Like Charles (hi Charles!), I find it very interesting to hear how other people do certain steps. Over the years, I've tried many different things, either looking to improve what I'm doing or to help validate and understand better what it is I have been doing.
First off, I score and bevel dry! Found I could be a bit finer in my shavings. I use various combinations of tools to bevel, depending upon my mood (that's all): a very sharp, small knife, sand paper and/or a fine file.
(And if you haven't read the late, great Hugh Cooper's article about beveling in a recent IDRS journal - go get it! It's outstanding! There's an equally good paper by Norman Herzberg. Yoshi also just put up a link to a video of Mr. Herzberg about beveling, although I couldn't get it to play. Problem's probably on my end.)
(I'd be curious to hear from people that score all the way through the cane. There's a machine that does this, and I just cringe every time I see it. I would think that there might be problems with having a tight seal, and/or it would vibrate funny.)
OK, cane is scored, beveled. I soak it for several hours, 3 minimum. Put first wire on, wrap the cane with a cotton boot lace (also soaked, why? I don't know, that's the way I was taught 40 years ago.)
Open the butt end with pliers so I don't smash the end of the tube inserting the forming mandrel. (I don't like crushing or squeezing the cane, in any way, like with pliers to round out the tube. That's why I use a thick lace.)
Insert mandrel at least up to the second line on the mandrel (most forming mandrels have two scores, one for a finished blank, the further one for forming), being careful to keep the edges of the sides parallel, straight and not twisted. It's ok if the sides aren't touching. At this point you want to spread the cane apart a bit, in addition to making it more or less round. Also make sure that the fold is relatively straight or flat. I want both blades to have the same shape/slope, so that they vibrate the same way. No smiles or frowns. Or worse, sneers! Now is the best time to fix any irregularities.
As I remove the lace to put on a wire, I frequently tug on the lace to gently round the tube. I feel squeezing and crushing with pliers hurts the fibers of the cane and adversely affects the way the reed vibrates. This even goes for what happens in the tube. (Maybe that's thinking a bit too hard.)
To avoid splitting the cane up into the blade, I make sure my first wire is tight and not loose, but not so tight as to actually squeeze the cane. Also, that's why I soak for at least three hours. Even when I'm playing around with a thicker profile, if I stick to this regimen, I don't have this problem. And we're talking like 0.048" at the back of the blade! Collar, if you prefer. (I love the German word for the collar on a reed: kerbe.)
I put four wires on my reeds because I hate string wrapping, haven't done it in 30 years. Preferred method of sealing the tube (for the moment) is melted toothbrush handles in acetone. (The cheap CVS clear colored plastic work best.) Not too thick, and not too much. Makes for a fantastic seal, reeds last longer because there's a lot less expanding and contracting (which is what I think contributes the most to a reed's decline), and as long as I don't put too much on, they vibrate very well.
(Shrink tube isn't a tight seal, and the tube still expands and contracts a lot. It is aside from nothing, probably the fastest way to finish a tube. Hot glue is pretty good, but I think it dampens vibrations a bit. String is just awful - eventually becomes loose, allows a lot of expansion and contraction, takes too long. Just Duco cement or just nail polish are pretty good, but they don't seal as well, and eventually wear off unless you put a lot on. At least, those are my opinions.)
Back to my four wires, second wire is about 5/16 of an inch behind the first. The 2nd and 3rd are close to the back end of the tube, a little apart from each other so that my melted plastic sort of settles there and makes some weight, just like you would have with a Turk's ball using string.
If the first wire is too flat (usually), I'll open it from the sides, using pliers that grip in a parallel manner, so as not to put unequal pressure on the sides. Very important that you the sides have the same contour. As this will affect how each blade responds (or doesn't.) Check the throat opening on the inside, is it symetrical? It should be.
Let the sucker dry on a mandrel type drying board, force it down all the way. Then wait at least a day, tighten the wires, wrap/coat (whatever), and get going!
Whew, that took longer than I thought it would! Hope it was helpful!
Last edited by DaHah (2007-08-27 10:28:28)
Bassoon, Contrabassoon, Heckelphone
Faculty: Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division (NY), Montclair State University (NJ) & CUNY (NY)
President, LRQ Publishing - featuring the bassoon music of Francisco Mignone