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Haynes woodwind maintenance manuals
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Haynes woodwind maintenance manuals

Making a springhook

One of the most useful and essential tools for the repairer is the humble springhook.

This tool allows you to manipulate springs safely and with ease. Without it you run the risk of using any old tool you happen to have to hand, or even your fingers (assuming you can poke them into the small spaces) and before long you're bound to either slip and scratch the instrument, or tear a pad, or run a spring into your finger...a particularly exquisite kind of pain, I can assure you.

So in the interests of mankind as a whole I'm going to show you how to make your very own springhook.

What you'll need:

Steel rod - 2mm dia. (approx.), 150mm length (for a larger hook use 4mm steel)
A jeweller's saw, or other fine bladed saw
Half round fine needle file
Small medium cut file
Some fine carborundum paper
Dirty great hammer

Study the picture below...

Sprinhook construction

Items 1 to 3 are the small springhook - this is the most useful size. Item 4 is a larger model of slightly different design, more suited to saxes.

To start with, the ends of the rod need to be prepared by flattening them out. One end will form the hooked portion, the other a 'poker'. We'll beat out the hooked end first.
Lay the rod on an anvil of some sort - the top of a vice jaw will suffice, and flatten out the end of the rod with a hammer for about 2 centimetres of its length. You're looking to flatten the rod until it measures just under a millimetre at the tip. Turn the rod over from time to time to keep the flat even.
Once done, you need to flatten out the other end. Turn the rod 90 degrees (so that the flat you just made faces side on) and beat out the poker end. This is a shorter end, say a centimetre or so, and needs less beating as we want to end up with a tip that's about a 1.5mm thick. Don't worry if you overdo it a little, you can always file the tip back to increase the thickness.

Having done that you now need to bend the hooked end as shown. This bend isn't crucial, but in use you'll find it allows the tool better access to the springs through the keywork. The rod is thin enough to bend without having to heat it.

Once bent you then need to profile the hook. It makes life easier if you mark a rough outline on the flat beforehand - as shown by the red line in Fig.1.
File round the outline (or cut if you have a jeweller's saw). Make sure that all the edges are rounded off - there will be times when the tool contacts the body of an instrument, so you don't want any sharp edges that will score the body. If you want to be really precise you can use a small drill to cut out the centre of the hook before you file the profile.

Once you're happy with the hook, do the poker end. Start off by squaring off the tip of the flat with a file.
As can be seen in Fig.2 this is nothing more than a simple slot cut long the length of the flat (Fig.4 shows this clearly) - though it can be quite tricky as you don't have much metal to play with. This is where a jeweller's saw really comes in handy. Failing that, use the edge of the half round needle file.
The slot itself need not be too precise - I always aim for a tapering a Y.
Once again, round off the edges and corners.

Finish up the whole tool with some fine grade carborundum paper to remove any sharp scratches (or buff the tool if you have such a machine).

The design in Fig.4 is a lot easier to make - there's no beating involved, just bend one end as shown and cut a slot into it with a small hacksaw. Cut another slot in the tip of the other end.
Once again, round off the edges and smooth up with carborundum paper.
If so desired you can file the ends down slightly to a taper - this will help the tool get into tight corners.

...And here's one I made earlier..about fifteen years ago...

My springhook

Mine has a handle (posh eh?) which is just a bit of turned steel with each end of the springhook silver soldered into it. A bit of plastic tube glued onto the rod will do just as well.

If all that sounds like far too much effort - get yourself off to a decent sewing supplies shop and pick up a steel crochet needle.

Crochet hook

What you see here is a 1.5mm crochet needle. It comes ready-made with a hook on the end, all that's required is that you bend the hooked end slightly - as depicted.
You might want the flatten out the plain end a little, and you'll still need to cut a slot in it.
The hook is somewhat small, you may find it beneficial to take a small file to it and open it out a little.
This needle cost little more than a quid - so it wouldn't break the bank to buy a few different sizes if they have them.
Don't bother with the plastic needles, they won`t be up to the job.

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Copyright © Stephen Howard Woodwind 2015