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How To Make Your Own Commercial Quality Pads

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MartinMods, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. Ed

    Ed Founder Staff Member Administrator

    Interesting. I'm probably still better off using my tech but some folks will surely try to make their own pads as well. I have been intrigued with the idea of using neoprene for years but everyone tells me it won't work.
  2. Certainly it's not for everyone. I only use this process for palm key pads. You may however, need to replace just one pad one day, and not be able to find the right size anywhere. A few repair shops have inquired about my Bonneville pads (which I don't offer for sale) searching for an alternative, quality pad product, to what is currently commercially offered. Exclusivity is a marketing advantage, so, with the simplicity of the basic process made known, there may be a surge of independent, quality, micro pad makers. Look what it's done for beer.

    ...and, neoprene doesn't work because it only has one consistency, and you must re-form the tone hole rim impression, each time you close the key. The perfect pad is the human finger, soft on the surface, forms/retains an impression of the rim easily, and is firm under that soft layer, for a solid feel.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    If only fingers were larger...

    ...we could have a lively trade in second-hand fingers for all pad situations. Of course, the smell of rotting flesh might put non-jazz purists off of their feed.

    The procedures shown duplicate the mechanized steps in making a pad, only in a manual form. In effect, the economy of scale of production in the mechanized process (requiring all sorts of clever machines to make it work) has here been replaced by one specialized tool (the punch setup) combined with careful and loving hand labor (which a craftsman approach uses in much greater quantities) to obtain an equal or superior result. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    There is also that satisfaction of doing it right yourself, an intangible that only the craftsman will realize. Unfortunately, that feeling isn't transferable, although there are those who will truly appreciate what you (the craftsman) has done.
  4. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    I have never failed to find the right size pad for a key cup since the major manufacturers furnish pads in half millimeter sizes in two or three different thicknesses. For me bench time is too valuable to spend it on making what is available commercially at very reasonable prices. Still, it is interesting to see the process of making one's own pads.
  5. Sure. This is not something for the guy doing a mass turn-over of standard band instrument repairs, but, that's not every shop's/tech's thing exclusively, then either. If you want to offer more exclusive, custom rebuilds for a select clientele, even as just a small, branch aspect of your normal business, then being able to offer the unique, quality pad product is a plus. The cool thing is, you can experiment with different felt, backing, and covering materials, and the pre-assembly application of waterproofing/anti-stick treatments.

    ...and SOTSDO is correct, it is very rewarding. Recall your sense of satisfaction upon play testing the perfect overhaul you just completed, and then double it - at least.

    Most serious shops have a lathe, and can make the simple tooling themselves as a matter of course.
  6. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    have you ever tried hollow punch set tools to cut the felt circles ?

    Also, where do you get raw materials (other than the deer skin which is kinda obvious).
  7. When I get around to it, I'll grind some punches for all the sizes of felt/backing, I need, but for now, the razor compass cuts just fine. One revolution and it's done.

    You can get various leathers at Tandy Leather, even kangaroo. Most of it needs to be scraped (like that in my pictures wasn't :)) to thin and smooth the back. There are other leather suppliers online, as there are for felt. Just do a search.
  8. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Does that mean that commercially-available pads will work with esoteric woodwind instruments/double-reeds, like, say, a Rothophone or a 19th century (or earlier) clarinet? I never checked into it.
  9. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    of the few really old period correct instruments I've worked on i found out some originally had felt pads. Just felt. and putting a normal pad, even a thin one usually was too thick for the motion/mechanism. Plus alot of the "pad cups" were square and flat (not cupped) back then.
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