Oil Immersion Processing of Deteriorated Grenadilla Instruments

Since 1973, I have immersion processed hundreds of grenadilla instruments including: [modern] Eb, Bb, and A soprano Clarinets; Alto, Bass, Contra Alto and Contra Bass Clarinets, Basset horns, Oboes, English Horns, [wooden] Piccolos & Flutes, as well as historic Clarinets and antique wooden Flutes. I have immersion processed Bagpipes drones and chanters also.

Oil immersion reverses the negative effects of deterioration: makes wood more elastic; makes wood more supple; makes wood more saliva-resistant; and makes the wood less prone to movement [i.e. not succumbing to rapid, severe, abrupt expansion or contraction caused by temperature and moisture changes].

Immersion processing involves preparing the wood, first by removing petroleum products from the instrument body, as well as any key oil and petroleum based cork grease. We then immerse the instrument in a tank containing a specific blend of organic oils at a controlled temperature. We treat all surfaces of the body uniformly, thus avoiding uneven absorption of oil. And, the immersion oil, formulated specifically for immersion processing, produces superior results. I must emphasize that the type of oil is extremely important — as is the method of applying it.

Depending on the condition of the wood, actual immersion lasts five to eight days. After immersion, we drip-dry the instrument and monitor the wood for three weeks. Once the wood is ready, we then mechanically rebuild the instrument totally: cleaning & refitting all keys, installing new pads & tenon corks, et al. See Rebuild, please.

Immersion processing can repair damaged wood in about eight weeks. After five weeks in my shop, there is a 3 -- 4 week break-in period in your environment. During this break-in period, the instrument becomes very stable, dimensionally. This stability allows, for example, the player to travel to different climate zones without suffering the typical performance problems that result from dimensional change. Typically, clients state that the scales of their instruments “lock in” during this break-in period. In addition, most players report a noticeable increase in resonance — as well as a better evenness, register to register.

I have immersed new world-class instruments, some of which were used in paired comparison tests for experienced audiences. In all cases, the audience preferred the timbre, response, and resonance of the immersed instruments compared to new, non-immersed instruments of the same brand. Please see my publication, Clarinets and Concepts, presented at conventions in Denver and Milwaukee.

For those who want a more scientific, causal analysis of deterioration and how immersion reverses that status, please visit my publication, Deterioration & Immersion Processing of Grenadilla* Instruments.

Other Custom Services

Naylor's Custom Wind Repair [NCWR] of course deals with day-to-day repairs -- be they annual maintenance or an emergency [e.g. the D# pad fell out!], the instrument fell on the floor. But, our forte is the custom job.

Custom repairs span the range from undercutting tone holes to making accommodations for the disabled [e.g. a clarinetist lacking a pinkie first knuckle to the fingernail] to crack repair to minimizing lateral key movement. Regarding the latter, for example …

Making Over-sized Hinge Screws

As a result of long-term wear, manufacturer-produced and installed hinge screws become loose in their hinge tubes. Such looseness results in side-to-side key wobble and lack of proper pad seating to respective tone holes. For the player, such looseness leads to poor habits like [the perceived need for] excessive finger pressure, and frustration from a lack of accurate instrument response.

To remedy this problem, we routinely fabricate new hinge screws -- larger than the original screws -- to ensure tight fit in the hinge tubes. This remedy eliminates side-to-side wobble, and ensures pad seating on tone holes. And most importantly for you, the over-sized hinge screws restore light finger pressure and accurate instrument response.

Scope of Work for Selected Premium & Custom Repair Jobs

The table below summarizes four of the more regularly performed repair jobs we do, as well as the subordinate tasks we accomplish for each:

Return to
Major Task
Mfr. Specs
Body Repair
Tenon Corking
Key Refit
Key Adjustment


Naylor’s Custom Wind Repair [NCWR] defines, maintains and practices a workmanship standard of superior quality and service:

  1. Qualifications: I have more than 50 years of experience in musical instrument repair; moreover, the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians (NAPBIRT) has certified me a Master Clinician. In addition to instrument repair curriculum, I have extensive schooling in chemistry, metallurgy, tool-making and carpentry. All members of my staff must meet my demanding standards of workmanship.
  2. Specifications: Instrument repair is both an art and a science. NCWR sets manufacturer specifications as a minimum repair goal. I normally exceed manufacturer specs on Premium & Custom Repairs — such as an immersion rebuild on a grenadilla instrument. As I inspect and evaluate your instrument prior to repair, I shall provide my opinion on necessary repairs and available options for levels of repair. You decide what scope and what cost of work I shall in fact accomplish.
  3. Materials: I use only premium-quality repair materials, be they blue-spring-steel springs or superior cork or kid leather pads. I believe the durability of materials is an integral tenet of my repair ethic. I expect the materials I use to last you decades — not just a few years.
  4. Methods & Procedures: To complement my using premium materials, I employ only quality methods and procedures. For example, the high-quality adhesives I use for pads and corks, enable us to provide extreme accuracy and durability in the overall repair. Likewise, methods used in damage repair always return the instrument to original manufacturer specifications. We never use short-cuts just to get the instrument to play; short-cuts only lead to further short-term repairs.
  5. Stability of Repair: As stated above, I believe my repairs to your instrument should remain viable not just months, but for years or decades. This is especially important in the climate in which we at NCWR operate. Standard sea-level repair procedures do not necessarily prove reliable in the high altitude semi-arid Colorado. Whether you live in Colorado, other locales or travel frequently for performance opportunities, my repairs will remain stable in your locales and climates because of the materials and procedures I use.
  6. Expert Consultations: My repair network includes fellow repair technicians around the country and in many foreign countries, as well as design managers at the major instrument manufacturers. Thus, if your oboe or bassoon repair requires consultation, I personally know the Design & Production Manager at Fox Products. I also test play each instrument after repair; and for those instruments for which I am not professionally proficient, I bring in expert performers to test them.

Oil Immersion Processing of Deteriorated Grenadilla Instruments (click to read more) Oil Immersion reverses the negative effects of deterioration, makes wood more elastic...

Other Custom Services (click to read more)
Custom services span a wide range of repairs.

Quality of Service (click to read more)
Naylor's Custom Wind Repair defines, maintains and practices a workmanship standard of superior quality and service.

Repair Order Form

** REPAIR ORDER FORM: please call me first and let’s discuss your requirements. Then, print this form and include it with your instrument shipment. I accept check, money order or VISA/Master Card **

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When we talk before you ship your instrument, I shall ask you to E-mail me. Once I have your return [E-mail] address, I shall send you the shipping instructions we, ourselves, follow. I highly recommend you follow them as well!

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