QUOTE(andante @ Mar 30 2012, 09:21 AM)
Thank you , that is similar, but not identical to the method shown in Dr Downing's book and the workshop she gave. She suggests inserting the mandrel before putting any of the wires on, when it is just held together with wet string. She also emphasises that the cane must be soaked for AT LEAST two hours before you start. Do you think I am soaking it for too long? I was assuming longer would be better as it would be softer.
Personally I don't think soaking for longer helps, the cane just get waterlogged. However I emphasise that my method is what I use, and it works for me, but I'm sure it's not the only way or the best way.
I think putting the first wire on before inserting the mandrel is better (and maybe helps to protect against the blade splitting). I've always done it like that, so probably that's what my teacher showed me to do, but it was many years ago, so I can't be sure.
When you score the bark how deep do the cuts go? I find it quite hard to judge how deep I am cutting, and to get the scoring all the way up the bark and not onto the blade. My mandrel has a mark to show how far to push it and I have been careful to check that it doesn't go into the blade bit of the reed.
I score with my reed knife, starting from the blade end of the bark and moving to the bottom, not particularly deep though, probably not all the way through the bark. Occasionally I press too hard and it splits the cane, but that is usually recoverable.
You also don't mention leaving it to dry once you have got the wires on. Do you just carry straight on, because again the book and workshop made it sound like it was necessary to let it dry, and the soak it again to do the finishing off.
I generally put the turks head on straight away, but I don't cut the tip until the reed is dry. But I usually only make one reed at a time anyway.
When you cut the tip do you use a razor blade? At the workshop they had a little gadget for cutting them, but it was quite expensive, and they said you could do it by hand, so I didn't buy one. (The tools and equipment were quite expensive and in view of my current inability to get anything without a crack probably a good job I didn't spend the money!)
I cut using my reed knife, which has a straight blade, on a flat wooden surface. Just rest the edge of the blade on the reed where you want to cut and press down evenly and quickly.
The other thing I do before folding the cane in half is to make sure that there's a definite step from the blade to the bark. Possibly this helps to stop the cane splitting, but to be honest I've never really found that a problem. Do the reeds split before you have done anything to them? Maybe squeeze the first wire from top and bottom before you dry the reed to make sure it's not too open when you cut the tip?