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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am going to re-pad a 30's Martin stencil. yesterday I took it apart and soaked and cleaned the body. I cleaned the nickel keys and leveled the key cups. I measured them both in mm and 32's.

Their sizes seemed to more in even 32nds of an inch than metric. Does it matter which measuring system you use? Also when the measurement does not fall on an even increment, is it better to round up or down? I'm guessing that rounding up is better to give a little friction fit as I want to dry fit these before floating with shellac.
 

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...Does it matter which measuring system you use? Also when the measurement does not fall on an even increment, is it better to round up or down?
It matters most that you KNOW what measuring system you are using and not so much which. I use metric measurements. I round millimeter sizes up or down based on how close it is to 1/4 of a mm. 24.22mm gets rounded to 24mm, and 24.26mm gets rounded to 24.5mm. I generally stock all my "stock" pads from 8mm to about 52mm by half mm sizes. If I am buying a set (for some special reason) that has multiple pads that fall in the middle I buy both sizes so I can choose the best fit. I personally like my pads to be slightly on the tight side of fitting in the cup rather than loose. I don't mean needing a shoe horn to put them in, just that if I have to press slightly that's OK rather than having them wiggle around.A perfect fit to me would be dropping in the cup with no gap and requiring little/no pressure to get them in.
 

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Pads are rarely so accurate to be less than e.g. 0.1mm in size. It's soft enough (even the firmest sax pads) that the measuring is rarely that accurate anyway (so easy to press a fraction firmer and get a slightly smaller diameter by let's say 0.05mm or even more).

Consider that different manufacturers make the pads to a certain measurement in comparison with the advertised size. I've bought pads that were consistently slightly smaller, slightly larger, significantly smaller (let's say about 0.2-0.3mm) or just very variable, all from the biggest and most reputable pad manufacturers. I've tried just about all pad makers I know of by the way (and at least all the more known ones I think).

Then, notice that 1/32" is almost 0.8mm (rounded a little from the already slightly rounded 0.794mm). Many sizes overlap. Many sizes are very close. You get a lot more sizes per range with 1/2 mms. Actually, AFAIK some pad makers don't actually have 1/32" sizes, but just put the closest mm sizes. Though some companies actually make them in 1/32" sizes or both.

For example, take take 50 x 1/32" size. That results in 39.6875mm so let's say 39.7mm. You have 39.5mm and 40.0mm sizes. The difference in unlikely to matter at all (actually the chance is pretty much zero). It's actually just as likely that if your key cup is 39.7mm then one of the mm pads would fit better. That depends on how a company decides to make the pads in comparison with their advertised sizes. You would generally need to be familiar with pads from a certain company to know that.

That was a pretty long explanation to my opinion that realistically no key cup would benefit from a 1/32" size instead of a mm size.
 

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..... .... ....That was a pretty long explanation to my opinion that realistically no key cup would benefit from a 1/32" size instead of a mm size.
I totally agree. Metric is better because the increments are smaller, hence more accurate fitting. (1/32" = 0.79mm increments, versus 0.5 mm increments.)

I got sufficiently annoyed a long time ago to stop buying pads from Ferrees, when I ordered metric (which they listed) and did not get what I ordered. I ordered metric sizes according to their 0.5 mm listed increments.

For example:

I order 14.5 mm. They sent me 18/32", which is 14.29mm. Barely acceptable.
I order 15.0 mm. They sent me 19/32", which is 15.08mm. Acceptable.
I order 15.5 mm. They sent me 19/32", which is the same as the above. Definitely not acceptable!
I order 16.0 mm. They sent me 20/32", which is 15.87mm. Sort of acceptable.
I order 16.5 mm. They sent me 21/32", which is 16.67mm. Sort of acceptable.
I order 17.0 mm. They sent me 21/32", which is the same as the above. Definitely not acceptable!
I order 17.5 mm. They sent me 22/32", which is 17.07mm. Acceptable.
etc, etc.

So I finished up with sizes missing, and doubling up of other sizes.
To offer and list metric sizings, and then send the closest 1/32" size, was nothing short of downright dishonest.

I measure a key cup, then go to my stock for that size, test it in the key cup, and then, as often as not, exchange it for a size 0.5mm above or below. (As Clarnibass says, the size you order will turn out different from different suppliers anyway.)
Ya can't do that if you order specific sizes for a given sax.
I, too, like a reasonably snug rather than loose fit. If nothing else, it makes for less chance of the adhesive oozing.
 

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I agree with metric. I only stock up to 40mm, as I'm a small one man shop and don't want the inventory. I only stock in 1/2 mm and it has not been a hardship.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just for the record, I ordered a tenor pad set from Ferrees Tools. I used mm sizes and they were dang near perfect. I had one out of the whole set that was a tad small and would not stay in the cup during the dry fitting. That was probably a measuring error on my part. Not bad.
 
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