How to restore a smooth surface on the cutting block

Having a smooth and even surface on the cutting block is essential when clipping the tip of a reed. Sometimes only the width of a hair needs clipped in order to finish a reed, and having a block that is smooth, without the nicks and bumps of a used block, makes getting this finishing clip easier. Only two things are needed to refinish a cutting block. The first is a 6-8 inch mill bastard file, and the second is 600-grit sandpaper. First, using the mill bastard file, hold both the block and file at an angle. Using a light, circular motion, start at the outer edge and move around the circumference of the block, working your way towards the middle. Always keep in mind that we want to preserve the curved surface of the block, so file a little more away at the edges than the middle. After going over … Continue reading

Don’t Forget About . . . The Grease Box


Just a quick post about something that’s probably not talked about very often…the grease box, jar, or whatever you want to call it. It only takes a few extra seconds to apply a bit of grease around the corks on the upper and lower joints. And a little bit goes a long way in making the oboe fit easier together. If we are having to grip the instrument tightly and are struggling to put it together, it’s easy to bend keys around and smash cork pads into their pad seats. Try different cork greases and see which one is best. I think regular Vaseline does a very nice job. Just place a dab on the corks and spread a thin layer around. The need to use cork grease is especially true in the summer when the humidity is high or in climates that are humid all year round. As always, … Continue reading

How To Select High Quality Cane (Part One)


Using high quality cane is essential to making great reeds. Once we have selected, gouged, shaped and tied a piece of cane on a staple, the majority of the work is already done. There is only so much we can do when scraping, so we must start off with a high quality piece of cane. We want to use hard and dense cane, but cane that is not brittle. A good gauge to test the denseness is how the razor blade cuts when splitting a tube of cane. There should be some resistance against the razor blade and should not cut the cane easily like butter. To visually separate soft and hard cane, here are some signs of soft cane, which should be avoided: Signs of Soft Cane: The bark has grooves or corrugations The bark is while, pale or dull The cane has white specks (these white specks are … Continue reading