Looking for tone hole files...
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  1. #1

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    Default Looking for tone hole files...

    Hello all.

    I'm in need of some tone hole files, but don't have the funds to buy them new.

    By any chance, does anybody have any that they're looking to get rid of? Or any suggestions? I really only need enough sizes for an alto. I don't need an entire set at the moment.

    If I can't find any, I've been thinking about making my own, but I'm unsure of what type of sandpaper to use. I would use 3M Flex diamond abrasive sheets but it's quite costly. What type of sandpaper would you suggest?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Well I've been down this road, here's my take.

    The diamond tone hole file sets are expensive and they work fast. I think with appropriate usage they can be used without removing too much but they can remove ALOT of material FAST.

    I ended up going a different route which is much cheaper and slower, but, very effective.

    I bought brass discs in various sizes, I can't remember who I bought them from but there are various vendors selling metal remnants online.

    I used brass because you need to lap these flat when you get them, and because brass is softer than other materials you might use, the lapping process is totally doable.......you WILL need a flat surface for lapping, the glass plate Music Medic sells is affordable and works great.

    So get a number of discs in various diameters, when they show up they'll be MOSTLY flat but some time spent on the glass and various grades of paper will make them TOTALLY flat.
    Do both sides, one side you remove material with, the other side you check the tone hole with.

    As for abrasive paper I bought bulk rolls of adhesive backed paper in grits 220/400/600. This stuff has a sticky back that leaves no residue when you remove it. I typically move through the grades doing less cutting as I go, then use "normal" 800/1000 grit paper which will stick well enough to whatever other paper you leave on the disc for final polishing.

    These do cut slower than diamond, but whats the rush? I feel like I'm able to take off JUST enough material down to a very close tolerance, whereas I feel like diamond cuts so fast you can't be so precise.

    Also, be aware that its typically advised to attempt raising/lowering the tone holes if possible before any filing is done, this is not always possible but certainly the step one takes before actually removing material.

    Hope that helps, I use the files every day and I'm pretty sure I spent something like $60 for everything together.....maybe an hour for lapping.......nothing fancy but darn effective.

    Mk

    PS I typically use a circular spinning motion when using these, like a rotary file, but sometimes to remove high spots a back and forth works too

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Abracadabra, thanks for such a great response.

    The diamond tone hole files certainly are expensive. I feel that if I were to be using them every day, it might be worth the cost. Being that I do this as a hobby, it just wouldn't make sense. The fact that they work so quickly scares me a bit as I wouldn't want to remove too much material. The thing that worries me about sandpaper is that it will wear down quickly. Have you found this?

    I've been trying to find some discs but I'm not sure what to search for, really. I was thinking of fabrcating 1/4" thick aluminum discs as it is also a soft metal, but if I can find brass discs, I'd rather go that way. As far as a flat surface goes, do you think a jewelers anvil would be considered flat enough? I use one to level my key cups among other things.

    Do you get burrs using sandpaper? If so, how do you remove them?

    I agree with you on that. I get the idea that using sandpaper would result in a more precise and better finished surface.

    In your opinion, if there is no damage to the body, and the tone hole doesn't appear to be pushed in in any way, should you still try to raise the tone hole? I feel as if everything else is good, and the top of the tone hole is just not level, filing would be easier and more efficient.

    The input sure does help. This is why I love this community.

    If I go this way, which I think I will, I'll make them so that I can use a handle on them, and a drill if I want.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzsax01 View Post
    ... As far as a flat surface goes, do you think a jewellers anvil would be considered flat enough? .
    That depends on its quality and what state it is in.

    Non-rippled glass is pretty darn flat, for example a window (of float glass) or an old mirror. Even Perspex (Plexiglas) is flat enough.
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Yeah I would say the tricky aspect of the jewlers anvil is that they're pretty small, I find when lapping things its nice to have some room to move around, restricting yourself to a small area would be tedious.
    To answer some other things:
    -I check for burrs with every tonehole but honestly I hardly ever feel anything that needs removed, I polish down to 1000 or 1500 then finish with some folded up aluminum foil which seems to be a good finish (I picked this up by reading other posts and also via JL Smith and maybe Music Medic?)

    -The abrasive paper does wear out quick, but honestly it takes one second to pull the old paper off (as I said the stuff I'm using doesn't leave residue) and then just cut out a small section to stick back on, very quick. Also the rolls you buy this stuff in are large, I can't remember how many yards you get in a roll but I can say I won't be running out for a long time and I level tone holes almost every day

    -lifting/lowering tone holes can be tricky and I'm still figuring out the best methods, there's some posts on this site about it, MusicMedic has some info as does the Reg Thorpe manual (do you have this? A must have for any tech, new or old....maybe not the bible but there's enormous wealth of info). So if there's no obvious body damage then you have to see where the tonehole is high or low.......as far as I can tell the consensus is that the North/South ends of the tone hole can be moved but East/West will be very difficult possibly bring distortion to the tone hole.......also bringing down tone holes is hard to do, lifting can be done.

    Basically its not super straight forward, not as simple as just seeing if its out of level and then filing away.........I always try to even out the tone hole with various methods before filing but thats just me.

    Mk

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Kraus sells pre-cut circles (of appropriate diameters) of very high-grade sandpaper with self-adhesive back, but only to technicians. More expensive, of course than in roll form.

    It's good if possible to avoid sanding much off the height of the shorter, east/west walls of the tone hole, because some of these walls are so low that with a thinnish, not-so-firm pad, the key cup could actually hit the body of the sax before the pad seals well, and it is a hkell of a job re-building height into a tone hole. This is not an issue with the north/south walls.

    The fact that on most new saxes the tone holes are not level is testament to how much the manufacturer actually cares about high precision specs here. Most tone hole levelling is completing what the manufacturer did poorly.

    Perhaps the tone holes were made level at the factory, but drawing tone holes highly stresses the metal in the vicinity, and that will gradually relax to a slightly different geometry; it would take a very conscientious manufacturer to induce such relaxation before levelling. Furthermore, the leveling process itself, if done in the factory with a cutting tool (for speed) rather than sand-paper, applies force. It is pretty well impossible to offer good and even support under a tone hole during the operation, so straight after the operation, metal would flex back slightly from flat to non-level.
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Do you have any idea where you purchased that sandpaper? Looking online, I have a hard time finding it.

    No, I don't have that manual. I'll try to get a hold of it.

    Not straightforward, but then again, what is? There's so many ways of doing things in saxophone repair. All of which can yield great results. Other times not so much. I think for this, for me, it will just be a matter of trying different methods. I think if you take your time, and are patient, unless you do something stupid, you can get the job done when you set your mind to it. For me, it's stress relief...

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Gordon, thank you.

    To me, it seems that such a small amount of material is really being removed, and obviously you want to remove the least amount possible, but is it really that easy to go down that far on the tone hole to the point that it touches the body?

    It really is a shame, don't you think? It's too bad everything is done with machines. If only at least some procedures, such as tone hole leveling, would be done by hand. It leaves the consumer with a less than perfect product straight out of the box. Nothing can be perfect, but we can try to get close. It's sad to see such a lack in quality. I'm not speaking on behalf of all horns, just in general terms. Almost seems as if there's no pride in craftsmanship anymore. Then again, I suppose that's being left to great technicians such as yourself.

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzsax01 View Post
    Do you have any idea where you purchased that sandpaper? Looking online, I have a hard time finding it.

    No, I don't have that manual. I'll try to get a hold of it.

    Not straightforward, but then again, what is? There's so many ways of doing things in saxophone repair. All of which can yield great results. Other times not so much. I think for this, for me, it will just be a matter of trying different methods. I think if you take your time, and are patient, unless you do something stupid, you can get the job done when you set your mind to it. For me, it's stress relief...
    Here's a link to the stuff I bought, I got 220/400/600, its 10 yards a roll. Not the best stuff but it totally works and the adhesive back makes it so nice to have.

    http://www.onlineindustrialsupply.co...paro4wi12.html

    When I first ordered this I assumed I'd be dealing with a residue I'd have to wipe off with acetone or whatever between each new piece, but this stuff doesn't leave a trace of goo. On the other hand its not SUPER sticky, you don't really need it to be in this case, just enough to hold it on the disc for use.

    Also I should mention in regards to lifting/lowering tone holes first, that I often find there's not much to do without distorting the tube so I just skip right to filing anyway, but, because there are cases where you can alleviate the amount of material you need to file, its worth checking first.

    And I don't try to move any tone holes that are soldered on for fear of breaking them off, not worth it! But soldered tone holes seem more accurate, at least in my experience. I have an old HN White King on the bench, replacing maybe 1/3 of the pads, and all the tone holes need leveled......but very little. On the other hand I remember an old Buescher soprano I worked on last year, had the original pads, and almost EVERY tone hole was needing leveling. Alot of work! The end result is well worth it.

    Mk

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Thanks for the link. That will definitely last a very long time...for me, probably forever.

    I understand, thank you for clarifying. I figure that if I check it first, and lifting/lowering isn't necessary or even a good choice, I can go straight to filing as you stated.

    My next project is an early King Zephyr alto. I haven't received it yet so I haven't had a chance to inspect it, but it looks super solid. I believe these have braised tone holes so I wouldn't even try to move them. Thanks for that input, I didn't really consider it.

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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    I recently did the same as abracadabra has mentioned. I was working on a late model 10M where the tone holes were not level, it looked to be this way from the factory.
    I work in a production shop and the had some stainless steel fender washers of various sizes that I borrowed to use.
    These were not the thin washers, but were about 1/8" thick.
    I put them on a piece of glass to verify they were flat by trying to rock the washer side to side.
    I also had some wet/dry auto body sandpaper in different grits, 100/220/600. I sprayed the washer and back of sandpaper with a light coat of 3M 77 spray adhesive and when tacky put them together.
    I was able to do the whole sax without changing any sandpaper by starting with the coarse grit and ending with the fine grit.
    I would start with the bare side of the washer to look for the high spots, flip it over to the sandpaper, twist it a little to take off the high spots, flip over to check, ect.
    It might help to have a leak light inside to see the progress. Most of the wear was done with the coarse grit and this took the most time.
    The finer grit paper was just to polish down to a smoother finish. I did all of the holes with the coarse then all with the medium and finished with the finer paper.
    After this I dressed the inside and outside of the tone hole with a fine file to take off the ridge from the sanding.
    This took a few hours to do the entire sax, working on it for a bit and then walking away to let it sit until I could return for more.
    This would not work for a shop, but worked great for home use.
    I think that I have pictures of the washers and one of the tone holes if it would be helpful.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Looking for tone hole files...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzsax01 View Post
    Gordon, thank you.

    To me, it seems that such a small amount of material is really being removed, and obviously you want to remove the least amount possible, but is it really that easy to go down that far on the tone hole to the point that it touches the body?.... .
    Not much of a worry on most saxes. but on some, yes, the wall may be only say 1.5mm high, and the undulations in the tone hole edge may be up to a mm too. One of the worst is Conn 20M. Horrible things in every way.
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

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