In the pharmaceutical field, the term "off-label" applies to uses for a drug other than that for which it was originally tested and marketed.
Accompany a bassoon player into a hardware store or craft store and you will see how this applies to our field. We spend a lot of time in these stores looking at products and wondering how they can be used to make reeds, etc.
The bassoonist views the sandpaper in the automotive or paint section of the hardware store as a wonderful abrasive for finishing reeds. The rubber slipjoint washer in the plumbing section doesn't belong under the sink, it is for the long joint extension from the boot socket, you dummy! I once brought my long joint in to the plumbing section to find the washer that fit best and boy you should have seen the looks I got from the plumbing guy!
This is the first in a series of posts about cheap, off-label uses for ordinary tools as applied to the bassoon and reed making. Feel free to contribute your own ideas and uses!
Using proper technique, I can shape up to 50 pieces of cane with just one blade before it gets too dull to use. Strip off as much cane as you can before actually contacting the shaper body with the knife. When shaping, as long as you keep the blade nearly flush to the slope of the shaper the blade will keep its edge for a long time.
The handle is available from McMaster-Carr:
It's only $6.47!!
Unfortunately McMaster doesn't sell the blade that's best for shaping. This comes from Cincinnati Surgical.
Order the Swann Morton blade, 100/box, Size 25A. The non-sterile blades are a bit cheaper -- $31.00 for 100.
Cincinnati Surgical also sells a larger handle than the one from McMaster-Carr. This may fit your hand better. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the handle. It's the last one on the page. Product: 07SM6B. The handle is $20, so not particularly cheap.
Remember, these are scalpel blades! Take care when using. The blade may be shaped differently from what you're used to. It has a very sharp point (I know, I've poked myself with it several times getting used to it!).
The blades are also available from Cincinnati Surgical. Order the #25A.
When inserting the blade in the handle, it's best to put it on part way with your fingers. Look for the slot in the handle nose. Slide the nose part way into the open slot in the blade. Then gripping the handle and not the blade, point the handle/blade down and push the blade point onto a table or piece of wood to push the blade in place. When the blade is in place you will see that the slanted back end of the blade locks into the slanted ridge in the handle nose.
When removing the blade use a pliers. Bend the blunt back end of the blade up with the pliers, twist the blade slightly and slide it off the handle.