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Logo 1 #topThe Poor Man's Fix-it shop.[not for the proficient craftsman] . . . .Logo 2

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...MAKING A FLUTE Page 1
(click image for picture)



 

 

    This section is about making flutes. Correction, this section is not about making flutes, but about making flutes easier, and making things for making flutes. Confused? If not, you probably will be as you read what I've written.

    Before making a flute, I like to first make the tools I'll need for the project. While watching others build flutes, and reading what others have to say, I  gained some insight into how flute making can be easier and more enjoyable.

    The big boys of flute making use very expensive equipment that I couldn't even afford the ticket to see these things at work. Also they make flutes by the hundreds at a time, mass production in other words. I like to do what I do in batches, but I want to avoid making what I enjoy into a ritual, a thing to do by rote. 

    First of all I discovered I need a flute stand, (bench) a jig if you please, on which to work. In one film on flute making the man used, and quickly explained a jig he was using, and I was impressed. However it seemed to me he hadn't taken his jig to it's full potential. It's this further capability I'm going to show you here.

    First of all I needed some short lengths of 2x6s that I could make a heavy, yet easily portable base to work on. You can see the result of such a quest in these pictures. What I needed was lumber long enough to allow 24 inches from end to end in the inside of the bench. It was assembled simply. Nothing fancy, just a couple of long screws (I used deck screws) at each corner to fasten the boards together. One of the pieces of 2x6's I used was twisted, and the corners wouldn't match when all was done. It didn't matter, it still works fine for everything I've needed to use it for so far.

 

 


 

 
    After I made the box, I cut some 1x2 and screwed them about an inch from the top all the way around the box, making it as accurate and as smooth as possible. I use this rail for a guide for anything I make that fits the box (bench). For instance I made this box longer than 24 inches because I plan on using it for other, longer projects later.

    In this picture you can see some of the removable seats (holders) I made for the box. One side of this holder is in a "V" shape to hold the 2x2 wood used to make the flutes. This side holds the wood at an angle, and the square side holds the wood flat. This will be made more understandable as the instructions progress.

    The holder just described is reversible by turning the piece end for end, allowing the "V" to be close to me. In order to accomplish this I had to drill the hole exactly in the center so the screw would be available which ever way the holder is turned. Certain of the holders I carved on the bottom as well for other purposes.

    I should mention that when making one of these holders (there's one for the other end that matches this one) the extension broke off. I glued the part back on, and drilled a hole through the top into the body of the holder and installed a nail giving it added support. I did this to the one that didn't break also, just in case.

 


 


    This is the other end of the bench. Note that the holder is not all the way at the end of the bench. To create a support for this holder I laid a piece of 1x3 across the bench at the 24 inch mark, and screwed it to the bench. This then becomes a movable end, the end being wherever I fasten the 1x3 backing.

    Here you can see where I repaired the holder with glue and nail, in the projection on the far right.

    There are two holes where the screw attaches to the 1x3. This is because I missed drilling the center for the holder when it's turned upside down.

    Something I forgot to mention in the previous picture. The screw that attaches the holder to the bench does not screw into the bench itself but rather into a piece of 2x3 like this one, that's screwed to the bench. This allows this end to be movable and adjustable also.

 


 


    Although it looks like I'm getting ahead of myself and starting to show you how to make the flute, I'm actually not. I'm still demonstrating the bench and its fittings.

    Behind the square cutout theres a strange block of wood mounted on the 1x3 cross member, and the block has a channel chiseled into it. What this is for I'll explain later. But I wanted you to have clear picture of it now. Notice also that theres a small piece of wood sitting in the holder as well. Again, this will be explained later.

   

 


 

    Here you can see one of the flute blanks, cut and routed and glued, ready to be worked on. Again, I'm not showing you how to make a flute here, just showing you how the blank sits so the hole is exposed.

    Also you can see here what the other side of the 1x3 cross member looks like, as well as the extension that's screwed to the cross member.

 



 

 
    The other end of the bench. Again I have the holder shimmed causing the flute blank to come high up in the holder, but not high enough that the blank slips over the end of the bench. The cross member prevents the blank from escaping when pressure is applied at the other end.

    Keep these images in mind for later, or better yet remember that you'll probably have to refer back to this page (number 1) when we start working the blank.


 


 

    Now we're getting down to the main event, the making of the flute. Understand that I'm not going to give you measurements other than suggestions, it's up to you to decide what size and method you want to make your flute. There's dozens of different ways to do this, so there's no need for me to give precise instructions on flute making.

    For my first flutes I'm using a simple measure and method, and that's what I'll describe here.

    I'm using a cork as a separator between the slow chamber (the first section of the bore) so when I carve out the bore I only need one measurement, and that's the one near the mouth piece.

    The measurement I'm using is 2 3/4 inches from the end of the blank. My blanks are from the lumber yard where they come in bundles of about 20, 2x2x48. Just what these cedar boards are used for I don't know, but almost all those in the bundle I purchased were of good quality and straight grain. When these are cut in half, making them 24 inches, the length I want, I end up with 40 good blanks. A good deal any way you look at it. 

    My blanks are now cut to length and I'm ready to measure. I marked one of the blanks at the 2 2/4 mark and laid it along side all the others I'm going to route and marked it on the top of the board. (again, deciding the orientation of the wood is a subject you'll need to find on another site).

    The picture above shows an assortment of boards laid out on a table. The two with the square laid across them are the only ones actually in use here. The others are just laid out to form a jig whereby I can quickly line up the blanks to be marked since I was marking other measurement besides the one we're looking at here.

 

    The best saw for cutting your blank in half is a band saw since it takes out the least amount of wood. However my band saw isn't cutting straight any longer, probably needing a new blade, so I used a finishing (plywood) blade on my table saw.  
    My table saw is stored under this table. More on tools can be found on the tool page.
   Be prepared for lots and lots of sawdust if you use a router to create the bore in your flute. I set my router outside so the sawdust would be easier to pick up and wouldn't make as big of a mess on my porch. Also, this tool vibrates my porch floor which intensifies the noise, and I have many neighbors close by.  
    Before you cut your boards, or immediately thereafter, be sure to mark your flutes like this in order to keep the pieces together, and turned the right way. If you accidentally knock your stack over after the boards have been cut, you'll be mighty glad for these marking. Do I have to tell you why I know this?
    If you're not concerned that the grain of your flute(s) matches, then you can route and glue the outside of the pieces together since they've been finished better than what we (I) can do. I had to do some cleaning up of my cuts (some), using a belt sander and a long piece of sandpaper laid out on a table and rubbing the piece of wood along the sandpaper. Pros and other people with money would use something we most likely don't have, a power plane.
    Ii might mention here that when I mess up on a piece, I use it as if it were still ok, using it first for the next step to practice on. Also I try to see if I can work through the problem using the mess up, seeing if there's a way to salvage a project when a mistake is made. Sometimes I find a way to make the project even better because of the error.
 
   This was my first time using a router. As you can see I didn't do too clean of a job. I learned you move your board along the router blade smooth and steady without stopping. All my pieces aren't this bad. I show my errors so you can learn from them while I do.
    Well, like I've said before, it's for reasons like this I make several of whatever I do so I'll (hopefully) have one working piece when I finish making all my mistakes.
     Continue to the nest page for more. Just bang on the sore thumb and it will take you to more mistakes and how to correct them (sometimes).
 

 


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