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Useing Acrylikey to repair a chipped Ivory

AcryliKey® Ivory Repair System

Cleaning Piano Keys

Restore the "White" to Those Ivory Keys

During the past twelve years, I've done a good deal of work for one of this area's most prominent piano dealers. In helping to restore the large number of reconditioned "used" instruments which this company sells, I've often been faced with the challenge of trying to restore an, otherwise beautiful, but badly yellowed ivory keyboard to it's original whiteness. Herein is a method which is quite successful.

If you just wish to clean and disinfect your piano keys we recommend Piano Key Cleaner or Key-Brite both produts will clean, brighten & preserves ivory.


This system achieves it's effect by using a combination of Ultraviolet light, and very strong Hydrogen Peroxide to bleach the yellow out of ivory. In order to accomplish this task, you will need to obtain a few things which are not likely to be found in the ordinary piano shop, specifically: 30% Hydrogen Peroxide (H202), 60% works better and two fluorescent type, Ultraviolet lights.

Photo fluorescent type, Ultraviolet lights - 6329 Bytes I purchased my H202 in a 60% concentration from a local supplier, specialising in science materials for education and industry. After telling them what I intended using it for, they recommended that I buy it in it's stabilised form, explaining that the un-stabilised mixture could, if handled incorrectly, be explosive.

Once you've obtained this, combine (2) parts water and (1) part H202, in a Non-Food Container. This will yield an overall concentration of 10% H202. Pour this 10% solution into a pump/spray bottle and add a few drops of liquid hand soap as a wetting agent. It is this mixture which you'll use to bleach the keys. The undiluted H202 should be sealed, and stored in a refrigerator until needed for later usage. Note: If you are unable to purchase 30% H2O2, adjust the amount of water in your mixture, until you are able to achieve an approximate 10% concentration. At this point, it would be wise to warn that both, the chemicals, and the light source, mentioned in this article, are potentially harmful to your health. Use adequate Eye, Respiratory, and Skin protection. Heed all attendant warning labels. In addition, follow all advice offered by the professionals from whom you purchase your materials!

The lights which I use, are two (4 foot long) Sylvania 350, 40 Watt *Blacklights purchased from a local lighting supplier. These are placed into an ordinary "light duty" fluorescent lamp fixture, the fixture itself supported at both ends (lights down) upon a workbench by two small sections of 2" by 4", these lying on their 4" dimension. Photo_2.jpg - 29873 Bytes

The keys being bleached will be placed directly beneath this light fixture. Using 320, or finer, grit sandpaper, lightly sand the ivory keytops to be bleached. Following this, cover them with one layer of Cheese Cloth (available at local grocery stores). The purpose of the Cheese Cloth, is to distribute the H202 evenly upon the ivory, thus preventing "puddling" of the chemicals, and over-bleaching of selected areas.

Using your pump/spray bottle, spray a fine mist of the 10% H202 solution over the ivory.

Turn on the ultra violet light, and push the keys to be bleached beneath it.

Keep checking the keytops from time to time. As the H202 evaporates, you will need to occasionally re-wet the ivory with this bleaching solution. Generally, satisfactory results are achieved in 48 to 72 hours. The whitening that actually takes place is more a function of the amount of H202 applied than of the length of time the ivory spends under the light. As such, it does no harm to leave the keys under the light for a few days. In fact, the light should be left on at all times during the bleaching procedure, including over night.


If the grain in the ivory begins to look extremely white; if the ivory is already thin and begins to crack or lift; if the solution on top of the keys begins to look foamy; if in doubt; Stop. Keep in mind that you can always proceed further, if you wish, but you can't undo what you've already done.

When you're satisfied with the bleaching that has taken place, turn off the light, remove the keys from beneath it and wipe off any residue left on the ivory with a damp cloth.

It is now necessary to sand the keytops in order to smooth out any rippling or pitting which has been caused by the bleaching procedure. Although you may do this by hand, I generally use an orbital sander, supported upside down in a woodworking vise. Use 320 grit wet/dry sand paper; apply a few drops of water, and sand each keytop just enough to smooth the surface. Usually about 30 seconds each will do. Be constantly vigilant that you don't over-sand and that the ivory remains flat and even. Using a dry cloth, wipe off the resultant damp ivory-paste and buff out each key as you normally would .

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Congratulations you're finished.


Before undertaking this procedure on a customer's piano, experiment with some keys of your own first. Always inspect the ivory on any keyboard very closely before committing yourself. Although the heat from the lights (about 82 degrees F.) and the bleaching solution does not normally cause the ivory to loosen, if the heads or tails are already getting loose, the bleaching procedure will cause them to lift more. So make sure you've allowed yourself enough time in your bid to reglue the loose ones. Also, remember that this procedure does remove material. If the existing ivory is already thin, proceed with extreme caution or not at all. Over exposure to ultraviolet light may damage your eyesight. Do not look directly into the light source. It would be wise to wear sun glasses with U.V. protection, or to build some sort of shield using U.V. blocking plastic film (available through a scientific supply house).

Hydrogen Peroxide in the concentrations listed above can be dangerous. Use proper Eye, Respiratory, and Skin protection at all times.

There are many approaches to bleaching ivory, you can use a sponge instead of a spray to apply the Hydrogen Peroxide. and kitchen towel insted of cheese cloth. However, whichever method you use, you MUST make sure that all traces of Hydrogen Peroxide are removed from the keys before attempting any repair using AcryliKey. Hydrogen Peroxide reacts with the AcryliKey turning it pink. The most reliable way is, use a damp clean cloth then allow the ivory to dry then sand with 400-grit wet and dry.

Boots sell Hydrogen Peroxide 30 vol 9% your local hairdresser will be able to get 60 vol 17.5%. *The black lights referred to above are UV "A" which are used in discos and not UV "B" which are used in sun tanning beds.

If you just wish to clean, plus take out mild yellowing in piano keys plus disinfect your piano keys we recommend Key-Brite


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