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MMD > Archives > August 1997 > 1997.08.13 > 13Prev  Next

Ivory Cement
By Craig Brougher

Rick Inzero was asking about cement for ivory keytops.  Please do not use
contact cement for any keytop, as it lasts about ten years and then falls
off, in the majority of cases.  Most contact cements are too hygroscopic
and vulnerable to moisture in the air.  That's why they work well under
countertops, but not on keytops.  However, not all contact cements are
this way, particularly the stuff you can buy from Tandy Leather Supply
or a shoe shop supply.  But there are two better reasons not to use
contact cement:

  1. You can't adjust the keytop once placed down, and

  2. The ivory is translucent, and while unnoticeable during assembly,
once the comparator eyeball is able to look at the whole keyboard, you
will be able to pick out dark grain under some of the ivory tops, plus
the fact that the keys will never look their whitest and prettiest
because of the yellow or amber color of the glue.

You should do it the right way and use ivory cement and keytop clamps.
You should also mount the ivory on some thin cloth strips which you have
first saturated in the cement.  These get trimmed later.  The cloth is
white, and puts a cushion between the natural wood movement and the
ivory, so the ivory is able to stick better.  The clamps work better with
the cloth cushion, too.

If you only have a few repairs to make, you can use Devcon 5-minute epoxy
in which you have mixed some whiting, first.

Trimming and filing new ivory is an art, and so is replacing new ivory on
keys.  I hope that anybody trying this for the first time understands
that their first job isn't going to be as nicely done as their fiftieth
set, and that before they begin to do a professional job, they have to be
set up for it.

And after all that is said, there were some key men that had special
touches, such as beautiful bevels, even across the joint between the tail
and the pad, with the keypad twice as thick as the tail, creating about
the prettiest keytop I have ever seen.  There are just so many little
tricks to everything in this business!

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Wed 13 Aug 1997, 13:14:07 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Cement, Ivory

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