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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2008
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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone come up with a way to level larger tone holes say 40mm without a tone hole file. MusicMedic sells them, but I was hoping to save a buck or two by using something a little cheaper.

This is for tenor on the lower stack.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Tap down the high spots (using something hard and flat between the hammer and the tone hole edge), and lift the low spots (using a lever system or dent ball gear). In practice though, the areas where the tone hole wall is highest is relatively non-adjustable.
 

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In our shop for saxes we use the old Ferrees aluminum disks that have been machine finished to be perfectly flat on one side and the knob handles cut much shorter. Attached to the flat side is 360 grit self adhesive sandpaper. The disk is both the "filing" apparatus as well as the flat edge to check for levelness with the leak light. There are six sizes that work for all size toneholes. Unfortunately these disks are no longer available unless you can get a tech to part with an old set.

On flutes we use round convex glass "beads" used in stained glass windows that come flat on one side. The flat side is sanded perfectly flat using fine grit sandpaper on a jewler's anvil. Each of 3 beads then has progressively finer grit sandpaper glued to the flat surface for leveling and then finishing the tone holes.

Any non flexible flat circular disk slightly larger than the tonehole(s) you need to level such as the glass lense of a flashlight will work. Simply attach the appropriate grit sandpaper (around 400 works well) and trim around the edge with a straight razor. If your disk is flat you may want to attach something to the top side as well to give your fingertips a bit of friction to move the disk back and forth. (You can do a circular motion with the tool if you want, but back and forth works just fine so long as you are careful not to "rock" the "poor man's tonehole file" as you go back and forth.

The best thing about sanding toneholes over filing is that there is less finishing to do once the tonehole is level and there are (almost) no burrs to take off.

John
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Well said, jbt.

IMHO a small circular motion (like an orbital sander) is probably a lot more successful than using a spinning motion with a guide disc inside the tone hole, as is the case with systems such as the rotary files and sand-paper equivalents that are commercially available. What you describe (without guides) just needs a little more care in its use. The abrasive is sure to last a lot longer and cut faster.
 
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