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Pros And Cons Of Using A Winding Machine When Tying An Oboe Blank

  • by Kathy Sheinhouse

The use of electric winding machines to tie an oboe blank has become commonplace in the professional reed making community.  Truth is, I tried it too. It is more time efficient than hand tying.  It saves hands, and the blanks looked neater than the ones I tied by hand.  However, I gave it up because I did not have as much control as I wanted over the alignment of the cane on the staple.

Here is my thinking:
  • There is a reason why mandrels are shaped the way they are.  They help align the cane with the staple.  This is why having a staple that fits the mandrel is so important.  If it doesn't fit, it alters the alignment.
  • Winding machine mandrels are not customized to staples, so they only cause alignment problems.  If you use your own mandrel and transfer the pre-winded blank to the machine mandrel, anything can happen, and usually does for me.
  • In case you don't know, an aerial view of the reed on a mandrel should show a small offset (no more than 2 or 3  degrees) or none at all, and this should be by choice.
  • I make a lot of micro adjustments when I mount a blank.  Everything needs to be symmetrical.  When I adjust the cane so that the sides close evenly on both sides, I often find an unintended offset in the angle of the cane relative to the face of the mandrel.  I adjust again, tie again, shift a little more and finish up.
  • These adjustments are much trickier with a winding machine- especially when the winding mandrel is not sized to the staple you are using.
  • These types of faults can be hidden once a reed is finished, and they can alter to function of the reed.  This is why I don't use winding machines anymore.

Food for thought.

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