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how to spruce up a recorder

GUEST,leeneia 24 Jun 11 - 02:40 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jun 11 - 04:20 PM
Bernard 24 Jun 11 - 09:11 PM
Bill D 24 Jun 11 - 09:40 PM
Jack Campin 25 Jun 11 - 04:53 AM
terrier 25 Jun 11 - 05:06 AM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Jun 11 - 07:40 AM
JohnInKansas 25 Jun 11 - 12:03 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 12:38 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 12:47 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 01:20 PM
terrier 25 Jun 11 - 01:24 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 25 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 01:42 PM
Sian H 25 Jun 11 - 01:58 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 25 Jun 11 - 02:18 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 02:34 PM
Manitas_at_home 25 Jun 11 - 03:17 PM
terrier 25 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 25 Jun 11 - 05:16 PM
Jack Campin 25 Jun 11 - 08:21 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 08:36 PM
JohnInKansas 26 Jun 11 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Jun 11 - 09:35 PM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Jun 11 - 09:37 PM
Jack Campin 27 Jun 11 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Jun 11 - 08:36 AM
Jack Campin 27 Jun 11 - 09:47 AM
terrier 27 Jun 11 - 10:08 AM
Bill D 27 Jun 11 - 11:39 AM
Jack Campin 27 Jun 11 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,stacey 23 Feb 17 - 03:15 PM
Jack Campin 23 Feb 17 - 07:05 PM
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Subject: how to spruce up a recorder
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Jun 11 - 02:40 PM

I recently bought a Hohner tenor recorder (wood) with a lovely tone. However, it's ssen hard use. It has nicks in places, with the finish gone and the bare wood exposed.

I'd like to sanitize it and make the finish look better so I can give it to a friend. Any ideas on how to go about this?

I asked Hohner Customer Service, but they never replied.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jun 11 - 04:20 PM

The finish is probably cheap varnish which you can neither cleanly remove nor recoat.

Can you post some photos (particularly of the windway, beak, fipple and labium) so we can see what you're dealing with?


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bernard
Date: 24 Jun 11 - 09:11 PM

Umm... I think he means 'the bit you blow into'...!


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Jun 11 - 09:40 PM

If it was me... and if I was doing it for myself... I'd sand it down thoroughly from 120 grit->400 grit (or more) paper, then wipe it with pure Walnut oil (available in many grocery or health food stores)...or even pure Tung oil. These oils are safe and do not feel oily after a little while, because they dry.... they polymerize and 'become' a sort of sealing finish. This would take a bit of time, and if it were only part of the recorder, there might be a quicker way- using a 'finish' on specific areas...(such as Behlen's Salad Bowl Finish...which I have used for the rims of wooden drinking mugs.) (I could do it faster because I could use a lathe for maybe 75% of the sanding)

(I really ought to do this to a sample old recorder of the 3-4 *I* own. A couple of them are 40 years old and sound fine, though they'd win no prizes for appearance )


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:53 AM

If the finish is hard to get off, it'll be varnish.

Only low-end softwood recorders were ever varnished.

If it's old enough that the varnish has worn badly, chances are it's "blown out" and beyond saving. Not so much putting lipstick on a pig as putting mascara on a sausage and expecting it to get up and oink.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: terrier
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:06 AM

I think that last sentence almost qualifies JC for 'thread drift'. LOL
I've stripped the ugly varnish of old recorders in the past to see if it would improve the tone but it didn't and once the fipple is worn or damaged , it's difficult to get the thing to play properly again. It would be a 'pig' to adjust ;)


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 07:40 AM

I've played it, and it has a nice sound.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 12:03 PM

Dents in wood can sometimes be raised somewhat using a bit of steam, but you usually need to remove any finish first, and excessive heat can crack the wood.

If the dent's are deep, you're unlikely to get enough reduction to make them significantly less visible by any really safe "raising" method. And if the dents are deep, sanding deep enough to smooth them out might result in a sort of lumpy instrument.

You might be able to remove discolored surface stains and/or enough finish to do a decent re-finishing on the outside with any number of solvents, depending on what finish was used originally. Starting with the least aggressive (something like alcohol?) and working up until the whole thing disintegrates is probably the right direction. Knowing when to stop is the real problem, and the "right point" may be when you've removed all you can - or when the next candidate remover is likely to destroy the thing.

If you can get to pretty much "bare wood" inside or in the vicinity of a bigger dent, common wood fillers (as used for furniture repairs) might be used to fill the dents, and sanded smooth after the filler hardens. If applied "a little at a time" with hardening in between, the filler can be quite durable, but trying to fill a really deep dent "all in one shot" may result in cracks in the filler or loose bonding to the wood.

You're unlikely to be able to match the color of a filler closely to the color of the wood, although colored fillers are available that might get close. The "speckles" can be the basis for pretending that it's an ancient instrument that's had lots of maintenance if you just smooth it and oil it. You can also try to tell people the different colors are "the exotic grain" in a very special piece of wood. (Tell them it's made from "Ubangdit root" that grows only in the graves of a now extinct animal.) Or when you've got the outside all nice and smooth you may want to apply a nice cherry red enamel (or another color of your choice if you're not quite that bold).

You'll want to plug the fingerholes during any "paint" application to be sure that you don't change the hole diameters even a little bit, and it probably would be best to leave the fipple and all the internal surfaces - anything touched by moving air when you play it - alone when painting. (Only tiny people can see inside there, so appearance shouldn't be a problem?)

Applying a bit of vegetable oil (tung, walnut, pecan, peanut etc) may help to preserve the wood if it doesn't already have any cracks in it, and wiping the bore with a bit of oil probably won't hurt anything. Your grocery store probably has a variety of "salad oils" that may be as good as what you can get from a paint shop(?).

It's basically a chunk of wood, and anything you do to it that doesn't change the "inside" dimensions isn't likely to affect playability by much. You should be able to do most anything you'd do to any other wooden article - like a coffee table or a bedpost - on the outside.

John


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 12:38 PM

I do wish to reiterate that "salad oils" are not all recommended. Some...like peanut oil...although they won't hurt you, do not really dry, and a slightly sticky, oily instrument might be less than fun. I doubt that many recorders are are made from softwoods.. (here are the best types) Since the recorder is from Hohner, it is almost certainly Maple or, if you are lucky, Pear.

But it IS possible to make even an average, relatively plain piece of wood shine decently with a carefully done sanding, oiling and, if possible. high-speed buffing. (I do this regularly)


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 12:47 PM

hmmm... just looked up "hohner recorder care refinishing" and this site recommends Almond oil. I'll confess I have never used it, but I assume they are experts.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:20 PM

Well, a further search on 'drying oils' always includes Tung oil and Walnut oil...and often Linseed oil and Safflower...but excludes Almond. I presume that Almond oil inside the bore would be ok, but I would not use it externally.

If you want really technical explanations of some of it this will keep you entertained


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: terrier
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:24 PM

Almond oil should be OK for wooden flutes, but every time I buy some, 'erself uses it for cooking so I use olive oil, which I've used for many years with no problems. I'd be wary about taking too much wood off the outside of a recorder to remove dents, recorder tuning is a bit precarious at the best of times and altering the depth of the finger holes could drastically affect the pitch of that particular note. Tuning a recorder is a dark art with little room for error.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM

I wouldn't say "fantastic plastic" but they are certainly less bother; here's my tenor ABS, I think, Aulos, e.g. - http://davidfranks.blogspot.com/


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:42 PM

Hardly relevant to her desire to refurbish a wooden one.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Sian H
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:58 PM

I've bought several secondhand wooden recorders and never considered sanitising them. I play them regularly. Am now wondering what I may have contracted! Anyone sanitised a recorder?


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 02:18 PM

I dip the abovementioned plastic recorder in a jar of water after every session, and change that water (watering a pot plant with it) about once a week.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 02:34 PM

"Anyone sanitised a recorder?"

Wood is moderately self-santizing. Even wooden cutting boards, with moderate care, do not retain germs for long. (It was documented that they are safer than plastic ones).Since recorders don't usually come in contact with anything except moisture from the mouth, simple drying after use will take care of most issues.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 03:17 PM

I was told to avoid   linseed oil inside as it builds up but was told almond oil was fine.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: terrier
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM

I tried linseed oil once in a wooden flute.. never again, it took ages to clean it out after it gummed everything up.
When I was a kid at school, we had plastic recorders(didn't everyone in the middle ages :) ) We had 'recorder monitors' who's job it was to clean tham out once a week by washing them in TCP. I can still remember the taste, it was 'orrible.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:16 PM

Further to the above, about once a month I toothpick all the holes, before running fast-flowing water through them, then I mop and re-grease the three parts.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:21 PM

It might be worth doing something to the inside, if the instrument is in fact worth keeping. For almost all wooden whistles and recorders I own, I have re-oiled the bore at the same time as cleaning the windway properly. This requires getting the block out. The process sounds scary but I haven't had it go wrong yet, and I've done it to recorders and whistles of considerable value and rarity. (Any repair person will do exactly the the same).

You need

- a length of wooden dowel (or plastic rod, I prefer that) a bit longer than the inner length of the headjoint (or complete whistle, for one-piece instrument), and slightly less than the internal diameter of the headjoint, with a flat end;

- a firm hard surface, like a concrete floor or butcher's block;

- a sock.

Put the sock over the top end of the headjoint. Insert the dowel into the headjoint till it contacts the block, evenly. Then lift the headjoint and dowel and BANG them down on the hard surface, with a force comparable to hammering in a nail.

The block will fly out, and the sock will stop it hurtling across the room and finishing up under some piece of furniture you haven't moved in years.

You will now be able to see and remove all the dirt that's built up in the headjoint since the instrument left the factory. (Usually this will not have been done before). It is also much easier to oil the headjoint if you can pass a swab right through it. (I prefer not to use a swab - after cleaning the bore out, I use a smooth dowel coated with oil, and roll it around inside the bore until I can see I've applied a smooth oil coat over the entire inner surface).

I have used almond oil, but it goes rancid easily. I now prefer peanut oil. DO NOT use a drying oil in the bore.

You then push the block back (you don't oil that) into the correct alignment, so the bit that contacts your lip forms a smooth surface. You will need to get it into place with a series of very gentle but sharp taps - if you go too far you can always whack it out again with the dowel. Leave it a couple of days before trying it so the oil can soak in. You should hear an obvious improvement in the clarity of the sound.

I'd just leave the outside, except that for a tenor you might want to take the key(s) off (precision pliers if the shaft isn't threaded) and re-lubricate it(them) - the suspended-particle Teflon or graphite lubricants used for performance bicycles work best; lubricating oil tends to go sticky.

Plastic instruments usually have the block glued in, you can't knock it out.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:36 PM

Wow... thank you, Jack. I never knew that it was possible to so easily disassemble a mouthpiece. I have a couple of older recorders that I might put that to use on.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 12:39 PM

As Bill D pointed out, some oils will harden and some won't.

A non-hardening oil can be used in some places to "soak in" and "swell" wood that's dried out and subject to surface cracking, but should usually be wiped off very thoroughly after it's been allowed to soak in for a while. You'd be using it to "lubricate" the wood rather than to provide a "finish," sort of like a "hand lotion for wood."

Linseed oil is a rather peculiar material, since it can be had in both "hardening" and "non-hardening" forms. Technically, if you want the kind that will harden you need boiled linseed oil in the list of ingredients, since "unboiled" it doesn't harden. When it's listed as an ingredient - part of a "polish" or as used in paints and such it may be either kind, and more or less pure linseed oil can be found in either kind. Sometimes the "intended use" is about the only clue to which you have if its one of several ingredients in a "formulation."

The unboiled kind may be listed as "raw linseed oil" and probably isn't what you'd want here; but "pure linseed oil" alone may not tell you obviously whether you're getting the raw or cooked form. (Read the fine print carefully).

Also, as mentioned, the fingerholes are "part of the bore" and care should be taken to assure that neither the depth nor the diameter of the holes is changed, either in the "taking out of the dents" or by any applied finishes.

John


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 09:35 PM

Thanks for all the info. I'm going to remember the advice on removing the block, though I won't be doing that for this instrument.

I took it to the classical music store in town and talked to the Wise Old Clerk. He said to oil the inside with bore oil and to put almond oil on the bare wood where a players' mouth has removed the finish. The finish is lacquer of some kind.

Yesterday I gave the outside a going-over with fine steel wool, (helped smoothed out the nicks in the lacquer) then rubbed almond oil all over it. I went over it with a strong magnet to remove any stray steel wool. The almond oil did a fine job of making a grungy area at the top look better. It is not sticky; today the recorder feels fine.

The recorder still looks used, but it looks much nicer now.

I greased the corks with cork grease from the music store. The recorder was very dry inside so I sloshed in bore oil, and it simply slurped it up.

While working on the outside I saw some funny marks, peered closely and saw that it says "kung Made in Switzerland." So it is not a Hohner after all. It was merely in a Hohner box.

I found a current price for one particular Kung tenor, and it was $895. Makes the $8 I paid for this one look pretty good. I had to buy a bottle of almond oil, but I can use most of it for cooking. All in all, not a bad deal.   

The music store has a spray that they use to sanitize recorders, but I decided not to worry about that anymore.

Test: does this word have an umlaut in the right place? Küg


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 09:37 PM

Heck, I forgot the n. Name of the recorder maker, auf Deutsch:

Küng


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 07:53 AM

I have a Küng tenor (rosewood, single-key). Wonderful warm tone. FAR FAR better than anything Hohner ever made. Very unlikely to be varnished, so an oil finish sounds right. Küng make recorders at several price points and change their designs frequently, so you need a lot more information than just the brand name to work out what it's worth.

Mine was clean when I got it (second-hand, 15 years ago) and I haven't needed to whack the block out yet.

I have one very old recorder (made of cocobolo) where the player's mouth has leached the wood a bit. I treated that area with vaseline - cocobolo is violently irritant, allergenic and toxic, and I didn't want any liberated wood toxins getting into my lips. All rosewoods are toxic and allergenic to some degree, so if there's any chance this instrument is made of one, I'd use something that provided a better barrier than almond oil.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 08:36 AM

I asked the Free Online Dictionary, "What is rosewood, anyway?" It said:

n 1. rosewood - hard dark reddish wood of a rosewood tree having a strongly marked grain; used in cabinetwork

rosewood - any of those hardwood trees of the genus Dalbergia that yield rosewood--valuable cabinet woods of a dark red or purplish color

rosewood - hard dark reddish wood of a rosewood tree having a strongly marked grain; used in cabinetwork

Dalbergia latifolia, East India rosewood, East Indian rosewood, Indian blackwood, Indian rosewood - East Indian tree having a useful dark purple wood

Brazilian rosewood, caviuna wood, Dalbergia nigra, jacaranda - an important Brazilian timber tree yielding a heavy hard dark-colored wood streaked with black

Dalbergia stevensonii, Honduras rosewood - Central American tree yielding a valuable dark streaked rosewood
=========

Since the Küng site says they use local woods and since the recorder is a uniform brown with a soft orange undertone, (no purple, no streaks, no strong grain) my friend's lips will be safe from irritation by rosewood. But thanks for the info, which may come in handy down the road.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 09:47 AM

Küng's usual term for the rosewood they use is "palisander", which I think is Dalbergia latifolia (varies in colour, uually red with blackish streaks for Küng recorders). Your description sounds like some kind of maple, or maybe plum.

Rosewood doesn't have to have strong grain. The grain on my cocobolo recorder is almost invisible, it looks like bakelite at first glance. I think what's happened is that the less-visible-grain stuff was more desirable and has now all been felled.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: terrier
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 10:08 AM

Interesting stuff. I just wonder what 'bore oil' consists of?


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 11:39 AM

I almost posted warnings about Rosewood recorders ...and mouthpieces in particular. I am one of those people who are seriously allergic to Rosewood...and Cocobolo is the worst of the lot. It took me weeks to recover from the one turned Cocobolo lidded container I made. (Rash on hands & wrists,,,and a few other places)

I knew of one person whose lips blistered from playing a Rosewood instrument.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 11:49 AM

According to this:

http://www.recorderhomepage.net/wood.html

Yamaha bore oil is basically the same as baby oil.

There's some offputting stuff here about drying oils like boiled linseed:

http://www.dolmetsch.com/recorderoil.htm

The fact that the stuff can spontaneously combust rags soaked in it (within minutes) was enough to put me off ever having it in the house.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: GUEST,stacey
Date: 23 Feb 17 - 03:15 PM

I bought a Mollenhauer Joseph Rausher Soprano C-Blockflote Recorder made in 1974, it is rosewood. I wanted to coat the area where my mouth touches the rosewood. I will not paint the block. After I pushed the block out, I sanded the top of head with very fine black 600 grit silicon carbide sand paper to the first round section before the rectangular opening. I sanded around the back of the area where the block was. I will paint the sanded area with a heavy coat of clear cellulose lacquer. I am sure that I am allergic, therefore the sanding/repair to the head. The recorder has excellent sound with no damages.
I would encourage anyone wanting a good wooden recorder to consider this fix, to isolate all the rosewood areas of an older used instrument.
The only other fix was to adjust the location of the block by trial test where the block front edge is immediately below the recorder opening, then small adjustments to make the recorder hit the fingering and check frequency using an electronic imstrument.


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Subject: RE: how to spruce up a recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Feb 17 - 07:05 PM

I'd never heard of that model before - well done for locating any information at all about something so old and obscure.

I am now using poppyseed oil for all my instrument oiling (and the kitchen worktop) - it's a semi-drying oil wih no toxicity or rancidity issues. I got it in either an Indian or Chinese supermarket - about the same price as almond oil.

Tip for oiling instruments with an irregular bore profile (so a straight dowel, as I described above, won't get an even enough coat) - push a balled-up plastic bag through the bore with a dowel or knitting needle.


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