|Checking pads with feeler gauge.|
We've seen our flute finishers checking pads with a feeler gauge, but we recently stopped by to see finisher Lindsey McChord, and she was in the process of making a new one. Why? How? Well, we will answer those questions in this post.
Lindsey explained that the feeler gauges actually do wear out -- and rather quickly. That may seem surprising, but it is because they get a LOT of use here at Powell. They are used in flute finishing, repair, and even testing. The gauge is a small piece of mylar attached to a very small stick. Lindsey says that she can tell when it needs to be replaced because there will be "wear" at the tip. Also, when the gauge becomes worn, it tends to snag when being used. Lindsey uses about 2 gauges per flute -- one for the body, and one for the footjoint. She says that the number can vary depending on the situation. Also, if the finisher is working on a flute that is almost done, using a new gauge is not a good idea, because it can leave a black line on the pads.
Making a new gauge involves a few steps. First, finishers will cut a large piece of mylar, which will be used to make several gauges. It's convenient to keep this large sheet at their bench. Then, a very small strip is cut from the large piece. It's important to cut in a very straight line so that there are no bumps or snags in the material. Cutting the correct width is important and takes practice. If the piece is too wide, you will not be able to feel leaks as easily. If the piece is too thin, you may pick up small things that may seem like problems, when in actuality, the pad seating is correct. The small strip is then curled vertically just a bit to thread it through the cap. It's good to have it extend just a bit past the bottom of the cap because it will get pushed forward as the stick is inserted. Once the cap is secured onto the stick, you are done! The gauge is a simple tool yet extremely important in detecting leaks and seating issues with pads. It is also not too difficult to make new ones, although as is the case with flute finishing, practice makes perfect!
|Cutting a strip from the large piece of mylar.|
|A straight cut is important to avoid bumps or snags.|
|Width must be accurate. Here, Lindsey explains the issues with a piece that is too wide.|
|Getting ready to put the new strip on!|
|Curling the strip to thread it through the cap.|
|Strip in cap.|
|A bit of the strip should extend past the cap -- it gets pushed as stick is inserted. |