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 Post subject: What to Oil?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:32 pm 
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I know this has been discussed, I'm to lazy to do a search tonight. I'm just getting back into Fluting after focusing on Pipes of recent.
The inside of a Flute is a given, but do you all oil the outside?
If so, what oil do you like? I've got some 10-30 out in the shed, which I think could give a nice dark luster to my Flute, but what other types of Oil do you prefer?
I've got a Natural Foods Grocery around the block which I think could have a number of good oil options, although they may look at me funny as I never shop there :wink:
Ben S


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:03 pm 
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Castrol Syntec 20W-50 my friend.


Honestly though, after oiling a couple of thousand production instruments and hundreds of restoration instruments, it's torture for me to oil my own instruments. Just one more reason I've been on the whole flute monogamy kick for a number of years now. But I digress.....

Most here will likely recommend almond Ben, but my experience has been that it's virtually useless unless you plan to oil several time a week, which is just silly. Since almond oil doesn't polymerize (harden) it just gets washed away from the inside of the bore by all the moisture you put in there. And it happens quickly.

If you can handle the smell, I'd go with linseed, which is what we used at the shop.

For keyless flutes, you can oil the whole thing except the tuning slide and cork stopper. Be sure to get any oil off the silver/nickel bits when done.

For keyed flutes, avoid getting oil on the pads, pad seats, and into the keyways and springs etc. Oiling those areas is a good thing to do, but not with the same sort of oil you use for the exterior and bore. Light machine oil works well on the those areas. (No oil needed between keys and unlined keyways though, 'cause that'll just muck things up.

Umm, I shouldn't need to say it but of course someone out there will do it so...... No need to oil the bore of your lined headjoints...... :lol:


I'm sure I'm forgetting something important, but I've got the flu and can't think straight so please forgive me if I've just written anything along the lines of "Oil your dogs dew claws with Mary Poppins oil"......

Loren


Last edited by Loren on Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 12:57 am 
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Loren wrote:
Castrol Syntec 20W-50 my friend.


Honestly though, after oiling a couple of thousand production instruments and hundreds of restoration instruments, it's torture for me to oil my own instruments. Just one more reason I've been on the whole flute monogamy kick for a number of years now. But I digress.....

Most here will likely recommend almond Ben, but my experience has been that it's virtually useless unless you plan to oil several time a week, which is just silly. Since almond oil doesn't polymerize (harden) it just gets washed away from the inside of the bore by all the moisture you put in there. And it happens quickly.

If you can handle the smell, I'd go with linseed, which is what we used at the shop.

For keyless flutes, you can oil the while thing except the tuning slide and cork stopper. Be sure to get any oil off the silver/nickel bits when done.

For keyed flutes, avoid getting oil on the pads, pad seats, and into the keyways and springs etc. Oiling those areas is a good thing to do, but not with the same sort of oil you use for the exterior and bore. Light machine oil works well on the those areas. (No oil needed between keys and unlined keyways though, 'cause that'll just muck things up.

Umm, I shouldn't need to say it but of course someone out there will do it so...... No need to oil the bore of your lined headjoints...... :lol:


I'm sure I'm forgetting something important, but I've got the flu and can't think straight so please forgive me if I've just writtin anything along the lines of "Oil your dogs dew claws with Mary Poppins oil"......

Loren


Yeah, I'll second most of that, except that the linseed oil should be cold-pressed, artist grade oil, generally available in a small glass bottle at your local artist supply store. Keep the oil off of any pads, but otherwise oil it inside and out, and don't worry about over oiling it, but wipe off any excess. However, NEVER TREAT THE OILY RAGS AS ORDINARY WASTE, for such rags have been known to self-combust, so put them into a jar full of water before throwing them out, or burn them somewhere where they can't cause any problems.

That is, don't use the "boiled" linseed oil as commonly available at hardware/paint stores, for that is not the same oil.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:22 am 
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I followed Terry McGee's suggestion and used LeBlanc Bore Seal on my McGee Rudall Perfected.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:40 am 
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Cork wrote:
Yeah, I'll second most of that, except that the linseed oil should be cold-pressed, artist grade oil, generally available in a small glass bottle at your local artist supply store.

That is, don't use the "boiled" linseed oil as commonly available at hardware/paint stores, for that is not the same oil.



I'll have to disagree on this one, as we used standard issue boiled linseed oil from ACE. I know this shocks and horrifies some people, but that shop has produced more than 10,000 instruments over a 40 year period, with no complaints of side effects or illness from the use of boiled linseed by shop employees or the instrument owners.

Seems a pretty good safety record to me, but of course, everyone should do what they are comfortable with.


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However, NEVER TREAT THE OILY RAGS AS ORDINARY WASTE, for such rags have been known to self-combust, so put them into a jar full of water before throwing them out, or burn them somewhere where they can't cause any problems.




Ah yes, I knew I was forgetting something. Indeed oily rags can self-combust and precautions should be taken.


Loren


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:36 pm 
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Well, really, the difference between boiled linseed oil and cold pressed linseed oil is slight, and I wouldn't hesitate to use either one. However, I've found the cold pressed oil to leave slightly less in the way of dried residue, over time. Then again, and either way, such build up can easily be removed with the use of a swab with a bit of turpentine on it. Probably the greatest difference is the cost, where hardware store boiled linseed oil is far less expensive than the cold pressed oil as only found in artist supply stores, a major difference in price.

And, therefore, if I were in the flute making business, I know which oil I'd be using. ;-)


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:57 pm 
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Well if you are playing a Casey Burns Flute, NEVER use boiled linseed on it. Doing so violates any warranty. Period.

Suggesting that people oil their instruments with it is downright irresponsible and alarms this particular maker with 27 years worth of experience! Please do us other makers a favor and don't suggest to others that it is appropriate to use! The readers on Chiff and Fipple are confused enough by the safe options as it is!

Commercial boiled linseed oils have Cobalt and other metal salt driers which are poisonous and as one with chemical sensitivies, I won't work with anything treated with it.

In terms of the flute itself, a fast drying oil is most inappropriate. The point is to not varnish it (this is probably what you are using it for Loren) but to keep the wood life like and supple. A slow drying or non drying oil is best for that. Leather goods such as shoes require treatment with something to keep them supple, such as an oil. You wouldnjt want to use paint on shoes unless you were crazy. Or an eccentric.

Commercial linseed oil from Ace or any other hardware store is basically paint without the pigments. Also, oily rags from it will spontaneously heat and burn your house down (this is never a problem with raw linseed oils). I know this from a near first-hand experience when I built my house in the early 90s. Caught it just in the nick of time!

Use a commercial bore oil, good quality Almond Oil with vitamin E added, artistic quality raw linseed oil, olive oil or mineral oil instead. Use them fresh and never after these have been laying around for a few seasons. And always consult with the maker first.

Well, venting sure felt good!

Casey

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Last edited by Casey Burns on Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:06 pm 
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Of course, if you want to paint your flute, that is another matter and something worth investigating as a wild finish.

Sherwin Williams and Windsor-Newton and others have a wide color palette.

The Italians used to use Gesso Paint on their old olive wood Zampognas. Lovely basic colors similar to what one sees on Croquet sets.

But the bores were always oiled with olive oil. I consume lots of olive oil in my diet and keep my bores well oiled as well.

Casey

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:09 pm 
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Oops!

Well, from now on, I think I'll just stay with cold pressed oil.

I didn't realize that boiled linseed oil had any additives to it. I thought it simply was processed differently, as in boiled rather than cold pressed, sort of like the difference between cold pressed olive oil and steamed olive oil.


Last edited by Cork on Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:13 pm 
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LOL!

Funny that we both came up with olive oil. I use cold pressed olive oil for eating, great stuff.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:09 pm 
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I've been using toasted walnut oil that I purchased at Trader Joe's.

Its a dual purpose purchase.

Its smells yummy on the flute and Its also good on a goat cheese salad.

It will raise hell with anyone that has a nut allergy though so I don't recommend it really.

If you do make sure you tell people if you intend to sell it or let someone play it otherwise you might cause a session casualty. :D


I'd go with Casey's recommendations of course. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:23 pm 
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Casey Burns wrote:
Suggesting that people oil their instruments with it is downright irresponsible and alarms this particular maker with 27 years worth of experience!


Casey,

1] Please note that I did not actually recommend boiled linseed oil to C&Fers, I simply recommended linseed oil. Then later I disagreed with another poster who said "NEVER" use boiled linseed oil, by relating my experience at Von Huene.

2] I respect your 27 years of experience, but I happen to respect Friedrich's and Patrick's 60+ combined years experience more. For example you could save yourself some headaches by not using that Thai Boxwood you have, it will crack if you make flutes from it. You haven't learned this yet, but they did years ago - a costly mistake when the instruments started coming back. Interestingly enough, Thai Box doesn't crack much when used for bellows blown instruments and perhaps some double reeds that don't get a ton of moisture down the bore. Flutes and Recorders made from the stuff all crack eventually. It's not remotely as crack resistant as Euro Box. But I'm off topic again....


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Please do us other makers a favor and don't suggest to others that it is appropriate to use! The readers on Chiff and Fipple are confused enough by the safe options as it is!


You are welcome to your opinion, of course, and again I will state that I did not specifically, nor would I specifically suggest people use boiled linseed, neither would I say they shouldn't use it. I, of course, am welcome to my opinions as well.


Quote:
In terms of the flute itself, a fast drying oil is most inappropriate. The point is to not varnish it (this is probably what you are using it for Loren) but to keep the wood life like and supple.


Hmm, lifelike and supple? The wood is dead, and the internal cell structures have crystallized I believe, so I don't know about that. But, at any rate, my goal in oiling is to use an oil that will harden, because as I recall the studies show, unpolymerized oils do not provide any real vapor barrier, which is what I'm after, to avoid cracking. Whether or not we look at that as varnishing, is up for grabs I suppose, but I'm okay with whatever we call it. Non-drying oils get washed right out of the bore, so what's the point? That's the way I look at it anyway.


Quote:
A slow drying or non drying oil is best for that. Leather goods such as shoes require treatment with something to keep them supple, such as an oil.


Animal hides and wood are very different materials.

Quote:
Commercial linseed oil from Ace or any other hardware store is basically paint without the pigments. Also, oily rags from it will spontaneously heat and burn your house down (this is never a problem with raw linseed oils). I know this from a near first-hand experience when I built my house in the early 90s. Caught it just in the nick of time!


Glad you caught that in time! As I said in another post, I agree. One has to take proper precautions if one chooses to use certain oils, including boiled linseed.

Time for bed.

Loren


Last edited by Loren on Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:57 pm 
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Casey Burns wrote:
Well if you are playing a Casey Burns Flute, NEVER use boiled linseed on it. Doing so violates any warranty. Period...Commercial boiled linseed oils have Cobalt and other metal salt driers which are poisonous...Use a commercial bore oil, good quality Almond Oil with vitamin E added, artistic quality raw linseed oil, olive oil or mineral oil instead. Use them fresh and never after these have been laying around for a few seasons. And always consult with the maker first...


Nothing to say, here, I'm just consolidating my notes, thank you!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:06 pm 
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I'm surprised to see so much discussion on the use of linseed oil. If the intention is to protect a flute from moisture exchange (and what else could it be for?), then linseed oil is pretty much useless, according to woodworker Bob Flexner.

In 'Understanding Wood Finishing' he says the following:"Of all finishes except wax, linseed oil is the least protective... It's also easily penetrated by water and water vapor. Liquid water will work through a linseed oil finish and cause a smudge within 5 to 10 seconds... Water vapor will pass through a linseed oil finish almost as if it weren't there."

Elsewhere in the same book he says: "It's myth that linseed oil applied in any manner is a durable finish... And linseed oil, no matter how you apply it, or how many coats you apply, is quickly and easily penetrated by water and water vapor."

If anybody doubts him, it's easy enough to take a bit of untreated wood and test it!

I have always used conventional bore oil, since it was recommended by Terry McGee, who made my first wooden flute, but I have no particular faith in that either. From my own bits of experience in woodworking, I have found that most oils are of limited effectiveness if you really want to protect wood against moisture. There's no such thing, I think, as a completely waterproof permanent barrier, but the nearest to it is not the oils, but the non-penetrating varnishes. I just wouldn't have the heart to varnish the inside of a flute...


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:50 pm 
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Loren,

Your last statement misrepresents my boxwood flutes and is in error. And might also scare away some of my potential flute clients, which disturbs me. Its like spreading rumors that my flutes will cause some sort of disease, like Republicanism. You might want to edit your post so this doesn't get archived. These are the facts:

I haven't used Thai boxwood in decades! These days I use only Turkish and French Boxwood. All Buxus sempivirens. Where did you get the idea I was using Thai boxwood? It clearly says European Boxwood on my website.

What Thai boxwood I ever used was just a few logs that came from Doug Steinke's stash after he passed away from AIDS in the early 80s. Was nice well cured stuff - I only made about 10 flutes from it cause that was all that I could afford at the time and others snatched it all up. I never had any trouble with it. Neither did he. The last Thai boxwood flute I made was sometime around 1984 and that was the last of it.

In general I have had less trouble with Boxwood than any other wood. Especially once it goes through microwaving to "size" it (Rod Cameron developed this technique). It takes all the stresses out of it and keeps it from warpng. It seems less likely to crack than blackwood, based on what instruments I've had to warranty service.

As to oil, someone was asking what oil to use here and it sure sounded to me like you were implying Boiled Linseed Oil from the hardware store is okay simply by mentioning it. Go ahead and use it on your recorders etc. and I am glad it works for you. I can see where you might want it to seal up the voicing surfaces on that type of instrument so they don't move.

It just doesn't work for me.

Please! Nobody use Boiled Linseed Oil on a Casey Burns Flute or you will have voided your warranty, period!

I use oil not as a vapor barrier. There are better substrances than boiled linseed oil if the goal is to provide a barrier against water - but this is not my goal in using oil. If I need to seal up a flute and create a vapor barrier (this is necessary for some really dry climates) I will use a polyurethane sealer inside and out. I prefer not to do this and recommend that the flute owner instead keep the instrument well oiled and humidified instead. I do seal up the end grain with this sealer however, especially during the microwaving process on Boxwood and any wood that is slightly damp while in the pilot boring stage.

In an oiled flute the wood will still absorb moisture from the saturated breath and dry out afterwards - right through the oil. It is in this respect that the wood is still like leather and needs to be kept supple, despite the wetting and drying process. Oiling it with a proper bore oil that doesn't polymerize quickly or at all keeps it that way. In this context boiled linseed oil is totally inappropriate.

Casey Burns

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http://www.caseyburnsflutes.com
http://www.folkflutes.com


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