Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

First cabin, Jonathan.

Best,

john

Best,

john

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

You can convert any Box into a (Bassoon) reed box without any real hassle, If anyone is familiar with the Wiseman (Very bottom of this >> Page http://www.forrestsmusic.com/bassoon_reed_cases.htm) , One can simply and easily use Foam to make their own out of any nice appropriate sized box, I found a beautiful one in a second hand store for $5, used some contact Adhesive and foam, Instant reed case.

Ok, OK, i admit. I went down this road because Ribbon-style holders looked too much like hard work...

" Mozart tells us what it's like to be human, Beethoven tells us what it's like to be Beethoven and Bach tells us what it's like to be the universe." - D. Adams.

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

I am glad I found this thread.  I am an inveterate DIYer, simply because I find that the equipment that is made by various manufacturers is often not nearly as good as the equivalent that is offered for other purposes.  For example, the outdoor industry has been making packs that can be heavier and are far larger, yet they carry more easily, are far more comfortable, longer lasting and better protected than any bassoon case or gig bag currently available.

I was faced with the necessity of replacing my old, tired, decrepit bassoon case because it was simply falling apart.  So I went to the nearest woodwind shops and  had a sticker-shock heart attack.  Later that day, while looking wistfully at my very high end Gregory backpack, I decided that I could do better.

The  first thing that I did was pay a visit to the local Mountain Equipment Co-op www.mec.ca with my bassoon in hand  (US readers can go to REI, it's almost the same thing.  People from other areas will have to go to a high end outdoor boutique.)  I went shopping for a backpack that was in the CAD $100 – 150 range that had two particular qualities; it had to be two inches longer than my bassoon's long joint, and it had to carry well.  I found what I was looking for in the sadly discontinued MEC Gladerunner TL, and it had many extras as well.  It is very practical as an instrument case as it also has different compartments that can hold scores, tools and other miscellaneous sundries.

Once I had a backpack, I needed a way to hold and protect my bassoon.  I started to do research on the net, and I decided on building the inner case out of MicroCell closed cell foam.  This can also be bought at many good outdoor stores, although it took me months to find that little factoid!  I searched high and low, got shipping quotes from all over North America, and after all that, I drove to a store about 10 minutes from my house and bought it there.  (The store is La Cordée, for those of you who were wondering.)   Once the foam was in my basement, I talked to my brother about sculpting it, and it was my nephew Forrest who came up with a very effective way to do so.  I ended up using the handyman's other secret weapon, the Dremel.

Using any of the brushes allowed me to mow the foam in any way I wanted.  So I drew the rough outlines of the bassoon onto the foam, ensuring that the drawings were smaller than reality.  I then started to mow out the foam, digging lower and lower until I had troughs that were shaped like the joint that I wanted to place.  I then began the rather tedious procedure of trying the joint, then removing any foam that was blocking it, then trying again.  The goal is to place the joint in the foam so that it is tight enough that it will not move, but loose enough that you can easily remove it, and ensuring that the foam is not exerting pressure against the key system of the bassoon.  This was the task that took the most time.... by far!!!

To make a sundries compartment (equipment space) I cut out a large, deep area.  I needed to find some kind of stiff plastic to make a door, and I was very lucky here.  I was working on this in late August, while shopping for school supplies for my kids, and one of the binders I bought for my son was perfect for the job, so I bought a second.  I removed the parts of the binder I did not need, kept part of the spine as hinge section, then cut the cover to the shape of the space it had to cover.  To make the hinge work, I took a large Exacto and cut a single line gash that is as deep as the width of the back of the binder. (1.5 inches)  I then slathered the inside of the gash with contact cement, and slid in the spine of the binder.  I then cut a few pieces of industrial Velcro and glued them into place on the door and the foam edge beneath it.  I then drilled two holes, inserted a piece of climbing accessory cord and tied it off to form a handle.  Instant sundries compartment!

Detail of sundries compartment.  You can see the spine of the binder buried in the foam.  I left it a bit longer to provide a bit more support to the foam between the compartments.

http://img39.imageshack.us/img39/9708/dscf4354q.jpghttp://img39.imageshack.us/img39/dscf4354q.jpg/1/w640.png
Here is the foam inner case with the bassoon removed.

http://img196.imageshack.us/img196/8756/dscf4358f.jpghttp://img196.imageshack.us/img196/dscf4358f.jpg/1/w640.png

The inner case with the wing joint in it.  My well washed size 8.5 feet have been left in the photo for eerrrmmm... uuummm... ah, scale!  That's it, scale!

http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/7066/dscf4357g.jpghttp://img41.imageshack.us/img41/dscf4357g.jpg/1/w640.png

The inner case with the bassoon lovingly ensconced inside.

http://img30.imageshack.us/img30/842/dscf4353d.jpghttp://img30.imageshack.us/img30/dscf4353d.jpg/1/w640.png

The exterior of the case, front and back.

http://img38.imageshack.us/img38/6752/dscf4351z.jpghttp://img38.imageshack.us/img38/dscf4351z.jpg/1/w480.png


http://img38.imageshack.us/img38/8540/dscf4352m.jpghttp://img38.imageshack.us/img38/dscf4352m.jpg/1/w640.png

This is the prototype, so I will not be doing much more with it.  After using it for a while, I noticed a mistake that I made, so I will be making another in which but I will put the bell rather than the wing joint beneath the long joint.  This will allow me to remove the bassoon from the case in the same order in which it is assembled,  making my life much easier.  When it is finished to my satisfaction, I will cover the foam with velvet or felt, or perhaps a viscose fabric.  That will hide the crudeness of the cut foam and provide some protection against surface fraying.
The bassoon is now very well protected.  I put it in the backpack with the open side against my back, so it is so well protected, it can even survive a fall that would kill a weak-hearted bassoonist.  The pack is also very water resistant, and the foam is waterproof, so that is another problem taken care of.  It is also very well insulated, but I can comment more on that this winter if there is interest, of course.  In addition, it floats.  My brother quipped that it would be an excellent life preserver.  So, if ever I am in a plane crash, my bassoon has a better chance of surviving than I do!  How's that for reassuring?

Last edited by Dean (2009-10-04 12:45:59)

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Oh, have I ever told you that I am cheap?  Well, now you know.  I wanted a bocal wallet to put in my above mentioned bassoon case.  I decided to look for a bocal wallet at my various sources, these being eBay, the local woodwind emporia, and of course eBay.  Have I mentioned eBay???  Never mind. 
Well, after yet another one of my sticker price heart attacks, I was back perusing the shelves of the MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op, for the uninitiated...) when I came across the Blurr Travel Document Organizer.  It seemed to be the right size, so I bought it thinking that if the bocals did not fit, I could always return it.  I did not have to.  I sewed some elastic loops into various places in the organizer, et voila!  instant bocal wallet for at least two bocals.  And it can still be used as a document organizer!

Bocal wallet closed...

http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/3775/dscf4355a.jpghttp://img4.imageshack.us/img4/dscf4355a.jpg/1/w640.png

and open.

http://img143.imageshack.us/img143/4880/dscf4356.jpghttp://img143.imageshack.us/img143/dscf4356.jpg/1/w640.png

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Another point of contention for me has always been tools.  When I started playing, my teacher bought me a Vitry knife and I bought a Pisoni bevelled reed knife.  I have never replaced them, although I am dissatisfied with both.  I will be looking into the above mentioned knives as soon as I can.
Another tool I never bought was reed pliers.  There are tons of good pliers out there that are quite inexpensive, yet very effective at what they do.  Then when I saw reed pliers, I was very disappointed.  In spite of their very high cost, they are quite flimsy, the quality is nowhere near other pliers that I use for home repair, so I did not see the point in paying that much for them. 
Off I went to the local Canadian Tire store.  For people outside of Canada, go to any decent hardware store.  I bought a small pair of needle-nose pliers and introduced the needle-nose to my father's grinder.  In about a minute, I had a pair of cut off needle-nose pliers that served my needs quite admirably for many years. 

Then I lost them.

Back I went to Canadian tire.  As I am now 47, you can safely assume that I no longer live with my father.  So, in order to cut off the nose, I turned to the handyman's other secret weapon, the Dremel.  Using the cut-off wheel, I cut off the nose, and once again, I have a pair of pliers.  But being older and wiser, I decided that I wanted to have a pair of pliers that were better for forming the tube than the ones I had just made.  So while perusing the shelves of my local Home Depot, I looked at the pliers, and suddenly there was light, and trumpets... no, not trumpets, the bassooon octet sounded, and choirs of angels sang, and mine eyes fell upon a pair of Stanley FatMax needle-nose pliers that are PERFECT for reed making.... after they were modified, of course!

These pliers have, in descending order, a needle-nose, a bolt gripper and a wire cutter.  The bolt gripper was almost the perfect size for tube forming, but it had sharp points that are great for bolts, but they would have turned a reed tube into mush.  They had to go.  So, I once again turned to, you guessed it, the handyman's other secret weapon, the Dremel.  Using the cut-off wheel, I again cut off the nose to make a wire gripper and tightener, then I slowly and painstakingly ground down the points of the gripper to round them out. 

http://img121.imageshack.us/img121/1125/dscf4359.jpg

The pliers on top are the reed making ones.  You can see the tube forming area between the wire cutters and the point.  Although not apparent from the photo, the lower pliers are much lighter, and they are the ones that are in my case when I need to adjust a reed.

I hope this helps someone.  Remember, never be afraid to experiment.  So far, all of these have worked extremely well for me.  Chances are the idea in your head would work just as well for you, if it passes the idea stage.

Dean.

P.S.  For those of you who were wondering, the handyman's secret weapon is duct tape.  For more information, watch reruns of the Red Green Show.  Hilarious for do it yourselfers.

Last edited by Dean (2009-10-18 13:51:08)

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Dean, you are possibly more hardcore than me.

Hat's off to you!

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: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Trent wrote:

Dean, you are possibly more hardcore than me.

Hat's off to you!

I'll take that as a compliment.  Thank-you!  smile

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Wow this thread has become great. On SOTW we have what are called "sticky" threads that are basically bookmarked permanently to the site so 50 years from now people can still see these. I think this is definately deserving

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Bssntech wrote:

Hi All:

       For many years I used a Stanley brand scratch awl from the hardware store for a bassoon forming mandrel. I looked at some of the off brand ones but none of them had the righ diamater except the Stanley brand name.

I have just bought one for the princely sum of CDN$ 2.99 plus tax.  I laughed all the way to my house.  It really is the perfect size.  Thanks,  Bassoontech.

Dean.

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

I bought a Belknap, Blue Grass metal punch in 1973 to use as a mandrel when I apply glue and fingernail polish to reed thread.  It works great.  The steel is hard enough so there is no damage done when I scrape it clean with a razor blade.  The price sticker is still on the punch: $3.99.

Dale Clark
Clark Bassoon Reeds
http://clarkreeds.com

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Hi again all.
Due to the fact that I am such a nice guy, I have decided to save you all from fear and loathing by selflessly and generously volunteering myself to try out the various substitute tools that have been suggested in this forum.  Did I tell you that I am very humble too?  Well, now you know.

At any rate, in the past two weeks, I have acquired the following tools and I have begun to use them:  Reviews and photos are coming.

Item:                                                                 Price                                                 Use: 
Fuller scratch awl.                                        Between CDN$  2.95 to 3.50           Forming mandrel.

Opinel # 8 knife                                           Between CDN$ 18 and 25               Reed knife
Victorinox Grafter knife                                About CDN$ 45.00  (IIRC)              Reed knife

Mastercraft 6 inch needlenose pliers              CDN $11.99                                   in-case reed adjusting pliers
Stanley FatMax needle-nose pliers                 CDN $22.00                                  Reedmaking and forming pliers

13/64 tapered drill bit                                   CDN$  10.00   (+-)                        reamer

Mastercraft 8 inch end cut pliers (A.K.A. end nippers) CDN$ 10.00 (+-)                Cuts reed tips.

To find all of this stuff, as well as the equipment that I have described in my preceding posts, got to the following websites:

Mountain Equipment Co-Op  www.mec.ca  (Cases, backpacks, closed sell foam, Opinel knives, other really interesting outdoor stuff.  My favourite store)
www.leevalley.com  (woodworking and gardening tools, drill bits, files, rulers, Victorinox Grafter knife)
www.lacordee.com   (closed cell foam, Opinel knives)
www.canadiantire.com  (both pliers, end nippers, good quality hand tools)
www.homedepot.ca or www.homedepot.com  Stanly FatMax long nose pliers.

Last edited by Dean (2009-10-17 06:43:29)

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

What a good idea!  We'll be looking forward to those reviews.  Thanks!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

NancyDuncan wrote:

What a good idea!  We'll be looking forward to those reviews.  Thanks!

Thanks Nancy, I'm glad you appreciate it.  For these favours, please remember that I accept cheques, money orders, PayPal, bank drafts, certified cheques, personal cheques, travellers cheques, a Bell Bassoon, credit card numbers, cash, high-quality counterfeit cash, (no monopoly or Canadian Tire money, please) Christmas gifts, Chanukkah gifts (no re-gifting) real estate, new cars, good used cars, airline tickets, your best ever bassoon reed, first born children (if they're well behaved and good.... when cooked (weren't expecting that, were ya?)) , a Moosemann model 222a, and your eternal gratitude.  I'm not difficult, as you can see.  A bit weird, yes, but not difficult.  Oh, almost forgot, I do not accept spouses.  I've already got one, so you can keep yours.




You'll have to excuse me, I'm in one of my moods.......
Please excuse me while I ROFL at my own jokes.   smile

Last edited by Dean (2009-10-19 20:23:10)

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Well, I got out of that mood, so I might be able to be productive.... naaaaah, never mind.  Instead, I will start the reviews and pics to which I referred.  As I made my first reed in some 25 years today, (sad, isn't it?) I will start with the Stanley Scratch Awl Forming mandrel, because it is the first of the tools that I used.  In two words, it works!  In fact, it works very well  I later mounted the reed on my regular mandrel to dry, and it sits exactly where my reeds usually sit.  The difference is that the throat of the reed is far easier to open, which was one of my problem areas back in the day.  Here then is a look at the tool and the tool in use.

The Stanley scratch awl in all it's glory...

http://img340.imageshack.us/img340/4721/dscf4367.jpghttp://img340.imageshack.us/img340/dscf4367.jpg/1/w640.png

... and in use.  If you look, you can see how far the mandrel can go into the throat of the reed.  The point of the mandrel is actually between the blades of the reed. 

http://img70.imageshack.us/img70/7563/dscf4381.jpghttp://img70.imageshack.us/img70/dscf4381.jpg/1/w640.png

Now, due to the editing function of the forum, it is today, the morning after I made the reed.  Time travel made possible by your local internet provider!  Pretty cool, huh? 
At any rate, I took the reed off the mandrel and I tried it on two of my bocals, my Selmer and my Kohlert.  Why these two?  They are big, and in the past I have had trouble getting the tubes of my reeds big enough to fit comfortably on these bocals without them vibrating off at the most inopportune moments.  I have not yet reamed them, and they already fit better than my pre-scratch awl reeds so  I am happy with this tool.  If there are any negative consequences to using this it, I have not yet found them, but if I do, you will be the first to know. 

Another tool that I used is the reed forming pliers that I made.  You can see the directions on how to make your own in post number 30 of this thread.  Due to the fact that these are far larger than any reed pliers on the planet, they require very very little force to easily form the tube.  They work far better than I ever thought they would, so they are staying in the case.  So far, I would qualify the mandrel as a great success, and the pliers as a howling success. 
*Please note the use of the qualifier "so far".

http://img243.imageshack.us/img243/4769/dscf4369.jpghttp://img243.imageshack.us/img243/dscf4369.jpg/1/w640.png

You can really see the construction of the tube former.  You can also see where the needle nose has been removed with extreme prejudice.

And finally for tonight, me showing excellent technique in scraping the blank with the Opinel number 8 knife.

http://img70.imageshack.us/img70/5949/dscf4365.jpghttp://img70.imageshack.us/img70/dscf4365.jpg/1/w640.png

Merci beaucoup, Mathieu.  It really works well.  Helps me let off a bit of steam, too!!! 

Have a good night, all, I'll see you again tomorrow.

Last edited by Dean (2009-10-17 06:17:00)

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

G'Morning!  Have your coffee yet?  Not me, but hopefully I can survive without it a bit longer. 
In the above photo of the reed on the Stanley Forming Mandrel, did you notice the well cut tip?  Eh? Eh?  (For Americans, Huh? Huh?)
Well, I'm glad you did.  It was very easily done with the Mastercraft 8 inch end cut pliers (A.K.A. end nippers).  End nippers are made to cut off the ends of electrical wiring, which is usually 15 and 12 gauge solid copper wire, so cutting a reed end is very easy.   

http://img169.imageshack.us/img169/4308/dscf4368.jpghttp://img169.imageshack.us/img169/dscf4368.jpg/1/w640.png

When buying nippers, ensure that the blade of the nippers are wider than your widest reed tip, and that the blades are well cut, straight, and that they contact each other all the way across the width of the tool.  Unfortunately, nippers are not exactly precision tools, as there is no reason for them to be manufactured with incredibly high tolerances.  Making copper wire cutters is really easy, so make sure that the ones you buy are have good blades. 

If you have good ones, cutting a reed tip is a piece of cake.  All you do is lay the reed on one of the blades at the position that you wish to cut, and gently but firmly squeeze.  Off comes the tip, and with the advantage of having used equal pressure on both sides of the reed.  This is far easier than using a knife and cutting block.
I would also qualify the use of the end nipper as a success of the howling variety.

Last edited by Dean (2009-10-17 06:41:25)

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Knives, blades, we all have them, and yet we all want more.  How many of you have found the "perfect knife"?  I thought so.

Here is my foray into the world of knives.  As I said I have two knives, a Pisoni bevelled knife and a Vitry hollow ground.  I used both, but I found that the Vitry was great for tip cutting and the Pisoni was great for removing a lot of material.  Neither of them was very good for sensitive work on the corners, the Vitry would chatter and the Pisoni would simply rip off a corner, but I put up with them because at the time, I was young and foolish.  Now I am older and wiser, and I Am going to try the following knives.

A word of warning here.  I am very fussy about knives.  Two years ago, I bought a set of Zwilling kitchen knives and I realized just how important it is to have a good quality knife.  All of my Zwilling knives (7 of them) are literally razor sharp and are kept that way.  (My left arm has very little hair remaining below the elbow, because that is how I test them.  You should see the looks I get from store clerks.  It scares the pants off them!)  At any rate, I will be very demanding of all of the knives that I have listed here. and quite frankly, I do not believe that any of these knives is the holy grail of reed-making.  I just hope that one of them can combine the qualities of one or two other good reed knives, particularly at the price at which these are available.  When considering knives, another very important if overlooked aspect is the handle.  If you enjoy cooking, you probably already have a few good knives.  One of the brands about which I heard a great deal is Global, a Japanese company that makes some of the best cooking knives in the world.  I tried one in a store and put it down after three seconds, knowing very well that I would not have kept one, even if I had received one for free.  The handles are designed for people with smaller hands, and I could not control the blade at all because I could not really grip the handle.  My bassoon teacher has a knife with a blade that I really like, (J., could you remind me who made it?) but the handle is so small, I can't use it effectively.  Always hold a knife yourself before you buy it.  If you cannot effectively control the finest blade in the world, it is pretty much useless.  Lastly, don't forget that many handles can be changed!

http://img210.imageshack.us/img210/9953/dscf4366.jpghttp://img210.imageshack.us/img210/dscf4366.jpg/1/w640.png

The top knife is an Opinel #8, which is an outdoor and whittling knife.  The blade is made of high carbon steel, and it is also available in stainless steel.  The difference is that the stainless model is harder to sharpen, but holds its edge longer.  The high carbon steel blade is easy to sharpen (mine can easily shave the hair off my arm) but you have to sharpen it more often. I bought the high carbon model.

In addition, the handles are very effective and have a very simple locking mechanism that can lock the blade open or closed.  A lot of people have a great deal of trouble opening these knives, but here is the trick.  You take the knife by the ferrule end, and tap the opening side against something solid.  (a table, chair, a rock, my head)  the blade will come out a bit, making it very easy and safe to grip


The bottom knife is the Victorinox Grafter.  This knife was designed from the bottom up to graft plants, so it is extremely specialized, and quite difficult to find.  It has two blade that are of use to bassoonists, one being curved and the other, straight, so basically, you have two useful reed knives in one.  Both blades are made of stainless steel, and like all other Victorinox models, they are of extreme high quality and are very hard.  As a result, they are difficult to sharpen, but once done, they should last for a very very long time before the next sharpening.  The handle is very thin and unforgiving, if you have trouble with thin handles, be careful with this one.  I will be trying it today, but it will become my in-bassoon case knife.

But when I went into the newest Mountain Equipment Co-op in Longueuil, Quebec, (yes, that is a shameless plug) I found another knife that shocked me.

http://img63.imageshack.us/img63/2613/dscf4378.jpghttp://img63.imageshack.us/img63/dscf4378.jpg/1/w640.png

This knife is made by Mora of Sweden and it is called the River knife.  It was designed to be worn on life-jackets and to be used in emergencies while kayaking and canoe tripping.  Mora is a maker of extremely high quality blades, and this is no exception.  The blade is made of high quality stainless, and in spite of that, it took me about three minutes to get it razor sharp.  The curve is a bit less than many bassoonists may prefer, but I will be trying it very soon.  The handle and sheath are dreamy for bassoonists, but the sheath is a nightmare for outdoors users.   The price?  Here is the great part.  This knife cost me CDN$12.00!  I had to give it a try, and if it does not work, it will end up on one of my life-jackets.
So, on to tomorrow, and I'll keep you all informed. 

G'night everyone.

Last edited by Dean (2009-12-01 18:59:26)

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

reedmaker55 wrote:

I bought a Belknap, Blue Grass metal punch in 1973 to use as a mandrel when I apply glue and fingernail polish to reed thread.  It works great.  The steel is hard enough so there is no damage done when I scrape it clean with a razor blade.  The price sticker is still on the punch: $3.99.

Dale Clark
Clark Bassoon Reeds
http://clarkreeds.com

Well done!  I can't resist the following:

(Sung to the tune of Money for Nothing!)

Yeah, Dale.  That's the way to do it,
Mandrels for nothing and your reeds for free!



(my apologies to Dire Straits)

Last edited by Dean (2009-11-27 19:24:25)

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Hello.  Well, it's been a while, but I am back to tell you how things went with my cheap alternatives.  I'll start with the knives, because I have three to review. 

1.  The Opinel No. Eight.
I had high hopes for this knife.  The handle is very comfortable, and the blade is sharp and easy to sharpen, but this knife and I are not meant to be together.  I found that the blade was just too light and that it was a bit inexact.  In other words, I had a bit of trouble making the knife do exactly what I wanted it to do.  It could be because it is so light, or because there is a bit of slack between the blade and the handle, but it took me longer to do any given task using this knife than with any other.  On the other hand, it was usable, and as levesque_montreal said, they are inexpensive and they can be found pretty much anywhere.  This knife will remain in my reed toolbox and I will continue trying it, but it will not be my go-to knife.  Yet.

2.  Mora River Knife.  This is a surprisingly easy knife to use.  It cuts well, and scrapes well, but it is a bit difficult to use due to the length of the blade.  It is just too long for reed use.  I found that I was always bumping my knuckle when working the left corner of the reed.  But in terms of control of the blade, and control of the amount of material you are removing, this knife is surprisingly good.  However it's awkwardness is a definite turn-off. 

3.  Victorinox Grafter.  I was expecting the River knife to be the best, followed by the Opinel with the Grafter taking last place.  Thank God I'm not a betting man, because I would have lost yet another borrowed shirt.  Yes indeed, with the Victorinox Grafter, we have a winnaaaaah!  This knife was a huge surprise.  Why?  I have long fingers, and I really thought that the handle was going to be too thin to effectively control the knife.  Well, once again, I have to hand it to Victorinox, as the really know how to make a high quality knife and handle.  In spite of the fact that this is a double folding blade knife, there is absolutely no play when the blade is in the open position.  The blade goes exactly where you want it to go, and exactly as deep as you want it to go.  The straight blade is very easy to use and control pretty much anywhere on the reed, and the rounded tip is.... WOW!
Now I must admit that I I have never had the opportunity to use a rounded tip knife on a reed until I tried this one,, and frankly, the difference is like night and day.  Using the tip of the rounded blade gives you precise pin-point control of where and how much material you want to remove from a tip corner.  You can do the same with the Opinel, but the corner does not have the same curvature, so you do not have the same level of control as you do with the Grafter.  But if you, like me, have always used a flat blade, try a curved on for the tips.  You'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

So to recap:

In third place; the Opinel Number 8

In second place, the Mora River Knife.

In first place, the first star of the game, today's champion,  the Victorinox Grafter!!!!!    (appropriate cheering here)


and here


                                                                                                  and here.

Last edited by Dean (2009-11-17 22:11:50)

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Dean wrote:

Hello.  Well, it's been a while, but I am back to tell you how things went with my cheap alternatives.  I'll start with the knives, because I have three to review. 

1.  The Opinel No. Eight.
I had high hopes for this knife.  The handle is very comfortable, and the blade is sharp and easy to sharpen, but this knife and I are not meant to be together.  I found that the blade was just to light and that it was a bit inexact.  In other words, i had a bit of trouble making the knife do exactly what I wanted it to do.  It could be because it is so light, or because there is a bit of slack between the blade and the handle, but it took me longer to do any given task using this knife than with any other.  On the other hand, it was usable, and as levesque_montreal said, they are inexpensive and they can be found pretty much anywhere.  This knife will remain in my reed toolbox and I will continue trying it, but it will not be my go-to knife.  Yet.

2.  Mora River Knife.  This is a surprisingly easy knife to use.  It cuts well, and scrapes well, but it is a bit difficult to use due to the length of the blade.  It is just too long for reed use.  I found that I was always bumping my knuckle when working the left corner of the reed.  But in terms of control of the blade, and control of the amount of material you are removing, this knife is surprisingly good.  However it's awkwardness is a definite turn-off. 

3.  Victorinox Grafter.  I was expecting the River knife to be the best, follwed by the Opinel with the Grafter taking last place.  Thank God I'm not a betting man, because I would have lost yet another borrowed shirt.  Yes indeed, with the Victorinox Grafter, we have a winnaaaaah!  This knife was a huge surprise.  Why?  I have long fingers, and I really thought that the handle was going to be too thin to effectively control the knife.  Well, once again, I have to hand it to Victorinox, as the really know how to make a high quality knife and handle.  In spite of the fact that this is a double folding blade knife, there is absolutely no play when the blade is in the open position.  The blade goes exactly where you want it to go, and exactly as deep as you want it to go.  The straight blade is very easy to use and control pretty much anywhere on the reed, and the rounded tip is.... WOW!
Now I must admit that I I have never had the opportunity to use a rounded tip knife on a reed until I tried this one,, and frankly, the difference is like night and day.  Using the tip of the rounded blade gives you precise pin-point control of where and how much material you want to remove from a tip corner.  You can do the same with the Opinel, but the corner does not have the same curvature, so you do not have the same level of control as you do with the Grafter.  But if you, like me, have always used a flat blade, try a curved on for the tips.  You'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

So to recap:

In third place; the Opinel Number 8

In second place, the Mora River Knife.

In first place, the first star of the game, today's champion,  the Victorinox Grafter!!!!!    (appropriate cheering here)


and here


                                                                                                  and here.

And that's what you get when you get a recommendation from a bassoonist whose been playing about 2 months and got the Grafter idea from a bassoonist in the LA opera and philharmonic! (Did I tell you I was humble too!)
Two things to mention though. Unfortunately you picked a bit of a rip-off on price hmm I'm cheap, and I mean cheap, cheap. On saxophone I've used the same reed for 6 months and for the amount I play its a recommended 1-2 weeks. I can get the grafter for about $25USD. There are single and double bladed grafters so look around for your own opinions. Also, keep in mind that there is another grafter with a whole different blade:
http://cracklecdn-zoovy-1.simplecdn.net/img/888knivesrus/W150-H150-Bfdfdfd/5/vn53561.jpg

The curve on this one is larger and personally I find it better, but with the other one, you have double versatility, and thus the one Dean had bought. The pro bassoonist who gave me the idea has "moving" boxes full of knives so I was sure someone would be happy considered it was compared to every knife on the planet big_smile

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Dean -

I just got my grafter knife (www.SwissKnifeShop.com for $21.95).  How did you sharpen yours?

Thanks!

Nancy

"There are 2 means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats" - Albert Schweitzer

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

I know the question was geared towards me but I find that medium dulled knives work better than sharp ones. Your not trying to peel off layers of cane, you're trying to give the reed enough friction between itself and the knife to shave off parts of it. If you want to sharpen it, invest in some sharpening stones. Best sharpener for reed knives. Visit forrests.com

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Oriole2023 wrote:

Dean -

I just got my grafter knife (www.SwissKnifeShop.com for $21.95).  How did you sharpen yours?

Thanks!

Nancy

Hi, Nancy.  I use a DMT Diamond Whetstone that I have owned for many years to begin sharpening my knives.  It is a red (600 grit stone) and it cuts well and quickly to begin (and sometimes end) the sharpening process.  If I want to get really fussy, I then use 2000 or 4000 grit sandpaper that is attached to a very flat surface.  Sometimes you can make this work using a few drops of water on the table or whatever that you have the sandpaper sitting on, then sit the sandpaper on top of the drips.  Most of the time, the sandpaper will not move, and you can strop the knife on it. 
Ideally you should use at least three grits, 600 grit followed by two finer ones, depending on the use of the knife.  If you are trying to sharpen a straight razor, the last stage is done using a leather strop that is treated with sharpening compound.  Most if not all of this stuff is available at www.leevalley.com , and if you live in a country other than Canada, look for any fine woodworking store for sharpening supplies.

The trick to stropping a knife is repeatability.  You usually draw the knife towards you while ensuring that the angle of the blade is correct so that you  are wearing the cutting surface down.  then, do it again, and again, and again, and again, and.... you get the picture.  The coarser grits remove more metal, but in turn, they do not allow you to get the level of sharpness that you want.  The finer grits, 4000 up, leave a mirror finish on the blade, and they are literally razor sharp.  If you are unable to get that repeatability, I suggest using a Lansky system or something similar.  Some of their kits include a jig that holds the knife at the proper angle while you run it over the stone.  In addition they also include a number of stones of different grits, so it is actually a very good investment.

The problem with the Grafter knife is the high quality of the steel.  (What a great problem to have !)  As I said in my previous discussion of the Grafter, the blades are made of an extremely hard steel , so they are very diffficult to sharpen.  It takes much more time and patience but it can be done.  The other alternative is to find a knife sharpener in your town, and take all of your knives (reed, kitchen, carving, murder) to that person to have them done.  I have brought my kitchen knives to a local sharpener, and for 8 to 12 dollars a knife, they come back with an edge that is razor sharp and lasts three to six months.  Don't underestimate them.

If you need anything else, drop me a line.

Dean.

Bassoonist Ordinaire, all around nice guy.
If anyone needs a damn fool, I'm your man!

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

Lately, I've been using a DeWalt jointer blade in an Ace Hardware handle to make oboe reeds. The advantage is this blade stays sharp, is a breeze to sharpen, a stroke or two on finely grooved Sabatier sharpening steel & it's ready  to go. Cane comes off in even very thin curls. I also use the sandpaper method, wet/dry 320 up to 2000 grit, glued to plate glass. Superb way  to get  a blade sharp, low tech, fast & cheap without the concomitant mess of water stones, dishing/flattening & such. The knives don't care.

Best,

john

Best,

john

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Re: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

John Towle wrote:

Lately, I've been using a DeWalt jointer blade in an Ace Hardware handle to make oboe reeds. The advantage is this blade stays sharp, is a breeze to sharpen, a stroke or two on finely grooved Sabatier sharpening steel & it's ready  to go. Cane comes off in even very thin curls. I also use the sandpaper method, wet/dry 320 up to 2000 grit, glued to plate glass. Superb way  to get  a blade sharp, low tech, fast & cheap without the concomitant mess of water stones, dishing/flattening & such. The knives don't care.

Best,

john

This is exactly what I use.  The oboe teacher at my undergraduate school introduced me to this (he used it to remove bark when he was first scraping an oboe reed).  When the blade gets dull - about every 5 years or so - I just throw it out and put a new one on.  They are about $12-15 for a three pack of blades.

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: The "Cheap Alternatives" thread

John/Trent,

Would one of you please post a commercial link to the type of DeWalt jointer blade to which you refer?  Can I get it at Sears, Lowes, Ace, H.D., etc.?  I'd love to give it a try!

Thanks guys.

Jonathan Marzluf
Owner, Marzluf Reeds
SoCal Freelancer/Educator
www.marzlufreeds.com