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The Hazards Of Working With Twisted Oboe Cane

  • by Kathy Sheinhouse

The Hazards Of Twisted Oboe Cane  In Achieving Best Reed Making Outcomes

Most expert reed makers use advanced selection skills to split tube cane in a way that achieves the greatest yield per rod.  Some people just split the tube randomly and hope for something to work with.  Cane is expensive, and good cane is precious.  

My Best Practices On Cane Splitting:

  •  Inspect the cane of visible twists.  Assess whether there is enough of a lane to achieve a good cut-to length slip.
  • Lay tube on truly flat surface.  Rotate cane until you find a third that lies the best.  Establish a personal strategy to ensure that when you split the cane, you are preserving this third.
  • Split the cane.
  • Lay each third on the flat surface.  Hopefully, you can find a  finished length that is straight and true.  
  • Guillotine one side at or near the spot where you can preserve the flat section.  Then, do the other side (the length and position will be established by the guillotine).
  • It is ok to have the tails a little high as long as both sides are symmetrical.
  • Best practices say there cannot be bowing in the middle.  I agree, except there have been times when I found minimal bowing in the middle, I test gouged it and found that it sat flat on my surface.  It was modified by the gouging process.

Identifying Twisted Oboe Cane After The Fact:

  • Naturally, I edit out cane that I predict will not work.  However, sometimes, twisted cane slips past my inspection.
  • Experts know that cane that cannot make it through the gouger is unusuable.  I agree, though sometimes I change gougers.
  • I have found that some cane that makes it through my Kunibert gouger is twisted.
  • You probably have already found that there are surprising inconsistencies in the thickness of gouges within your batch.  Don't worry.  This is because the diameter is variable, so it sits on the gouger bed differently.  If you can adjust your gouger, just sort your cane by diameter and gouge by diameter for optimum results.
  • Have you ever used your dial micrometer to measure the consistency of the center gouge down the length of the slip and found inconsistencies?  This is the hazard of the twisted cane, and a way to detect (unfortunately) the use of twisted cane after the fact.
    • Cane that is twisted can seem to lie flat, but its center position relative to the bed shifts.  The center of the gouger blade will not find the center of the cane, and the slope of the blade will impact the thickness over the center.

Why Twisted Oboe Cane Matters In Reed Performance:

  • Achieving great results in reed making require variables to be managed.  Inconsistencies in center gouge can impact the finished reed result in unexpected ways.  Pitch stability is one of them.  Consistentcy of scrape is another.  If you are seeking symmetrical quandrants through a counting process, and without a dial micrometer, you may be disappointed. I am sure your time is as valuable as mine, and  throwing away processed cane never feels good.  But, I would rather do that than wrangle with a reed that will never work well.

Happy Reed Making!

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