How the Oboe is Made
Assembly and adjustment
The pads are made of two different materials
The oboe's small tone holes require equally small pads. Two materials are used to make the pads. Some are made from the same "fish skin" (actually, cattle intestine) as the pads of a clarinet, and some are made from natural cork. Each material is used in specific places.
White shellac is the bonding agent
The bonding agent shellac is used to adjust the pads. There is both black and white varieties of shellac, with white being traditionally used for oboes. Because this form is more fluid and flows more easily than the black type, it is suited to making minor adjustments so that the pads are exactly flush with the tone holes.
The nerve-wracking work of assembly and adjustment
Finally, there is the process of assembly and adjustment. The key posts are embedded, the parts forming the keys are incorporated into the bar-affixed pipe, and the pads are fitted on. Then, the motions among the keys are fixed using adjustment screws, and the instrument is complete.
Because the oboe has so many parts and they are all complexly interrelated, several days are required to assemble and adjust a single instrument. It is a very detailed, nerve-wracking task.