Making the flutes
Compared to some of the American makers, I am still a relative newcomer to making flutes, even though I've been doing it (slowly!) since 2002. I still learn something new with every flute I make, and if anything the development work has increased significantly over the last few years as I understand more about how these instruments work and where the potential for design development lies. Each flute is a voyage of discovery. I am heartened, however, by the fact that people do seem to want the flutes I produce, and have been very kind in appreciating what I do. I still make flutes for my own therapy, but being able to create flutes for people from all walks of life brings great satisfaction. I am grateful to the Universe for continuing to bring new people to my door each week, and, as my full order book testifies, flutemaking is now a way of life for me. I wouldn't want it any other way. I can certainly make them better than I can play them, and having heard Nigel play one or two of my flutes with his consumate skill, I don't think that will ever change!

The basis of my craft still rests on many of the principles learned from Guillermo and Nigel, but I do experiment a great deal, particularly with the English series as it develops. I've also been lucky enough to have the time to study Lew Paxton Price's 'Secrets of the Flute' series, the maths and physics of which come close to my training as a scientist, and which continues to be invaluable and totally indispensable reference source in developing and tuning the flutes I make. I would also say that over the last couple of years, I have done a lot of new design work on the voice box and air-flow dynamics of the flutes and they are now some way from where I started! There are so many variations of elements such as flue channel depth and shape, SAC and throat ramp angles, fipple edge shapes and thicknesses, block front designs, upper chamber configurations etc., that there is a whole world of development available to be explored. The latest ideas have evolved into the new bass drones (see the Toucan series page) and flutes that will play like an NA flute but sound like middle eastern reed flutes and play Hitzaz Greek and Arabic scales. However, all my design work has taken, and continues to take, a lot of time; the designs make SVF flutes sound the way they do, and I'm not going to open that up to allcomers...

...That said, I do have a basic series of stages and techniques which I use on most flutes, at least the ones which are 'Woodlands-style' in terms of their design, fipple shape, mouth end shape, and the placement of the flue channel in the body ('Plains -style' is often taken to mean that the flue is in the block, although strictly it can be in either position in these flutes). As I suspect is true of many other NAF makers, in the early days I spent a good time looking at others' websites for tips and hints on how to do this or that, or improve designs, or correct horrendous blunders, and often found them helpful. So, the pages which run off this one are both my contribution to the 'How to make a flute' encyclopedia, but more than that, they offer an insight for those who buy my flutes into how their instrument gained its life.

So, where to begin...



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One small workshop!

The workshop


I've learned early on that you can make a NA flute with just a piece of wood, a stone, a knife, a rod, some plant fibre, pine resin, charcoal and a fire, but for ease of making and consistency of quality I use modern tools for much of my work. The section links below take you through, stage by stage, my most common route to making a flute. This is in no way a complete guide to how I make flutes - it's just the basics. If you want any further information or have any queries, please feel free to contact me.


Wood - choosing, preparing and sectioning
Cutting and routing the blank
Fipples, voice boxes and flues
Glueing and shaping
Tuning
Finishing, Artwork and Blocks


Hand-crafted flutes, individually made





Although I've said it on the Thanks page, I must acknowledge here again the invaluable, patient, help, advice and encouragement given by Nigel as I stumbled towards making my first half-decent flute. Also, the advice, books and specialist tools support from Jeff Calavan at The Oregon Flute Store has been a great help. For general tools, I can recommend going to Axminster (www.axminster.co.uk) who seem to be able to supply anything and everything at the drop of a hat.


 The Owlhouse • Milford • Surrey • UK • dc@secondvoiceflutes.co.uk

© Second Voice Flutes 2005 on