Tuesday, April 17, 2012
My favorite reed knife!
This is my favorite reed knife! It is a Graf curved clarinet knife.
Here is a close-up of the blade. It is not as thick as a beveled knife, nor as thin as a usual double-hollow ground knife. It is closer to the double hollow in contour, though, having concave curves from spine to tip.
The distinctive characteristics of this knife are the two curves above and below the tip. The top curve allows for a resting place for your thumb when using.
The curve below is ground in especially for this knife. I find it allows me pin-point accuracy when scraping the channels. The curve gives a smooth, rounded scrape that is lacking when you use the heel or tip of a straight blade. You can also duplicate your work on one side of the blade more accurately on the other.
The blade is extremely sturdy, yet fine enough at the tip for delicate work. If kept very sharp it won't chatter on the blade when you do some heavy scraping in the back of the reed, either.
I sharpen the knife with a pair of ceramic sticks. You can also use a sharpening steel. There is no need for honing or putting on a burr or any bevel to work with. I find it holds its sharpness for a long time.
The knife is sold by Albert Alphin and available elsewhere, I'm sure. You may have trouble finding the knife on his website, so contact Albert directly. It's expensive: about $200, but worth it!!
I contacted the Graf company in Zurich and Felix Graf replied with the following description of the knife (my translation!):
Herr Graf says that the knife was developed by Ernst Graf in consultation with faculty at the Zurich Music Conservatory. The steel is made in Sweden especially for their company. The Swedish firm makes the steel blanks in batches of 10 for them. They are produced by hand by a single artist. The handles are made of rosewood, but I like the folding model.
I've had to be very careful on this tour to keep the knife out of my carry-on bag and bassoon case to avoid confiscation!