Ruminations on cane density, part 2

After letting the formed tubes settle I have bound and wrapped 13 blanks. Today I am prepping the “day 1” finishing process, which involves reaming, clipping the tip, and using the tip profiler. At this stage I definitely notice some consistent differences between the Hard and Soft pieces of cane, and they’re not too surprising, but I do find it interesting.

Difference 1: The harder cane is more prone to cracking. This was evident in even selecting pieces to shape and profile, and even folding in half before forming. I initially selected 7 of each variety, and of the soft pieces all of them made it through shaping, profiling, forming, binding, without any cracking on the tube at all. Of the harder pieces 2 of them split before I even was able to begin the tube forming process, and I lost one further when folding the cane before forming, so I only ended up with 6 formed blanks instead of 7, with 3 pieces being unusable (so out of 9 pieces of cane total, 3 of them split). Further, of the formed blanks, I could see 2 of the 6 hard pieces formed some superficial cracking on the tube, which is relatively unusual for me overall, so that’s a very high percentage of pieces of cane that have cracking in the tube.

Difference 2: The softer cane curled more in forming than the harder cane. This one is a bit weird, but it makes sense. After putting on the wires you can see some pieces of cane made blanks with narrower throats than others. It’s visually obvious if you’re paying attention, but measuring is more accurate. I used a digital caliper to measure the diameter of the tube between the first and second wire, measured from side to side. The harder cane blanks measured consistently more than .5mm wider than the softer pieces. This means that the hardness of the cane absolutely affects the geometry of the blank. Even when I adjust the wires I won’t be able to make up this difference due to the cane curling on itself on the softer reeds.

Hard cane used in the top row, soft in the bottom row.
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  1. Favorite blog posts, February 2023 | Bret Pimentel, woodwinds

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