Day 2 – Hopefully you have let the reed rest at least a week. If so, the reed is ready to come off the mandrel and to perform the full bevel of the reed. First, wet the tip of the reed, then unwrap the reed and open up the profile. Use 240 sandpaper and as with the pre-bevel, hold it on the edge of a table or desk (I often tape the sand paper in place so I have both hands to work with the cane.) Take one end of the tube and hold the curved back of the tube so it doesn’t flatten out when you apply pressure for the remainder of the beveling. The first bevel is from a little past the third wire to the end/off the reed, do 10 strokes on the sandpaper; the second bevel is 10 more strokes up to the second wire; the final bevel is three strokes to the first wire. Obviously, the back is therefore beveled 23 times because you do the entire length of the tube from the place you start. At the end of the beveling there should be a slight opening between the sides at the very back of the tube when the reed is folded back over. Note that when you then push the back of the reed sides together to make them close this small gap, the tip of the reed opens nicely. If you need to do any more beveling to have this “opening effect” only do it from the third wire back.

Fold the reed back onto itself and put it back on the mandrel. Wrap with packing twine from about halfway up the reed just to hold it in place. As we made a groove for the first wire, make a groove with a file for the third. The groove should be 1/8 inch from the back of the tube.

Putting on the wires:

  • Mount the Mandrel holding the wrapped reed onto a table Vise
  • Cut a length of wire (around 4-5 inches) and mount it between two pin vise
  • Put the third wire on by centering the wire on the reed and going around it with the pin vises in opposite directions at the same time. I wrap the wire around THREE times for the 3rd wire.
  • Pull the pin vise PAST perpendicular of where the wires will actually end so you exude equal force around the reed, even at the end.
  • Bring the pin vise back to the middle of the blade facing you and twist them around each other to tie off the wire. Cut it with a wire cutters.
  • Take the mandrel out of the table vise and tighten the third wire with a pliers. Cut off any extra wire.
  • Take all the wrapping off the reed. Now that the third wire is in place the wrapping is no longer needed to hold the reed on the mandrel.
  • Mount the mandrel back into the table vise.
  • Draw a line with a fine point marker 5/16 inch back from the first wire to mark where the second wire will go. DO NOT make a groove for the second wire like we did for the first and third.
  • The second wire should initially be placed where your bocal will finish inside the reed. This is well BEFORE the actual second wire final placement. After the reed has dried we will slide the wire onto the mark we made for it. For now, we want the reed to be narrow at the point where the bocal finishes so the air stream stays constant.
  • To put on the second wire, use the pin vises as described above. However, only wrap the wire around the reed TWICE.
  • Generally the second wire should finish on the opposite side of the tube as the first and third wires.
  • Put on the first wire using the pin vises as describe above and only wrap the wire around TWICE as well.
  • Take the mandrel out of the table vise but leave it in the reed and tighten all the wires to a comfortable degree. DO NOT over tighten the wires.

Once all the wires have been put on and tightened, I re-wrap the reed in twine while it is still on the mandrel. As after the first big day of reed making, start wrapping at the back of the reed, go two times over the first wire, reverse direction, then get tighter the further back you go especially between the second and third wires. I then wet the reed again, mandrel and all. Then I let it stay in this state as long as possible. For me, the minimum time is a month (in an emergency you can continue the process after only a day’s wait but your reed will not be as consistent or last as long.) Ideally I wait 6 months. Obviously this takes a bit of planning so you have reeds ready when you want them. While a reed is drying/waiting in this state I re-soak it once or twice. The longer you allow your reeds to stay in this state, the more stable the reed will be when you clip the tip!  Record what you did today in your reed journal!

Continue to wrapping

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