How to use a reed knife

for making adjustments


This is to help you understand how to use a reed knife to adjust a finished or commercial reed, not to make a reed from a blank.  That takes many other steps and considerations.

First you need to have a knife that is either for a lefty or righty or what they call a razor knife or V shaped.  This is because you want one side to be flat or thin as in razor so when you use it you can easily see the spot the blade is making contact with the reed without having to “lean” over the knife. The other thing you need to remember is to keep the blade sharp because you are only going to scrape gently and you don’t want to slice.  Gentle is the secret word here.  The reason I like to use a reed knife is because I can see exactly the spot I begin scraping and stop.  I can scrape as little or as much as I determine is necessary.  With sand paper, rush or the IPG system you can’t do that because there’s too much surface making contact with the reed all though the use of either one of those is still works to make adjustments.  It’s not that I think any of them are a problem, I just feel that once you get the knack of using a knife you have a little more control over what you’re doing.  You can learn to adjust a reed using any or all of the above mentioned.

The first thing you need to do when using a reed knife is to support the vamp of the reed under the portion you’re making the knife adjustment.  I learned to use a finger to support the reed but many people prefer a small piece of glass to place the reed on to support the entire reed.  Each to their own.  The main technique involved is to “roll” the blade across the portion you’re scraping.  That is not to move your hand holding the knife up and down but instead to have the back of the knife pressed gently against the thumb of the hand that’s holding the reed. Then move the thumb up or down on the vamp depending on where you’re going to make the scrape. When you want to make a gentle scrape you simply place the blade over the portion you’re scraping and in a gentle rolling motion scrape off what you want.