Cane density post #3

Tonight I did the “day 2 scrape” which is the first time that I actually get a chance to feel the cane with my hands. Up until now the work is predominantly on machines, including the tip profiler. So with a knife and file and sand paper I really get a sense for what the cane is really like more than visually. Here are a few observations.

The less dense cane (floats more) was less consistent within any individual piece of cane, and also less consistent from piece to piece. Individual pieces would have more variation within the shadow when viewed with a backlight, with more obvious grain patterns, and more variation of dark spots to the general translucency. The harder cane was really consistent except for one piece that had a bit more of a shadowy profile when viewed through a lamp, but all pieces had gradients that were more even from light to dark when viewing the scrap pattern.

There was a marked difference in the “feel” of how the cane scraped. This one is really hard to describe without using the words “soft” and “hard” when describing soft and hard measured cane. But yeah, the softer cane felt … grainier. I could feel the separation between the vascular bundles of the cane. The harder cane, by comparison, felt more like a smooth single sheet when scraping, with less feeling of grain to it.

Visually, there was a greater distinction of color between the bark and the flesh of the cane at the shoulder in the hard cane. The bark was just enough lighter in color, matching the flesh, with the soft cane. This is not a distinction I could notice when just looking at the gouged cane. The bark was all “cane colored” at that point. It’s not until after removing the bark with the profiler that I could notice this difference. I do not think that darker colored bark means harder cane, but it does seem that a greater difference between the color of the bark and the sub-dermal layer might be an indicator. At least when wet.

Sample size is small, so I can’t make a sure data point here, but like with the diameter at the throat (which held when adjusting wires, I think the circumference is smaller on the softer cane) there was a trend of the softer cane here. Of my hard cane reeds, none had any noticeable side slippage in the blank after clipping the tip. Two of the seven soft reeds had very significant side slippage. So much that I would not include these reeds for sale, even if they played fine. I think this is related to how much the softer cane tended to curl within itself when forming the tube. If one side tended to slip inside the other, the blades would end up side-slipped. I don’t think any kind of beveling would have prevented it in these two pieces. The remaining five pieces were fine.

Within the next week I’ll do my third day scrape, which is play testing. But with what I’ve experienced so far, I can say that I would probably not want to bother making reeds with the softest cane here, all other things being equal, mostly due to the geometry issues with the cane curling so much. Maybe it won’t matter so much in the end, but I kind of think it will.

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