Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Commercial Polish

Foot joint with a noticeable amount of commercial polish.

We were recently asked, "What happens if you use commercial polish on your flute?"  Hmm...  We knew that this was highly frowned upon in our repair shop, but we wanted to know exactly why -- so we asked!

Repair Technician, Rachel Baker, gave us some insight on the topic.  She told us that the biggest problem with commercial polish is that it gets everywhere -- on your pads, corks, felts -- and then all of those parts would need to be replaced.  In the repair shop, our technician has the skill set to remove the entire mechanism from a flute, and this makes things much easier when it comes to polishing the body.  We realize that most flute players would not -- and should not -- do this (hence the mess of polish on all the "soft parts" of pads, corks, and felts).

Aside from the mess, commercial polish is also much more abrasive than the red rouge that we use here at Powell to polish flutes.  Rachel tells us that all polishes are abrasive to some degree (because that is how they work), but the red rouge here is extremely fine in terms of its abrasiveness.  She said that commercial polishes are not only more abrasive, but they also require that you "rub really hard."  Rubbing so vigorously with an abrasive polish leads to more scratches on your flute. 

Polishing on the wheel with red rouge.
Finally, when it comes to polishing, equipment is just as important as materials.  Here we have red rouge, and we also have polishing wheels -- which rotate at an extremely high speed.  There's really no way a person's hand can compete with the speed of a polishing wheel, and the results speak for themselves!  (Click here to read our previous post on polishing.)

To summarize the answer, if you use commercial polish, you risk damaging parts of the flute and scratching the body.  Repair technicians using much finer polish (like red rouge) and high speed polishing wheels will be able to polish the flute safely and produce the best possible shine.  So, as tempting as it might be to put over-the-counter polish on your flute, it's best to resist the urge.  Keep your flute clean by wiping it with a plain, microfiber cloth after you play -- but leave the polishing to the pros.  Don't forget that when you send your flute in for a COA, polishing is part of the process!

Getting ready to apply some commercial polish to demonstrate.
Applying the polish.
Rubbing really hard!
Done -- and still fairly hazy in comparison to the headjoint on the left (polished on the wheel with red rouge).

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