How To Operate A Shaping Machine

By Sarah Beck, RDG Gouging Machine Specialist

A shaping machine is a great tool to have at your disposal. Used properly, it can produce rapid, consistent results for your reed making. RDG offers the Reeds 'n Stuff Shaping Machine for oboists. There are many different varieties of shaping forms to choose from. Reeds 'n Stuff produces forms for oboe, oboe d’amore, English horn, bass oboe, baroque oboe and Viennese oboe.

The operation of the machine is very easy. You soak the cane and shape it. That’s it! 

To use this machine you will need: 

  1. C-clamp

  2. Shaping form

  3. Gouged cane

  4. Knife

  5. Small bristle brush

  6. Needle oiler

Start by using a c-clamp to clamp the machine down to your work surface. This will hold the machine in place while you use it.

Next, select your form and install it on the machine. 

Take a piece of gouged cane, which has soaked enough so that it will drop to the bottom of the container you have it in. Put the cane on top of the form. Center it front to back and side to side. 

Cane correctly aligned

Cane not centered

When you have it centered, put the top of the machine down on the form and cane. (You may need to hold the cane with one hand, and put the top down with the other.)

Once the top of the form is down and the cane is in place, tighten the top. My machine is very old, and was possibly not made by Reeds 'n Stuff. It functions differently than the design they currently have. For theirs, you would need to pull the top handle up to secure the cane in place. 

When everything is secure, start by making a swipe from the middle towards you. Then, take another swipe in the opposite direction. Lastly, go back and forth a few times, cutting the cane progressively closer to the form.

When you do this, try not to press too hard on the cane or the form. If you press too hard to start, you can crack the edges of the cane and not get a clean cut. If you press too hard at the end, you can damage the blades. 

The next step is to loosen the top, and remove the cane. You will see that if you have aligned it correctly, the middle of the cane will have a score mark.

I like to fold the cane at this point by putting the score mark over the edge of a knife and folding it. 

Here's a video of the entire process:

When you’ve finished using the machine, it’s a good idea to brush it off and oil the moving parts. Do remove the form from the machine. If you keep it on, it can get stuck and not want to come off. (Speaking from experience, unfortunately…)

Be sure to look at your work as you’re going along. Lining up the cane properly is the biggest challenge to using this machine, and it’s easy to make mistakes. You will also need to check your blades every once in a while, and make sure they’re sharp. If they’re not, they can be easily re-sharpened on a sharpening stone. 

That’s it! Now you can enjoy the ease and swiftness of shaping!

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