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Episode 4: Tone Holes

Tone Hole Station

Careful filing of tone holes is a staple of what makes our work good and consistent. However, the manual technique of filing tone holes is time consuming, and a method had to be found to keep our shop profitable and keep tight tolerances to avoid removing too much metal from the instrument.

We have found that the drill method cuts fast on a non-level tone hole but it cuts very slow on a level tone hole. So, leveling a tone hole with a drill takes only about 20-60 seconds. However, cutting too much metal off the tone hole is very slow. Once the tone hole is level, cutting too much would take a long time. To test this, we leveled and cut a tone hole right down to the instrument body. Leveling the tone hole took about one minute, cutting it off completely required 15 minutes of constant drilling.

Tone hole filing is a practice that has become more common because of the increase in quality and firmness of woodwind pads, and the development of skill and awareness of woodwind technicians. After experimenting to reduce the time and improve the job done by the Diamond tone hole files, we came up with our current method: Filing tone holes with a power drill. I believe that we now have a very useful procedure that is not only faster but produces a finer job with less burrs and an even tone hole surface.

A step by step procedure can be found in our  'Articles' page:

Tone Holes Checklist

Equipment we use at this station:
Complete Tone Hole File Set
Synthetic oil for lubrication
Felt tip marker for tone hole rim
Leak light
Cordless drill (with a low speed around 320 RPM)

Leveling Tone Holes Leveling Tone Holes


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