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Krazy-Krylon Technique

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 key.

So I tried white paint. Not just any white paint, Krylon white paint. (Update: I've found that pure white is a bit too white in most cases. So, I normally use Krylon Navajo white.) 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, once it's fully dry, 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 or razor blade 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, scraping the ivory with a very sharp knife or blade does the trick. (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 work.

UPDATE: If you use other brands of CA glue or paint, you'll need to experiment first before doing the job on a customer's piano.

John A. Tuttle


















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This page was last revised November 8, 2021 by John A. Tuttle, who Assumes No Liability
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