The secret to enjoying making oboe reeds is having a sharp knife. It can be hard to scrape off the cane with a blunt knife. But before we even look at what tool you need to sharpen the oboe reed knife, it’s important to understand the tool better. The blade features an edge that protrudes on one side. It’s called the knife burr and it’s what cuts the reed cane in a scraping motion. So, what you target when sharpening the knife is the burr.
The Sharpening Goal
When sharpening the knife, you target any of these two goals:
• To create a new cutting edge
• To refine an existing cutting edge
The first option is ideal when you’ve used the knife for long and the cutting edge is blunt. The second option, however, applies when doing routine sharpening. In this case, you are doing it for maintenance reasons.
The Sharpening Guide
The sharpening of the oboe reed knife depends on the grit (fineness) that you are targeting. In most cases, you use a sharpening stone that has a specific grit value. The more the grit value, the finer the sharpening. Therefore, the grit can be categorized into two:
• Coarse Grit: This applies when you don’t want the knife to be very sharp. The sharpening stones, in this case, have a standard grit value of 300 to 600 or an extra coarse grit value of 600 to 1000. A good example of a standard coarse grit stone is the Indian stone while that of the extra coarse grit is the ceramic stone.
• Fine Grit: This applies when you are targeting a finer cutting edge or you want to create a new cutting edge. The sharpening stones have either a standard grit value of 1200 or an extra fine grit value of 4000. You can use the diamond stone or the Japanese water stone for standard fineness or the pocket stone for extra fine grit.
However, it is important to note that above grit values are general guides only. Generally, grit values and number vary greatly. Nonetheless, the values should help point you in the right direction of what numbers and names are referenced to. The grit numbers and name may also depend on the type of stone that you are using as well as how abrasive the material is.
With an evenly sharp knife, it’s generally enjoyable to make oboe reeds. The knife ensures that you use minimal energy and you enjoy the experience. In the end, this translates to an effectively assembled oboe instrument.