You Are At: AllSands Home > Music > Instruments > Oboe reed making
Okay now—we’ve all been there. It’s the middle of orchestra rehearsal and your big solo is coming up. But you don’t have any decent reeds! You sit there stressing about how you’re going to sound. We’ve all used the excuse—“It’s the reed!” And in the past, it was the truth. But not anymore! Finally, here are the easy steps to conquering the art of oboe reed making, so that you never have to worry about your reeds again!

What you will need (All items can be purchased at your local music store):

Reed knife, mandrel, cutting block, reed thread, 47 mm tube (staple), cane (gouged and shaped, unless you have access to a gouging machine and shaper tip), ruler, razor blades, pencil, plaque, sharpening stone.

Step 1: Tying the reed blank

After you have soaked your cane in warm water for at least 10 minutes, it is time to tie it onto the staple. Tie the thread around something sturdy—I recommend tying it around your shoe. Now, place the cane on the top of the staple, making sure that the entire length from the top of the cane to the end of the tube is at 73 mm. You now begin tying the cane to the staple—the top of the thread should be at 47 mm (the top of the tube). Wrap the thread around the tube, until you reach the cork. Then tie it off, knotting several times. You now have a reed blank to begin scraping on!

Step 2: The Tip

With your pencil, mark a straight line across the cane 20 mm from the top of the blank. Next, scrape off the top layer of cane from pencil mark to the top. Next, angle your knife to the right and scrape off some of the cane, and then repeat on the left. Do this step until you have formed a triangle shape. Repeat on other side of reed.

Step 3: Clipping the tip.

To clip the tip, place the tip of the reed (the top of the cane portion) on the cutting block and clip off approximately 1 mm. Next, insert your plaque inside the cane.

Step 4: Scraping the Back

To scrape the back, angle your reed to the right and scrape from bottom of cane up to the edge of the triangular tip. Do seven scrapes, and then repeat on the right and then repeat on the left. Next turn the reed over, and repeat this step on this side of the reed.

Step 5: The Heart

With your pencil, mark off the 15 mm point (measuring from the top of the thread) on the cane. Now, scrape off a small layer of cane from this point to the triangular tip. Your blank should now begin to look like an oboe reed.

Step 6: Finishing the reed

You have now done every step to reed making. The next step is simply to repeat each step over again, gradually working the reed down until you can manage it on your instrument. The finished reed should be from 69-70 mm long. Gradually clip off the tip while working on your reed until it reaches this length.

Play on your new reed!