Steinway & SonsSteinway & Sons still bends the inner and outer rim of their grand pianos by hand at the Steinway factory in Astoria Queens New York. In a method used for over a century, 18 layers of hard rock maple, each 22? in length are glued together then bent to the classic Steinway piano shape in an ingenious piano vise rim press. The press was patented in 1878.

Photo courtesy of Steinway and Sons

Permalink The First keyboard instrument The Clavicembalo col piano e forte (or instrument we know as the piano) became known after prominent harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori of Padua Italy introduced the first keyboard instrument which featured a way to bring covered hammers to the strings yet disengage prior to arriving. This later became known as escapement. The instrument appeared around 1709 in Florence. Cristofori was employed as Keeper of Instruments for the Medici. Clavicembalo col piano e forte means with clam and strong indicating soft and loud or piano and forte.  Hammers used by early piano makers consisted of small wooden wedge blocks which were wrapped with soft leather including deer and buckskin. Over the next several decades hair and wool felts were incorporated into hammer design. Over time, the use of thicker strings required higher quality and greater compression of wool fibers in the manufacturing process. Research and development of fine piano hammers continues today.