AW-Tools RPM 68- Primer « Clarinet Reed Making

AW-Tools RPM 68- Primer

Uhl3Basic Use

The blank is secured into place with a metal holder that presses down on the blank.   It’s tightened into place with a hex screwdriver. Do not over tighten or you will end up torquing the tip of the blank upward away from the aluminum baseplate. It’s useful to place the blank a few millimeters above the tip line marked on the base plate.  The end of the reed is very delicate and may fray slightly but you will have the clearance to clip that section off later.  It is best to start off with a softer(read: longer tip) reed that you can bring up to strength with a reed clipper.  If the reed comes off too hard, it’s usually best to put it back on the profiler in a slightly higher position(above the tip line) and rerun the reed.

The cutting arm of the machine slides along a rail and rotates to create the curvature of the reed vamp.  Start cutting with the arm fully rotated to the right side(doesn’t matter which side you start with) and cut with full strokes straight down the reeds.  After a few strokes, slightly rotate the arm to the left and repeat until fully rotated to the left side of the reed.  Now reverse this motion working your way slowly back to the right side of the reed.  Take a full cutting stroke past the reed tip each time.  No downward pressure is necessary, let the weight of the cutting arm do the work.  During this process some cane may build up on the blade. Use a paint brush to clean the blade as needed.  After a few minutes of working the reed over in this fashion the profiler will begin removing just a fine dust and then nothing, at this point the reed is finished.

Cane Guide vs. Plastic Guide

This profiler uses premade plastic guides or you can supply your own cane guide.   Though the cane guide option works well, I’ve always had more success with the plastic guide.  The plastic guides have similar measurements to many commercial model reeds.  Uhl currently offers many guides.  Alternatively, they can make you a custom guide built to your own specifications. Contact Uhl Technik directly for more specific measurement information on these guides.

 

 

Mark the tip line so you can accurately measure.

Mark the tip line so you can accurately measure.

Calibration

The profiler must be calibrated before the first use.  I’ve found the best way to calibrate it is to actually make a reed, measure the results and adjust the settings on the machine.  Repeat this process until you get consistent measurements.  The easiest(and also most critical) place to measure is right along the tip line.  Place your blank a few millimeters above the tip line, profile the vamp and then mark the reed with pencil along the entire tip line.  Measure points along this line with your device of choice and adjust accordingly.  The calibration screws adjust the thickness by 0.01mm for each turn.  Carefully note if one side is trending thicker or thinner.  You can compensate for this by adjusting the calibration screw on the corresponding side. When you arrive at your desired tip thickness, let’s say 0.10mm thick the machine is calibrated.  I measure each reed along the tips(takes only a few seconds) to make sure I’m staying on the right track.  The RPM 68 is generally accurate to within 0.01 or 0.02 millimeters from reed to reed.

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The two calibration dial are operated with a hex screwdriver. Each turn adjusts the width by 0.01mm.

The two calibration dials are operated with a hex screwdriver. Each turn adjusts the width by 0.01mm.

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Blade Replacements

Hermann Uhl recommends replacing the blade every 300 reeds, though I tend to change them a bit more often.  When replacing the blade it’s important to make sure no grit gets behind the new blade and that it’s tightened very well.  This process is very easy, but attention to detail is key because of the crucial relationship between the cutting guide and the blade. Recalibrate the profiler after each blade change.