Topic: Heated Mandrel - How Hot

Please advise on how hot the heated forming mandrel should be when it is used to form the reed.  I have purchased 6 forming mandrels.  I have a drying board so I intend to leave the reeds on the mandrel for aging. I have a soldering iron and a voltage control.  What I now need is some additional information on how you can tell if you have the right level of heat.  I have also read and been told to put beeswax on the mandrel when forming.

Don Gerue

Re: Heated Mandrel - How Hot


I use a soldering iron, and time it for only two minutes.  Then I insert it to form the tube.

If you get it too hot it will burn the tube.

Your way seems like alot of extra equipment with your six forming manderals.

I have used the same single manderal for at least 30 years.

Best always,

Larry Fulton


Re: Heated Mandrel - How Hot

Hi Don,

I've never used a heated mandrel so I can't help much with that question. However, I have found that tube formation can be performed easily and successfully if the blank is well scored before forming.  I use a Popkin scorer and it does a terrific job. I set the scorer so the scored section of the tube begins just below the top wire. The tube is formed with a well rounded base and virtually no cracking above the top wire. I use one of two forming mandrels, depending upon the particular tip I used in shaping the cane, an old Popkin mandrel for shapes with a wider throat and a Rieger flat ended mandrel for shapes with a narrower throat. I find this keeps the tube shape between the first and second wire more consistent. After placing the top wire and wrapping the tube section of the blank with a wet shoelace, I insert the forming mandrel in one motion with a little side to side twisting to help the process. Use some parafin on the mandrel to make the insertion process easier.

Anyway, that's my process and I know there are an almost infinite number of variations out there.


Last edited by Gene Carter (2005-02-08 07:17:44)

Gene Carter, Owner
Linden Reeds

Re: Heated Mandrel - How Hot

I use steam in addition to hand-scoring my cane with a drill bit to form my reeds.  It takes a little longer, as I wrap the tube with string, but I've never had a reed crack during forming, ever.

Associate Principal Bassoon/Contrabassoon, Kansas City Symphony