Tech Tips — Removing the old key bushings Clean any dust from the keys with a brush and vacuum or compressed air; this will minimize water staining of the wood and aid in moisture penetration of the old cloth. Depending upon the type of glue present and the condition of the keys, there are various methods of bushing removal For typical older keys with hide-glued bushings and balance rail pin holes that need sizing: Pre-soak the old bushings first by quickly dabbing each with a brush dipped in a solution of 1 cup water & 1 tsp. wallpaper remover.  This begins loosening the glue and minimizes the amount of steaming necessary, as excess steam can loosen ivories and key button glue joints. Next, set a plastic travel steam iron on the keys. Unlike a regular clothes iron, this device simply produces steam from a hole in its base and quickly loosens the old bushings. Usually you can slide the steamer ahead as fast as you can lift out the old bushings with tweezers. The steam will also close up the worn balance pin holes, which will then require easing later on. These small plastic "irons" are often found in secondhand shops, fabric stores and travel supply stores. For bushings glued in with white glue, or keys without loose balance rail pin holes: White glues usually do not yield as quickly as hide glue, so in order to avoid damaging the keys from over steaming, longer pre-soaking with felt wedges is necessary. Buy some hammer scrap felt (sold by the pound by most piano supply houses). This will come in long wedge shaped strips. Cut one strip down to about 1" wide, then cut into individual wedges about 5/16" wide. Soak them in a pan with water/wallpaper remover solution and plug one into each mortise. After about 20 minutes, the bushings may be easily removed with tweezers, or if still adhering, can be removed by putting an "electric key bushing remover" into each mortise for about two seconds (this tool is just a soldering pencil with a metal bushing caul as a tip — easily home made or available from supply houses). Use these pre-soaking wedges also anytime the balance pin holes are not too loose. This avoids having to ease steam-swollen holes back to size that did not require sizing down to begin with.
Presoaking old bushings Travel steam iron steams out old bushings Hammer scrap felt wedges for extended presoaking Home Products Contact & Ordering Info FAQ Tech Tips About Us