Thursday, April 25, 2013

Extremely Satisfying Projects

NOTE: Blogger formatting is even worse than Word. I swear! Apologies in advance for the arranging of some of the before/after photos in the Bell Buckle portion. I eventually figured out the problem, but fixing most of the errors would require re-loading the photos, which I don't have time for at the moment. This inconvenience has been part of the reason for the delay in posts, for which I also apologize. Things have been very busy which is good and sometimes not so good. Here it is, though. Finally! Enjoy.

So in class, we work on a lot of small projects. Sometimes it's making tools, sometimes it's practicing dents or soldering that we can apply to the project instruments or graded work we turn in to the instructors. This post is dedicated to those times when the results of these projects are mega rewarding! For me, that has so far translated to building things and making them look and work really nice. And by "look nice" I mostly mean shiny! So let's get to it! Some of my favorite things I've got to work on so far...

Bell Buckle
A bell buckle is a type of dent that affects the roundness of the throat of the bell. They can vary widely in severity with each bell having its own unique way of buckling. Some examples include the "bracelet" or "sombrero." Everyone in class got to practice removing them from trombone bells. I wish I had a video of how our practice buckles were created, because it's really pretty fun to watch. I'll try to make a dent-creation video and post it at some point. Basically my teacher, Greg, grabbed the bell by the stem and smashed it repeatedly, flare-down, into the bench surface until this happened:

Dun dun dunnnnn! Looks terrible, no?  With the way mine buckled, the first step was to take out as many of the large creases as I could, using the dent roller, seen below. Some of the other bells with sharper creases had to be tapped down against a bell iron.
Roller. You have to watch out for the sharp corner on the edge of this one--they create "tech-dents" in your work if you're not careful. We also had some with rounded ends which are a bit safer, but this happened to be the available one at the time.
The above pictures show after rolling... lots of rolling. Next I flexed the throat back to round by hand and tapped the rim down, checking it by resting on a granite block to ensure levelness all the way around the rim. I also burnished out dents unreachable by the roller by alternating between the head of one of my steel hammers and a straight burnisher.

Getting closer to done...

The final step after everything was ironing the bell using a roller and a bell...iron. This step smoothed out all the last little creases and marks left from the previous steps. Now for a little dramatic before and after! The after pictures are of the bell once it has been all the way ironed and wiped clean of my fingerprints.

Remember? Before:




From the side
There it is! Pretty durn satisfying to fix.

Trumpet 3rd Valve Slide Dent Rod
This next project was neat because we got to make a dent tool to use of our very own. Mostly pictures step by step here. Again, apologies for the formatting. This template is really not user friendly at all. First, filing a taper and shoulder at which to solder on a dent ball...


Now that everything is fit, it's time to silver solder! My favorite! (No, really... it is.)


Beauty. Especially after a little pickling and buffing. A smidge extra solder on the joint at the straight end, but hey, none on the ball, and in this instance it's beneficial and will make that end extra tough in its use. The ball on the curved end I sanded about in half to be able to reach dents at the top of the crook of long, narrow tuning slides like the 3rd valve slide on a trumpet. I have also since made my own set of knuckle dent tools with threads to attach dent balls of various sizes. Making and improving tools is one of my favorite things I've gotten to do here! It also happens to be an especially great way to save money. NEXT!

Trumpet 1st Slide Build
The final project in this post was the 1st valve slide I got to build for a trumpet! We started with just the parts: crook, tubes, and ferrules.

PARTS! Ferrules have been fit, and soldered to tubes


The fixture for aligning the crook, ferrules, and tubes was the trumpet itself. The rag behind is: 1) there to prevent lacquer on the tail from scorching, and 2) dampened to prevent itself from starting on fire. As you can see, the joint on the right went better than the one on the left, which will need wiping and more cleanup.


First, wiped. Then cleaned up and buffed. Did I not deliver on my promise of shiny things in this post?! Looks ready to lacquer. But I had to wait in line so...

Mummified! To protect it from dust, scratches and some oxidation.

There! Complete, lacquered, and all ready for small crook dent practice. As Greg observed, the dish dents made it look like one of the little alien guys from Toy Story. I concur. Thanks for looking again! I'll try to put more things up soon!

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