Prior to soaking, I sand the back of the dry cane (the non-bark side) with 320 grit sandpaper until it is as smooth as glass. Then I soak the cane in water for at least 2 hours. Then, with a pencil, I bisect the stick of cane across the exact center:
I use that line to center the cane on the shaper:
A dime is the perfect screwdriver for the set screws on the shaper, which make an indentation of a circle at the center on the ends of the cane. Those circles fit into raised circles on the profiler barrel, as you'll see later.
I shape the cane with an exacto knife:
When I take the cane off the profiler, the circle left by the set screw is visible. It may be helpful to click on the photo below for a better view:
The circle indented in the cane fits onto the raised circle on the profiler barrel:
I use the profiler blade to cut a line on each end of the cane at the top of the collar:
I remove the barrel from the profiler in order to remove the top layer of bark with a knife, using the lines I just made as a border. This step preserves the profiler blade, so that I don't have to sharpen it as often:
Machine profiling comes next:
Next I score the bark using a scoring tool from Miller Marketing:
I fold it over a knife (at the fold in the center created by the profiler) and place the end of a ruler at the fold. At 2 5/16 “ I mark the cane with a pencil to show the line where I’ll be cutting a small amount off each end of the cane:
Next I cut off each end (cutting on the line marked with pencil) with pruners:
Then I fold the reed, line up the edges, and apply a top wire at exactly 1″ from the bottom of the reed. I wrap string around the reed from the top wire down:
The next step may be foreign to many reed makers. I use a tool called parallel pliers (very, very difficult to find) to nudge open the wrapped tube:
Next I insert the forming mandrel, being careful not to twist the reed:
Then I unwrap the string at the very bottom of the reed to make room to add a temporary wire at the bottom of the tube to ensure roundness. I wrap this wire around the tube 3 times rather than the usual 2 times:
Ideally, I allow the blank to dry for at least 2 weeks. Once I remove the reed from the forming mandrel, I insert the reeds onto brass mandrel tips from Christlieb to ensure the proper shape of the tube.
After at least 2 weeks, I remove both wires from the dry blank:
Then I bevel using a sanding block made by Norman Herzberg. Each end of the cane is sanded around 25 strokes or so- whatever it takes to make the ends of the reed halves meet perfectly. The sanding takes place at the ends of the bark, from the bottom to 3/8" up:
Then I fold the reed and tie dry string around the bottom half of the tube (bark):
I apply the middle wire at 5/16' below the top wire (I can see the marks where the top wqire was placed:
Then I apply the bottom wire at 3/16" from the bottom of the reed, and the top wire at 1" from the bottom:
Next I apply Duco Cement along the edges of both sides from the middle wire down to the bottom to ensure that the binding never becomes loose:
I then wrap the reed with 100% cotton #3 size crochet thread, available at places like JoAnn Fabrics and Michael's Crafts:
After wrapping, I cover the binding with Duco Cement and allow it to dry overnight:
Next I mark the 2 1/8" line at the top of the reed:
Reaming is next, followed by smoothing the inside of the tube with a rat tale file if needed. I use the holding mandrel on the right below to tell when I've reamed enough- when the reed fits down to the black line, I'm finished with reaming:
Then, after soaking the reed in water, I cut the tip with a guillotine, at the pencil line I drew at 2 1/8":
Then the tip is finished with a Reiger tip profiler:
Using a knife, I cut the corners at a 45 degree angle:
Sometimes, at this point the reed is finished. Often it's necessary to refine, though, with a file, knife or sandpaper, removing cane in the area shaded below:
My finished reeds measure 2 1/8″ from top to bottom. The blade is 1 1/16″ long from the top of the collar to the tip, and the collar measures 1/16″. The bottom wire is 3/16″ from the bottom of the tube. The top wire is 1″ from the bottom, and the middle wire is 5/16″ below the top wire.
Bassoon students often buy their cane already shaped and profiled so that the amount of work required to make the blanks is greatly reduced.