Cleaning and Lubricating Keypins

Cleaning and Lubricating Keypins

Sep 22, 2023

Cleaning and Lubricating Keypins (Piano Tuning and Repair)

Welcome to our Series on Piano Tuning and Repair.

Excess friction in the keypins on a piano can cause sluggishness. Cleaning, polishing, and lubricating the key pins can greatly improve the feel of the piano keys for the pianist.

If you want to see more of our Piano Tuning and Repair Series, click here to access the entire playlist.

Video Transcript:


Welcome back to our workshop. Today we're going to be showing you how to polish and lubricate the key pins on a piano key. It sits on two key pins. Back here is a balance rail pin and up here in the front, underneath the front there's a front rail pin. You can see there are two pins and here I've taken off a section of keys so you can see the pains real easily and one thing that makes piano keys glide and work more smoothly, is if those pins are nice and polished and smooth and slippery. If they've got corrosion on them or dirt or anything, then the key won't go down as easily and there will be a little bit of sluggish, it can cause a little bit of friction or sluggishness on the keys, so it's pretty basic.

Preparing the Keypins

This pretty basic process, this job, is generally easily done especially when you're replacing the felts, both thefront rail and balance rail felts, so that you've already got the keys off. Usually when you go through and do this you want to go through and vacuum underneath where the keys are and just get all the dust and dirt, which I've already done here in preparation for polishing the key pins and I will be replacing these felts but here what I've done is taken off some and generally what I'll do is I won't do all of them at once but maybe just take off a section of the felts and paper cardboard punchings because generally there will always be felts but often times, usually there's some paper or cardboard punches underneath them, so what I'll do is I'll take them off and just set the punchings right in front of the pin that they go to and then when I'm done I'll put them back on so they don't get lost or out of place. Now, the first thing you want to do is check the condition of the key pins. If they've got any corrosion or rust, if it's just a slight amount, you can clean them up. If they're heavily corroded, like if they're just totally covered in rust you know then you need to replace the key pins, but in most cases they can be cleaned up and polished.

Cleaning Keypins

If they do have a little bit of surface rust like these do you can use some steel wool. Here we've got the quadruple zero steel wool. You can either use the triple zero or the quadruple zero steel wool and what you want to do is, you want to just use it lightly so that you don't sand off, or file off the the plating on the pin. Just lightly, to remove that little bit of rust. Just gently, again and you may not have any corrosion or anything but if you feel that it may not be as slippery as you want and that's where we want to clean it and polish it and get it nice and smooth and slippery for the keys to move up and down.

Flitz Metal Polish

Once you've taken care of any surface rust or corrosion we're going to use a metal polish. I like to use Flitz, which comes in a bottle like this Flitz polish. It's for metal but there are others as well, but Flitz is a really good one. I put a little bit in a jar so that my pipe cleaner can get down in it, and that's what you want to use. You can use a q-tip, which I've used, but a pipe cleaner usually works a little bit better and what I do is, I fold it in half and then I dip that down inside the Flitz not getting too much but then I'll go through and just cover the pin and then what you'll do is, you'll take a paper towel or some kind of a soft cloth and then just rub that pin and what I'll usually do is I'll do several at a time. Once I've got the Flitz on my pipe cleaner I'll go through and and coat that on several because one dip of the pipe cleaner and the Flitz will do probably four or five or six pins and once you've got that, then you can go through and you want to make sure you don't knock your punchings off, and it doesn't take too much, but if you can see that in the video, these pins are quite a bit shinier now after just a little bit of polish with the Flitz. Again, it doesn't take much. We've done that now.

Protek CLP Lubricant

Once you've polished them and they're nice and shiny and clean we'll want to put a lubricant, Protek CLP is a good product to use. For those of you overseas, we can finally ship Protek to you. Protek CLP is a good lubricant, otherwise any kind of a dry film lubricant in liquid form will work good for it and what I'm going to do is again, just take another pipe cleaner, fold it in half, dip it down into the lubricant. We could just go down over the pin now. What that does is that puts a lubricant film onto the pin to help protect it and there we go. Then what you'll do is, we've been showing you on the front rail pins, but you can do the same same exact procedure back here on the balance rail pins. Here I took off the punchings, set them right next to the pins so that I can remember what I had on each pin and again, it's a good thing to do .when you're replacing the felts. Then the punchings, if you're going through and regulating the keyboard, to do it at that time because then you're already removing the felts. You can kill two birds with one stone. That's the process of polishing and lubricating the key pins fairly easy and it really improves the playability of your piano especially if you've got a lot of rust and corrosion on the key pins.