Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

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Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  Smjprogrammer on Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:52 pm

I need instructions on how to make a flat Highland Pipe Chanter reamer. A picture of what the finished reamer will look like would be great. Because without it I have no idea what I am shooting for. If no picture is possible a sketch showing more than one angle should work as well.

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Re: Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  Smjprogrammer on Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:27 pm

So far trying to make a reamer has left my hand in blood thanks for the help.
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Re: Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  MichaelLoos on Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:28 am

Sorry for your hand, but:
before you sulk and blame those who didn't help, there are a few things you should think about...
First of all, you should have given more time for answers; looking at other topics you would have noticed that this forum isn't visited so frequently, and between question and answer can easily be a week or more.
Having injured yourself shows very clearly that you have attempted to work with tools and materials that you don't know sufficiently. A picture or sketch of a finished reamer wouldn't have prevented this. If you don't know exactly what you are doing, you shouldn't do it.
The reason why I personally didn't put up a picture is very simple: I don't have any flat reamers, and I know why not. While they are easy and cheap to make, they don't prove very satisfactory, especially not if a bore with a narrow throat and a wide taper (such as a GHB chanter bore) is required. It is of course possible to work with them (and admittedly some fine instruments have been made with flat reamers) but it is not that easy - they are prone to scattering and can easily create a cornered bore rather than a round one, or leave longitudinal marks inside the bore. A reamer made from round stock is much more reliable, although much more difficult to make - or quite expensive to buy (if you find someone to make it for you), and gives much more consistant results. As you obviously know what a flat reamer (as opposed to a round reamer) is, you should also have heard/read about its drawbacks, they have been widely discussed in the pipemaking sections of other forums.
Given somebody would have posted instructions on making a flat reamer, this would most likely have been something like: "cut a triangular piece of the appropriate shape from sheet stock of appropriate thickness, then grind and sharpen the cutting edge" - which would not have been of much help to you, it is probably more or less exactly what you did as it is the most logical way to make something like this. Acquaintance with the required tools and materials is generally assumed in forums like this - had you written "I have no experience whatsoever working with metal and cutting/milling tools", the answer would probably have been "don't!", or "get someone to do it for you and maybe show you how to do it properly and without endangering yourself".
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Re: Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  Smjprogrammer on Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:33 am

If you go to this link and type in reamers there are some nice photos of some.

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Re: Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  MichaelLoos on Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:42 am

Thanks for the link, very interesting!
If you type in "Bagpipe making" there are more photos of tools.
I have greatest respect for the people who made consistantly good instruments with these tools.
One time I tried to work with a very old hand-forged reamer and I soon gave up.
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Re: Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  Smjprogrammer on Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:21 pm

Was the reamer flat or something more like the steel bayonet, and where could I find a steel bayonet suited enough for chanters?
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Re: Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  MichaelLoos on Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:55 pm

Basically it looked like this old cooper's tool, only much slimmer:
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Bayonets have reportedly been used for uilleann pipes as well as for central french bagpipes, but I've never seen one with a taper suitable for GHB. There has been a discussion on bayonets a few years ago but I can't remember on which forum it was. The conclusion was that only a few types of french bayonets are suitable for pipemaking at all, and the very few people still using them said they only use them for pre-reaming before they finish the bore with their "real" tools.
You can find old bayonets on ebay (if it's legal to sell them in your country - it's not in mine) but I couldn't really tell you which ones are useful and which aren't. As far as I looked, I found two general types, one kind that looks like a dagger which is probably no good, and a four-bladed type which is probably what is wanted for this purpose, these seem to have a fairly straight taper. However, I wouldn't know how to grind and sharpen cutting edges on these things (I'm no good at metalworking) and I'm not sure if its worth it as obviously the result needs refinishing.
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It's not much but the mentioning of the name "Lebel" might be useful if you do decide to look for bayonets...
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Re: Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  MichaelLoos on Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:08 am

Some more information and opinions about bayonet reamers:
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Re: Making a Highland Pipe Chanter Reamer

Post  Yuri on Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:13 pm

it's a bit late in the day, but still...
This is also not a GHB chanter reamer, but a Spanish Gaita one. I'm working on making a chanter based on Gaita ones, but with a completely chromatic fingering, to play Medieval music. Now, the actual dimensions are not all that different, and the principle is identical. The reamer is made from a large file. Step-by-step:
1 Grind the two filing surfaces smooth, with a grinding disc in the angle grinder.
2 With a cutter disc, cut off two triangular long slivers, leaving a slightly oversized long tapering piece of steel, with perpendicular sides.
3 grind it carefully to the final size on the edges, still using the grinding disc in the angle grinder.
4 start rounding off the sides. The tip will have to be rather cilyndrical, a sort of half-cone. Where the cone starts being larger than the thickness of the metal, you just keep on rounding the two sides, leaving the flat back that by now emerged, as it is. This all is done by the angle grinder at the roughing-out stages, and on a linisher (stationary sander, I don't know if I spelled it correctly) for the final shaping.
5 stick it into a handle. Use with fastgrips or whatever they are called to turn it in the wood.
The whole thing took me maybe half an hour. I didn't bother with tempering on retempering. The discoloured blob in the middle is the spot where the whole thing bent sligtly, and I had to use a torch to heat it up and straighten. It doesn't seem to have influenced the cutting ability.
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The first is the tip, looking from the back.
Second is the view where thye conical part ends at the back, and the flat begins.Third is the overall view.
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