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!