Topic: profiling/soaking/DIY easels


I was profiling at around  .035 inches at the collar and decided to add a little more thickness for added stability in forming.  I added about .004 in height to the ramp on my profiler.  I usually profile after the cane has soaked for 2 days in distilled water, changing the water after day 1.  However, I was not able to get to profiling after 2 days so I waited another day, and when I measured the cane after, I found that it was approximately 0.032 in the back! 

My first question is, after the cane sinks in the water, isn't it already fully saturated, or does more soaking time make it expand even more (thereby shrinking even more after drying)?

My second question is regarding buying wooden dowels for drying gouged/profiled cane.  I have purchased a 1-inch diameter dowel and a 1 1/8 inch as well.  Any thoughts as to which would be better?

Thank you!

Many Smiles,
Adam Romey

Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.


Re: profiling/soaking/DIY easels

Regarding the wooden dowels, I would buy plastic dowels with a hole through them that is the exact same diameter as the profiling easel that you have.
A plastic mart type store is where I would go.

You can always add thickness in a simple way by purchasing artists tape which is white and 1/2" in width at an art supply store and put one piece on the profiling bar. this is exactly how I have been profiling with the Pfeifer single profiling machine I have had since 1978.

that is much easier than considering the saturation point of cane since all cane will always be different.


Re: profiling/soaking/DIY easels

Before shaping or profiling I soak and dry my cane multiple times over a couple of weeks. The first time I soak the can will sink in about 8 hours or less (so, overnight). The second time takes more like 24 hours for the cane to sink. By the second week I'm waiting on day 5 for the cane to sink on its own. Something is changing in the cane during this process and for me it stabilizes the cane. I like to think that this creates a more stable reed when I finally start scraping and shortens the break-in period.

What I do know is that since starting this I get far fewer significant cracks in the bark and tube during forming, and this was confirmed for me when I tried making reeds under a faster time frame once and only did the soak/dry thing twice. Had 3x as many reeds crack on me.

I wonder if this process would cause the cane diameters to not change in the soaking process for you. During this process I do not dry my cane on a dowel. I definitely see my cane curl in the drying process, but since I'm soaking them back up again multiple times, I notice it curls a bit less during each drying session.

M.M.A., D.M.A. University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign: B.Mus. Lawrence University
Bassoon professor at University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire
Maker of the Little-Jake electric bassoon pickup and Weasel bassoon reeds

Re: profiling/soaking/DIY easels

Hi Adam!

I've noticed a huge variability in cane characteristics based on how long it's soaked for - I feel based on personal experience (I haven't rigorously tested this theory) that not only does cane swell more with longer soaking, it also becomes generally less predictable. If there's any inconsistency in cane quality from one part of the piece of cane to another it seems to become exaggerated if it's soaked longer. Same goes for differing pieces of cane - after a couple of months of soaking, softer cane will curl like crazy. What Trent said about repeated soaking stabilizing cane is great.

As far as the dowels go I wouldn't imagine the diameter affects playing characteristics too much, but if it's too different from the gouge the cane could crack. I use 1 1/8" dowelling for my gouging and lose probably 1 in 5 pieces of cane to cracking (I've got a Rieger gouger pretty much the same as the one in the IU reed room).  Considering the price of gouged cane, I'm perfectly fine with that failure rate.

Last edited by Michael Macaulay (2013-07-22 10:23:42)

Michael Macaulay
2nd Bassoon, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Re: profiling/soaking/DIY easels

There is a revealing discussion about soaking cane in the article(s) by Edwin Lacy published in the IDRS magazine some years back. Should be available online from the IDRS.

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University

Re: profiling/soaking/DIY easels

As a commercial reed maker I never soak my cane.  I do all my work dry until the forming of the tube.  I believe soaking cane until saturated and it sinks  will cause cracking.  I use the damp method.  I dunk all my gouged, shaped and profiled cane in water for a second, let set aside  for 20 minutes and that dampness is just enough to then form the tube.  I score in even numbers.  4 equal scores is enough.  The idea is not to crack down the center.  You can't stop cracking but controlled cracks is what I'm after.  A round butt transitioning into an oval throat.  Lawrence Rhodes


Re: profiling/soaking/DIY easels

I soak tube cane (for bassoon) for 24 hours before splitting, pre-gouging and gouging. I then let the cane dry, wrapped with rubber bands on 1 1/4 inch wooden dowels (as described in the "Skinner" book) for at least 24 hours. Before further processing I soak the gouged cane for 3 - 4 hours. For whatever reason there might be, I never have cracks while forming the tube. When I use already gouged-profiled-shaped cane I'll soak it for the usual 3-4 hours before forming, and still will not have a problem with cracks.