Let’s Make Some Flutes, Part 1

Yesterday I had a lot of fun holding a class on making a Native American style flute (NAF). Eight of my friends were game and pretty excited at making such a beautiful sounding instrument.

Of course we couldn’t make it all in one go, but everybody really worked hard and made great progress. I did a pretty comprehensive review of the NAF and how it works and showed a wide variety of some of my flutes and then we got to work.


© Ed Malesky 2012 - Marking Flutes

Layout is key, so everyone took their cedar blanks and laid out the blank for all the routing to make the slow air chamber (SAC) and the main bore.

© Ed Malesky 2012 - Ed is measuring up.

Once everybody laid out all the markings it was on to the routing. Since we had to rout out quite a bit of wood from the sixteen pieces of wood, we realized that a router and shopvac together can be pretty deafening. The one thing that I forgot to bring was the hearing protection I always wear at home.

© Ed Malesky 2012 - Paul Routing - Jim Measuring

Since routing can be pretty dangerous, I was thrilled that no one got hurt in the process. From routing it was off to sanding – and sand, and sand.


© Ed Malesky 2012 - Kay Sanding

You can see Kay’s blanks have two long routed sections – the main bore, and two smaller sections – the Slow Air Chamber. We also routed a channel that will be the blow hole for the flute.

© Elizabeth Jensen-Forbell 2012 - Perfect Routing

Then we had to seal the SAC with several coats of shellac and drill some holes to mark where the air will go from the SAC to the main bore. With this done, it was just a matter of gluing the blank halves together. That meant a lot of clamps.


© Ed Malesky 2012 - Kathy took "bring all your clamps" seriously

© Elizabeth Jensen-Forbell 2012 - All clamped up

That was all the participants needed to do for their first session. Next time we’ll create the sound mechanism, add the fingerholes and tune the flutes, a process known as voicing. However, I also had a homework assignment for them. Once the glue dries and the clamps come off, they’ll need to make the flute round and create the “nest” where we’ll start the voicing process next week.

I had one last thing to show them however, how to round the blanks. Finally it was on to the lathe, where most of the flute is turned round. The next area needs to be done by hand, but once they finish this, they’ll be ready for Part 2.


© Ed Malesky 2012 - Turning the blank

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>