I don't think teflon is usually used for loose sides issues (leaking at the top)—it's more for if the leak is at the bottom near the thread.
That said, I have some suggestions for experiments and questions you need to ask yourself to figure this out:
1. Is the reed leaking when you initially tie it on (like just after you clip it, or after you soak it up again the day later, or
only after you're done? If it's leaking already after it's just clipped, then it is more likely a tying issue; otherwise it is more
likely at least partially related to your scraping. Testing with the plaque as mentioned above would also check if the sides
are at least tight.
2. Have your teacher do a blank or two with cane & staples you supply—it he has trouble, then maybe you need to try
something different in your supplies. Conversely, buy some cane and staples that he uses from him and see if you have
I'm generally a believer that working over a longer period of time is better, so I don't think your overall timeline is a bad one.
I'm able to get away with longer soaks, and the thing I've generally heard more being bad about soaking too long is that if you
are shaping your cane, it's more swelled up and thus will shrink more from the shape you thought you made—but you're not
shaping, so that doesn't apply. The recommendations here are more in line with best practices; I'm just saying that wasn't where most of my loose sides issues were (it's something I have to be careful about as well).
If it's in the scraping phase (i.e. the reed is tight after you clip the tip but gets leaky the more you work on it), it could be too much knife pressure (dull knife?), working too dry, or sometimes using a contoured plaque. Usually it's some combination. My particular theory about the contoured plaque is that it is more likely to cause problems if you jam it down too far/hard and/or
try to get too much surface outside the edge of the reed—it allows you to have a bit more stick out on the side so you can get better support, but if you try to overdo it then the fatter part in the middle forces the blades apart more and it's worse the further down you shove it. But that's just my theory.
If the problem is in the tie on, then you've hit the major issue I had, which was tying on too tightly, especially near the top.
I originally learned to not clip the tip until after the reed dried once, then went to opening it at tie-on time after just scraping the tip area (mostly getting the bark off). I did that because it led to larger openings, which I prefer, but I've since gone back to a modified way of not clipping it until after the reed has dried once and then been re-soaked. So I shape, tie on, scrape the tip,
and then let it sit. Ideally I'd like to let it sit more than a day, but my minimum (more common just due to outside constraints) is 8+ hours. Then soak up, clip, and scrape; dry another day and finish (hopefully).
But try the experiments to try and narrow down where the problem is (with logging) rather than just trying things because they worked for someone else.-kby