Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Clean "Swipe"

Yellow arrow points to black line on pad.
In our recent post on making feeler gauges, we learned that newer gauges can leave a black line on a pad.  If you didn't have a chance to read that post, you can find it at

So, what is the remedy for pads with these unsightly lines?  Would they need to be replaced?  Well, luckily, no!  The line is just a cosmetic issue, and it can be removed with some light cleaning solution.  We revisited flute finisher Lindsey McChord when she was cleaning this line from a pad.  She basically cuts a square piece of cloth and adds some of the cleaning solution to the cloth.  She then places the cloth between the pad and tone hole.  She presses the key down lightly and pulls the cloth out.  She mentioned that it's important to press very lightly, because too much pressure could rip the pad as the cloth is pulled out from the closed key.  As the cloth is pulled out, the cleaning solution cleans the pad (removing the black line) and the top of the tone hole as well.

This particular step of cleaning the pad is used to remedy sticky pads as well.  In the case of a sticky pad, the pad could be sticking due to some accumulation of unwanted particles on the pad, on the tone hole, or on both.  In the flute finishing process, pad cleaning takes place at two different times.  First, the pads are cleaned when the flute is sent over for initial testing.  After testing, there may be adjustments that are made -- and with every adjustment, the finisher checks the pads with the feeler gauge.  So, after all final adjustments are made, and the flute is ready to be shipped, the pads are cleaned once again.  This will assure that the flute is delivered in pristine mechanical and cosmetic condition -- without any black lines!

Getting ready to cut a small square of cloth.
Cleaning solution
Cloth between pad and tone hole, pressing key lightly.
Cloth is pulled out.
Really cleaned that pad!


  1. Can you please be more specific about the "light cleaning solution"?

  2. The light cleaning solution is a commercial product called "Pad Juice."


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