Bassoon Tools Explained: Part 2 Making Blanks

Bassoon Tools Explained: Part 2 Making Blanks

Bassoon Tools Explained: Part 2 Making Blanks


Hello and Happy Thanksgiving! I’m back again to explain the next set of tools a bassoonist should have.

At this stage you’ll need to have all the tools for maintaining and finishing your reeds as well as these. You’ll only need these tools if you’re buying your cane already shaped and profiled. If you have a shaper, you can buy pre-profiled and unshaped cane, but I prefer to shape my cane BEFORE it’s profiled as there’s less of a chance of ruining the shape.

Reedtools Part 2

Let’s start- You’ll need:

Straight razors- These are inexpensive and can be purchased at the drugstore.  They have a number of purposes for reed finishing and I recommend buying a box of 100 or more because you WILL go through them and it’s less expensive to buy them in bulk.

Cutting block-  This is to be purchased for cutting the tips off of your reed so you can finish them.  The one shown in the picture is Walnut and was purchased about 10-11 years ago.  It has a rounded top so you can rock the razor across the reed, easing the cutting process.  It’s not always an accurate way to cut the tips (as they can wind up crooked), but it is the least expensive and you’ll use it to cut the corners of the blades anyway. Best purchased from a double reed supply store and it’ll run you around 10 bucks.

Shoelace- This is another inexpensive drugstore purchase. Shoelaces are used to wrap the tube as you’re forming it.  I recommend a light color (so you know when it gets yucky and a flat shoelace, not rounded.

22 Gauge Brass Reed Wire- This is best purchased from a double reed supply store. 1/4 lbs for roughly 10-15 bucks.  I do not recommend deviating from 22 gauge brass.  Reed wire is used to keep the folded over tube in place.

Forming Mandrel- Essential in forming the tube. Mandrels start at $15 for a Fox branded mandrel. Look for something that’s well made and going to be easy to hold on to as you’ll be putting a lot of pressure on it.

Bastard File- You can find these at any hardware store.  Yes, it’s actually called a bastard. Look for one about 10-12 inches long and 1″ or less in width. These can be had for a few dollars and I doubt more than 7 or so.

Dual Ruler- This is super important! To properly make a reed you must follow a strict set of dimensions.  Because nothing is standardized, and because a reed is so small, be sure to get a flat ruler with both english and metric measures. I spotted one at ACE a few days ago for about $5, but it was considerably larger than the one I have.  Try to stay away from the plastic ones.

FF Nylon Thread- Used to wrap the reed.  You can also use cotton embroidery thread, but cotton has a tendency to absorb and retain moisture more than nylon, plus it’s a bit stretchy-er. FF size is recommended and you can purchase it at any double reed supplier or from  FF happens to not be entirely popular and is moderately difficult to find.  You might also notice that not all reeds are wrapped in thread, and if you just can’t get the hang of wrapping you can always buy shrink tubing. Thread will run you a few dollars for 250 yards- and that’s enough to last a 100 reeds (and likely much  more than that).  I like to have several different colors 1- to identify between reeds and 2- variety is the spice of life.

Duco Cement- For securing your thread to your reed.  You can use clear nail polish but I find that it doesn’t look as good, and it makes your reed reek of nail polish for a long time.  Duco seems to seep into the thread better and leave a nice glossy sheen without affecting the color of the thread. It dries quickly and leaves little scent.  Wal-Mart used to sell it for $0.98 a tube, then discontinued it in my area, you might have better luck.  I did manage to find it at ACE for $2.00 or $2.50 a tube.  It’s also up on Amazon for varying prices. Duco vs nail polish also seems a bit more economical, in my opinion.

Drying Rack- This one happens to be home-made, that is, with the exception of the mandrels. Drying racks are just what they sound like.  It’s a safe place to put a reed as it acclimatizes to the extremes you’ve just put it through.  You can have any number of mandrels in your drying rack, but if you make a lot of reed at once, you’ll want more mandrels.  Drying racks vary in price from $35 on up. Sold at double reed suppliers- maybe even on Ebay.

Plyers- You’ll need two.  I prefer ones on the smaller side because I’m dealing with a small object, as well as one that are comfortable to hold. You’ll need a set with teeth and wire cutters for doing just that, dealing with the wires.  You’ll also need a set with flat prongs for kneading the cane into a rounded tube shape. You’ll probably not end up spending more than $10-15 for both and they can be had at any hardware store.

Tip-cutter- This is really the only extravagant item on this list.  I prefer tip cutters like this one because it’ll cut perfectly straight every time, and that’s important. Tip cutters are expensive- this is one my father made for me (he’s a machinist, yay me!), but can run $100 or more.

So, without the tip cutter, you can get a great kit going for $100 or less if you shop around.  I might not recommend buying a pre packaged “reed kit” as they don’t usually put the best tools in there.

Happy Reed Making!


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