Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reason Number One

Why furniture refinishers should not try to do piano key work...

And therefore why sane piano technicians should not be willing to finish up said work.

I've never claimed to be sane, only saner than many.

So the email stated that the keys had been professionally prepped, sanded with 100 grit, to be ready to just glue on new key tops. "Could you discount the price?"

I think not! (Between you and me, I should have charged extra.)

So while they did save me the time of slicing off the old tops and fronts, I was left with this to deal with.Can't just glue those new key tops and fronts on to this jagged edge! Just imagine how messed up that supposed nice, straight, edge of piano keys would be with these two sticking out further toward the front! Yes, there were others of similar ilk. I trimmed them to match their neighbors. That was the most I could do to straighten what still will most likely be a rather irregular line of keys. Then I went on with the rest of the job. During the trimming of the top key wood using my rotary planer set-up, a large area of Bondo filler chipped off two blade tips on the planer. I wasn't happy. Thankfully I had a set of new blades on hand. Everything else went fine.

What do you think? I think that the refinisher got a piano in for a strip and new finish. I think they didn't take the keys out and managed to ruin the existing key tops. Then they decided to not tell the customer and take care of it before their customer could find out. How hard could it be to glue new plastic on? They pulled off the old, leaving several large rip-outs of wood which they then filled with Bondo. Then they sanded. Then they took a circular saw of some sort and wacked off the fronts. Most were sort of in a line. A few were way off. Then they found out that the new plastic key tops (they sent a set they had purchased) are made oversized and need to be machined to fit each key and they realized they were in trouble. I could be wrong, but...

The finished keys were sent back today with the photo enclosed and a BIG disclaimer and warning about future work.

6 comments:

Kippers Dickie said...

I'm sure you are right...but I am puzzled by the fact that the odd few keys were longer than the others.
If as you say, they clamped them down and put a saw to them as a group, it could then have been that a few were sticking out a bit and had more cut off, but this would have ended up with several shorter ones.
Even if they cut each one separately using a fence or jig I can't see how they would end up with some longer!

deb said...

Well, they're from an upright so it's doubtful they were cut as a group. I'd say, by the saw marks left on the fronts that they used either a table saw or a radial arm saw, without the concept that they needed a jig. Eyeballed, I think, and legally blind!

Kippers Dickie said...

Coming back on this topic Deb. What wood do they use for keys? It must be very stable and well seasoned because it can't afford to bend or twist even a 'gnat's knacker'. In fact I'm surprised they still use wood.

deb said...

I've seen everything from sugar pine to basswood to maple! And they do sometimes warp although not significantly unless waterlogged. An innovative (said with a grin) company, Lindner, once tried making a piano action from as much plastic as possible. Very clever. Once aged, it broken if you looked at it.

dickiebo said...

C'mon Deb! You should have smiled when you looked at it! Grrriiinnnnn!

deb said...

Nah, being me, I tried to fix it. The fix lasted long enough that the customer moved out of my service area!