Tenon Corking

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From Steve Prescott
Instrument Rep. Tech/Clarinetist

Tools needed: Supplies needed:
Safety glasses Sheet cork 1/16" thick
Screwdrivers (small, large) Contact cement
Razor blade Lanolin or paraffin
Sanding block Cork grease
Water pump or slip joint pliers
Metal ruler or ruler with metal edge

Procedure outline:

  1. Remove necessary keys
  2. Remove old tenon cork
  3. Cut new cork to size
  4. Bevel edges of the new cork strip
  5. Apply contact cement to cork and tenon
  6. Apply cork to tenon
  7. Trim and sand cork to allow joints to fit
  8. Grease cork
  9. Return keys to the clarinet
Procedure in detail:
  1. Removal of keys is necessary only if the middle tenon is to be recorked. Remove the four side trill keys on the upper joint, the D/A ring key (upper bridge) and the C#/G# key.

  2. Remove the old tenon cork using the water pump pliers. Grasp the tenon firmly with the pliers within the cork groove and rotate the clarinet and pliers in opposite directions. Grasp the tenon only firmly enough to remove the old cork. Too much pressure could damage the tenon. When all the old cork is removed, wipe the tenon with a rag. Do not use alcohol on plastic clarinets. Alcohol will cause crazing and lead to breakage.

  3. Measure the width of the cork groove. Mark the piece of 1/16" thick sheet cork - you will be cutting across what appears to be the grain (see saxophone neck corking for explanation). Use the razor blade and the metal ruler to cut the cork. Some tenons - bass clarinet - have too large a diameter tenon to cut the cork as described above. It is not always possible to cut the cork in this manner. Cut the cork along the length of the sheet. You might save this cork sheet solely for this purpose.

  4. Bevel the sides (rails) of the newly cut cork strip using the sanding block. Bevel the leading edge of the cork strip.

  5. Apply contact cement to the under side of the cork strip. The side of the strip with the bevel is considered to be the top. Apply contact cement to the bevel of the leading edge, taking care not to get any cement on the top surface of the cork strip. Apply the contact cement to the cork groove of the clarinet. Let the cement dry to the touch - see directions on the bottle of contact cement.

  6. Apply the cork to the tenon, starting with the leading beveled edge on the under side of the clarinet. Work the cork into the groove at the rails first, then pressing the center of the cork down. Work around the entire tenon in this fashion and secure the trailing edge of the cork against the leading edge bevel.

  7. Trim off the excess trailing edge of the cork strip and sand this raised portion of the cork even with the rest. Sand the entire cork now uniformly, stopping every so often to check for fit. The clarinet joints should go together half way (dry, not greased).

  8. Grease the cork with lanolin or paraffin, being sure to rub it in well. Wipe off excess lanolin (if used) and grease as you would normally with cork grease. The lanolin or paraffin will seal the cork, and not allow the cork grease to release the glue.

  9. Return the keys to the clarinet and in reverse order of removal.

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