Sanded, Satin-finish Piano Keys
Forget ivory. Plastic keys are fine, if you finish them properly. Joseph Hofmann used to do this to his pianos. Make your keyboard into something really nice. Takes about eight hours.
I got these instructions many years ago from an old New York City “Piano Key Man”:
- Place a 1/4" piece of glass, 12x12" or so on a table.
Use glass because it is very hard, flat, and smooth.
- Place a piece of 280 sandpaper on it.
- Remove a key from the piano.
- Turn it upside down
- Sand it with a straight, forward-back movement on the sandpaper until all the unevenness of the surface of the key has been leveled, and no shiny areas remain.
- Use loose sandpaper to sand the side and front edges of the key.
- Finally, rub 0000 steel wool lengthwise on the surface of the key 4 times.
- Repeat for all the keys.
- For the black keys, also sand the sides and front
I've done this to each of the 3 grands I've owned. I did it again 10 years later to my most recent piano.
The result is a wonderful satin finish that feels great, and is at least as good as ivory. No more treacherous, slippery black keys, no more white keys that get sticky or slippery with sweat or skin oil.
Occasionally clean the keys with isopropanol (the cheap “rubbing alcohol”; you can buy in the drug store is just fine).
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1999-10-10 Modified cosmetically