Do you remember what your tenon corks looked like when your clarinet or other woodwind was brand new? Next time you have a tenon cork replaced, take a close look at the job. Does it look brand new again?
Here’s how I get my tenon corks looking fresh:
First I apply the cork, taking care to cut it carefully to fit between the rails.
Next I put the clarinet body into the lathe. It’s held in place by a live center which spins and one end and a bench peg in the chuck. As the lathe spins the body, I use a strip of sandpaper to cut the cork down and shape it.
I check the fit with the socket of the instrument every so often and gradually get the fit I want. I don’t want to sand too far. The fit should be so about 1/4 to 1/2 of the tenon can fit into the socket dry without any cork grease.
I shape the cork into a barrel shape, tapered on each end.
Finally, I impregnate the cork with wax to lengthen its useful life and then apply cork grease to check the final fit. I wipe the excess off with a paper towel and q-tips.
Using this method you get a tenon cork that lasts and looks like it did when it left the factory.