Every winter term, we have a class on maintenance and emergency repairs. Those who are so inclined can follow up with beginning padding, but the point of this class is to get everyone to a stage where they can do adjustments themselves and can diagnose problems. We take the flutes we play on (not junk flutes, because you need to learn how your instrument works) apart, and then put them back together, several times. While doing this, we learn what keys do what, what it should look like and how to deal with broken, bent, jammed keys and ripped pads etc.
This class can be taken for a whole winter term credit, a half credit, or no credit at all :)
UNIQUE Pandemic class for 2021: over zoom (!) we will be resuscitating some "junk" flutes with synthetic pads, which will be donated to MyCincinnati Because these flutes have been thrown out, literally, it won't matter if they get wrecked further. Alexa will float in the trill keys and C/index after the class, so we won't be using any heat. Participants will receive a junker flute, some pads and some very basic shims. Participants will need to obtain their own equipment as detailed below. Please note, the synthetic pads are fairly squishy, so this work is NOT going to help you do your own pads. It will provide good experience in dealing with student-model flutes.
Just in case you are worried, Alexa is Straubinger-pad authorized installer, has done silver-smithing classes, has done her own work and repairs for others since she was about 16, and she is always learning more stuff!
Supplies required for Flute Stripping class:
A working surface: a smooth textured (not a towel) cotton or other absorbent material to place on the table to work on top of, i.e. an old pillow case, an old T-shirt etc. This should be something you can stain, it should be freshly washed to be lint free, and soft enough that it will not scratch your flute. This will act as a catching spot for things you accidentally drop. Tiny screws etc may otherwise bounce or roll off of a hard surface. Goodwill or the student recycle center might be a good place to get this item.
Styrofoam block or piece that is large enough to write on and stick screws into. Imagine a florists' foam block for sticking flower stems into to make a flower arrangement, but made of a material that does not shed. You will use this block to stick your screws in, labeling each to avoid confusion and to keep the screws safely away from dirty surfaces. Some screws are less than a quarter of an inch long. Some can be longer than 5 inches depending on the flute. A good place to obtain styrofoam is garbage/dumpsters; take or chop a piece from packing materials. You can also buy styrofoam or Balsa wood blocks (a nicer/fancier version) in craft stores. Choose a piece that is too big rather than too small. It should sit flat easily and stay put (you need both hands to hold flute bits).
Oil: Either get some synthetic gear oil (75W90) for cars and a very small clean and dry waterproof container (a tablespoon will last you years) that will also stand up by itself (you still need both hands) AND a long needle or wire that you can dip into the oil bottle to transfer very small blobs of oil from the bottle to your flute mechanism. Or buy a "specialist" oil that comes with a delivery nozzle like this one. Be very wary of buying something at your local music store that will most likely be too thin (ideal is olive oil type consistency). Note you can also buy this sort of container at craft stores or gun shows.
Spring hook: Here is what you want long term. A cheap alternative is a very fine lace-type crochet hook, with a hook that looks both big enough to "hook" a spring and thin enough to fit in between and around the spring wires and the mechanism. Ben Franklins normally stocks these and Alexa can carve a "pushing" groove onto your crochet hook with her rotary tool.
Screw drivers: 2 or 3 very small screw drivers. You might find something in a store. This is the sort of thing to get that is cheap and will probably do. Here is a place you can get nicer/pricier ones. If you can purchase screw drivers in person, it is best to take your flute with you, to ensure that the screw driver ends will actually fit your flute's screws. Screw drivers are vastly easier to use and much less likely to do damage to your flute if the screwdriver fits tightly into the screw you are adjusting. Note that your flute may have two to four different screw sizes, and some are even Philips head (a cross shape) rather than the ordinary plain slot head. Note also that screw drivers are also much easier to use if they are long, so if you have a choice, definitely choose a longer handle. Try to avoid wide and short handles. And the part you hold on to should have an end that swivels freely.
Pliers: this will be used for holding/grabbing rods etc when your fingers can't quite do it. In the long term you will want to purchase what are known as parallel pliers (see links below). The jaws close in parallel, which makes them WAY easier to use. A much cheaper alternative is a small, needle nose (long, thin jaws) pliers with preferably smooth (not serrated) jaws. If you go this route, get the longest jaws you can find, and if you cannot find smooth jaws, please glue thin leather or plastic onto the face of each jaw to cover the serrations (those scratch!).
Pipe cleaners (cotton), found where people buy stuff for smoking pipe tobacco, like this.
Cotton wool buds, great for cleaning and wiping up oil (lint free and very absorbent), available by the hundreds in any drug store or supermarket pharmacy .
Cigarette paper, found where people buy stuff for smoking, great for wiping up oil (lint free and very absorbent.
Alchohol swabs or prep pads, cheap and available by the hundreds in any drug store or supermarket pharmacy.
Pen and paper to record what you learn as we go. A camera or being prepared to use your phone to take pictures may also be extremely helpful.
Glasses if you need them :) and your flute!