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  • 1.  Tips requested

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-30-2021 11:09
    Greetings all,
    I have a specific tips request for the Journal. Ordinarily, the Journal often prints tips that use common household tools, products, and materials for use in piano work.

    However, we're looking for the reverse: piano-specific tools and materials that can be used to solve common household problems. We have a couple of clever ones, but would like a few more to round out an issue. What do you have?

    Send a hi-resolution photo and short description to me at


    Scott Cole, RPT
    Talent, OR

  • 2.  RE: Tips requested

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10-31-2021 12:53
    Hi Scott,

    I don't know how common or useful this would be, but my husband Mark Anderson (a former RPT, now jokingly called a Recovering Piano Technician) and I used a tuning hammer tip wrench to remove our garbage disposer.

    Let me explain.  I had used a small ramekin (just under 3 inches in diameter) during dinner prep and then placed it in the sink.  When I ran the faucet and some water accumulated in the sink, it lifted the ramekin up, which floated merrily toward the drain.  Unfortunately, it fit absolutely perfectly and lodged completely in the drain.  There was not enough room between the rim of the ramekin and the side of the drain to grab it with a pliers or vise grip.  We thought of trying to bust it up, or drill a hole in it, but were quickly dissuaded from that idea due to the fact that porcelain is -really- hard.  Pounding was ineffectual because we weren't pounding against anything solid.  We were also worried about damaging the disposer or the pipe, even though we supported the pipe area.  By this time we had knocked the ramekin down inside the disposer.

    What to do.  We decided we needed to drop the disposer down in order to remove the offender, but we didn't have the right tool.  It was a Friday night, and stores were closed.  (Mark wanted to wait until Monday and call a plumber, but I nixed that idea.)  We probably could have called a neighbor or two who might have had the tool that allows one to loosen the collar of the disposer in order to remove it.  But I realized that the openings of the loops on the disposer collar looked to be about the same size as the tip wrench tool.  No harm in trying, so I fetched it from the shop.  Sure enough, although it didn't fit perfectly, it was adequate to get enough purchase to unscrew the collar.  With the aid of a useful YouTube video, we were able to drop the disposer down, remove the ramekin and get the disposer back in position.

    I discarded that ramekin as well as the other one that was the same size.  That's my main advice to people:  if you have a garbage disposer and a 3 inch ramekin, get rid of the ramekin.  I wrote to my sisters about this episode.  One of them giggled helplessly (recognizing her own family's household mishaps) until her husband made her read it out loud, and one of them really enjoyed the fact that I used a piano tech tool to solve our household problem.  I had not used the tip wrench for its intended purpose in decades, having ordered various spare heads and tuning hammer tips to substitute as needed by just unscrewing the head.

    I didn't take any photos during this now comical domestic screw-up, but I can mock one up for you.  I could put the tip wrench in position in the loop of the disposer collar if you want a photo.

    Margie Williams
    Richmond CA