Oil wooden recorders

Oil your recorder

My workshop assures you of first-class workmanship in the repair work.

Oil wooden recorders

Recorders are subjected to great stress from breath moisture, and to maintain tone quality and prevent cracking, they should be regularly treated with oil. The purpose of oiling is to impregnate the inner bore of a flute to protect it from moisture. Whether you need to oil a recorder depends on the wood used and how it has been pre-treated.

Which flutes do you need to oil?

Our flutes made of boxwood, ebony, grenadilla, olive wood, rosewood, plum or rosewood must be oiled if they are not to lose their quality. On the other hand, instruments made of maple and pear wood, if they are impregnated with kerosene, do not necessarily need to be oiled, but it does not harm them either.

How often should the flute be oiled?

Basically, it can be said that the inner bore should always be slightly greasy. The flute has enough protection if it shines a bit inside. If, on the other hand, it is dull and has a grayish sheen, it is “craving” oil. So the question about the frequency of oiling cannot be answered in a blanket way – pay attention to the signals of your recorder and treat it with attention and care. The instrument will thank you.

Which parts of the flute should be oiled?

Painted wooden surfaces must not be oiled. Otherwise, you can oil everything on your flute except the windway. To ensure that the oil’s creeping ability does not allow it to get there unintentionally, it is recommended that you also leave the block and parts of the labium untreated (see below).

Which oil is the right one?

For oiling the wood is suitable almost odorless sweet almond oil. It is easy to apply because of its thinness and leaves no sticky residue. This vegetable oil penetrates the wood, forming a film that protects the flute from moisture. Almond oil is included in the Moeck care set, but can also be purchased in pharmacies and some drugstores. For the key action, if present on your flute, it is best to use sewing machine or key oil. These mineral oils do not harden, but on the contrary ensure that the mechanical connections remain supple.

What do you need for oiling?

  • Flute oil – we recommend almond oil
  • Brush – as fine as possible
  • Cotton cloth
  • Oil brush – also available in the supermarket as a bottle or spout brush. These brushes are made of pig bristles or plastic and feel quite hard. However, you cannot damage the wood of your flute with it (assuming proper handling). A wiper, as was often used in the past to dry out flutes, is less recommended because wiper lint gets caught in the inner bore. Since oiling flutes inevitably involves oil drops and oil marks, it is recommended that you work on a wipeable surface.

Professional recorder makers and players of flutes made of rosewood, plumwood, rosewood, or unparaffinized maple, for example, like to use the thicker, fast-hardening linseed oil because it provides a more durable seal. Handling this oil is quite difficult, firstly because it is easy to resinous residues that are difficult to remove, and secondly because it spoils exceedingly quickly (recognizable by an unpleasant odor) and is then no longer usable. Linseed oil is also not completely harmless, because it is self-igniting! Cloths or wipers soaked in linseed oil must therefore not be left unattended. We therefore advise our customers not to use this oil. Our tips for oiling recorders refer exclusively to the use of almond oil.

Our instrument makers will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the use of linseed oil.

How to oil your flute properly

Allow your flute to dry out thoroughly before oiling. So never oil a flute that has just been played, otherwise moisture will be retained in the wood. Protect the key pads of your flute from the wood preservative oil by sealing the corresponding tone holes from the outside with kitchen paper, for example. Most important is oiling the inside bore of the flute, as this is the area that comes into the most contact with moisture.

The middle part and foot piece are the easiest to handle. Wet the inner edge of the flute with a few drops of oil and turn the wiper through the flute piece until it is visible on the other side. Then pull it out again while turning. Hold the flute piece against the light and look at the result of your work: If there are still dull spots, repeat the process until the flute is covered with an even layer of oil from the inside.

Be particularly careful when oiling the headpiece and ensure that the block does not come into contact with oil if possible. Always hold the headpiece with the beak pointing upwards so that the oil cannot flow into the wind tunnel. Now take the already oily brush and slowly push it into the flute head with careful twisting movements until it can be seen through the labium. Now you can continue turning gently until the stopper (which should be as oil-free as possible) gently touches the block. Now slowly turn the brush out again, check by looking into the inner bore whether the oil film has been applied evenly and, if necessary, repeat the process, possibly adding 1-2 drops of additional oil.

The outer surface of unvarnished flutes gets a nice matte sheen when rubbed with a lightly oiled cotton rag. When handling the flute head, make sure that no oil gets into the windway. Rub the head with a cloth, but better leave out the beak and especially the direct blow hole at the end of the beak. Oil the surface of the labium with the fine brush, being careful not to get too close to the wind tunnel. The oil’s creeping ability will ensure that it spreads to the flanks of the labium as well. Now place the flute parts as straight as possible to dry, e.g. on a plate, and let them stand for a few hours (preferably overnight) so that the wood can absorb as much oil as possible. Last but not least, you can wipe off any residue with a clean cotton cloth.

These rules you should be sure to follow when oiling:

  • Let the flute dry well before oiling!
  • Always hold the headpiece vertically with the beak pointing upwards when oiling!
  • The block should not come into contact with oil if possible!
  • Make sure that no oil gets into the wind tunnel!
  • Give your flute time to absorb the oil well!

With us you can expect a wide range of selected products and solutions at affordable prices. We make sure that only goods of the highest quality leave our house. Of course, we advise you comprehensively, pay attention to your individual wishes and requirements and always find the right solution for you.