While studying with Gary Echols I learned a process of pre-forming scrapes that he developed after studying with Lou Skinner. After the initial profile by machine, place the reed on an easel for making the scrape. A well-defined fold mark is required on the cane, a little deeper than may be required for folding so the knife will stop at the end of each scrape. A triangle file is good for this purpose as the cut is a little wider than with a knife and less likely to cut all the way through. I then divide the blade of the cane into three equal sections from shoulder to tip. In the section closest to the tip I draw a straight line with a pencil from the edge of the blade to the center line/fold mark. This makes a small triangle that I will scrape with the knife towards the tip 12 times. The scrape starts at the top of the mark I have made and goes to the fold mark in the center of the cane. (Please see a drawing I have made of this stage of the finishing on page 2 of my photo album). I used a large V-shape knife for this process rather than a beveled knife as I would be pulling the blade towards me. I don’t want to dig much into the cane where I start and I increase the pressure slightly along the scrape. I then follow the same procedure in the next two sections though I decrease the number of scrapes with 8 scrapes in the second section and four scrapes in the third section. When I am finished I have accomplished a taper of the cane much like Roy Skinner’s Straight Taper type of reed. This is only the first stage of this finishing process. The main difference with this and Skinner’s process is that rather than scraping parallel with the edge of the blade Echols scraped parallel with the spine. Since this process is performed before forming a dial indicator may be used to check the scrape I have just described as well as the subsequent scrapes on the right and left side of the blade as well as on the opposite blade.
After the reed is formed Echols would then finish the tip of the reed and obtain the usual half-moon appearance. The advantage to Echols’ pre-form scrape is that he could use the dial indicator and obtain a symmetrical blade that is more difficult to obtain once the reed is formed.
This has been a difficult process to describe though I hope the drawing helps. I look forward to your comments and observations.
Thank you for posting such a great article!
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