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MMD > Archives > January 2001 > 2001.01.22 > 10Prev  Next


Gluing Ivory Keytops and Contact Cement
By Paul Camps

Hi there -- Did my eyes deceive me or did someone actually have the
nerve to suggest the use of contact adhesive to reglue the ivory back
onto a piano key?  They did?  Well done, that man!  I mean, really,
whatever next?  Someone will say they don't like hot glue!  Or have
we done that already?

Seriously though, many years ago when I started out as an apprenticed
organ builder one of my earliest recollections is that of being a key
holder for the tuning rep.

We would enter many a cold damp church in darkest Cornwall in some of
the most inhospitable weathers.  There on the console would invariably
be a polite letter from the organist listing the odd fault, and
occasionally the request "please could you re-attach the ivory on
Middle C, it's come off".

Not having access to the equipment available back at the factory meant
an on-site repair.  All tuner reps carried a basic toolbox, tuning
cones, chisels, reed knife and various odds and ends including "Clear
Bostic", a solvent-based glue in a tube, slightly more liquid than
jelly in consistency.  This was applied sparingly to the top of the
key and to the underside of the ivory, the two parts then placed
together with some firm pressure, and hey! Presto! Job done, and hey
man, couldn't you get high on the fumes!

As to whether there was any discolouration or show through, I don't
remember.  Church organ keys are very yellowed, as a rule, due to the
constant exposure to perspiration from the organists fingers,
particularly in the middle octaves, and there's no bleaching effect
from direct sunlight.  Also, the ivory on organ keys tends to be a bit
thicker than that found on a piano; this may also have helped reduce
the show-through effect.

In conclusion, *all the other postings on this subject are absolutely
correct*, but when faced with an on-site repair there just isn't time
to reach for the hot glue pot, so, "Clear Bostic" it is.

Cheers, Paul Camps
Warwickshire, West Midlands.
Great Britain.

How's that for including my whereabouts?  Now you know where I am
you can avoid me like the plague!  Ha ha.


(Message sent Mon 22 Jan 2001, 17:50:37 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Cement, Contact, Gluing, Ivory, Keytops

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