Thursday, October 4, 2012

DIY Day--Making an oboe reed case

  Hi All!

It's DIY Day:  a day that would make even Martha Stewart proud to be an oboist!

When I go to schools to work with young players, I inevitably see students in need of the same basic supplies. Most often I notice that budding oboists open their oboe cases to get reeds out of either plastic “coffin” cases or plastic tube “vials.”  These cheap plastic containers are usually used to ship commercial reeds, but don’t do a great job at protecting a student’s reeds on a day-to-day basis.  Why?  Because “coffin” cases often don’t stay shut and it is easy for students to crush their reeds in the case while trying to snap it shut.  For the cylindrical vial cases, students often accidentally smash the ends of the reeds into the cotton or foam padding in the tube while putting on the cap to close them.  Reeds are expensive and fragile, but sturdy reed cases can be made inexpensively!

Materials needed to make a sturdy reed case:

1 empty Altoids container (Altoids are a breath mint that is sold in metal containers in the U.S) or other similar box

Weather Stripping for doors, size can vary,  but I use 3/8” wide X 5/16” thick (available at most hardware stores)

Razor blade or sharp scissors

  1.           Cut the weather stripping into short pieces ( 20 mm or so) and
  2.      Attach weather stripping pieces to the container.  Make sure that the stripping is placed close enough so that reeds can’t fall out.
  3.     An extra rubber band helps keep the box from opening.

 Creative students can decorate the boxes with markers/paints for individuality (Make Martha Stewart proud!)

Now go make some reeds to fill up your new box!

Oboe and out,

Dr. G


  1. I was just starting oboe and needed a reed case for my reeds. I tried this, but sadly, it failed. After a day or two of using it, I opened the case to discover a orange-like rust everywhere. It was even on my reeds. The materials for the case was cheap so it didn't bother me that much. What did bother me was that my reeds cost around $15-25 each, and now two of them are ruined.

    1. Probably because your reeds were still moist as well, they have a habit of molding and collecting bacteria if they don't air out

  2. If there is indeed rust in the case, all you need to do is drill some holes so there is better air circulation in the case. That way the reeds and cases can dry out. It certainly shouldn't have ruined the reeds---just rinse them off and set out to dry completely. Best wishes!

  3. can you use something other than a altoids cases

  4. Most tin boxes will work, or things shaped like it. Just make sure there's ample space to put in and take out the reed. When I'm making reeds I use a crayola tin! Fits about 10-14 reeds (depends how creative you want to be) and keep a small case for my playing reeds. Only costs $5 max and not like anyone will really see or care that I use a Crayola box instead of a $100 leather case.