Friday, December 6, 2013

The Spot Check

We stopped by the finishing department and met with Lindsey McChord just as she was preparing to buff some extremely small spots on keys.  In fact, the spots were so small that they were pin-pointed with a Sharpie.  You see, every inch of the flute is evaluated for function and aesthetics.  Even the smallest imperfection will be corrected before the final steps of the process.

Although the keys had been polished, buffed, and padded, a "spot shine" was required for any tiny imperfection on the keys.  We caught up with Lindsey as she was preparing to buff out a very, very small spot on the thumb key.  To begin, Lindsey removed the pad and shims from the key cup.  She then began smoothing out the mark with a small buffing wheel.  Although the wheel looks hard, it is actually made of a rubber material and quite flexible.  The wheel is used with the bench motor, spinning very rapidly to smooth out the mark.  Smoothing out the mark creates a matte finish, so another buffing wheel that is even softer is used next.  Finally, Lindsey took a small cloth wheel and applied some polishing rouge directly to the wheel to polish the key.  That is basically all!  Take a look at the photos below to see the process.

Buffing and polishing wheels in center of this photo.
Pad and shims must be removed first.
Pad removed -- ready to go.
Smoothing out the mark with a firm rubber wheel.
Initial smoothing leaves a matte finish.
Polishing with a softer rubber wheel.
Rouge for cloth wheel.
Cloth wheel for final polishing and buffing.
Final polishing and buffing.

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