Mechanical Music Digest  Archives
You Are Not Logged In Login/Get New Account
Please Log In. Accounts are free!
Logged In users are granted additional features including a more current version of the Archives and a simplified process for submitting articles.
Home Archives Calendar Gallery Store Links Info

Spring Fundraising Drive In Progress. Please visit our home page to see this and other announcements:     Thank you. --Jody

MMD > Archives > August 1997 > 1997.08.14 > 11Prev  Next

Ivory Repair
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  I wanted to wait to see what kind of responses there would be to
the question about ivory cement.  Since a lot of the work I do is on the
road, I needed something that was fast and sure.  Early on, I tried
contact cement but shortly discovered (as was correctly pointed out by a
few responses) that it discolored the appearance of the ivory.  So I
started experimenting.  I must have tried ten different glues...  nothing
worked fast enough.  I even tried super glue.  And while the Krazy glue
held pretty good, the color of the wood underneath still discolored the

So I tried white paint.  Not just any white paint, Krylon white paint.
It dried fast but didn't hold very well.  Then I tried something really
bizarre.  I applied a thick coating of Krylon to the wood, let it set up
(mostly dry), then drew a thin bead of Krazy glue in a horseshoe pattern
over the painted surface and used the heel of the ivory head to spread
AND mix the Krazy glue and the paint.

Then, after the concoction was gooey, I pressed the ivory into position
and held it in place for about 15 seconds.  For reasons I don't claim to
understand, the mixture allowed me to make slight adjustments in the
position of the ivory for about 5 seconds, plenty of time for proper
alignment.  SUCCESS! The ivory did not come off.  In fact, it will break
before it comes off.

Only one real problem with the procedure.  The height (thickness) of the
head and the tail were slightly different because of the missing cloth
under the head.  So, I said, "'Self', add the cloth".  I took cheese
cloth (a piece slightly larger than the key top for easy handling) and
immediately after 'mixing' the glue and paint, placed the cheese cloth
and then the head.  Applied pressure for 15-20 seconds (30 on a humid
day).  DONE! I was truly happy.  My customers were truly happy.  My
customers are still very happy.  I've yet to have one call back because
an ivory came off.

In some instances, the old cloth is still intact (or mostly intact) and
in those cases, less paint is needed.  Usually one coat will do nicely.
In areas where a piece of the cloth is missing, I drip (or glob) the
paint on thick.  In cases where the old cloth has become dirtied by years
of touching, I simply scrape the surface of the cloth with a very sharp
knife until it is almost white, being careful not to damage the cloth.

I also found that I could get an even stronger bond if the underside of
the ivory was very clean.  Here again, by scraping the ivory with a very
sharp knife.   (Not with the point, you don't want to scratch it, as
those lines are faintly visible.)

I know that this procedure sounds a bit bizarre, but it has been so
successful that I had, until today, vowed never to divulge my 'trade
secret' to anyone.  Then I got to thinking, why be selfish? So, there it
is guys and gals.  This method, while certainly out of the norm, has yet
to fail me and I have used it easily more than 1000 times.  I have
perhaps 40 ivory clamps that are getting rusty from non-use.   This
method does require a little bit of practice and it should be noted that
allowing the paint to dry 100% is all right.

When I encounter a key that has some of the wood missing, I apply
successive coats of paint until the surface is basically smooth.  No
matter how much paint you apply, the Krazy glue will 'melt it'.   I do
not spray the paint on.  I spray the paint into the top of the spray can,
let it sit for a minute or so and apply it with a small brush.  I've
found that, the thicker the paint, the better the seal.

One other small point.  When you press the ivory into place, the excess
will ooze out the sides and front.  DON'T let it get on your fingers.
You will become one with the key.  And don't be alarmed by the heat you
feel under your finger.  There is obviously some kind of chemical
reaction going on between the Krazy glue and the paint.  Also, I trim off
the excess that oozes out before it gets totally hard (usually about one
minute) especially under the lip of the ivory.  Once you've mastered this
technique, it's a 1-2-3 process that can easily be done in between other

John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Thu 14 Aug 1997, 13:27:17 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Ivory, Repair

Home    Archives    Calendar    Gallery    Store    Links    Info   

Enter text below to search the MMD Website with Google

CONTACT FORM: Click HERE to write to the editor, or to post a message about Mechanical Musical Instruments to the MMD

Unless otherwise noted, all opinions are those of the individual authors and may not represent those of the editors. Compilation copyright 1995-2024 by Jody Kravitz.

Please read our Republication Policy before copying information from or creating links to this web site.

Click HERE to contact the webmaster regarding problems with the website.

Please support publication of the MMD by donating online

Please Support Publication of the MMD with your Generous Donation

Pay via PayPal

No PayPal account required

Translate This Page