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If you gouge your own oboe cane, it is likely you will need
to adjust its settings. Chances are you bought a gouging machine to save money
and have more control over cane dimensions and gouging conditions. Those are
great reasons if you make many, many reeds and if your gouger is properly
adjusted. It is also likely you spent hundreds of dollars to have your gouger
professionally set-up, thinking this was a one-time expense and you would never
have to deal with this issue ever again. Wrong! Normal wear and tear, as well as
severe jarring during any kind of transport (if not packed properly) will require
you to adjust your gouging machine.
If you are in a terrible reedmaking slump – the sides of your
reeds are standing apart, openings are too big/too small, reeds not responding
to certain scraping the way you expect – you should check to see if your gouger
settings are off. Many reedmaking headaches are attributable to incorrect gouger settings.
While oboe cane gougers have substantial differences between
manufacturers, the nature of the gouged cane predestines certain settings in
common. The factors you must consider with regard to the proper set-up and
function of your cane gouger are:
of the Bed – the semi-cylindrical groove in the platform onto which you
place a piece of oboe cane must be perfectly parallel to the guide of the
blade carriage. If it isn’t, you will be gouging a slant (Example A) or an
“X” (Example B) in your oboe cane. If you notice the side of a piece of gouged
cane has a significantly increasing or decreasing thickness along one edge,
your bed is out of parallel. This is difficult to adjust without a dial
indicator/micrometer and without wasting a lot of cane.
Sharpness – as obvious as it sounds, a dull blade won’t gouge. Since blade
types vary, so does the method of sharpening.
your blade is the type which is flat on one side, sharpen it by rubbing
the flat side on a flat sharpening stone. A coarse diamond stone,
followed by a medium and/or fine India
stone work well for this. Avoid attempting to sharpen the rounded side of
the blade as this will result in changing the shape of the blade and not
add at all to its cutting properties.
your blade is a round cylinder, you can rotate it to the unused section,
but eventually you will have to send it out for sharpening (or purchase a
– the blade should be adjusted laterally as well as for depth of cut.
lateral setting adjusts the blade to the right or left of the centerline
of the bed and hence, the centerline of the piece of gouged cane. This is
one factor in determining the thickness of the sides of the gouged cane.
It also can affect the shape of the gouge.
depth of cut determines the thickness of the cane shavings. 0.05 mm to 0.10
mm tends to work well. Thicker shavings tears out the cane and gives a
rough surface to the cane gouge. Thinner settings may not be enough to
gouge continuous shavings from the inside of the cane, instead producing
bits and pieces of a shaving resulting in an unsatisfactory gouge.
finished gouge should be smooth without any ridges visible.
Position – The whole assembly that holds the blade and connects to the
guide post is called the carriage. Typically the carriage contains an “eccentric”
bearing which is a slightly out of round or oval cylinder. Adjusting this
bearing a few degrees to either side of the centerline of the carriage
assembly will affect the thickness of the sides of a piece of gouged cane
as well as the shape of the gouge. Basically, the eccentric bearing moves
the entire carriage to the left or right of the centerline of the gouger
Thickness – after all the previous settings are made, the overall
thickness of your gouge is determined by a “stop” which a bearing on the
carriage usually rides upon when the gouge is complete. Either the stop or
the carriage bearing is adjustable up or down in order to set the gouge
thickness. This setting affects the thickness of every part of the gouge.
you set this to give a gouge of 0.60 mm down the entire centerline of the
thickness of the sides of the gouge should be between 0.45 mm and 0.50 mm
with 0.47 being the optimal setting. Since you have to imagine the side
of the widest part of the shaped cane for this measurement, getting
a reliable side thickness of gouged oboe cane is notoriously difficult. Some
trial and error may be needed to get the thickness you want. Try not to
be overly zealous with this measurement.
after setting the centerline to 0.60 the sides are too
thick or too thin, you will have to go back and adjust the carriage
position by rotating the eccentric joint. Avoid adjusting the lateral setting
of the blade if possible as this will likely require you to reset the
depth of cut.
Unless you have cane to waste and feel up to the task, it is
best to let a professional set or reset the measurements of your oboe cane
gouger. However, now you know what to expect in your gouger settings and can
tell when service is required.
David Schast Reed Service & Supply, LLC 213 Church Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027 * (215) 782-CANE