Trials and tribulations of a novice reed maker

Pipemaking, reedmaking & maintanence. Expert pipemakers are eager to answer your questions

Re: Trials and tribulations of a novice reed maker

Postby Silversmith » Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:41 pm

Hi, My NSP chanter reedmaking has been patchy over the years but I make a mean Uilleann chanter reed. I have been making NSP reeds using my Uilleann gouge which is 1 1/4" & has a outer circumference of 48mm. I see that Colin Ross has used a 1" diameter sanding rod so I will have to consider a narrower gouge but the outside diameter of gouges is never quoted so I am having to purchase a couple in the hope that one is correct. As with any reed those last few touches & scrapes etc are absolutely critical but I would have to say that it would be better to be able to match a reed to a known playing chanter rather than my own which I have never yet had playing in tune. It would all be so much simpler if I were living up North & had access to all of those accomplished makers & their helpful assistance. I have every faith however in the fine plans of Mike Nelson & Colin Ross.
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Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:34 am
Full Name: John Ross

Re: Trials and tribulations of a novice reed maker

Postby edric » Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:36 am

The aluminium tube staples can be shaped simply by squeezing carefully with pliers - however I've been tempted to make myself a mandrel (is that the right term?) to try and get a bit better reproducibility and remove the chance of the centre part being over-squeezed (in cross-section, there's a risk of ending up with something approaching a figure-of-8).
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:20 am
Location: Cambridgeshire
Full Name: Edric Ellis

Re: Trials and tribulations of a novice reed maker

Postby RaySmith » Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:22 am

What a fascinating thread this has been.
Thanks to all contributors.
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Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:46 am
Full Name: Ray Smith

Re: Trials and tribulations of a novice reed maker

Postby Tpfairfax » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:08 am


Thanks for this - very useful - more importantly, its reassuring to recognise some of the same challenges. I am currently converting a fair amount of cane, and juggling received wisdom from a few sources!

I had the same challenge re consistent gouging -and have made a few sanding rods (including one quite thin one - 10mm) to take the last bit down consistently - the other thing, I have been using a bit of inner tube rubber held over the whole slip whilst standing to grip the whole slip consistently - I was finding that pressure needed to hold the thing was creating uneven finger spots (when viewed with a very bright light). It works really well when getting down to the final few thou... This has also proved useful when recovering from inconsistent gouging... no doubt this will eventually become redundant when my gouging improves....(!).

One thing that I have found works quite well on Chanter Reeds and Drone Reed Bridles is running the thread through sealing wax (rather than beeswax) on the bottom layer of wrapping - it seems to give a bit more hardness to the wrapping.... and seems to make the reed nice and stable.

On the staples - I have been using reclaimed radio antennas - works well (I was lucky and had some available, though it might be easier to buy)

I think your point on practice is key - the more one makes, the easy it seems to get!


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Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:06 pm
Location: Mindrum, Northumberland. TD12 4QN
Full Name: Tom Fairfax


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