Pre-Gouging Bassoon Cane

The tools you need for pre-gouging bassoon cane are a bassoon pre-gouger, a bassoon cane guillotine, a clamp, and some tool cleaning supplies. Of course, you will also need your soaked cane. Remember to soak your cane approximately 4 days before beginning the gouging process.

Note: Change the soaking water EVERY DAY and rinse off the cane, or it will start to ferment and be really stinky! Yuck!

soaked bassoon cane


Step 1: Prepare Cane for Pre-Gouger

The first step in pre-gouging bassoon cane is to prepare the soaked cane for the pre-gouger.

To prepare your soaked cane for the pre-gouger, you will trim the cane to a suitable size to fit into the machine. If you look at your soaked cane, you'll notice that each piece is a different size. Sometimes, the cane is really long and simply will not fit in the pre-gouger basin at that size.

To trim the cane to its proper size, use the cane guillotine. It is not always included on gouging machines, but is also sold separately. The guillotine has a pre-measured length of 120mm. Before pre-gouging, I prefer to cut the cane so it is a little longer than this to allow for any accidents or mistakes. We will re-visit the guillotine after pre-gouging the cane to get it ready for the gouging machine.

Before you clip the cane to size, check each piece for irregularities, curves, bumps, etc. I check the cane three ways: first, I look down the side of the cane. Cut off the side with the most irregularities so that you are left with the smoothest, straightest piece of cane.

check cane

check for curve


Secondly, I check for any wobbling by placing the cane pulp-side down on a flat surface and pushing gently close to one edge.

wobbly cane

Thirdly, I just look at it from the top for any kind of curves. In this picture, the left side of this piece of cane is a little curved, so that is the part I will cut off in the guillotine.

curved bassoon cane


Leave a little extra cane when you clip it!

leave extra cane

cane clippings


Step 2: Pre-Gouge Bassoon Cane

The pre-gouging machine will take off a lot of the pulp and will keep the gouger's blade from getting dull too quickly. The pre-gouger I use is made by Reeds N'Stuff. You will also need a clamp to hold the pre-gouger steady.

Prepare your pre-gouger machine by placing it on the edge of the table and using a clamp to attach it. The clamp needs to be attached on a point where it won't interfere with the pre-gouger lever.

pregouger edge clip

clip pregouger to table


Next, oil the bassoon pre-gouger on the spots indicated.

oil pregouger


Carefully place the first piece of cane onto bassoon pre-gouger basin. A small wheel will feed the cane through the blade as you wind the lever. Make sure the wheel is centered on the cane.


Hold the cane in place as you wind the lever. On the other end, you will see the pulp separate from the cane. Don't pull the cane out! The next piece of cane will push this one out.


Line up the second piece of cane in the same way as before. As you push this one through, the first piece of pre-gouged cane will come out of the machine.


To get the last piece of cane out of the pre-gouger, simply take an already pre-gouged piece of cane and run it through the machine. It will push the last piece out and it will be easy to remove.


When you're all done pre-gouging bassoon cane, you'll have a nice pile of pulp and pre-gouged pieces. Throw the pulp and shavings away, compost them, or if you can think of any other interesting thing to do with them, let me know! I've heard they can make nice shavings for pet rodent cages, but I'm not sure about that.


Step 3: Clean Up

When you're all done pre-gouging, clean the machine! First, use the artist brush both sides of the blade


Next, use the duster to remove any smaller pieces of cane.


Finally, lightly spray some silicone spray onto the pre gouger blade.

silicone pregouger blade

You're finished the process of pre-gouging bassoon cane! You are now ready to gouge your bassoon cane. Click here for the steps.

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