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Blog entry by Den posted 02-06-2010 04:59 AM 2537 reads 4 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The first thing about making flutes are
1. You will need a Tuner, which you can get at a music store, tell them what you are planing to use it for and they should help you with that, I believe you can buy one for about $30.00 or less.
2. You will need a router that can hold a 7/8 (mm 22.225) (2.2225 cm) router bit, and if you think that you will be getting serious about making alot of flutes you might want to consider a Router that holds a 1/2 (mm 12.7) (1.27cm)and 1/4 (6.35 MM) (6.35 cm) shank. The bit you will need for this project is a core or round nose bit, because you are going to route two wood halves with a router bit that is 7/8 and each blank depth is going to be 7/16 (11.1125 mm) (1.11125 cm) and when you glue them together they will make a perfect circle that is 7/8 (22.225 mm) (2.2225) I will explain this later. If you have every drilled or thought that you would like to drill a bore of 7/8, (which I have had no experience in) then have at it. You will be dealing with a length of 22” (558.8 mm) (55.88 cm) over all. 2” (50.8 mm) (5.08cm) for the mouth, 4” (101.6 mm) 1.016 cm for the SAC (I will explain later, the air chamber) 1” (25.4 mm) (2,54cm)block inside the flute dividing the sac and the bore. and 16” (406.4mm) for the bore length. you can had another 1” if you want making it 17” (431.8 mm) (43.18 cm) long. Most of which will be cut off. Never cut it at the length of the diagram shown below, you need to creep upon the given size to reach your fundamental note. F# The type of wood used, and where you live plays a huge roll in how your flute will be voiced, your location or atmosphere play a huge problem in tuning your flute.

3. a Lathe would be helpful, but you can hand plain one if you don’t.
4. Some common sense; don’t know were you can get that.
5. Drill bits, small files, or fingernail files. If I miss something .

The type of wood is personal, I prefer Cedar or Redwood, you can get that at most lumber places. Since this might be your first time at this you can get some cheep wood, or use what you have laying around.
The wall thickness of your flute will be 3/16 (4.7625 mm) (.47625 cm)h thick when you are done turning it;
You can make flutes with walls that are different in thickness, it can be 1/8 (3.175 mm)(.3175 cm) 3/16 (4.7625 mm) (.47625 cm)or 1/4. (6.35 mm) (.635 cm) The wall thickness of a flute can change the sound of the flute, and by changing the wall thickness of a flute will change where you put the finger holes in the flute. We will be dealing with a 3/16 wall.
Your I.D. of your flute should be 1”1/4 (31.75mm) (3.175cm) It doesn’t have to be perfect, if you don’t do get it exact on but work close to getting it to 1”1/4 the size of the TSH (True Sound Hole) which I will discuss later)and the size of the bore and it’s length base upon the Fundamental key chosen, will tell you where to place the finger holes in the body of the flute. here is what you will need as far as wood is concern.
Again:
2 pleces of wood
24” long 609.6
1”1/2 wide 38.1
3/4 deep 19.05
Take the two pieces and lay them on top of each other or together in your hand and see if they fit tight together, hole them up to the light and see if light is seen through them, if you see light then sand them down until light can’t be seen. You may have to plain them or sand them to make them fit close together. Once you have two sides that fit snug together, decide which of the two you want for the top and which one you want for the bottom. Write on the one you want on the top /Top/ and the one on the bottom /bottom/. Now, inside of the two that you put together you write the word cut or route, also decide which end you want to be the blow end, (the end to your mouth). When putting the two piece together, run several marks on the side so you know that they go together in that direction.
Now get a square so you can draw a straight line. Make sure that both pieces are 22” long; lay them side by side on a table or what ever/ and from the mouth end (that would be the small routed end), measure 2” (MM 50.8) (CM 5.08) and take your square and draw a line through both of them. (diagram shown below) (A)
from that line measure 4” (MM 101.6) (CM 1.016) and draw a line through both of them. Now at the end of the 4” line measure 1” (MM 25.4) (CM 2.54) and mark that the same way. Now take your sq. and follow the line on each piece of wood so that it follows all the way around and meets. Now draw a center line from the mouth to the bottom of each piece, the side that you plan to route out. Now with the center line drawn, draw that line at each end, so if you look at each end of your wood piece you will see the center line. Sorry I”m trying to make this simple.
If you need to see a picture of this email me dhhepler@gmail.com remember hepler not helper pl not lp
Now, the lines that you have put on your flute are at the mouth end ; sometimes called the North end.
In the 4” (101.6 mm) (10.16cm) area you will be routing out that area only and it will also be 7/16 (11.1125 mm) (1.11125 cm) deep and 7/8 wide, It is referred to as the SAC ( Slow Air Chamber) you will do this on both pieces. You will begin and end at the line you have drawn (with in the 4”) you are not to pass the line. When you put the two piece together you will line up the lines drawn on the side. The 1” is to be solid as well as the 2” (50.8 mm ) (5.08 cm )(not routed) at the end of the 1” (25.4 mm) (2.54 cm ) line closes to the end of the flute, you start or stop at that line. From the 1” line to the bottom of the flute, you route the same as you did the 4” SAC ,, 7/16 deep 7/8 wide.
If you start with one piece say at the bottom first and route to the 1” line, the other piece you start at the opposite end; in other words one piece is to start opposite the first piece.
You do this to keep the wall thickness the same when they are put together. Usually one wall is thicker than the other and this way they will match when put together.
Because I’ve been doing this for so long I realize that what I have written makes sense only to me, and that it may not make any sense to you so please help me to help you make sense out of this, no question is toooo stupid. Email dhhepler@gmail.com…

Here I go again with another attempted of putting pictures of this site, I’ve had a lot of help from several of you. So here it goes and this time I think I got it.
This picture has to do with, two channels, Your SAC and BORE, this is a 1” (25.4 mm) (2.54cm) block between the two.
Draw a line with a Square that follows all around and meets together. Do this with both halves. The picture missing is the same as below. (A)

Having selected the half you want for the top, draw a center line on this half and draw the
(A)
SAC and TSH which should measure 3/8 wide (9.525 mm) (0.9525 cm)by 7/32 (mouth to Foot) (5.55625 mm)(0.555625cm) Do not go larger, this is very important (A)
Now that you have drawn the lines, turn over the one you have chosen to be the top of your flute.
Draw a center line down the one you have chosen for the top. Now the lines on the side, will help you line up the two chambers; when you glue the two together the bore will match.
Now on top of your work piece the one chosen for your top with the center line. Draw your SAC and TSH as shown in the picture below.
” they are 3/8” wide (9.525 MM) (0.9525CM) left to right and 7/32” up and down (5.55625 MM) (0.555625 CM)
it is very important that this size is not bigger or smaller than what is given in the diagram. Once you have drawn them out, drill them out.
Get a drill bit that does not succeed the line or size that you have drawn 3/8 7/32 use small files to enlarge to set size.

After you drill the holes in the sac and tsh it should look like this, notice that in the picture the holes are not out side the line.
This other picture is the other side. I use small files for the tsh and sac .

Use the small files to bring your TSH and SAC into shape, at this point it does not need to be perfect.

continue to work on the sac and tsh, remembering not to go over the line, they must remain 3/8” by 7/32
(9.525mm by 5.55625 mm) (0.9525 cm by 0.555625)

this picture show a ruff look at what you will try to accomplish as you file, these pictures by no means are done.
you should notice in this picture that the SAC and the TSH are up against the block. Every flute makers has his own idea as to where to put the TSH; either against the block or some will measure about 1/4” (6.35mm) (0.635 cm) from the block wall. I go about 1/16 from the block and file back. After your have gotten the TSH and SAC file as shown in the picture. the distance between tsh and sac is 1” . In this area sand so that it is smooth, no deep lines etc. you want that area to be flush, so you could put a square on it and drag it from one end to the other and see no light under the square. Turn over your work piece and use a razor to cut a line on both sides of the TSH and SAC about a 1/2” long (12.7 MM) (1.27 cm) (does not have to be exact)
Then use a chisel to chisel a ramp at a 45 degree. Make sure you do not exceed the 3/8 wide (9.525 MM) (0.9525 cm).




both the sac and tsh should look like the below picture. again by no means finished.

as you chisel down, you will have to watch the edge of the TSH and SAC, leave about 3/32” (2.38125 mm) (0.238125) at the edge of the SAC and TSH, more is better.
When you are done, sand the area around the TSH and SAC as smooth as possible and the bore length. I put a sealer in both the SAC area and the bore. Then I put 4 to 5 coats of Shellec and cover it well. you can use a paint brush or use a rag. You do not want to have any spill on the edges where you will be applying glue, because it will pop apart latter; so keep it clean. . Before gluing, get a stick and wrap it with a paper towel, and tape it to the stick, get the towel wet with water, after gluing you will want to put it in the bore end to wipe out the excess glue that has spill into the bore. You can choose your own glue for wood. I use Titebond 3.
You will want enough clamps to clamp about 4” (101.6 mm) (10.16 CM) apart from each other, I clamp both ends first. because of the glue, the pieces will slide. match your side lines together, and the center line on the end of each piece you are working with and clamp. Now make sure the bore at the end are line up, you should be able to put your finger on the inside and where they join together it should be smooth and the bore should look round. Now clamp that end. Now go on down the flute with your clamps. Remember not to clamp to hard, your no trying to squeeze out the glue. When finished check your lines and bore end again to make sure that they haven’t moved. I put a wet paper towel on a dowel with tape and run it down in side the bore.
Before you lathe your flute, you will want to measure from the SAC towards the mouth 1”1/4 (31.75 mm)(3.175 cm) you will also want to apply the same measurement to the TSH and measure towards the foot of the flute. you can put tape if you want. you’ll need to mark that with a dark line so that when you lathe your flute you do not pass that line, this will be the area where the block sits on.
and when you are done lathing your flute it should look like the diagram above. I usually plane the bottom part of the nest to match the flute on the lathe.


Your mouth piece can be any shape.

Below are pictures of the kinds of blocks that sit on top of the SAC and in front of the TSH/

The photo above is made from two kinds of wood. The dark wood is 3/8 wide, which is the same size as the TSH, the light wood was glued to create side flanges. The photo below is cut from one piece of wood

The next two shows the under side of the block. as you can see I glued a 1/32 piece of wood as shown, this 1/32” (0.79375mm) (0.079375 cm) allows the air to flow from the SAC to the TSH,

The below photo is a routed channel in the block . also two of the photos shown have no side flanges. The Flanges are to block wind if you play outside from going over the TSH/ it also helps to get the airflow forwarding across the TSH more directly. For some reason beyond me, the block design with or without flanges, will change the sound of the flute, even if the flanges are 5/8 high it will change the sound. Try making different block and see if you notice a difference. One thing, what ever block you tune your flute with, that block stays with that flute. Don’t mix blocks after tuning your flute because it will not sound right, some decide to change because of design or whatever.

I drill holes in the side of the block to tie down the block on the flute. Some just rap the leather, what is important is that it sits tight and snug on the nest, after you tie down your block, lift it up to the light and see if you can see light underneath your block and the flute, there must be no light, do this before tuning
By the way, 1/32 is a set channel do not go bigger or smaller, trust me on this one.
If you have completed your flute up to this point you will want to cut a ramp towards the SAC where the air comes out. (This is shown in the picture below.)
Start measuring from the back of the TSH 3/8 to and draw a line, from the line to the sac, chisel a ramp, this angle should be 35 o you can make it deeper angle, what will happen is it will change the air pressure and how it blows, so in reality angle it to fit what you like, (experiment) the flat area sometime called the flue is where the air is concentrate the air flow. If you have the flue longer and their are many who do, like 1” or 3/4 long you create so much moisture between your block and flute that it’s harder to blow, in fact you will have to stop undo the block and wipe it out, it will start to sound funny and be hard to blow.. / you measure 3/8 long (9.525 mm) (0.9525 cm) the 3/8 is the flat part, referred to as the flue. The picture shows that the TSH and SAC nest are routed down in the flute; we are not going to do that. You should try different nest as you continue making flute to see which you like best also you might like them all.


The first diagram shows how the air comes out of the sac and how the block should sit over the SAC area the right side of the diagram shows what the area looks like with out the block. Most flute players move the block back from the TSH about 1/8 (3.175)mm


the last diagram show and ex-ray side of a flute and how the air flows.

When you have finished lathing your flute and have plane sides and under the flute, take your flute and drill a 5/16 (7.9375 mm) (0.79375cm)hole for the mouth end, blow out the shavings, look down the mouth to make sure that it’s clean, you can do this by having the sac exit face the light. At this point it’s time to put an edge on the TSH (which is towards the foot).. Now file the edge of your TSH and it doesn’t have to be sharp, (I like mine sharp as I can get it, remember you can chip this area very easly. you can have 2/32 (1.5875 mm) (0.15875) blunt end if you would like. The edge of the TSH will change the sound of the flute base upon how thick or thin the tsh is. Remember to sq. up the edges of the hole the best you can, and make sure the the inside of the TSH around the side is filed. Sand the ramp and edges smooth, I use a jeweler eye piece to view that area and finger holes, you don’t want any wood hairs. Put your block on the sac and in front of your tsh move it back and forth, some like it about a dimes width from the back of the tsh.

At this point you are ready to blow in your flute to get a fundamental of F# If your measurement was 17 inch long, a couple inches longer than the diagram shows, that is not a mistake, and therefore will not get a F# right off.. I usually have a few inches added so that I can cut and creep upon the fundamental I want, keep cutting the bottom about 1/4 (6.35) and with each cut blow in your flute and you will see yourself getting closer. What I do is write out
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B scale and that way I can keep and eye on where it is traveling, you think that as you cut it would move to the left of the scale, but it moves to the right as you cut. So if I had an E fundamental and I want an F# I keep cutting up the flute to get an F#, because it moves to the right of the scale. Almost ever inch is a note almost Having marked your flute to the given length that the diagram has shown, this is your target and when you should be to obtain an F#, if for any reason it is not, say your 1” off, which I dough but case that happen email dhhepler@gmail.com—remember it’s not helper the p comes first. If on the other hand your 1/2 or less than 1/4 that should be alright. Some time the moisture and type of wood you use can change the sound. Some believe that there flute should be tune in a atmosphere of 72 degrees , perfect, except what happen if you were to mail such a flute to Hawaii, or Alaska, the whole flute will be out of tune because of atmosphere.
Before you drill the finger holes. You should have establish your F#, your F# should be 5 Cents to the plus, because as you drill the finger holes it will drip to 440-A- center. As you blow in your flute you should also be getting an over blow which means that the sound jumps a octave or two don’t panic as this is normal, look down below where it says “Here is how to fix the over blow”. once fixed continue on. If you have your Perfect F# and it is right on or close to the length given in diagram you are now ready to drill your finger holes. Start from the bottom as that is referred to as hole number 1, next 2, 3 and so forth. Here it is up to you how you want to tune each finger hole, what I mean is, some believe that you drill one hole and tune it, then drill hole two and tune it and so forth. I drill all 6 holes first, because each hole sound and tuning is base up the other holes. I also tune each hole about 10 to 15 cents to the neg (-) side, finish tuning all holes and then let the flute sit for a half hour, then go back and fine tune each hole to right on A and you can go 5 cent to the plus (+) which I prefer., always start a couple sizes smaller than what is given and enlarge as you need to reach your given note, I use a hand reamer, and some times I use a small reamer on a drill press,or I use drills.
HERE IS HOW TO FIX THE OVER BLOW
that whole area needs to be filed about a 45 degree; do about 6 stokes, (not many) the back of the tsh too. (confused //write me) dhhepler@gmail.com now move the block back towards the mouth about 1/8” (3,175mm) (0.3175cm) you can move the block back and forth until it sounds good. Usually if you put the block so that it’s not up against the TSH it sounds better. Some like a dimes or shilling thickness.

The diagram below will show you what each note for each finger hole should be. The diagram below has the size of the finger holes already given, however my advise to you is to start 3 sizes smaller than what is given and as you tune each note you enlarge it as you go, even tho you may end up with the given size that was given in the diagram.
Below is a repeat of what has already be given, just a little different…...
Cover all finger hole play to hear the F# then start with the bottom finger hole open to get a note of A if not an A enlarge the hole and continue until you reach an A////This is important, two thing you need to do, 1) never drill or enlarge any finger hole bigger than what is given in the diagram if you need to enlarge a finger hole larger than what is given….you need to undercut as shown in the drawing below. 2) bring all finger holes 10 to 15 cents to the(-) which is to the left of your tuner, tune all finger holes to the left of the tuner – cents,, it does not have to be right on 20 cents to the – around there. Let the flute set for a while and then fine tune all finger holes, about 5 cents to the + to the right of the tunes. TUNING…follow the diagram of the finger holes below, follow the left one which I prefer, however you can choose the left to, however your tuning note for each finger will change, which is explain at the end of this blog. Cover all fingers, lift up the number 1 and tune it, leave it 15 or so to the – cents,then second hole from the bottom to tune it to the note of B and continue to enlarge it until you get a B, to the – cents as above, continue on up and do the same for the first 3 finger holes, the 4th finger hole is tune different. cover the third hole and cover 5 and 6 leaving the 4 hole open. To tune the 5 hole your cover the 6th hole and 4th hole only. The Diagram below will show that,( the one to the left referred as cross fingering) Remember to stick to the diagram measurements that are give for the flute. If you come to a given note in the diagram and your finger hole is smaller than what is given but you still achieve the note, then leave it, the size given for the finger holes iin the diagram are not written in stone. just the note is…..Don’t worry too much about the undercutting diagram below.,except when you need to tune it beyond what is given size. Remember that if you haven’t reach your note, and the hole is the size given in the diagram, Start undercutting all around the hole, (example in diagram) if that still doesn’t do it, enlarge the hole a little. But if you followed everything, you shouldn’t have to do that.
Below are two diagrams for tuning, if you choose the right side, pattern 322222, then your flute tuning will be different. instead of having F# //A B C# D E F#, IT WILL BE—
F#// A B C# D# F G,

Well everyone hope this helps, take care. Inches and MM diagram below.

IF YOU DECIDE TO EMAIL ME dhhepler@gmail.com remember that hepler is not helper the p and l can be confusing…



18 comments so far

View Den's profile

Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#1 posted 02-06-2010 05:03 AM

Hi everyone, I have finially got around to combining my last blog on making flutes into one blog, sorry that I didn’t do that the first time but didn’t know how to do a blog and how much I could write on one.
enjoy…..
Den

View lew's profile

lew

10035 posts in 2413 days


#2 posted 02-06-2010 02:58 PM

Great Tutorial, Den! This was a lot of work, thanks for posting it.

Lew

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2972 days


#3 posted 08-01-2010 09:12 AM

Wonderful Blog. I have making a flute on my list (along with a cedar strip canoe) of projects to do for fun. One of these days….I wanted to try one in a Celtic styling. Hay Den. Why don’t you post one of yours as a project. I’d love to see it!

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Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#4 posted 07-18-2011 06:07 AM

I haven’t posted anything for a while, and because of that I haven’t picture any flute, I think I forgot how to post them any way email me and I will send you some picture of my flutes. dhhepler.gmail.com

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Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#5 posted 07-18-2011 07:05 AM

http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/j438/dennis201/th_IMG_4354.jpg
I BELIEVE THAT IF YOU GO TO PHOTOBUCKET ON THIS PAGE WHICH IS AT THE END OF THIS BLOG, THERE IS A LITTLE BLUE PHOTOBUCKET TAB AND IF YOU CLICK ON IT YOU WILL SEE ONE OF MY FLUTES, ZOOM TO ENLARGE, LET ME KNOW IF YOU CAN SEE IT. THANKS.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12290 posts in 2755 days


#6 posted 07-18-2011 07:11 AM

You can make the photos display by adding an exclamation point before and after the photo’s URL.

From Photobucket the html export looks like this…

Photobucket

I did not see any controls for getting different size images. I Know that Flickr does.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

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Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#7 posted 07-18-2011 07:20 AM

THANK YOU WAYNE BUT HOW

View Den's profile

Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#8 posted 07-18-2011 07:22 AM

INSTEAD OF PUTTING ALL THESE COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG, EMAIL AT dhhepler@gmail.com would appreciate it, thanks. have many questions

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12290 posts in 2755 days


#9 posted 07-18-2011 07:30 AM

Email sent…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Den's profile

Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#10 posted 07-18-2011 07:34 AM

The flute you see above was made up on several pieces, the over all body is cedar, I was experimenting on dirlling hole before putting it together and I was using a concept that was different, needless to say that the hole were off, which made them bigger than I wanted. the top three holes were all off by 1/2 inch. Don’t think I will do that again. But I like to experiment.. It did tune and played quite well to my surprise

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Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#11 posted 07-18-2011 07:49 AM

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Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#12 posted 07-18-2011 07:52 AM

Thanks to Wayne I was able to get pictures on my blog, and I thank him for that.

View Den's profile

Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#13 posted 07-18-2011 08:05 AM

View Den's profile

Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#14 posted 07-18-2011 08:06 AM

View Den's profile

Den

91 posts in 1847 days


#15 posted 07-19-2011 01:59 AM

would like to know how to delete all the small blogs that I created and put into one. and those messages on the left here.

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