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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:01 pm 
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Location: Hood River, Oregon, USA
Here are some simple, D cross-sectional reamers I've made for flutes in various keys.
For each reamer you start by taking a lot of bore diameter measurements to produce a map of the bore.
This requires some specialist tools. Then you start with a cylindrical piece of tool steel that is larger than
that and you turn it down to a stepped conical shape that matches the measurements. Then you carefully
smooth the steps by filing and polishing. Finally, you have to cut out a section of the reamer to produce a
cutting edge, without losing the overall dimensions. All of this takes a long time and you have to be meticulous.
If you over cut anything then its back to the beginning (or suicide!). :swear:

Obviously, I'm skipping a lot of important details here, but this is to give you an idea.

Image

The picture below is what it looks like before you cut it to produce a cutting edge.

Image

The problem with D section reamers is that the cutting edge isn't very sharp, so they don't cut very easily.
I have addressed this by cutting a concave surface into some of my reamers. This makes them cut much more
easily. Here is one being cut on the milling machine.

Image

If you want a really nice cutting reamer you can cut multiple cutting edges, like this. This requires more
skill in milling. This one belongs to Geoffrey Ellis.

Image

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:07 pm 
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What lists and sites are good for people wanting to learn about flute making?


There is a yahoo groups email list that has several top flute makers who are generous with advice.
There is not a lot of traffic on this list, but people seem to be nice about answering questions.
Of course, you have to be careful ask sensible questions and not to abuse the privilege.

flutemakers@yahoogroups.com

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:47 pm 
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Thanks Paddler on your thoughts and experience.

I'm dabbling in flute-making myself over the past year or so, and yes, the specialised self-made tools are the hardest bit really. And throwing away wrecked attempts. I can honestly say I've only made 4 or 5 'good' flutes out of a dozen or more attempts.

I've acqured a metal lathe recently to begin making conical bore reamers much like you've made. A mill is probably next on the list

Cheers,
V

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:02 pm 
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I’d guess I’m probably the only one on C&F who’s gone the “apprenticeship” route (Kara is a member here but hasn’t posted in years), and I’ve never really told my story. Probably too long for me to write up, but G, C, and P have touched on many of the important points that are challenges and or barriers. For me the process was incredibly rewarding in terms of the work and what I learned, but that time was also financially and emotionally exhausting. There were MANY sacrifices made and a lot of suffering as a result. If I had a do-over, I would proceed differently, but that’s the value of experience and hindsight.

That said, no one can ever take away the unique experience of having worked at arguably the finest woodwind shop of its kind in the world, so there is that.

My point being, you need to be exceptionally motivated to go the apprentice route.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:42 pm 
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I have had no trouble making nice reamer blanks -- get all the dimensions correct. My problem has been in milling the D (or 1/4) cross section. There are always vibrations in the long piece. Any suggestions? Is it just a fixturing problem? I've only made whistle reamers so far, which will make a huge difference.

TIA

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:26 pm 
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chas wrote:
I have had no trouble making nice reamer blanks -- get all the dimensions correct. My problem has been in milling the D (or 1/4) cross section. There are always vibrations in the long piece. Any suggestions? Is it just a fixturing problem? I've only made whistle reamers so far, which will make a huge difference.

TIA


I recently made a reamer for shakuhachi flutes, and this is a tapered reamer whose cutting length is 28" long, which poses a serious problem for milling. "Chatter" (vibration) is a real problem with something like this. It will vibrate like a guitar string :-) I've had the good fortune to work with a master machinist for many years who has taught me a great deal and who works with me on my more ambitious metalworking projects. His solution to the problem of milling long reamers is this fixture here. It bolts to the mill bed and can be drilled to allow the placement of these tower platforms that clamp and stabilize the reamer while staying out of the way of the cutting bit. They can be moved around for different projects, depending upon how much support the reamer requires. It proved highly effective for cutting long "flutes" in the steel taper. The more cutting edges, the cleaner the cut and the less torque and friction created by the reamer. Sorry for the thumbnails--still working on getting full sized images to post directly. As for less involved methods of stabilizing work, paddler had an ingenious solution involving the bench vise for his mill which you can see in the above photo that he posted. I used a different method specifically because I wanted multi-flute reamers.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:34 pm 
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I would also add that in the photo that paddler posted of his drawer full of reamers, that represents an unbelievable amount of highly skilled, precision work. I've made a lot of reamers, so I have (and anyone who has made their own reamers is also likely to have) a very real appreciation of the amount of work and patience that it represents.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:30 pm 
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chas wrote:
I have had no trouble making nice reamer blanks -- get all the dimensions correct. My problem has been in milling the D (or 1/4) cross section. There are always vibrations in the long piece. Any suggestions? Is it just a fixturing problem? I've only made whistle reamers so far, which will make a huge difference.

The following picture gives a clue to my approach. First I use 5C collet fixtures, bolted down to the milling machine table to hold each end of the reamer at precisely the same height. I position these so that they align perfectly with the table. Then I use a self-centering vise, with disposable aluminum face-plates (these will get partially cut away as you mill out the cavity in the reamer, and are there just to protect the vise face plates). I tighten the self-centering vise onto the reamer in the area I want to cut, then I clamp the vice down to the table. For short reamers you don't need the vice. For medium length reamers you can clamp the vice in the middle of the reamer and then cut the whole reamer without moving it. For long reamers you can reposition the vice as needed, depending on the amount of vibration.

This approach works well for the style of reamer shown, and might also work for producing a reamer with multiple cutting edges, by opening the vice and rotating the reamer in the collet fixtures between cuts ... but I have yet to verify this in practice. Geoffrey's approach definitely works. Doing this stuff for real is a great way to discover the difference between theory and practice. In theory, they are both the same, but in practice they are often different.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:54 pm 
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:boggle: Amazing.

Thank you for the pictures and discussion of reamers.


This also explains what Geoffrey meant when he said

Geoffrey Ellis wrote:
My friend and collaborator Jon Walpole (paddler on these forums) does flute making as a "hobby" (though he manages to spend a goodish amount of time at it despite having a full time teaching career) and he is totally passionate about it. As a result he has acquired knowledge and skills that will rival most professional makers, and he achieved this over the course of years working the odd evenings and weekends. The passion was the key. At this point he could set up as a pro maker anytime that he chooses--his stuff is amazing.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:06 am 
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mvidal01 wrote:
What lists and sites are good for people wanting to learn about flute making?


It may be worthwhile to post this question as a new topic in the forum. It is likely that it has been asked before, but it is also likely that new resources have been made available and it is worth asking the question again.

I myself have some reference material for "non-Irish" flutes and reference for making flutes out of bamboo, but I am also certain that there is probably a lot more available from others too.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:04 pm 
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To the makers posting pictures and info on making reamers. Wow. Just wow. And thanks.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:55 am 
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Adrian W. wrote:
To the makers posting pictures and info on making reamers. Wow. Just wow. And thanks.


It's true that this is not a subject that gets treated in much detail anywhere online. In part it is because it is pretty technical and unless one has a background in metalworking it can be a bit intimidating. Apart from my communications with paddler, which allowed us to sort of "geek out" together about the various approaches, I've been fortunate enough to have a sort of periodic "apprenticeship" with a brilliant local machinist who I mentioned above.

If a would-be maker had access to an open-minded machinist, they might not have to master the art of reamer making because they could simply hire it done (that is what I did for my first couple of reamers). At the time I couldn't afford the tools that would be necessary (decent size metal lathe and milling machine) to make my own so I made a blueprint and took it to my friend. As time went on I realized that machining skills had a lot of value beyond just reamer making so I took the plunge, got the tools and started studying as often as I could with my machinist friend.

Finding a machinist who is willing to do this sort of stuff is not that easy, either. I have a flute making friend in Omaha who wanted to hire someone to make a reamer and he went to six different machine shops, all of whom rejected the idea. It seems that many machine shops, even though they are populated by so-called machinists, tend to focus on a very narrow market and they are not comfortable thinking outside of that particular box.

So while machinist skills are not de rigeur for would-be flute makers, they are very useful if one is willing to invest the time and money. Plus it is fun and interesting on it's own! The satisfaction of being able to fabricate your own tools, fixtures, jigs, gizmos and do-dads is an added bonus :-)

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:02 pm 
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I might suggest broadening the scope of your search for information. The piping community has a long history of artisanal reamer manufacturing, with many
very clever and non-obvious solutions to making skinny, very 'wiggly' reamers to close tolerances. I would, for one, reach out to DMQuinn, a member here, and renowned pipe maker David Quinn, to purchase his cd on pipe-making. Na Piobaire Uilleann also have a storehouse of information and a pipemaking course.
One area seldom touched on is the use of forged forms, one that saw service early in the history of flute making.
You might also examine the history of the Carl Dolmetsch workshop, where they made extensive use of composition reamers made up of hardwoods with tool-steel edges attached.
If your aim is only a small production run, there is little need for a full-scale industrial approach.

Bob

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:44 am 
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an seanduine wrote:
I might suggest broadening the scope of your search for information. The piping community has a long history of artisanal reamer manufacturing, with many
very clever and non-obvious solutions to making skinny, very 'wiggly' reamers to close tolerances. I would, for one, reach out to DMQuinn, a member here, and renowned pipe maker David Quinn, to purchase his cd on pipe-making. Na Piobaire Uilleann also have a storehouse of information and a pipemaking course.
One area seldom touched on is the use of forged forms, one that saw service early in the history of flute making.
You might also examine the history of the Carl Dolmetsch workshop, where they made extensive use of composition reamers made up of hardwoods with tool-steel edges attached.
If your aim is only a small production run, there is little need for a full-scale industrial approach.

Bob


Very interesting! I had never heard of forged forms and I struck out when I did a cursory search for information on them (my search was fairly shallow) but I'm intrigued. I had heard of creating wooden or composition reamers with steel edges (there is some limited info on these in the The Amateur Wind Instrument Maker) but they present interesting challenges if one is cutting a bore with a lot of perturbations in it.

But when I first started researching reamer making, it never occurred to me to specifically seek out pipe makers! I did find a pretty good PDF booklet on reamer making (it's on another computer--I'll dig it out and add the link here) but it was fairly basic. It discussed a variety of approaches to reamer making that were especially useful for hobbyist makers who did not necessarily have access to something like a milling machine. You can do a lot with a small metal lathe and a grinding wheel if you are patient.

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