OILING Most of the instruments that I receive are pretty dry, and the first thing I do, after disassembly, is coat them inside and out (not forgetting the tone holes) with a good grade of bore oil. Then they get a few days to rest, with re-applications of oil until they stop absorbing. Rehydrating the wood helps cushion it against cracking due to moisture absorption, thermal shock, etc. and gives it a better chance at a new life...
With solid nickel alloy or nickel plated keys, there is no way to remove 40 years worth of greenish-grey, crusty oxidation other than buffing - period: I don't want to see one more horn with silver polish residue under the keys! A high speed buffer with white lime compound will return a key to brand new in seconds, and take years off the wood body as well - just watch those toneholes and logos, and try not to break any springs...
TONE HOLE REFACING
On older wood clarinets, toneholes suffer from a variety of problems. Years of adjustment and overhauls (especially careless ones) can leave small nicks and gouges around the rim of the toneholes, causing tiny leaks. It might not seem like a big deal, but multiply that by every tonehole on the clarinet…
As the instrument ages, it dries and shrinks: as it heats and cools, it flexes. A tonehole that was cut flat into a curved surface 50 or 80 years ago has often developed all kinds of minor warps which, when they meet a perfectly flat pad surface (if there is such a thing!) fail to contact evenly all the way around, causing yet more sealing issues.
The only way to effectively solve these problems is to re-cut the rim to its original contour.A special set of cutters is used to remove just a few thousandths of an inch of material, eliminating nicks and rendering the tonehole flat again, allowing for the best possible seal.
To be continued....
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The Licorice Shtick Blog is the creation of the Vintage Clarinet Doctor, a Winston Salem, NC based woodwind instrument repair shop specializing in vintage and antique clarinets, saxophones, and the occasional flute.