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adjusting pads by using a soldering iron

woolyhead

New Member
Messages
19
Would it be better to melt the shellac/hot melt glue with a big soldering iron rather than a flame? It could be safer and put the heat right where it's wanted and nowhere else. Does anyone have an opinion about this ?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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21,947
Would it be better to melt the shellac/hot melt glue with a big soldering iron rather than a flame? It could be safer and put the heat right where it's wanted and nowhere else. Does anyone have an opinion about this ?
Flames work well. A soldering iron is too hot and too concentrated.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,802
What's a soldering iron?

You can use a pad iron to do smaller adjustments on pads. You heat up the iron gently and insert it between the pad and the tonehole. Press the keycup and the pad will "float out" a little bit. Don't heat up the iron to much, you should not burn the pad. Pad irons with holes for the reflectors/resonators are available as well.

To melt shellac in a "indirect" heat is good. Place a melting pot in another pot with some water. It gives a gentle heat to the shellac. I think shellac starts to melt around 85 degrees Celius. Use a (small) paintbrush. This is a good way when you are corking and padding. I use to place the keycups on a hotplate (around 65-70 degrees Celius) so they are warm when I pad with shellac or hot glue. Even the pads should be place on a warm place (owen). This makes it easier to get pads into the cups nice and even bfore you cold down the the pad, key cup agianst a bench anvil . So work "warm to warm".
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,802
Don't use "LÖDKOLV" (Swedish for soldering iron) when you are adjusting pads! Is it the pads or pads+keycups you want to adjust? I forgot to write that you should warm up the keycups as well when you are using pad iron.

I use a "lowtemp" equipment when I'm working on my saxes. Alcohol lamp + blowpipe works for me. There are other and more modern methods shown on another place here on CS. I guess it's more efficient ways to do padwork.

You should see my advices as non-professional when it comes to saxophone repair and maintain. I'm more or less selftaught and just working on my own saxes!!

Thomas
 

woolyhead

New Member
Messages
19
I see. In that case could an ordinary cigarette lighter do the job when applied to the cup? Also, when adjusting a pad, should I keep the cup horizontal while I heat it? If it's not horizontal, what prevents the small amount of melted shellac from running out, assuming I didn't overheat it?
 
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jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,005
Cigarette lighters are often used by band teachers for emergency repairs. The disadvantages of these are the metal portion at the top gets hot very quickly and can burn your finger as you are holding the lever down to keep it lit and the flame can leave a black soot on the key.

The beauty of the Blazer butane torch is that you can direct the flame any direction. With the cigarette lighter the flame always goes up so you have to hold the key cup directly above it which can be awkward in many cases. Heating shellac to adjust a pad should just be done to the point that the shellac goes into its "plastic" state. Overheating can turn the shellac to liquid and even make it bubble.

Those who are serious about heating keys and adjusting pads can remove a key from an instrument, remove the pad, clean the key cup, and then melt some shellac (or hot glue) on the inside. When that cools, one begins counting as the heat source is added to the opposite side. This way makes it is easy to see how many counts it takes that particular glue to go to its plastic state, liquid state, and get the fire extinguisher state (which is just past the "boil, boil, toil, and trouble" state). As one becomes familiar with the melting properties of the glues used to install pads, the process becomes more intuitive and less fraught with mistakes and burned body parts.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
Cigarette lighters are often used by band teachers for emergency repairs. The disadvantages of these are the metal portion at the top gets hot very quickly and can burn your finger as you are holding the lever down to keep it lit and the flame can leave a black soot on the key.

The beauty of the Blazer butane torch is that you can direct the flame any direction. With the cigarette lighter the flame always goes up so you have to hold the key cup directly above it which can be awkward in many cases. Heating shellac to adjust a pad should just be done to the point that the shellac goes into its "plastic" state. Overheating can turn the shellac to liquid and even make it bubble.

Those who are serious about heating keys and adjusting pads can remove a key from an instrument, remove the pad, clean the key cup, and then melt some shellac (or hot glue) on the inside. When that cools, one begins counting as the heat source is added to the opposite side. This way makes it is easy to see how many counts it takes that particular glue to go to its plastic state, liquid state, and get the fire extinguisher state (which is just past the "boil, boil, toil, and trouble" state). As one becomes familiar with the melting properties of the glues used to install pads, the process becomes more intuitive and less fraught with mistakes and burned body parts.
I'd like to ask do you have any preferences on the type of glue you use or reasons for using different glues for different purposes and even preferences on variations of shellac that are available ,thanks......john

Ps I suppose this is where zippo petrol lighters would be advantageous you can hold them at the bottom
 
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llamedos

Senior Member
Messages
431
I recently re-padded a clarinet (my first foray into the sport) and I used hot melt glue shaved from the stick with a craft knife. I popped the shavings into the inverted key-cups and heated them up with an old Zippo-type lighter. I took my time over the job, nearly so much time that I forgot where I had put some of the bits for safe keeping, and it was made easier by the fact that I have another clarinet to use as a pattern. This ensured that I didn't invent a new instrument.

I used a variety of methods for holding the keys to ensure that I didn't incinerate my fingertips (the smaller keys get predictably warm even from a Zippo) and all-in-all I quite enjoyed the experience in a masochistic sort of way. I now have an even greater appreciation of the skill and expertise of woodwind technicians although I felt I should have a go myself at least this once as a rite of passage.

The proof of the pudding lies in the fact that I can still get a tune out of it without incurring a hernia and without sending the dogs howling into the hills but I am thankful that my other one is ten years old as opposed to sixty-odd so it should easily outlast me as I would rather blow than fettle.

It has also deterred me from the idea of buying a clapped out vintage sax to revive so I can stay away from the auction sites for a bit longer.

Probably not the erudite answer sought but if my experience can enlighten someone along the way it's a tale worth the telling.

Dave
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,005
I'd like to ask do you have any preferences on the type of glue you use or reasons for using different glues for different purposes and even preferences on variations of shellac that are available ,thanks......john

Ps I suppose this is where zippo petrol lighters would be advantageous you can hold them at the bottom
Let me start by saying that even among repair techs there are lots of different preferences and opinions on what types of glues are the best to install pads. After trying several different types over the years I have found the amber shellac from Ferree's to be the one I prefer to install saxophone pads. It turns "plastic" at a relatively low temperature and cleans up easily with a bit of heat and/or alcohol.

My favorite "heat glue" for installing clarinet pads is the Shur Stik from Badger State. Again it has a low melting point and is very easy to clean up. It is called "stick shellac" in the catalog, but it is really a low temp hot glue which is the same as the one used in the Leblanc factory for many years.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
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Messages
3,409
Thanks for the quick response,any other advise in this area will be gratefully received ...regards ....John
 
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