Walt LaForet
,
PO Box 222, Chalfont, PA 18914
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I am no longer doing band flute work now selling Native American flutes only.
I kept this page up for information only.


How I refurbish a flute, step by step process
 
(more than you want to know)

For service prices of this refurbish process see our service page.

To read what my customers say about my service, click here.
To see all the accessories to complement your flute, click here.
 

First I play and test the flute and look for bent keys or anything out of the ordinary. After inspection...
Old Flute at Start Old Flute at Start
I disassemble, clean and sanitize the flute
with either a disinfectant or alcohol depending on the finish.  After it is allowed to dry it is cleaned again both inside and out. There are well over 100 parts in a flute and I replace or repair any that need it.
Disassembled Flute Disassembled Foot
The pins are punched out to completely strip the keys from the steel rods. (The pins are the things that get caught on your sweater!)
Disassembled Trill Removing Pin
I then check the body for straightness and remove any dents with special mandrels. Next the headjoint gets the same treatment with a tapered mandrel. The embouchure and the inside of the flute gets cleaned at this point.
Check Body Check Head
The headjoint now gets fitted to the body with special tools. The foot joint is fitted the same way. You want it tight, but not too tight.
Headjoint Fitting Tenon Fitting
Springs get adjusted or if any springs are broken or too bent, they get replaced. Any gum and dirt is removed from the moving parts, tubes, pivots, screws, and "steels". (The steel rods in the tubes) Pictured are some of the replacement springs.
Bad Spring Spring Assortment
The head cork has grease applied and gets fitted or replaced if needed at this point. The depth of the head joint is set.
  Fitting head cork New head corks
All parts are then hand polished. The headjoint, body, foot and keys are buffed when they are apart and before the pads are installed. You can really see the difference before and after.
Before and After Polish
The step that takes the longest is the re-padding process. Can you find the "bad" pads in the photo on the left? On the right is a small sample of the sizes and types of pads for flutes and piccolos. Pad skin is made of cow intestine lining, call "fish skin". Go figure!?!
Bad Pads Pad assortment
All pads get replaced with yellow treated, double-skin, high quality pads. To seat properly to the tone holes, the pads are shimmed with paper shims of various thickness, down to .001 of an inch. Each pad is hand fitted, leveled, and shimmed for a good seal, custom fit, and great tone.
Shim a pad Pads and shims
Some of shims that I use are only .001" thick. That's one thousandth of an inch. (a cigarette paper is .001" thick) It takes a lot of measuring with a feeler gauge to get it right.
More pads and shims More pads and shims
During re-padding, if any key corks need replacing, I get it from an assortment of different cork sizes and types. After padding, all keys are oiled and adjust. Then I set the key height for proper venting, remove wasted motion in the keys, and level the keys to tone holes. The keys are them clamped to seat the pads to the tone holes, and the flute is heated to set the pads.
Cork Pads in clamps
The case is cleaned inside and out and a preservative applied. You can see what a difference it makes in the outer finish. All flutes get a cleaning rod, and instructions on how to care for your flute.
Flute Case
When the pads are set, all the keys are adjusted either by adjustment screws and/or paper, cork, or felt shims. The flute is thoroughly tested and played through the scales. Then I set the flute aside for about a week to let the pads settle in. I then readjusted and check all the settings, and do some re-shimming of any pads that required it. I like to let the flute sit for another week and test it again. After this, I apply locking compound to all the adjustment screws so they do not come out of adjustment. Then it is ready for its new owner and many years of playing.
Flutes resting Finished Flute

Note: Every flute gets disassembled and oiled, but if a flute is in exceptional condition and does not need to go through the full process, it will be noted in the description on the inventory page. Sometimes not every step shown above is completed on every flute if the condition is such that it is not needed, however nothing is left out that is needed. For example I may not replace a head cork if it good condition, or fit a foot joint to a body if it already fits properly. Please feel free to ask any questions.

For service prices of this refurbish process see our service page.

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