Topic: Long Live the Boxcutter!

I don't know how much money I have spent on reed knives, sharpening stones, and fancy sharpening systems.

But after decades of worry about edges, grit, burrs, and all the rest, I pick up a $2 (USD) boxcutter/utility knife, and discover, once again, that it is the sharpest, most accurate, and cheapest knife for making reeds.

If you pay USD 130 for a knife, $ 50 for a sharpening stone, and $ XX for the time it takes to sharpen a knife---for the same money, you can buy about 500 disposable blades (black carbon steel) and ALWAYS have the sharpest knife in your hand when you need it.

You may object: the boxcutter chatters, it is too thin, etc. My answer:  you easily learn to hold the blade steady with a finger, and also that performing the most delicate work on a tip requires nearly no pressure. The cane curls and floats off the tip like foam on a glass of beer, champagne, celery tonic.

The only drawback: being disposable, the blades are not green. However, the edge can be restored a few times by "sharpening" the blade on fine-grit sandpaper.

No, I don't want to put the knife makers out of business. I simply don't want to worry about knives any more. Furthermore,  believe it or not, there are, to my knowledge, *three* books published on the subject of "sharpening oboe knives." No, I don't want to put the publishers out of business. But I don't want to think about sharpening any more. There is too much music to play, too many reeds to make.

Though I leave you with one reed thought.

I took lessons from Leon Goossens one summer in the early 1970s. I asked him, In your long career (50+ years, at the time), how many really good reeds can you recall?

His answer: Three.

Oboe Tofu


Re: Long Live the Boxcutter!

I'm maybe being semantic, but as I understand it this is a box cutter:

And this is a utility knife:

I assume you are talking about the latter.

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: Long Live the Boxcutter!


I mean Utility Knife, sometimes sold as box cutters, and can certainly function as such, but I mean the mostly made in China knives with snap-off blades.

Thanks, Trent, for the clarification.

Oboe Tofu