Table of Contents

Figure Machine


General Comments

The purpose of hardness testing cane is to discern differences between pieces of cane and select those pieces which have the greatest potential for making excellent oboe reeds.

Many reed makers sort cane into categories of hardness that are more appropriate for different styles of reeds. Others find a range of cane hardness that matches their style of reed making and only use this cane. Cane that is too hard or too soft is unlikely to become a useful reed. This will save you from investing time in a piece of cane that is unlikely to be useful, allowing you to maximize the return on your time investment.

To ensure consistent readings over time we recommend hardness testing your cane within the same environmental parameters (i.e. similar room temperature, humidty, etc.). Testing cane in a cold room versus in a warm room may result in variations in the measurements from the same piece of cane.

For digital hardness testers, we recommend always using the metric readout, as these measurements will be more in line with the readings from the analog hardness tester.

Using the Hardness Tester

After waiting 2 - 3 seconds for the measuring tip to settle, the hardness can be read off of the dial. Turn the rotating handle back to the right side of the hardness tester before attempting to remove the cane from the hardness tester.

Be sure to test the hardness at both ends of each piece of cane. The average of these two numbers is the overall hardness of the piece of cane. Should the measurements be more than 4 apart (i.e. 12 and 17, or 0.12 and 0.17 mm) then that piece of cane is unlikely to produce satisfactory results.

Changing the Battery

Our digital dial indicators and hardness testers run on both LR 44 or SR 44 batteries. Changing these out is quite simple, and we have outlined the steps below for your convenience.

Now that the battery has been changed, your dial indicator or hardness tester is ready to continue providing insight into your reed making process.

Zeroing the Dial

It is important to zero the dial for each piece of cane being measured. This will ensure accurate measurements, and should be done after inserting each piece of cane.

Reading the Hardness

The hardness tester measures how far the measuring tip is pressed into the cane. Therefore the following relationship is relevant:

  • Smaller numbers = harder cane
  • Larger numbers = softer cane