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size of gouge for chanter reed making

PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:27 am
by pipemakermike
I have been wondering about the gouges used for the initial gouging of the chanter reed cane slip.
I measured the one I have been using for the past 30 years and it has an outside radius of 15mm.
Measuring the inside radius of a finished reed I find that mine are between 11mm and 12mm radius.
This has set me wondering what size gouge other reed makers are using. I would be interested to hear what radius of gouge other reed makers are using.

Re: size of gouge for chanter reed making

PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:37 am
by Barry Say
In the reedmaking classes at Killingworth and in his reedmaking book, Colin Ross specifies an in-cannel gouge where the outside of the gouge fits a circle of 1" /25mm diameter. This of course corresponds to a 12.5 mm radius in the system that Mike is using. The theory behind this size is that it will give a slip of nearly uniform thickness when used on cane with an original OD of 1"/25mm. Personally, I find this satisfactory. I seek out secondhand gouges, taking with me a gauge of hardwood with a 1" hole bored with a Forstner bit. This allows me to check the outer curve easily.

I also remember reedmaking instructions which recommended a wider gouge such as Mike suggested. I believe the intention was to produce a slip with slightly thinner sides, to improve the sealing of the reed at the sides.

It has also been suggested to me that a narrower gouge should be considered as this would make thinning selective parts of the slip easier.

Hope this helps.


Re: size of gouge for chanter reed making

PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:18 am
by Francis Wood
Cane is an inconsistent material and the bassoon tube we commonly use is never perfectly round, or of standard diameter and hardness. For that reason, precise dimensions and curvature on the gouge seems to me of little importance. Whenever I get down to reed-making (which requires more will-power than I can often muster) I use the gouge as a roughing-out tool, rather than anything more exact.

I’m fairly mystified by the Ross method of using a gouge curvature matching that of cane and therefore cutting right across its sharpened edge. I prefer a more local cutting action and my favourite gouge has an edge radius of a little under 10mm.

When it comes down to it, the best gouge is probably the one you’ve got used to using and sharpening.


tip shape of gouge

PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:35 pm
by pipemakermike
Here are the gouges I use.
The top one is one that I use for the trough in the front and back of a violin ( above the perfling channel) and it has a very rounded shape in the plan view. It is an outcannel sharpened gouge and is really easy to use.
The middle one is a gouge with a curve of approx 12mm radius - a bit hard to measure as most of the old gouges were a bit inaccurate about the radius. This one is a good 12mm rad in the middle fading to about 13mm radius as it gets towards the sides. The front edge is straight in the plan view.
The bottom one is the gouge that I have used for chanter reeds since I started making. outside radius is about 15mm and seems to be a true curve. It also has a straight front edge.
Now my question is if any one has used a gouge with a curved front edge - possibly less extreem than the violin one - but I do wonder if it would give better control of the cutting especially at the sides of the slip. I could try it but it would take a long time to change the gouge to that shape and if I don't like it a long time to change it back.


Re: size of gouge for chanter reed making

PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:54 pm
by Francis Wood

I've had many discussions with makers of various types of woodwind and reeds, and have never come across mention of a gouge with the characteristics you are enquiring about. That doesn't of course mean that there is no room for new thought but it is probably significant that such a shape has not emerged as a preferred form for the job.

My own experience suggests that a very sharp gouge with a tighter curvature than the reed curvature allows good control of the tool and local thinning as required. I also have a larger gouge with a curvature similar to the nominal one inch OD bassoon tube, but this is very much more difficult to use


Re: size of gouge for chanter reed making

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:02 pm
by iain allen
My usual gouge is a Marples 3/4 inch with what looks like an 8 sweep, I have tried others for example;
Ashley Iles 19mm no.6 sweep - Nice gouge to use and if he did a no.8 sweep I would make this my everyday gouge.
Unknown 1 inch gouge - Average gouge that I never really felt comfortable using.

The fact that I had guides and shooting blocks made to suit the Marples obviously influences my choice, the only problem comes when I need to replace it.

I don't have the dimensions available for the above but if interested I could have a measure up.