. Clean both surfaces (the underside of the ivory and the top of the key) flat with a chisel. The chisel, in this case, is used as scraper more than a "chisel" you understand as in the end you just want a finish free of lumps of the old glue). Apply a thin layer of good ol' Goop and push the ivory or plastic down for a minute. Make sure it is evened out on the sides and front and clean up any overspill glue. Tell the customer not to play the piano for a couple of hours and it should be fine.


Duane Graves


"Pushin 70...still haven fun I think..."
Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875340 08/02/19 03:43 PM
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CA is Superglue, yes. It stands for CyanoAcrylate.

If the ivory has recently detached, and has not warped and mates exactly with the keytop, no cleaning of surfaces is needed. Just five drops of superglue, make sure the ivory is positioned correctly, hold firmly in place for a minute, and it's done.

Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875359 08/02/19 04:30 PM
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I've used CA glue for years.I usually use the thin. It works really well if the keytop is freshly detached. I use a sharp razor blade and put several lines on the surface of the keytop and also on the ivory to give it some tooth to grab onto. I put the CA on the keystick, because the ivory causes it to cure very quickly. The trick is to line it up as perfectly as you can - a pair of reading glasses and a good head lamp really helps. Avoid getting any CA near the head/tail joint. Once I get it in place, I use my long hammer support block (voicing block) to press down on the freshly glued head piece, using my weight. I can really push the two pieces very firmly together, which helps in getting the two surfaces to be level with each other so you don't feel the joint.

If a top is loose, but not detached, you can remove it, flip it over, and run a bead of thin CA under the lip. It will wick under the keytop and reinforce the joint, preventing the top from coming off.

CA can also be horrible if you are not careful. Practice and technique are important to get good results. You really get one good shot at it, and if you do it right, you can't tell it came off.


Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net
Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875367 08/02/19 04:58 PM
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If the front is being reglued, the CA may be thin enough so the front don’t match the height of the tail creating a slight ridge between it and the tail.
Check for that before committing to CA.


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Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875392 08/02/19 06:18 PM
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The wafers have their place. Most original ivories have them. They are used to insure the whiteness and color uniformity. However, I recommend using the clamp designed for this job, and keep the clamp on overnight. Otherwise the ivory will warp. It's not for a quick fix.


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Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875398 08/02/19 06:32 PM
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I wouldn't use garden-variety super glue. In my experience it works better if it's thick, and best of all if it's "Gorilla Glue Super Glue" (blue cap, and not to be confused with Gorilla's polyurethane glue) Gorilla puts some sort of rubberizing agents in their glue that makes it stronger and less brittle, which helps keep the key from popping off in 2 years, this time with slick hard bits of super glue attached to the bottom.

If I have ivory that has come off recently I don't do any treatment (filing/scraping) because the bottom of the ivory already exactly matches the top of the wafer, including every bit of wafer that got pulled off with the ivory. The keytop almost snaps into the correct position. If you're replacing with ivory that is not original then obviously it's better to prepare the surfaces so they're both flat.

I second avoiding water-based glues unless you're prepared for hard clamping. And please don't use wood glue. It's a pain for me to scrape off when it pops off again in 6 months.


Anthony Willey, RPT
PianoMeter
Willey Piano Tuning
Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
Charles Cohen #2875601 08/03/19 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
You remove marine epoxy with a chisel, or sand or grind it off. It doesn't dissolve in any common solvent.

I wouldn't use it for a keytop.


Well, I guess we’ll find out smile On my own piano there is one key I temporarily repaired until I could get a replacement top—the person I bought it from did a really poor repair job on a broken front, so I redid it and made the repair decent but I’ve still been wanting to put on a replacement since the crack is visible. I was able to get a handful of appropriately sized replacement heads so eventually I’ll see how easy the marine epoxy is to deal with.

Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2875929 08/04/19 09:26 AM
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Quote
If I have ivory that has come off recently I don't do any treatment (filing/scraping) because the bottom of the ivory already exactly matches the top of the wafer, including every bit of wafer that got pulled off with the ivory. The keytop almost snaps into the correct position.


Absolutely!

Re: How do I reattach ivory onto a key?
MYMMYTH #2876401 08/05/19 03:31 PM
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Based on a thread I found here years ago, I use the remaining wafer residue to fit the key top right back where it was with a bead of fabric glue. I use this glue. I just press it down for a minute or two and then let it cure. Works well, and never had a repeat offender.



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