If you take a look at your flute,
you'll surely notice the springs. Without them, your mechanism would not
function properly at all. Looking at them from the outside, you might
think that they come all prepared to be installed, but the reality is that they
are cut, shaped, and installed as part of the finishing process. We
caught flute finisher Lindsey McChord just as she was working on a G# spring
and got a bird's eye view of the process...
The spring in its earliest phase is
actually part of a large coil
of wire -- 10K white gold wire! Lindsey
cuts a large piece and takes it to her bench. She then cuts a smaller
piece to begin working on the G# spring. In the photo on the left, the
longer piece would be used for one flute -- but not for all the springs.
You see, a thicker wire is used for springs on the G#, D#, and trill keys,
because these are the keys that are held closed. A slightly thinner wire
would be used for springs on the keys that stay open.
she begins the G# spring, Lindsey cuts a piece that is just long enough to fit
comfortably in one hand.
It's very tough to see the piece on
the G# key that will hold the spring, so we circled it in the photo on the
Lindsey checks to make sure that the
piece of the key that holds the spring is clear. The spring should go in
easily. If there are any bits of metal still inside this small tubular
piece that holds the spring, she reams it with a small reaming tool, which she
will place in the bench motor.
The reamer is placed in the motor
and oiled at the tip.
Lindsey places the key on the tip of
the reamer. She doesn't turn the motor on but rather turns it by hand
away from her to carefully ream the key.
It's now time to begin shaping the
G# spring. This is the only spring that needs to be sharpened to a point
at the tip because the tip will go into a hole in the mechanism. To
sharpen this, Lindsey turns the bench motor on, which (in this step) has a
wheel attachment. The wheel spins very quickly in a clockwise direction
(red arrow shows direction). At the same time, Lindsey holds the tip
against the wheel and rotates it around 360 degrees (illustrated by blue
arrows) to make sure the tip is sharpened evenly.
Close-up on the sharpened tip of the
Now it is time to thread the spring
into the sleeve on the key where it is held.
Lindsey likes to position the spring
tip just a bit past the end of the key's mechanism tubing before she cuts the
spring to length.
Close-up on the spring before
To make sure that she cuts the
spring to the proper length, she marks the spring just past the sleeve where
it's held on the key.
Very difficult to where the spring
is marked for cutting, so we have pointed to it with the blue arrow in the
photo on the left.
Cutting the spring to length with
After being cut, the end is a bit
rough, so Lindsey files it to smooth it out.
Since the spring wire is round, it
needs to be crimped flat at the end opposite the tip to hold it in place
(otherwise, it would go right through!).
End of spring is now flattened.
Lindsey positions the spring in
place on the key.
that the spring is in place, tension must be put into it, which is done simple
by bending the spring a bit to the right and then to the left. It takes
practice to know how much tension to put in the spring, but it can always be
adjusted in the rest of the finishing process if necessary.
Spring is in place, and the key is
ready to go!
The tip of the yellow arrow in the
photo to the left points to the small hole under the post that the tip of the
G# spring goes into.
The tips of the other springs on the
flute (with the exception of the spring on the thumb key) do not have sharpened
tips and rest against one side of a spring catch (red arrow points to this).
But, just as was the case with the
G# key spring, during the finishing process all the springs need to be cut to
length and prepared (by hand) to fit and function properly.