Keytop materials available

Posted by: Roger L

Keytop materials available - 01/25/13 03:13 PM

I know that many of you send your keys off to have someone else recover them for you, but for those of you who don't, what do you do when some of the keys are wider than normal?

I am working on a 1916 Steger & Sons 6' grand. It is a beautiful piano but using a set of matched ivory is just not an option for me now because of the cost. I normally use the Vagias keytops in the simulated ivory material but it is produced in a standard width of only 7/8". Some of the keys on this old piano are as much as 1/16" wider. If I were to trim the keys down that much there would be some really ugly gaps.

Schaff sells Pyralin material in sheets that could be trimed to the right size, but I hate the look of white plastic on such an nice old piano.

I called Vagias Ventures company (manufactuer of the Vagias keytops in simulated ivory) and explained the situation. Alex Vagias was interested in possibly producing a blank keytop in the simulated ivory material which would be slightly larger than the standard key. This of course would require triming, shaping and polishing the edges, but would make the kind of project a success.

I am hoping that if any of you have come across a similar problem, you might give Alex a call to let him know that the production of that extra blank key would be of value. He said it would cost a bit more, but to me it would be well worth any extra cost to get the job done right.

If you think this might be of some worth, please give Alex a call to let him know. His number is 724-869-2842.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,
Roger
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/25/13 03:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Roger L
I know that many of you send your keys off to have someone else recover them for you, but for those of you who don't, what do you do when some of the keys are wider than normal?

I am working on a 1916 Steger & Sons 6' grand. It is a beautiful piano but using a set of matched ivory is just not an option for me now because of the cost. I normally use the Vagias keytops in the simulated ivory material but it is produced in a standard width of only 7/8". Some of the keys on this old piano are as much as 1/16" wider. If I were to trim the keys down that much there would be some really ugly gaps.

Schaff sells Pyralin material in sheets that could be trimed to the right size, but I hate the look of white plastic on such an nice old piano.

I called Vagias Ventures company (manufactuer of the Vagias keytops in simulated ivory) and explained the situation. Alex Vagias was interested in possibly producing a blank keytop in the simulated ivory material which would be slightly larger than the standard key. This of course would require triming, shaping and polishing the edges, but would make the kind of project a success.

I am hoping that if any of you have come across a similar problem, you might give Alex a call to let him know that the production of that extra blank key would be of value. He said it would cost a bit more, but to me it would be well worth any extra cost to get the job done right.

If you think this might be of some worth, please give Alex a call to let him know. His number is 724-869-2842.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,
Roger


When I have done key top replacement in the past, I used the one-piece plastic with attached fronts. Very easy to install. Honestly, this is one of those things I wouldn't fret about too much with a Steger & Sons. Just get the thing done.
Posted by: Mark Cerisano, RPT

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/25/13 09:37 PM

Fitting plastic keytops properly is a very important job in my opinion.

When I do it, I router the keytop down by the difference in thickness between the plastic and the old ivory, if that as the original material. This results in uniform keytop wood level and no shimming needed, hence no binding in upper case parts.

I then use a table top bench sander. The one with the disk and the belt. I use the belt to take off the excess on the sides.

The notch (L shape) is critical to get right. If all the notches are not even, it looks all zig-zaggy when you look down the keys from the side.

Also, not taking off the excess keytop results in binding and rubbing of the keys on one another. Especially with the black fronts if the notches aren't done well.

I use a utility blade to finely carve the notch at 90 degrees.

I've done this job a few different ways, but this way works the best for me.

Good luck.
Posted by: rysowers

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/25/13 10:09 PM

the "German Keytop" material sold by Pianotek looks and feels superior to the cheaper molded plastic keytops. They are a harder material, so maybe a little trickier to work with. If I want a factory perfect looking job I send them to Pianotek supply.
Posted by: Dale Fox

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/25/13 10:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Roger L
I know that many of you send your keys off to have someone else recover them for you, but for those of you who don't, what do you do when some of the keys are wider than normal?

[/color][color:#CC0000]PianoTek sells a 15/16" acrylic top part #KTP that might be useful. Yes, I know they are just solid colored, not grained. but they are wide enough. PianoTek also sells in 29/32" a German made set, probably not Kluge, put with fronts.

I am working on a 1916 Steger & Sons 6' grand. It is a beautiful piano but using a set of matched ivory is just not an option for me now because of the cost. I normally use the Vagias keytops in the simulated ivory material but it is produced in a standard width of only 7/8". Some of the keys on this old piano are as much as 1/16" wider. If I were to trim the keys down that much there would be some really ugly gaps.

Schaff sells Pyralin material in sheets that could be trimed to the right size, but I hate the look of white plastic on such an nice old piano.

I called Vagias Ventures company (manufactuer of the Vagias keytops in simulated ivory) and explained the situation. Alex Vagias was interested in possibly producing a blank keytop in the simulated ivory material which would be slightly larger than the standard key. This of course would require triming, shaping and polishing the edges, but would make the kind of project a success.

I am hoping that if any of you have come across a similar problem, you might give Alex a call to let him know that the production of that extra blank key would be of value. He said it would cost a bit more, but to me it would be well worth any extra cost to get the job done right.

If you think this might be of some worth, please give Alex a call to let him know. His number is 724-869-2842.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,
Roger
Posted by: accordeur

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/25/13 11:00 PM

Here is a jig I have been using for over 20 years, to cut the notch exactly. The router is not turning in the video. And the key is just a spare used for demonstration. When it is is on, it is loud, I wear ear protection.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fKzHYN5u40
Posted by: square-39

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/26/13 04:40 AM

Does anyone know why the fronts, on the one-piece plastic key tops, are not exactly perpendicular to the top? I am referring specifically to Pianoteks's German keytops, item KTF-4W - but I believe this is the case with other key tops. To properly install these keytops, the key front has to be cut at a slight angle.
Posted by: Dale Fox

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/26/13 09:06 AM

Originally Posted By: square-39
Does anyone know why the fronts, on the one-piece plastic key tops, are not exactly perpendicular to the top? I am referring specifically to Pianoteks's German keytops, item KTF-4W - but I believe this is the case with other key tops. To properly install these keytops, the key front has to be cut at a slight angle.


It requires a slight clamping pressure on the front of the key. My take on it is that, the slight angle makes it easier to get the top placed properly all the way tight against the top front edge of the key stick, thus ensuring an even line on the key fronts. I use a little piece of tape to temporarily clamp as I don't do enough tops to worry about making a clamp that would utilize the front mortise as an anchoring point.

No angle cut required or desired for that matter. Can you imagine the inconsistency that could create? IMHO ;p
Posted by: David Jenson

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/26/13 09:09 AM

I'm not familiar with the exact tops you are referring to, but the Schaff sets had a slight backward angle. It wasn't much, and was easy to deform slightly in the installation. I used my fingers to align the tops holding the tails up slightly as I slid them into place making sure the 90% angle at the top front was tight. They seemed to work very well, the slight angle holding the front in place nicely.

I think I only used a couple of those sets before going to two piece sets with a jig alignment system. I put the fronts on before trimming the keys. 'Just seems to make a neater job.
Posted by: woodfab

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/26/13 09:10 AM

I bought two sets of Vagias and and I found the same thing you did.
On some keys they just weren't wide enough.
Also with them being translucent you need to put something white under them like they do with real ivory.
I ended up not using them.

I ended measuring key widths on quite a few pianos and was surprised that key widths varied up to 30 thousands of an inch.

I've I only done five piano key-top jobs so far each time I used a different brand in order to see which one I like.
The first one I did I used .050" sheet Pyralin, allot more work with cutting, trimming, and shaping. I liked the way they looked and felt.

So far I like the (German key-tops W/fronts light cream) I found them to be a little more brittle than a couple of others I've tried but they trim up nicely.

Posted by: square-39

Re: Keytop materials available - 01/27/13 03:54 AM

Thank-you Dale - your "take" on this condition makes a lot of sense. I recently completely rebuilt the keyboard of a 1942 Steinway B. I used the KTF-4W tops and they worked quite nicely.
Although I did not do it, I noted that if the front of the key did tilt ever so slightly, the distance to the keyslip would remain closer to a constant dimension as the key was depressed (it was interesting to observe that as the key is depressed, the front moves a little closer to the keyslip).

BTW, I also noted that on this keyboard the C and D sharps are wider than the F, G and A sharps - an important consideration to take into account when trimming the notches.