Initial necessary materials (before learning to gouge and shape cane):

  • Bee’s Wax: This is used to wax the thread.
  • Cane: When not gouging or shaping cane, the oboist purchases cane that is gouged, shaped and folded. Begin with a medium gouge and shape (if you get that option), then play around with gouges and shapes if you want!
  • Cutting Block: This is an extremely hard block of wood that you use to cut the tip.
  • Knife: I prefer a hollow ground knife. I use a Landwell (soft) — a good knife is of utmost importance!
  • Mandrel: Staples are placed on the mandrel when winding the cane on to the reed.
  • Plaque: flat, blue steel is best.
  • Razor Blades: I use these to clip the tip. Some only use them when shaping cane.
  • Reed Thread: Nylon, size EE, FF or F can be bought from various oboe suppliers. I’ve also been known to purchase upholstery thread at the fabric store.
  • Ruler: A ruler that measures in milimeters. It certainly doesn’t have to be long! (Reeds are only 70 mm when completed.) Some use a caliper instead.
  • Sealing Material: I use Parafilm because it doesn’t dry out, but some use Fishskin.
  • Sharpening Stone: I use a water stone. I own an Arkansas Stone, but I hate using anything that requires oil.
  • Staples (or tubes): I use 47 mm tubes. These should fit your mandrel very well, and should be smooth inside. Staples may be used over and over, so while they are costly, they at least last a good amount of time!
  • Work Light: A good work light is essential for the reed making process!

Equipment for the Advanced Reed Maker:

  • Cane: gouged only. At this point the reed maker is using a shaper. There is more control when you know the shape is consistent.
  • Cane: tube form. This cane requires even more work. The reed maker needs to split, cut to length, pre-gouge and then gouge the cane to get it to gouged form.
  • Easel: this is a hard piece of wood that allows you to mark the center of the gouged piece of cane to prepare for shaping It also can be used to shave the ends of a shaped piece of cane. (A pencil will also suffice for this latter step.)
  • Gouging machine: This machine wood from the inside of tube cane, after you have split, guillotined and pre-gouged the cane. It’s an expensive purchase and recommended only for the very serious reed maker.
  • Guillotine: This machine cuts the cane to the proper length after being split.
  • Micrometer: This machine (another expensive purchase) measures the thickness of gouged cane to the 100ths of a milimeter. Some micrometers are also built to measure finished reeds.
  • Needle Nose Pliers: Used only for English horn reed making, when wire is wrapped around the reed.
  • Planing Machine or Pre-Gouger: Trims cane prior to the gouging machine cane removal.
  • Radius Gauge: Measures the diameter of tube cane.
  • Shaper Tip and Handle: After folding a gouged piece of cane in half this is used to shape the cane.
  • Wire: 24 gauge wire is used on English horn reeds to help stablize pitch and focus the tone.

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