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Opus1 Gouger

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Opus1 Gouger

Opus1 Gouging Machine

Thanks for taking this time to learn about the new Opus 1 Gouging Machine.  I would like to go over the different elements of this machine that you should be familiar with in order to make full use of this new design.  This machine will allow you to have greater control over the dimensions of the gouge.  I will also allow you to make these adjustments in a simple, common sense fashion. 

This machine’s design has its origins in a concept known as “Limited Degrees of Freedom”.  To manipulate a specific measurement of the gouger curve, one only needs to turn a SINGLE screw.  If the results are not as desired, that same screw is just reversed to undo the changes made.  Traditional machines often require the manipulation of several screws to make a specific change to the gouge.  If the results are not satisfactory, it is often a daunting task to return all these screws to their original position.  Often, for example, to manipulate the side measurement of the gouge, you have to loosen the bed and move it with respect to the main rod.  You have now introduced the added variable of the bed not being parallel to the rod.  In most machines, too many things need to be changed to manipulate the measurements of the curve.  People often end up giving up in frustration and sending the machine off to be set up by an expert.  This takes time and costs money.

At first glance, the Opus1 looks similar to other gouging machines.  Upon closer examination, however, you will find significant differences.  This machine is an order of magnitude more sophisticated yet much easier to use and understand.

The first thing you should notice is that the carriage is actually in two parts. They are connected by two parallel rods in reamed holes and are displaced by turning the screw located at the back of the carriage marked SIDE THICKNESS ADJUST SCREW.  This screw will be manipulated to adjust the side thickness of your gouge curve.  With this configuration, the guide is effectively moved towards or away from the main rod as this screw is turned.  This takes the place of having to loosen and move the bed as is necessary in other designs.  Since the bed is not loosened for this adjustment, there is never a need to worry about the bed being out of parallel to the main rod.  It doesn’t change.  There are indications on the machine to determine which way to turn the screw for desired results. There is one point to remember, make sure that you are always cutting on the INSIDE.  The peak of the blade travels down the center of the gouge contour but the rest of the blade curve slightly favors the side closest to the main rod or THE INSIDE.  This is true for all DOUBLE RADIUS machines.  If there is cane being removed on THE OUTSIDE of the machine or the part of the cane that is closest to you, then the SIDE ADJUSTMENT has been turned too far in the THICKER direction.  Turn the adjustment screw in the THINNER direction until the cane is cutting on the INSIDE and you achieve the desired dimensions.  The screw that is located on the top of the machine below the words SIDE ADJUSTMENT is the lock screw. Loosen this first before manipulating the side adjustment screw and retighten it when you have finished.

If you are already familiar with the Opus1 Gouging Machine, you will notice that the carriage is now more Ergonomic.  The top edges of the carriage are rounded and the Blade Mount Stem has a depression that fits your  right thumb.  All of this provides a much more comfortable feel while gouging your cane.

Fillotine with Transparent


The Fillotine is a tool to prepare your pre-gouged cane's width, thickness, and length to best fit your Opus1 Gouging Machine.  The BLADE and GUIDE are aligned very carefully and work best with a pre-gouged piece of cane planed to be 8.0mm across the flat surface.  Click here to see an illustration of this concept.  If you look in the GOUGER UNIVERSITY section of this site in Class #3, you will see the best practices for using the Fillotine.

About Me
Robin Driscoll Headshot.JPG


I am Robert Driscoll but generally go by Robin.  I am the Principal Oboe of the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet as well as the Wheeling Symphony.  As with ALL oboists, I have spent my career in search of the PERFECT REED.  I was lucky enough to be in the studio of John Mack, the late principal oboe of the Cleveland Orchestra, at The Cleveland Institute of Music.  Mr. Mack was recognized as the world authority on all things involving oboe reeds.  His tone and phrasing established new high water marks for our profession. 


While studying at The Cleveland Institute of Music, John Mack saw that I had an interest and an aptitude for building my own equipment to make oboe reeds.  He brought me on as his apprentice to build Gouging Machines.  These temperamental machines are key to controlling an oboist's tone and playing flexibility.  

Through my career as an oboist, I have continued my research on improving gouging machines and have gone on to receive a US Patent for my own design that incorporates all I have learned.  This includes creating a DIGITAL COPY of the contours that John Mack used on his own machines.  This machine is the OPUS1 gouger.

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