It's making me extremely happy, because the hand-shaping process has always been a big pain point for me. That's an exaggeration, I suppose. But I'm fed up with having to spend time on tasks that don't require sensitivity or skill.
When I shape by hand, I take my soaked, gouged cane, fold it in half, cut two corners off so the cane will fit between the ears of the shaper tip, then put it onto the shaper.
On my new Shaping Machine this time is cut dramatically.
I lay my gouged cane directly on the flat form, and lock it down with one easy motion from the handle.
I use the two double-sided blades to cut both sides off of the cane simultaneously - a total of four short swipes for a perfectly shaped piece.
There are no ears at the top, so when I cut the thread at the end of winding I am done with the blank. This shaping process takes an average of 20-30 seconds per piece.
The machine is very handsome -it's a shiny golden bronze color, and glows with efficiency. It locks down on my desk with a nice hand clamp. It's also easy to change the shaper form, requiring only a small flat screwdriver, which I always have on my desk anyway for oboe emergencies.
The shape I wound up with is called Liang, presumably after Liang Wang, the outstanding principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic. It's very similar to my narrowest shapes - the RDG -1N and the Samson+1, both of which I use regularly. I will probably do more experimenting in the future, but for now I'm very happy with the way the Liang shape is working for me, and especially with the time savings I'm seeing from the new machine.
I still have all my old shaper tips. I'll still customize anything for anyone. But this new shape is on its way to becoming my standard reed, the basic version that you can expect when you order from me.
Let me know how you like the reeds!