THE 4-Day Method

Since the dimensions of an English Horn reed are larger than those of an oboe reed, I scrape the reed over a period of several days, letting it dry out completely overnight. This allows the tip opening to relax and gives the entire reed more time to conform to the many changes that occur when scraping a blank into a finished reed.  I have found that this method results in a more stable reed that generally takes less time to "break in".

Day 1: Shape cane and tie the blank.  Measuring from the tip, scrape about 7 - 8 mm of bark back from the tip to relax the opening, but do not clip the reed open.

Day 2: Scrape off the remaining bark back to within about 5 mm from the top of the staple, thin the tip and clip it open.  Rough in the spine, make a pencil mark on the cane at 54mm from the bottom of the staple and rough in the tip, but do not finish the tip.  The pencil mark signifies the top of the heart.  For those who prefer to mark the back of the tip and scrape from that point, make the pencil mark at 52 mm.  The reed may crow at this point, but it will likely be a very loud and raucous crow.

Day 3: Continue to blend from top of the heart through the tip and thin the heart.  Define the spine, scrape and define the back (or channels), but be carefull to leave side rails in the back to help support the opening.  Check the thickness of the various areas of the heart and tip using a dial indicator thickness gauge.  Continue to scrape areas that are unbalanced to better balance the reed.  Clip the tip to within a millimeter or less to its finished length. The reed should now start to crow fairly well at an octave "C" or, depending on the length and thickness of cane, an octave "B".  

Day 4: Continue to refine the heart, tip and back.  Check again for unbalanced areas with the dial indicator thickness gauge.  Thin the corners of the tip, clip the tip (if necessary) and finish the reed.  As a point of reference, the finished length of my reeds is 56 - 57mm.  If using silicon or plastic aquarium air tubing on the staple, put it on at this point.  Be aware that the reed will crow at a lower pitch once the tubing has been put onto the staple, since the overall length of the reed will have increased.  Since any tubing applied to the staple with dampen the vibrations, it may be necessary to scrape a bit more off of the reed.