Sunday, December 25, 2011

Grand Piano Restoration: Ivory Repairs 2

To continue with piano ivory repairs here is the method I use for replacing the tail. I have found when replacing piano ivory head and tail it is best to set the tail last. By setting the tail last this will give the proper length of the head over the front of the key. 

 In the previous blog posting on piano ivory restoration, we set a new head to a pre-existing tail. Just to review, the new head only fit in that case because the manufacturer of the piano (Heintzman) had a consistency of ivory products, so for that piano maker the heads and tails are interchangeable under certain conditions.

Most of the time it is best to replace the head and tail as matching original heads to the original tail gives the best results.

In order to complete this task properly, I start by clamping the tail without any glue (dry fit) into place using the old marks left by the original tail and head. Usually the line of the tail end is left on the wooden key along with a line where the head and tail bond together. Once the tail is dry fit into place, the head can be set with adhesive as shown in the previous posting on repairing piano ivory. Then, once the head is dry, the clamps and plate can be removed and then the tail glued into place. I usually leave the head and clamps in place as I will need them for replacing and setting the tail.

I always put a little horizontal pressure on the tail by making the set points with the clamps a little too small. Once the head is set and dry it will not move; then the tail can be set correctly without checking the measurements.

The tools are the same for setting the tails; the iron to heat the plates, the choice of original pre-mixed glue, or the glue wafers, and the plates for the tails which are slightly different but used in the same way. 

Here is a photo set of how I set the tail on replacement piano ivory.

Ivory Replacement Tail

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