Topic: Tip Cutters

Hello all, I'm new here. I make double reeds but not for the oboe or bassoon. I make bagpipe reeds. (is everyone laughing yet? haha)

Anyway, just a quick question.

I'm looking for a good tip cutter. I want to be able to take off very very small amounts from the tip without damaging the cane, I also want straight cuts and the blades to be even.

I've done some research on this forum and found the one thread about tip cutters already and with that knowledge I ordered a Reeds 'n Stuff oboe tip cutter from Forrest Music. It seems to fit the bill. However I'm a bit curious to know, from anyone who uses one, are you able to take very very small amounts of cane off the tips of your reeds with no problems?

The reason I'm asking; I make my reeds almost ready to go right after tie in. However, as always the very tips can be a bit uneven or very slightly textured so a very small amount of trimming is necessary to just clean up the tips and make them smooth and straight across.

So far I've been using a tool from Sears, similar to the HandiCut but it's a newer version which uses plain old utility type single edged razor blades, the wedge shaped ones. This works very well when the tool is new, however as the anvil part of it (which is plastic) wears in (a groove is made from the constant cutting as the blade presses down into it) the quality of the cut on the tip decreases and becomes jagged..... the solution is to replace the plastic anvil or get another cutter from Sears..... They did replace my first one for free btw...but the problem is I only get about 200 tip cuts per anvil...so over time this is not the best tool for the job as I will be making well over 200 reeds a month.

So just curious if anyone has a Reeds n' Stuff tip cutter for either oboe or bassoon, how do you find them to work? Does it cut off very small amounts without issue? (I'm talking 1/4 of a mm probably here when I say small amounts)

Thanks!

Shawn

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Re: Tip Cutters

Hi Shawn:

I have the Reeds 'n Stuff tip cutter for bassoon and yes I think as long as the tip is thin enough it is very easy to cut the smallest amount off.  If it is quite thick then it may be more difficult.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Tip Cutters

Hmmm, yes, this sounds similar to what happens with my reeds and my current method of cutting the tips. If the tips are thicker then then tend to cut all jagged. If they're thinner they seem to cut with no problem.......

I guess only time will tell when my cutter arrives......

How thin typically are bassoon reeds? For me I like to have my tips at about .008 thousandths, they can a cut a bit jagged at this thickness, and thicker is worse. 7 or even 6 thou cuts just fine.

Shawn

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Re: Tip Cutters

I think .008 thousandths will cut small amounts just fine with this tip cutter.  I was actually referring to quite a bit thicker than that.  Another thing to consider is if the blades are pressed flat as they are being cut.  Bassoon reeds are wider than oboe reeds so that might be easier to do.  I bet you will really like the R 'n S cutter.  All his tools are great and I don't know anyone who is unhappy with theirs.  As long as the bagpipe reed is similar in size to the oboe reed and fits in that slot you should be fine.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Tip Cutters

I agree, Udo's stuff is top notch. I bought a custom made cane splitter from him and it's an awesome little device. I'm sure the tip cutter will be as well. I looked at the others on the market and there's really not too much available. The rotary blade kind cut the tips to slightly different dimensions so they are not perfectly even across...to me that's unacceptable, and there are a lot of knock off versions of that same style. The Popkin is pretty good, my friend and fellow reedmaker uses it, but I don't like the idea of changing or sharpening the blade. Udo's looks like it will never wear out and I'm sure the hardened steel blade will stay sharp a lot longer then the Popkin.

The oboe and the bassoon versions of Udo's cutter are identical except for the carrier at the bottom, the bassoon has a mandrel and the oboe has a holder for the cork, this should work fine for my bagpipe reeds. My reeds are about 12mm across the tips so that should be no issue.

I always compress my blades before cutting so that sounds like it will work fine with this tool.

How thick are bassoon reed tips?

Shawn

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Re: Tip Cutters

Bassoon reed tips vary a lot depending on the style but maybe on average .005-.010 inches when finished.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Tip Cutters

Wow, that's a lot thinner than I would have expected. No wonder bassoon players like harder cane! At that thickness and playing them wet you'd really need some robust cane to keep them sounding well. I prefer a softer cane for my reeds, but then again, we play our reeds more or less dry. Our mouths don't touch the reed but they do get some humidity from the air coming through the bag.

Shawn

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Re: Tip Cutters

That is the very edge of the tip.  For most reeds it will get thicker pretty quickly after that.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Tip Cutters

Yes, that is the same with bagpipe reeds.....

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Re: Tip Cutters

Oboe reeds pretty much should have the same basic thickness at the tip: 0.007 half way between edge & center, 0.010 in the center, at the edge between 0.003 to 0.005, with a spine running up the center of the reed to the bitter end of the tip on each blade. N. B. All previous measurements in mm.

Anything Udo makes is first cabin; for me his oboe/EH reed guillotine is indispensable. I use it every day.

Best,

john

Best,

john

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Re: Tip Cutters

Just an update, I went ahead and ordered one of Udo's tip cutters. It arrived today and I can say nothing bad about it! It's brilliantly made, very precise and I am getting perfectly straight cuts across the tips with no differing in the length of each blade, they are dead perfect! I'm very very happy with this tool and would highly recommend it to others!

Shawn

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Re: Tip Cutters

Hi Shawn:

Glad to hear it.  It took me a while to order mine because I had always used pretty good end nippers.  But I am also very glad I did buy it.  Hope it lasts a lifetime.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Tip Cutters

Kent, how long have you had yours? Any degradation in the cutting action? Have you had to sharpen it yet?

Shawn

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Re: Tip Cutters

I have had it a couple years and although I can't tell if it is getting duller, it is still cutting very well so I haven't worried about it.  I haven't had to sharpen it yet and am not sure how to go about that if it ever becomes necessary.  I haven't heard of anyone else needing to sharpen theirs either.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Tip Cutters

Thanks Kent, I appreciate the info. Looking at the tool you can take it apart, and it's a simple matter of sharpening. Simply run the bevel on a good hard Arkansas stone with oil or water then debur the flat side by running it across the stone a couple of times, job done.

But it's good to know that they must be using a good high speed steel most likely and this will mean a lot less sharpening over time.

I have another tool from Udo, a custom made splitter, and it does a phenomenal job as well.

Good stuff.

Shawn

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Re: Tip Cutters

Thanks for the sharpening tip Shawn.  You make it sound easy.  Yes let's hope it is years before we need to do that.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University

Re: Tip Cutters

haha, well I've been down the sharpening road a few times. When I first got into reedmaking I used gouges and chisels as well as a very good reed knife. It wasn't long before I realized I was going to need to sharpen things quite often...... So I read all I could online, watched endless videos on youtube and bought a good set of stones, once I got into it it really wasn't that bad at all. It's really quite simple once you get the basic concepts of what you are trying to do with the metal and the edge.

I could sharpen a blade well enough to cut the hairs off my arm. That was always my test anyway! smile

Shawn


PS. Now I use sanders and carbide routers..... no more knives and sharpening for me! haha

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Re: Tip Cutters

I think it is known among double reed players that bassoonists don't need knives as sharp as oboists.  But I really like a sharp knife.  Unfortunately I don't think I am very good at sharpening.  I just bought the book by Daryl Caswell and found it interesting but I am not sure I can sharpen any better.  I have tired a few different systems and am using the spyderco sharpmaker ceramic sticks right now.  I find it I clean them constantly then they do a fairly good job.

Dr. Kent Moore
Principal Lecturer In Bassoon and Theory
Northern Arizona University