Posts Tagged ‘for students’

My Daily Tool Kit

In a previous post, I set out the basic tools and materials that I like my students to have. These are all necessary for my method and style of reed making, but I don't need all of them every day. I keep a streamlined set of tools in my bassoon case for the daily business of finishing and adjusting reeds. I've spent a good deal of time figuring out what I truly need to carry with me, and have acquired alternate versions of some tools to keep my kit as compact as possible. My kit also contains a couple of items for quick instrument fixes. I gave sources for some of these in my post on basic reed tools, so I'll only provide links for the new items.

Raily Reed Tools

  1. Utility Knife - My big Stanley knife is pain to haul around, so I carry this svelte Gerber EAB folding knife instead.
    Source: Amazon
  2. Pliers - Forming pliers aren't necessary for daily adjustments, so I carry this small pair of Craftsman needle nose pliers instead.
    Source: Sears
  3. Reed Knife - I like this folding Fox knife for its small size.
    Source: Midwest Musical Imports
  4. Honing Steel - Regular use of this Victorinox steel (made for pocket knives and remounted in a file handle by me) lets me sharpen my knife a little less frequently.
    Source: Smoky Mountain Knife Works (or find one on eBay)
  5. Emery Board - Half of a wide coarse board fits here nicely.
  6. Cutting Block - I prefer trimming reeds with my Reeds 'n Stuff guillotine, but this and a utility knife will do in a pinch.
  7. Screwdrivers - These two jeweler's-style flathead screwdrivers came with my Püchner, but can be easily obtained elsewhere.
  8. Files - Just round and flat for daily use.
  9. Plaque - Big, plastic, and red. Easy to see if you drop it onstage or in a dark pit. Large enough to use for contra reeds, too.
  10. Short (Holding) Mandrel - Fox: simple and compact.
  11. Toothbrush Head - For quickly cleaning shavings out of the reamer.
    Source: any drug store
  12. Reamer - My trusty Rieger.
  13. Sandpaper - A stack of small rectangles (cut from a larger sheet) of 320 grit wet/dry lasts a while.
  14. Caliper - great for making repeated measurements on different reeds.
    Source: Sears
  15. Ruler - Although I mostly use the small caliper above, this small six-inch ruler takes up almost no space and comes in handy from time to time as well.
    Source: Office Depot
  16. Spring Hook - I made this out of a big paper clip years ago, and haven't yet felt the need to upgrade to the real thing.
    Source: your desk drawer

All together, these tools cover about 99% of what I'll ever have to do during a rehearsal or practice session. I wish I could carry my guillotine with me, but it's just too big. As you can see below, all the tools I've listed above fit comfortably into my leather tool wallet, which itself fits very nicely into the accessory pouch of my Marcus Bonna Gentleman's case. No cramming necessary!

Daily Reed Tools in Case

Basic Reed Tools

Basic Reed ToolsOver the past cou­ple of weeks, I’ve been cor­re­spond­ing with one of my incom­ing fresh­men about what reed tools and mate­ri­als he’ll need when he arrives at school in the fall. This has inspired me to assem­ble a real list of the equip­ment that I want a begin­ning reed mak­er to have. I’ve combed the three dou­ble reed spe­cial­ty shops that I typ­i­cal­ly do busi­ness with (For­rests Music, Mid­west Musi­cal Imports, and Miller Mar­ket­ing) along with a few nation­al chains (Ace Hard­ware, Home Depot, and Wal­greens) for the best prices on my rec­om­mend­ed items. There are a cou­ple of things that I rec­om­mend get­ting from Bar­rick Stees and Christlieb Prod­ucts, as well. For most items I’ve also list­ed oth­er options, in case you’d like to buy a bet­ter knife, or save on ship­ping by order­ing from few­er mer­chants. I won’t go through exact­ly how I use all of the­se now — that’s a top­ic for anoth­er post.


Pliers

Form­ing pli­ers (with a smooth hole in the jaws for shap­ing the tube of the reed) are a spe­cial­ty item, and there aren’t too many choic­es in brands. I prefer the orange han­dled Knipex/Rieger ver­sion. The­se have larg­er han­dles than some of the oth­ers, and are very well made. They also hap­pen to be the least expen­sive of the bunch.

Best Price: $45, Miller Mar­ket­ing (RBPLRS)
Oth­er Sources: For­rests Music (#E-29), Mid­west Musi­cal Imports

Reed Knife

I own a a few dif­fer­ent knives, and each one has things I like and things I don’t. I think all that real­ly mat­ters is that you find some­thing that fits your hand com­fort­ably and that you can keep sharp rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly.

Best Price: $24, Mid­west Musi­cal Imports (Rig­ot­ti straight knife)
Oth­er Knives: Mid­west Musi­cal Imports, For­rests Music, Miller Mar­ket­ing

Utility Knife

Any basic util­i­ty knife will do. I like the kind that take the stan­dard trape­zoidal blades, rather than the ones with sec­tioned snap-off blades. The­se (along with extra blades) should be easy to find at any hard­ware store. My stan­dard knife is a beefy-handled retractable Stan­ley that holds extra blades inside.

Best Price: $4.48, Home Depot
Oth­er Sources: Ace Hard­ware

Short (Holding) Mandrel

I have a cou­ple of the­se, one by Fox and one by Rig­ot­ti. There are many oth­er brands to choose from, too — all that real­ly mat­ters is that you find one that’s con­fort­able in your hand.

Best Price: $15, Miller Mar­ket­ing (2X Reed Man­drel)
Oth­er Man­drels: For­rests Music, Mid­west Musi­cal Imports

Plaque

I hate the sound a knife makes when it scrapes on a met­al plaque, so I stick to plas­tic ones. Again, I have a few of the­se, but my favorite is a big red one that also works for con­tra reeds and is easy to spot when (not if) you drop it in a dark pit.

Best Price: $2, For­rests Music (#G-21)
Oth­er Sources: Mid­west Musi­cal Imports

Reamer

Good ream­ers are sharp, have mul­ti­ple flut­ed spi­ral blades, and are pre­cise­ly made to match the taper of a bocal. As a result, they aren’t cheap. Ream­ers get infre­quent enough use that a new stu­dent can sub­sist for awhile by bor­row­ing those of his or her stu­dio­mates. But any­one doing seri­ous reed mak­ing will need one even­tu­al­ly. I like my Rieger ream­er, but there are good ream­ers for a lit­tle less mon­ey, too.

Best Price: $79, Miller Mar­ket­ing (Miller Mar­ket­ing Pro Spi­ral Ream­er) or $80, Bar­rick Stees
Oth­er Ream­ers: Mid­west Musi­cal Imports, For­rests Music (#E-31)

Handheld Torch

I like to heat my form­ing man­drels before using them (to make the cane more pli­able dur­ing form­ing), and have found a small hand­held butane torch to be the best heat source. The­se come in a vari­ety of shapes, sizes, and prices. Mine is an inex­pen­sive hard­ware store mod­el that sim­ply takes butane lighters as car­tridges. This is anoth­er item that can be bor­rowed from stu­dio­mates ini­tial­ly, if nec­es­sary.

Best Price: $20, Home Depot
Oth­er Torch­es: Home Depot, Ace Hard­ware 1, Ace Hard­ware 2

Forming Mandrels/Drying Rack

I like to form reeds on long man­drels, then allow them to dry before remov­ing them. My pins, which I love, were made by Accu­rate. Sad­ly, they’ve now gone out of busi­ness, but you can buy sim­i­lar racks/pins from oth­ers.

Best Price: $75, Christlieb Prod­ucts (6D Chucked Han­dle -and- 7A1 Dry­ing Board w/Brass Form­ing Man­drel Tips)
Anoth­er Option: Miller Mar­ket­ing (2XMS Reed Form­ing Man­drel Set)

Easel

My easel is just a six-inch sec­tion of tool han­dle that my under­grad­u­ate teacher, Dr. Jef­frey Lyman, cut for me. A 1.25″ dow­el will work too, but I prefer the higher-density tool han­dle wood. You can get very nice purpose-made easels too, but I’ve nev­er seen the need to shell out for one.

Best Price: $1.50, Home Depot ($12 tool han­dle, can be cut into at least 8 easels)
Oth­er Options: Ace Hard­ware (anoth­er tool han­dle), Mid­west Musi­cal Imports, For­rests Music

Measuring Device

The cheap­est and eas­i­est to find is a sim­ple six-inch ruler — just make sure that it has mil­lime­ter mark­ings.

Best Price: $2, Home Depot
Oth­er Sources: Mid­west Musi­cal Imports, For­rests Music (#R-05)

Files

Some peo­ple make exten­sive use of files in their reed mak­ing; I don’t. I use a round file most often, and occa­sion­al­ly pick up my flat and tri­an­gu­lar files, too. You can buy very nice dia­mond files indi­vid­u­al­ly, or get a six-pack of assort­ed files from most hard­ware stores. A word of warn­ing — be sure to wash your files before use. They often have resid­u­al machin­ing oils that will make your reeds taste awful.

Best Price: $9.40, For­rests Music (#E-26)
Oth­er Sources: Mid­west Musi­cal Imports, Miller Mar­ket­ing, Ace Hard­ware, Home Depot

Sandpaper

One pack­age of 320 grit wet/dry sand­pa­per (usu­al­ly black or dark grey) will last quite awhile.

Best Price: $6, Home Depot

Emery Boards

Coarse emery boards work like sand­ing blocks (pro­vid­ing a rigid sand­ing sur­face), but are less expen­sive, eas­ier to man­age, and more com­pact.

Best Price: $2, Wal­greens

Cutting Block

A sur­face to use when trim­ming the tips of reeds. A block with a diam­e­ter greater than 1 inch is best for bas­soon reeds.

Best Price: $11, Mid­west Musi­cal Imports
Oth­er Blocks: For­rests Music, Mid­west Musi­cal Imports

Cotton String

Anoth­er hard­ware store item — I use thick cot­ton string to wrap cane dur­ing the form­ing process.

Best Price: $3, Home Depot

22 Gauge Brass Wire

Some­times you can find this in a hard­ware store — make sure it’s 22 gauge, though! Larg­er spools can be ordered from pret­ty much any dou­ble reed sup­pli­er.

Price: $8–30, depend­ing on how large a spool you buy
Sources: For­rests Music (#G-05), Mid­west Musi­cal Imports, Miller Mar­ket­ing

Reed Tying Thread

I prefer nylon size FF thread. This also is avail­able from most dou­ble reed shops — in lots of col­ors!

Price: $6.50–10, depend­ing on brand
Sources: Miller Mar­ket­ing, For­rests Music, Mid­west Musi­cal Imports

Duco Cement

The old stand­by reed adhe­sive. Duco is avail­able in both met­al tubes and plas­tic bot­tles — which you buy is a mat­ter of per­son­al pref­er­ence and what your store stocks.

Best Price: $3, Miller Mar­ket­ing
Oth­er Sources: For­rests Music, Ace Hard­ware


Now, a few caveats about this list:

  1. The­se are the items that I con­sid­er essen­tial for my own style of reed mak­ing. Oth­er play­ers and teach­ers will like­ly have some­what dif­fer­ent lists.
  2. In list­ing the best prices for the­se items, I have tried to find tools that are suf­fi­cient for a begin­ning reed mak­er. They cer­tain­ly aren’t the only options, nor are they all the speci­fic mod­els that I use on a dai­ly basis.
  3. If you buy all of the “Best Price” items on this list, it comes to about $320, not includ­ing tax or ship­ping charges. This may seem like a lot, but con­sid­er that with com­mer­cial reeds at $15–20 a pop, mak­ing your own reeds will recov­er the cost of tools in rel­a­tive­ly short order. If you real­ly want to, you can wait on the ream­er and torch, bring­ing the total down to about $220.
  4. There are tools I use fre­quent­ly that I haven’t includ­ed on this list, because there are ways of accom­plish­ing the same tasks with those I have list­ed.
  5. You will, of course, need some­thing to put all of the­se tools in. For­rests, Mid­west, and Miller all car­ry nice tool pouch­es, but you can also just use some­thing you’ve already got or even the ship­ping box your tools arrive in.
  6. There is one addi­tion­al item with­out which all of this is use­less: cane! But that’s a sub­ject for anoth­er day.

Although I’ve made this list pri­mar­i­ly for my own stu­dents, I hope that it will prove to be use­ful for oth­ers, as well. Hap­py reed mak­ing!