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Copyright 2009 Dale Clark
Because of a recent request I decided to write about throat mandrels and reamers. In my shop I have several mandrels made the late by Lou Skinner. I’m not sure he actually made them as I know he had a machinist do much of his metal working. My favorite is a # 10 throat reamer. I use this to open up the throat and tip. The reasons for a closed tip are variable. However, often the slight differences in cane will result in a tip a little more closed than you want it. If the second wire is very round you can open the tip by squeezing the second wire from the top and bottom. But, many times the wires seem to be as I want them and then I use the throat mandrel to open the tip. I also have a throat mandrel from Forrests Music that I use on occasion but the parabolic curve is less dramatic. The reason for a closed throat relate to the proper use of the forming mandrel. If you don’t have the forming mandrel in the proper place when you tighten the wires before wrapping then often the throat will be too small. This is one of the most common mistakes I find in student reed blanks. So, I make sure that my mandrel is set in the proper place and most of the time I won’t need extra reamer and mandrel work.
I have two different throat reamers that I use to enlarge the tube when necessary. One of the reamers is from Forrests Music and the other I ordered from machine parts supplier as a reamer bit and assembled it with my pin mandrel. I almost never ream my reeds but with some others’ reeds I have found it necessary. It makes for a more open and, to me, a deeper sound. I welcome other opinions and questions on this topic.