Specialized key adjusting pliers

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by clarnibass, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    I recently saw four specialized key adjusting pliers designed and made by Gordon Palmer, which got the (random) names of A, B, C and D. There aren't many places to buy key adjusting pliers, and I don't know any so specific. I have one from Boehm (expensive and somewhat useful). Allied and Ferree's each has one type. I also saw the Marius Kowalski (sp?) key pliers. None impressed me like the ones Gordom made which seem far more specific and useful. Types A, B and C are made from "blanks" (normal big pliers with enough metal to carve the right shape) and type D is a modified Ferree's key pliers.

    So far I only made type C, made from a relatively small pair of (mostly) flat nose pliers. Here is a link to show how they were made http://www.flickr.com/photos/53728008@N00/sets/72157627890355994/
    You can the shape in the photos though it's not really possible to see all the little but critical shapes and measurements of the tips. This was all done with a micromotor.
    I will probably make the other types eventually.
     
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  2. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Thank you for posting this on the woodwind forum.

    Not only are the designs of the tools impressive, but also the metal working skills to produce the finished product. Gordon seems to have a knack for problem solving by thinking "outside the box", and I have learned a great deal from him on the various forums.

    I have not ventured into the tool making area other than to make an "S" shaped tool with square cut outs (patterned after an accordion tool) to bend sax key feet. The commercial tools that I find the most useful are the Ferree's sax key bending tool and the Kowalski flute back arm pliers sold by JL Smith. The Music Medic post bending pliers, and the post fitting pliers that reduce the hole size in posts are also useful tools at the bench when overhauling old saxophones.

    Perhaps the tool I use the most in woodwind repair is the lowly craft stick (popsicle stick). It is indispensable for bending keys, adjusting key feet, trimming foot cork, etc. If it is too long or too wide for a particular use, you just break it or cut it to the right size since it is easily replaced.
     
  3. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    Bah...

    A five pound lead make-up hammer - that's what you really need...
     
  4. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    I made some tools before. Until now, my pliers are devided to a few that are so useful they are simply on my table all the time and the rest that are in a very close drawer. The pliers I have on my table are small flat jaw pliers, parallel flat jaw pliers and large duck-beak jaw pliers. These key adjusting pliers I made (shown in the Flickr link in the first post) are the only pliers I'm considering keeping on the table all the time. They are that useful!

    Now that I can make those keys adjusting pliers, that's pretty much the first thing I did when I saw them! They are just so good and useful I couldn't not make them :)
    I'm probably going to make pliers type B soon since they are extremely useful too.

    Which ones are you talking about? They have sax key bending levers, with hook-like and cuved edges. I find these mostly useless. They have the ones that are just metal "sticks" with a slightly tapered "foot" soldered at the end. I like these a lot and use them. They also have the hook nose pliers, which modified into Gordon's type D pliers seem very useful. Unmodified, not nearly as much (will be hard to reach some areas).

    The Kowalski pliers are some I considered before but decided they don't seem useful enough. I think they are well made and can be useful, but Gordon's version (type A pliers) of the equivilent to the "back arm pliers" by Kowalski seems better to me. I'll make those too eventually. The Kowalski pliers are a good option IMO for commercially available tools.

    I have both of those too. They are useful sometimes and often on not-so-old saxophones too :)

    I use something similar too. for some keys this is the best option IMO. For some keys, depending on how you want to bend them and how they are built, it is difficult and problematic. Gordon's key adjusting pliers deal with most of those prolems.

    Sorry to asnwer seriously, but sometimes tapping keys with a hammer is necessary, though not exactly the way you just described... :)
    But the point of these specialized pliers is they can do thing that otherwise can be very difficult, and allow a lot more control (as opposed to tapping).
     
  5. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Pictured below are the Ferrees pliers I was referring to. I purchased these several years ago and they seem to be a better design than the ones Ferrees currently sells. I used the key bending levers that Ferrees sells for years, but found the popsicle sticks to work just as well and never leave marks on the tops of the toneholes.

    [​IMG]

    The "S" tool for bending sax key feet for regulation is shown below as well as a tool I made to turn Selmer style bumper adjusting screws.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  6. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    The above screwdriver is the mirror image of those that I made and sold to hockey parents for the adjustment of hockey helmet screws. The outside half of the screw took a standard blade, but the inside (which screwed through a slotted fitting with the excess screw threaded rod protruding through a hole in the center) was almost impossible to hold in place to get a good tight fit.

    I took a second standard bladed stubby screwdriver, notched out a slot in the center of the blade with a precision grinder, and then sold the plain screwdriver/slotted screw driver combination. The user used the plain blade on the outside, screw end, and the slotted blade (which allowed clearance for the screw coming up through the center of the fitting) on the inside, fitting end. We never dropped a screw out of a helmet from that point forward.

    As the young lady in the Playboy magazine marginal cartoons used to say, "The right tool for the right job, honey!"
     
  7. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    Re those Ferree's pliers, that's one of the pliers Gordon modified into his type D key adjusting pliers, which seem more useful than the originals. I'm planning on doing this too.

    Can you explain what exactly you do with that tool for key feet? Do you adjust them side-to-side or also bend the foot arm itself up/down? Are the two sides different in any significant way or did you do it double-sided just so you don't have to reverse it if you pick it up the wrong way? Since I don't have this tool I imagine I use something else for the same purpose.
     
  8. Chris J

    Chris J

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    I am guessing it is double sided as the notch would be to the left or the right depending which side is up.

    I think I see what you do with it, but photo of it in action would be good to see!

    Chris
     
  9. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    The tool is used to bend key feet up or down to adjust regulation and/or to change key opening heights. Some key feet are accessible on only one side, hence the dual notches on opposite sides. I will often put teflon tape over the edges of the tool to avoid leaving marks on keys. The photos below show how the key is used to raise and lower the key foot.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  10. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    Thanks.

    Am I right that to adjust the foot up you use the key (possibly with a shim?) against the tone hole for support, and for adjusting the foot down you hold the key (with your finger?)?

    BTW here are a couple of photos showing the new pliers on an instrument. These type C pliers can adjust all keys side to side and any direction which doesn't involve the key arm (type B pliers can adjust front to back). They can get into very tight places which are difficult and adjust with more accuracy and control, without damaging the pad or distorting the key cup.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

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    Exactly. The craft sticks work perfect for this purpose.

    That is very interesting. It appears that one side of the pliers lifts the edge of the key cup while the other presses down---very ingenious. As for the type B pliers, I have never had much success adjusting clarinet keys front to back due to the hardness of the metal. Of course most of my clarinet work has been on student models. I have found that "floating" the pads to be an effective and simple alternative to key bending along this plane.
     
  12. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    Someone on another forum asked about the tools used to make this, so here is a photo of the micromotor and the bits used for the pliers.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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  14. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    It's about 20-30 times more expensive than a dremel, so... no :)
    Except they both hold bits and spin them. The similarities end there...
    For some work it doesn't make a big difference. For some of the work I use it for (for woodwind repairs) there is a huge advantage for me with the micromotor.
    The thought of doing this with a dremel or even a flexishaft (i.e. a pendant drill) is painful.......
    I think I gave some details about the micromotor on another thread but can explain the differences between this and a dremel if you're interested.
     
  15. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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  16. kevgermany

    kevgermany

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    These look really useful.

    Anyone have a link to pics of the originals?
     
  17. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    I don't think I have it and if I can't find it, I'll email him to ask for the link again. I think he still has the photos.
     
  18. clarnibass

    clarnibass

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    Here is a photo of the original ones made by Gordon Palmer. I had slightly wider pliers which is a small advantage, but Gordon told me that eventhough he was a bit surprised, his hold just fine for many years without breaking. I might make mine slightly thinner so they can get into tighter areas. I might also add a smaller slot at the side, to be able to use them "backwards" i.e. adjust when the front hits first.


    [​IMG]
     
  19. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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  20. kevgermany

    kevgermany

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    Thanks Nita.
     

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