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Discussion Starter #1
This tool must have been discussed, or reviewed, on here somewhere but so far my searches have drawn a blank. These pliers look as though they could be very useful for a bit of gentle tweaking. I'm thinking about buying but before I do it would be great to hear anyone's experience of using them. How well do they work ? Better than a set of levers ? If there is already a review on the forum a link would be appreciated. Thanks.

http://instrumentclinicusa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=47
 

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Waste of time, using padslicks you have more control, the key to bending and shaping keys is understanding how much flex is in the metal and accomodating your applied pressure to achieve that end result, a pair of pliers removes that ability to control flex.

Paddle pop sticks are also good if your concerned about making marks on the tone holes
 

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My favorite plier for working with keys is a small flat smooth jaw plier that is about 5/16' wide at the tip. The first one of these I owned was made by utica tools (70's vintage) but Harbor freight sells a similar one for a couple of dollars. I wouldn't spend $68 on a plier like the one you linked to. FYI, I have nothing against buying expensive tools (I have many), but these tools should be an amplifier of your skills and not a show piece in your tool box.
 

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Thank you for your replies and advice. So far, nobody has a good word to say about this tool.
 

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I'd say for adjusting/bending keys my most useful pliers are (in order of how much I use them): 1. Parallel flat nose pliers, 2. Large flat nose (beak-style) pliers, 3. Large flat nose (beak-style) with thinner lower jaw and cut-out for key arm, 4. Everything else.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'd say for adjusting/bending keys my most useful pliers are (in order of how much I use them): 1. Parallel flat nose pliers, 2. Large flat nose (beak-style) pliers, 3. Large flat nose (beak-style) with thinner lower jaw and cut-out for key arm, 4. Everything else.
Thanks for that. Up until now I've been very gently tweaking keys, where necessary, with my fingers. After reading comments on here I think I'll probably continue with the fingers method.....there's no financial outlay, no risk of damage to finish, excellent control and, unlike most of my other tools, they don't suddenly disappear when I most need them.
 

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I took an inventory of my bench and box and found that all the pliers I use daily are not purchased from one of our major suppliers, but generic tool box pliers that I have modified for a purpose. I usually use slicks adjust keys, but occasionally I will "grab" the key with one of these modified pliers. Or bring the back of the cup down with a 6" mill bastard file that has a modified tang. I guess what I'm saying is I have found the pliers that I modify myself have seemed to work better for me over the years. They are the ones that are always on the bench.
 

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Thanks for that. Up until now I've been very gently tweaking keys, where necessary, with my fingers. After reading comments on here I think I'll probably continue with the fingers method.....there's no financial outlay, no risk of damage to finish, excellent control and, unlike most of my other tools, they don't suddenly disappear when I most need them.
For adjustment purposes, you are fortunate that your metal bends so easily. That is not the case for most saxes. Of course if it bends really easily for adjustment, then it bends really easily out of adjustment.
 

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Thank you for your replies and advice. So far, nobody has a good word to say about this tool.
I have quite frequent use for this tool on saxes (but not other woodwinds). However the model I bought, some years ago, was almost useless for almost everything. I think the current model is better, but the way I modified mine was better still, with a significant "S"-shape made along its length, so that it could fit and operate in awkward places. That made it a great tool.

Use 1. Hook the end under a key cup arm, and rest the jaws (i.e. a little from the end of them) on the upper side of the pivot tube (or solid rod). Using the pliers as a lever, press down with my thumb on the middle of the key cup. This slightly bends the key cup arm near the cup, to make the pad close sooner in the region furthest from the key's hinge, without putting pressure on the pad itself in the process. (More often useful for upper rather than lower stack keys.)

Use 2: For lowering the back of a key cup - usually for a lower stack key. Place the hook end under the key cup arm, and rest the jaws (i.e. a little from the end of them) and using the pliers as a lever, simply press the handles down so that the key is firmly closed on the tone hole. Press firmly enough and the back of the cup gets closer to the tone hole.
 

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Use 2: For lowering the back of a key cup - usually for a lower stack key. Place the hook end under the key cup arm, and rest the jaws (i.e. a little from the end of them) and using the pliers as a lever, simply press the handles down so that the key is firmly closed on the tone hole. Press firmly enough and the back of the cup gets closer to the tone hole.
It's a bit unclear, like some details are missing. Rest the jaws... where? I assume you mean holding the pliers in the opposite direction from "Use 1" i.e. handles same direction as the key cup. For closing the key on the tone hole and bending the key arm so the back of the key cup would lower, I can imagine the pliers only going through the back between the body and the hinge, but I don't think that's what you meant, since you said to put the hook "under the key cup arm" for this also.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
However the model I bought, some years ago, was almost useless for almost everything. I think the current model is better, but the way I modified mine was better still, with a significant "S"-shape made along its length, so that it could fit and operate in awkward places. That made it a great tool.
Thanks Gordon. I think the mistake I made in my original post was that I should have described the problem I was trying to solve rather than soliciting opinions about one particular tool. Where I'm experiencing difficulty is when, in spite of trying different thickness of pad, I'm still finding that either the front, or back, of the pad is meeting the tone hole first. I realise this is a common problem. Where the discrepancy is side to side, especially with the larger pad cups where one has a lot more leverage, then, as I expect most people, do I use my fingers to carefully align the cup with the tone hole. The problem, for me, as I have said, is when the pad cup is too high, or low, at front or rear. Making a correction front to rear is not usually possible for me with fingers alone and that's why I'm seeking advice about what tools, or techniques, you professionals use.

I usually use Pisoni premium deluxe pads, which as you know, are available in 4,3mm or 4mm thicknesses. Occasionally, even 4mm is too thick and I end up using 3mm clarinet pads. What I feel I need is a tool that will enable me to reach past the pad cup to it's arm where I can effect a slight up, or down, tweak to bring the front, or rear, into level alignment with the tone hole.

Maybe I'm just being dumb but I can't see how manipulating the cup arm can be achieved with any sort of pliers unless they reach past the cup and act directly on the arm without the risk of distorting, or kinking, the cup. The pliers I originally enquired about at the beginning of this thread appear to be able to do this. I can see that, as they are, these key adjusting pliers may have their limitations but now, having read of Gordon's modification, they could be used in more inaccessible locations.

Just as a example....this is where I believe the tweak should be directed. How do I do this ? With levers, these key adjusting pliers or what ?


Gordon, when you say the current model do you mean this one ? Thank you.

http://instrumentclinicusa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=47
 

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It's a bit unclear, like some details are missing. Rest the jaws... where? I assume you mean holding the pliers in the opposite direction from "Use 1" i.e. handles same direction as the key cup. For closing the key on the tone hole and bending the key arm so the back of the key cup would lower, I can imagine the pliers only going through the back between the body and the hinge, but I don't think that's what you meant, since you said to put the hook "under the key cup arm" for this also.
Sorry. I must have had a brain fart while writing.

It should have been:

Use 2: For lowering the back of a key cup - usually for a lower stack key. Place the hook end under the key cup arm, and rest the jaws (i.e. a little from the end of them) on the top-back edge of the key cup, adjacent to the key cup arm. Then, using the pliers as a lever, simply press the handles down so that the key is firmly closed on the tone hole. Press firmly enough and the back of the cup gets closer to the tone hole.

This is very useful on saxes where the keys are buried between the two parts of the body, preventing access for any tool for tapping down the back of the key.
 

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Yes, Alley cat, your photo shows the situation where this tool can be useful as per my previous post.

Another solution I use is, providing there is sufficient access, is to use a rawhide hammer to tap your marked point down, with a soft punch between the hammer and the key, partly for accurate placement of the impact. For a punch I use a 12 x 12 x 125 piece of polycarbonate, tapered a bit at one end, but a piece of dowel would do until it split. Yes, this puts an impact on the front of the pad, but somewhat surprisingly, I have never found this to damage the pad in any way, unless the pad leather was very old and brittle (or rotted by some liquid application), in which case it needed changing anyway.
 

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Gordon, when you say the current model do you mean this one ? Thank you.

http://instrumentclinicusa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=47
Hmm.

The one i saw was used by another local techniciain and I am sure he said it was a newer model from Ferrees. But that photo looks as if it has no "S" shape at all. And the jaws look too skinny to carve an S-shape. Oh dear!

My specialised, plier-type key-bending tools can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photorua/sets/72157627852874324/detail/
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yes, Alley cat, your photo shows the situation where this tool can be useful as per my previous post.
Gordon ! Thank you very much indeed for all of your extremely helpful replies on this thread. I really appreciate the time you have taken to give such a comprehensive explanation. Although I'm only a hobby restorer I do need to work to the sort of standards expected of a professional repair shop so coming on SOTW and being able to seek the advice of very experienced technicians is something I value very highly. Having now had the benefit of studying the 'photos you have very kindly posted I feel it would be quite practical for me to modify a suitable pair of standard pliers. After all, the difficult part of making a pair of pliers would be the handles and hinge. Shaping the jaws of conventional pair into the required shapes will be no big deal and will be my next project. Thank you for your all help.
 

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You're most welcome. :)
 

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I can add a few things.

In my previous post I just mentioned what are my most useful pliers for adjusting and bending keys. I had nothing to say the pliers in the link or any other pliers that I don't know.

I was impressed with Gordon's key bending pliers because they seemed to be great for very specific things that are a bit difficult to do otherwise. I started making some of them. Up to now, only the small flat jaw pliers, the parallel flat jaw pliers and the large duck-beak pliers are on my table. All other pliers are very close but not on the table all the time. The key pliers I made based on Gordon's are the only pliers in addition to those that I'm considering keeping on my table all the time. They are that useful.

It's not clear to me from the photo if the curved tip of the tool in the first post is split or just one curved side. Anyway it looks the same as the one in Allied's catalogue which they sell for $10 less. Modified to the shape shown in Gordon's link, if possible, I would say it would be very useful.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The key pliers I made based on Gordon's are the only pliers in addition to those that I'm considering keeping on my table all the time. They are that useful.

It's not clear to me from the photo if the curved tip of the tool in the first post is split or just one curved side. Anyway it looks the same as the one in Allied's catalogue which they sell for $10 less. Modified to the shape shown in Gordon's link, if possible, I would say it would be very useful.
I was very interested to read your comments. The initial response to my inquiry regarding key adjusting pliers was fairly dismissive which surprised me as I'd assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that this would be a item on everyone's bench. Although I realise no single tool will be suitable in every situation Gordon's modified regular pliers would cover most pad cup adjustments that I encounter. I'm typically trying to bring eBay "defective spares or repair" 1930's basket case horns back to life and, as you can imagine, misaligned cups are very common.

If InstrumentClinicUSA had a clearer 'photo of the key pliers on their website or, better still, as MusicMedic sometimes do, featured a video of the tool in use and I could have got a better idea of what I would be buying I might have just sent off the cash and not bothered posting this thread in the first place.
 

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I found someone who has the Allied pliers, which from the catalogue photo looks the same as the Instrument Clinic USA pliers. However it's not sure at all they are really the same because the photos just aren't clear.

It looks like the pliers are smaller than Gordon's D pliers and the jaws smaller, shorter and slimmer, probably not possible to modify in any significant way. It is also not clear enough if their stock shape is as useful (seems not to be, but I can't be sure). I think Allied makes most (or all?) of their tools, so there is a chance the Instrument Clinic USA pliers are just resold Allied pliers, since they cost $10 more (but you get easier online ordering I think, which Allied doesn't have).

Here is the type C pliers based on Gordon's design that I made http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157627890355994/
 

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I found someone who has the Allied pliers, which from the catalogue photo looks the same as the Instrument Clinic USA pliers. However it's not sure at all they are really the same because the photos just aren't clear.

Here is the type C pliers based on Gordon's design that I made http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157627890355994/
From a sales point of view I think it's inexcusable that both of these suppliers seem unable to provide clear pictures of the stuff they're selling. Maybe they're concerned that if the illustrations are too revealing folks will start coping their designs and make they're own. Who on earth would go to the bother of doing that ?

Thank you for posting these 'photos. I hope Gordon's royalty cheque is in the post.
 
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