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The Hazards Of Working With Twisted Oboe Cane

  • by Kathy Sheinhouse

Most expert reed makers use advanced selection skills to split tube cane in a way that achieves the greatest yield per rod.  Traditional splitting usually split in thirds.  Some split for two good segments. Some people insert the splitter and pray for something good. I have put together my best practices to achieve better results.  After all cane is expensive, and good cane is precious.  

My Best Practices On Cane Splitting:

  •  INSPECT THE CANE FOR VISIBLE TWISTS.  YOU WILL NEED TO ASSESS WHETHER THERE COULD BE AT LEAST ONE GOOD SEGMENT TO WORK WITH.  IF YOU FIND FLAIRS IN THE DIAMETER AT THE ENDS, THESE NEED TO BE CUT OFF WITH A GUILLOTINE.  
  • LAY TUBE ON A TRULY FLAT SURFACE THAT CAN BE LIFTED TO EYE LEVEL TO INSPECT.  ROTATE CANE UNTIL YOU FIND A SECTION THAT LIES THE BEST. THE HIGHEST QUALITY CANE WILL LAY COMPLETELY FLAT (END TO END) ON THE SURFACE WITHOUT ANY LIGHT COMING THROUGH. IF YOU HAVE THIS, YOU HAVE FOUND THE HOLY GRAIL OF CANE CANE CONFORMATION. TYPICALLY THE ENDS COME UP, BUT THIS IS OK, BECAUSE RODS COME WITH EXTRA LENGTH THAT ARE GUILLOTINES.
  • LINE UP THE THIRD YOU WANT TO PRESERVE WITH THE BLADES OF THE SPLITTER BLADE.  PUSH DOWN AS STRAIGHT AS POSSIBLE. 
  • TAKE EACH GUILLOTINED THIRD AND LAY ON THE FLAT SURFACE. 
  • LOOK FOR PORTIONS THAT WHEN GUILLOTINED WILL BE STRAIGHT AND TRUE.  I USUALLY GET TWO PER ROD (ON AVERAGE). 
  • 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 USE GUILLOTINED SEGMENTS WITH 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, IT WAS FLATTENED FROM GOUGING.

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 BECAUSE THE STOPPERS HAVE DIFFERENT HEIGHTS.
  • I HAVE FOUND THAT WITHOUT REALIZING IT, THAT SOME CANE THAT IS A LITTLE TWISTED MAKES IT THROUGH MY KUNIBERT GOUGER.
  • THERE IS A POST GOUGE TEST THAT CAN IDENTIFY THESE FLAWED GOUGED SLIPS. 
  • 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.  CONSISTENCY OF SCRAPE IS ANOTHER.  IF YOU ARE SEEKING SYMMETRICAL QUADRANTS 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.

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