Like Frank Watson, I think I've been making better reeds since I started using one about 6 years ago. I have two, both from Rieger. One is quite old - it has a green base if any one knows when that would be from. The other is about 2 years old. I am thinking of possibly selling that one, only because it is newer and looks better.
While these tip profilers only finish about a third of the blade, what they do well is give you a much more balanced front of the blade, the most critical area of the reed. Much better than you could do by hand, at least better than I could.
By removing washers, you could bring the scrape further back, but it's probably not a good idea depending upon how thick your profile is. I tried it and I didn't like the results. The stock template gives a bit more of a German scrape, a quick slope down on the rails. I've learned how to work with it. I would prefer that the machine worked further back and had more of a gradual slope on the rails. You can have a custom template made that suits your requirements, of course at a price. Maybe the "ultimate reed finishing tool" will do the trick.
I saw it in Ithaca at Miller's exhibit. I believe the manufacturer is Rimpl. It is more expensive than the Rieger, but it can go almost all the way back on the blade. What I liked about this newer machine are the following points:
1.) you could only turn the reed in very small increments because its rotation was controlled by a geared system that prevents quick side to side movement. This helps the next point.
2.) the cutting blade was rounded, so the amount of cane coming off was very narrow, which meant a much finer detail in the scrape
3.) and the carriage that houses the blade rolled on the template using a ball bearing, not a flat wheel. So this more precise point of contact transfers the template at a much high degree of detail, that when coupled with the rounded blade would give a much more finished reed.
I saw a very similar machine made by a Michael Kunibert. Even with the standard template, the reed came off the machine so well made that I played a rehearsal on it an hour later. Incredible! I can't wait to get my hands on one and get my own template.
I don't know how I survived all those years without one!
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