Flute making!

As many of you know, I’m a member of one of the local Native American style flute circles. Once a month we get together, talk about flutes, play flutes, discuss flute techniques, and generally have a good time. But this month, one of our local flute makers (click the link to visit his website, love his flutes!) invited us to use his equipment to learn what it takes to make a uni-body NAF (NAF is short for Native American flute and is used extensively in this blog).  Thanks to the wonderful photography of one of our members, we have an extensive collection of photos to show you the steps involved. Notice in all the tools involving heavy machinery, I am under the watchful eye of a master. For a small material fee, he provided us with aromatic cedar blanks. Most of them had interesting colour variations; one of which you’ll see when my flute is finished.

After doing the prep work the first step is to bore the SAC or slow air chamber. This is the part of the NAF you blow into to make pretty noises come out the other end. The next step is to bore the sound chamber which is where the finger holes will ultimately end up. These two steps are shown below.

Drilling the SAC

That's a long drill bit!

Then we had lunch. Sorry, no photos of lunch.

So now we had a square piece of wood with holes in either end. One hole for the SAC and one hole for the sound chamber. But most flutes aren’t square! So we needed to round them out. Luckily, we had a lathe. Close up shots of lathe work look really cool!

 After removing the excess wood, I found that the future flute has these awesome purple streaks in it. Don’t have a picture of that yet, but I will.

The next step involved a series of sub-steps where we cut in the nest for the sound block, the flue, roughed in the SAC exit hole and the fipple. In the picture below the nest is cut in, the chimney is cut in, the fipple is roughed in and the SAC exit hole is being roughed in. Another local flute maker (don’t have any of his flutes yet, but I’ve had the privilege of being able to play a couple of them. They’re amazing. Check out his website at the link) helped us with this step.

Now comes all the fine detail work of making the ramp out of the SAC and putting on the cutting edge of the fipple. I don’t have a photo of what the finished product looks like, but here’s me working on it. I look engrossed don’t I?

That’s all for this week! Flutes will be finished next week. Have to shape the mouth piece, put on the sound block, put in the sound holes, chop off the end and oil it! It’ll be another full day, but will be a lot of fun! I’ll make sure to get some more step-by-step photos of the process!

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