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Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

  • 1.  Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 15:11
    What is your favorite, time-honored method for removing the key end felt.
    Specifically on 25 year old Steinway B.

    The end felt seems to be particularly stubborn on this piano. I doubt that it was
    already replaced.

    Thanks,

    Dave

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    Dave Conte
    Owner
    Knoxville TN
    817-307-5656
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  • 2.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 15:40
    I most often do it with a sharp chisel. Key in vise, cut right at the glue line to just a wee bit above (IOW, being careful not to be gouging into the wood). In most cases this works quite well. Sometimes I am cutting felt at the top of the glue line, and then scrape off what is left with a scraper.

    If the piano is old enough that you can be sure it is hide glue, soaking off works. In more modern pianos, the glue often seems to be like what comes out of a glue gun, and doesn’t respond to the usual soaking solutions.

    Fred Sturm
    fssturm@comcast.net
    www.artoftuning.com
    http://fredsturm.net
    "Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire." -Gustav Mahler




  • 3.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 16:44
    50/50 seems strong Alan. Jim

    Sent from my iPhone





  • 4.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 16:54
    Jim,

    I only use 50/50 because that is what I was taught, and it has worked. You know that if you tell me what solution you use, I will make up a batch pronto.

    Alan

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    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
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  • 5.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 15:58
    Hey Dave,

    Soaking them in a 50/50 solution of wallpaper remover and water has worked for me. Have you tried that? And if not, what have you tried?

    Alan

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    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 16:51
    Thanks, Fred and Alan.

    This is a 25 year old NY B. I tried soaking with Zinzer wallpaper remover
    concentrate duluted to much more than the instructions of 1 oz to 1 gal.
    I also followed with a steam iron over wetted cloth. Both of these methods
    worked for me in the past. I finally had to saturate the felt to the point where
    the liquid was overflowing to the wood keys. I tried a steam jet, but again with
    a lot of effort and little success. I think Steinway now uses something other
    than a water soluable glue. I have not had that much success using the
    chisel in the past. That may be a last resort. The steam eventually gets the
    notches quite pristine, but it still takes a whole lot more effort that it should.


    ------------------------------
    Dave Conte
    Owner
    Knoxville TN
    817-307-5656
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Posted 06-16-2021 17:51
    Wow, sounds like tough glue. In that case, what about setting up a router jig and removing it that way, after cutting off the felt as much as possible? At least then all the rabbets would be perfect and consistent.

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    Jurgen Goering
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  • 8.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 19:31
    Hi Alan,

    The instructions on my bottle says mix 10 to one. Even then it has irritated my skin! My understanding is that the active ingredient is a surfactant, but can be irritating if not diluted. My bottle even says wear eye protection. That's why I was taken aback by the 50/50. As I looked online just now I see there are tons of different kinds. So...Party on Garth!  J

    Sent from my iPhone





  • 9.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 19:36
    Wow! Good to know, Jim.

    Thanks!

    Alan

    ------------------------------
    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA
    661.904.6483
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-25-2021 09:10
    Hi, Jurgen.

    Thanks for the suggestion. I thought about using a router (a good excuse to go purchase one)
    but dust collection is a bit of an issue in my small, state institution shop. The less dust and
    debris generated, the better, and a router would generate enough that some would end up
    on the walls. Not having my own setup is a disadvantage.

    So, I have to resort to letting things sit overnight. Slows me down considerably even with
    well thought out plans.

    Dave

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    Dave Conte

    University of Tennessee
    Knoxville TN
    817-307-5656
    Owner: Rocky Top Piano
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-16-2021 23:17
    I take a sharp chisel and cut off the felt about 1/8" above the glue line (typically while the keys are in key clamps while I'm doing the bushings). Then soak the remaining felt with wallpaper remover/water solution. You have to let it sit for an hour or more but eventually it will just pop off. You don't need to cut the felt first but it requires a lot more solution to be sure it saturates through to the glue if you don't

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    David Love RPT
    www.davidlovepianos.com
    davidlovepianos@comcast.net
    415 407 8320
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  • 12.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Member
    Posted 06-17-2021 10:43
    I use a table saw with the key held vertically (supported 90 degrees by a block). This insures that all keys have the same dimension. A chisel or blade cuts the felt off the back end of the keystick. To glue on new felt, clamp a section together and glue a strip across the section and let dry. Cut apart with a single-edge razor blade.

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 13.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 06-18-2021 00:24
    I put the keys in a key clamp, then up on two boards a bit thicker than the clamp. So the keys are level front and back. A utility knife does a nice job of slicing off most of the felt, just above the glue. Then I soak. Overnight if needed. If that's not enough, the steamer comes out. A scraper gently applied levels all the key ends.

    Doug Wood, RPT
    206-935-5797








  • 14.  RE: Key end felt (damper lift) felt removal

    Member
    Posted 06-27-2021 13:37
    I had a problem getting key bushings out because the glue was not yielding.  tried 50/50 water & wallpaper remover, some vinegar and even rubbing alcohol. What finally worked where wedges made from some old hammer felt soaked in the wallpaper solution and left in for several hours.
    For the key end felt try getting some strips of hammer felt from Pianotek or one of the other supply houses soak it and clamp it on using a thin wood strip on top of the strip. I have used very sharp chisels and razor blades in the past. You could also try a steam iron after applying the solution and using a wet rung out rag between the iron and felt. I am not so sure I would want to use a router to remove felt off wood. You might consider building a jig and using a sanding belt or drum but it could be risky. You want to avoid taking off wood or causing rounded/concave surfaces.

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    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    843-325-4357
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