Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

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GreenWood
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Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

Post by GreenWood »

This thread is meant as a simple resource of basic ideas for those building or thinking of building wooden instruments. It is aimed particularly at method, simple method, for others to be able to go ahead and build a first, or first few instruments. It is not aimed at technical discussion, another thread could be started by anyone with that in mind maybe, or there exist technical forums elsewhere to that end. It is not aimed at design, though some freely available designs are, and may be, included. Any links must be to respectful public pages, and posting of design, or own measurement of design, of existing builders is prohibited, except with permission of maker. I had thought of making the topic wider, but I think it is best to stick to wood for reader facility, another thread could be started for particular instrument or material by anyone enthusiastic to do so I think. I include mostly my own experience, it is not nescessarily the best method of making flutes, but it is a simple approach that works for me to make reasonable instruments . There are a few presentations of drilling bores on the web, mostly not very complete, some questionable . Others are invited to share their method. Finally, learning a craft is a process that includes mistakes, it is likely some will find mistakes appearing in their work even following any recommendations to a T. That is how it is, and so we then learn and help others by making further recommendation or adding advice. We don't blame others unless they are clearly at fault, although pointing out difficulty or error with any approach is welcomed, as solutions are then searched for. My text is long, because I am walking anyone through what I know, with step by step information. For anyone without the time to read that, or just wanting an idea, just skip to the pictures :-) .

I won't nescessarily answer any questions if there are any posted, it has taken several days to put down in writing just about all I know so far, already. As the description has become longer than planned, I will post it as three chapters. The first on boring and shaping a cylindrical flute, the second on building a lathe, shaping a conical bore, and starting from green wood. The third on tone holes and finishing. Those next two I hope will be shorter than the first. Please remember though, I am just an amateur and have only been making flutes for a year.

Chapter 1 is in pdf from

https://ln4.sync.com/dl/0971f5750/mghwz ... j-5ubfvxww

And a link to the original article that provided many ideas is

https://web.archive.org/web/20210823031 ... 202068.pdf


I hope both links work.
BruceBlack
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Tell us something.: Beginner flute maker! Enjoying every step of the way. Started making transverse bamboo flutes. 25 years of guitar playing and went to luthier school for building them

Re: Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

Post by BruceBlack »

Thank you so much! Very nice handbook!

I love figuring it all out with experimenting, but this will be great for refference and solving problems. Very nice to read.

Thank you
GreenWood
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Re: Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

Post by GreenWood »

Here is Ch. 2

I'm just going to post it and walk away from any screen for a while :-)

https://ln4.sync.com/dl/8ffed04f0/v3nxr ... 3-57jcqn2r

This is the included link to how pole lathes work.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i4roT7ohT7I
(An Introduction to Green Woodwork - Part 4: The Pole Lathe
Ben & Lois Orford)

Ahh...Sync file storage only allows me to publish three links at a time, so had to remove the previous scale mp3. Anyone who wants to host or share these files feel free. Ch. 3 will be a couple of weeks probably because have spent enough time on the computer for now.

Thanks Bruce :thumbsup:
GreenWood
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Re: Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

Post by GreenWood »

Ch.3 is more verbal, and as I decided to just write down everything that came to mind as I was going along, it is very verbal. So I look at problems faced along the way, choices available in design and construction, as well as broader possibilities of making, playing or buying flutes. In short it compends my own experience and thoughts up to now, and hopefully it will keep anyone starting off making flutes company in some way.

As Sync only allows three public links for download, I have moved everything to pCloud as well. The three chapters will be left at Sync, but I include the new pCloud download links as well.

Ch.3

https://ln5.sync.com/dl/28704c090/ec529 ... x-gb6xa9z7

...............

Edit in : Seems like the below links don't work for some reason... will figure it out. Edit in 2... now it seems they do... shrug?

Ch.3

https://e.pcloud.link/publink/show?code ... K3BbgtyjsV

Ch.2

https://e.pcloud.link/publink/show?code ... PqVXcDdJRV

Ch.1

https://e.pcloud.link/publink/show?code ... EW2zEdm1OV


............


An extra idea is a way to lower the top first octave note by one. I get confused with notes, semitones and halfnotes... so I just call each stop in a chromatic scale a note :-) . This makes playing certain songs certain ways possible. Kiss the maid, Fourleaf Clover/ Hunter's Purse, Galway Bay so far. After I broke the first adjustor...adjuster (?) , I tried these songs by half holeing top note for a few months ... Four Leaf Clover was close (played after Catherine McEvoy) , Kiss the Maid (played after Bríd O'Gorman ) was awkward but near, and Galway Bay (played after Paddy Carty, and always in tribute to) I did not try after a few attempts. Much joy at making another finally, and I include a brief clip of first couple of bars of Galway Bay.... not to demonstrate own playing because I have much to practice to bring the whole song up to acceptable level, and this clip is both out in timing and poorly recorded on a mobile mic (eq. necessary for wind sound takes away some nice tone, a little reverb compensates some)... but just to show roughly what is possible playingwise this way.

I include the eq. and reverb as well as eq. only clips, in reality to me in a room with some resonance it sounds closer to with reverb and with better tone... but then it would :-) . Flute footnote is C#, renaissance style flute.


How to make this and clip links

https://e.pcloud.link/publink/show?code ... S05LzGhz8k
GreenWood
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Re: Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

Post by GreenWood »

Making a drill bit and how to (and how not to) case harden steel.

It was a four hour walk to pick up some more steel rod to make a 12mm drill bit, a bore width that will fit on the lathe axle before further reaming... the walk was nice but it explains how many things happen at their own pace around here. I figured I might as well document step by step making of the drill bit, and the case hardening of it... so the rest is in the pdf linked below.



https://e.pcloud.link/publink/show?code ... 7M2pbInOrk
GreenWood
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Re: Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

Post by GreenWood »

An approximate Rudall Rose design.

It is hard enough to find detailed plans of historic flutes. Over the past year I have read just about all I could find, and there are renaissance flute details by Puglisi available, some baroque flute details here and there, and one "Irish flute" very basic design on a bushcraft website which didn't give model of any kind. So apart from making a copy of an already modified copy of say a Rudall or Pratten, that if anyone has another flute of that style to study and doesn't mind straying further from original design (by incorporating small errors/changes between each copy), that leaves only one source I know of for plans of traditinal conical bore flutes, and that is Terry Mcgee. He offers detailed plans of original instruments for a very modest sum, or for people like me some basic parameters like bore profiles ... for free :-) on his site .

So to show to myself (if no-one else) that the steps I use to build a basic flute work, and to present a very basic design as close to a Rudall as possible (given the various limitations such as simple build or only using the most essential parameters of design available ) for anyone to start with (close and basic ... anyone looking to start understanding Rudalls in depth or expecting a near identical copy would do better to buy the plans), I pieced together details available at

http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/RR_fake.htm

made a few guesses for eq. slide extension needed to get near 440, simplified or rounded other details...to build a one piece Rudall style flute. A cleaning rod will still work on a one piece flute from the foot, but anyway wasn't it Rudall or Nicolson or someone of the time that recommended removing the stopper after each playing and cleaning from top... ha..haha..hahaha....

It ended up being roughly A 427 hz, because I wanted to keep close to tonehole size and not undercut too much...anyone building with a freer hand could take it to 440 hz I think...or possibly it would be there with the top cylinder not slightly oversized as this build ended up (@ 19.3 mm)... or with the embouchure moved south a few mm ...or by building in a tuning slide ... etc. It ended up being two pieces as well, that is explained in the essay linked below, which also contains the dimensions used.

The point of this build was not 440 hz, but to make a flute close to a Rudall to play by itself and learn on, and roughly around 440 hz.


If any important errors are found please say and I will rewrite .


https://e.pcloud.link/publink/show?code ... Ow4kj2fhzk


A short soundclip of the Rudall flute is below. I make no apology for the quality of it, it is from phone mic, after having played the flute for a couple of hours total, just picking it up and then playing a scale recording for one minute, no eq. etc., before finishing tuning, before refining flute embouchure etc. etc. It is just to show it is playable, and in tune enough to play. There is some good tone mixed in there to bring out.

It is easier to sound than my renaissance flute, but I had to learn the embouchure and placement changes needed to make it acceptable . There are many kinds of embouchure people use, I have seen some really open, others tight, so I cannot say what I am writing applies to others nescessarily. In fact after playing the Rudall for ten minutes and then playing the renaissance flute, it takes me half a minute to get ANY sound out if the renaissance flute, one I have played for over a year - that is how different the styles are.

This is the tuning chart, the points in red are where I will probably adjust the tuning to close the range.



Image


The style I use is to push forward the lips for second octave, and relax (pull them back) for first - it isn't hard but it takes a conscious effort for now because I have barely practiced, and because it is different from the style used on my renaissance flute. That accounts for the relatively short space found between octaves. I say pull back the embouchure, it is just really bringing it back to flat and relaxed, blowing openly (seems high almost) at the same time. This arrangement uncovers the flute embouchure for 1st raising it, and covers and blows down into flute embouchure for second, lowering its pitch and giving tone. Low notes are a bit soft but acceptable, and I cannot get them much harder by any means for now. With 1st octave the relaxed embouchure doesn't much change higher notes, but raises lower notes a fair amount, and so it seems quite natural because it is roughly same stance through the range (with lower notes needing the lift more).

So the clip is linked below, I haven't measured its values, but there is probably about 30 or slightly more cents range, with the base notes audibly out, again no apology because I'm not practiced on this flute and just recording that it is playable, without making great effort to achieve a true scale when doing so. The tuning chart above was by keeping position and not trying to raise or lower notes particularly but to find a comfortable (in terms of effort) value close to center. Blown using only air speed to change octave, the gap between 1st and 2nd jumps to around 60 cents. There are a whole load of other variables possible, choice of lower lip cover, tilt etc. , that really make what I am presenting here notional as far as other players would be concerned, but possibly it might help guide some other towards making their peace with this instrument.

https://e.pcloud.link/publink/show?code ... gr5JH3vEoy
GreenWood
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Re: Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

Post by GreenWood »

Notes on tuning the Rudall style flute.

Rudall flutes are known to have a large discrepancy between first and second octave on lowest three notes, particularly the base note and particularly particularly on short foot flutes. This is said by some to be due to the style and technique of playing of the day, and by others to be a design flaw. Maybe a more balanced view is that players evolved their style and technique alongside whatever flutes were available, and those flutes were then also made to suit that style and technique ? Either way, flutes that required less player activity to play in scale mostly won out eventually. Here I'm starting with the basis that a flute tuned within 10 cents either way of center is acceptable as tuned, that is a range of 20 cents, all with only minimal change of embouchure or air pressure (needed to change octave) although I personally aim for a 10 cent range, and possibly others look for an even smaller range, particularly for classical instruments ?

On the Rudall style flute I can take the lowest note from C -25 cents up to D +50 cents, that is over two notes, just using embouchure and air pressure. For second octave the range is a mere 50 cents, it breaks into harmonics or first octave. So tuning range is probably going to be more demanded by the higher notes than base notes , and the pitch of higher notes stand out more also.

So, if anyone decides on making the above flute, they are going to have to be prepared for quite a lot of work to handle it well, because it needs effort to keep it in tune, particularly by pushing base notes. Making or adding a long foot will help a lot for the base notes, or otherwise a fuller playing style that uses much air (say sligo style) will keep the base notes higher (as in tuning achieved I pictured).

In short, it is not really a beginner flute, but can be used as one by keeping just first octave in tune with itself, and then later re-tuning as second octave is being used. In that case we might start by leaving all toneholes slightly undersize (say minus a mm diameter) and tuned to each other in 1st octave, learning to raise them to approach their second octave by air pressure, then later re-tune so that second octave is in tune with itself and that top few notes of first octave also match second, with base notes now low ...and then you will have to push those base notes when playing. Adding a foot would help.

Alternatively, just start with all notes close in first and second... except base notes which a player would have to put up with as low until having learned to push them higher.

Other makers have found their way around these details to some degree, which are what modern Pratten or Rudall based/styled flutes seem to be about. This would include changes to bore etc. to overcome difficulties. I also found a way of modifying the base discrepancy on short foot, but it is possibly more of a project for those that enjoy craftwork... a long foot would be easier and go a long way towards tuning the flute . I linked the modification below.

Personally, I found the tuning discrepancy too demanding as was, or to put it another way, I would not want to learn a new way of playing and an embouchure that runs contrary to the one I am at ease with. I have yet to finish tuning the flute though, moving all higher notes closer into line with similar embouchure and effor will help, and possibly the modification for base note will make it all workable... it seems so now, because the high 2nd octave D was making all other notes sound out, but after the mod. they are all close and it is now just a question of choosing best embouchure and air pressure to work with, as well as to work out anywhere any discrepancy between notes is obvious and adjusting that... because for some a small discrepancy stands out, while for others a larger discrepancy is not noticed.

At the end of own tuning though, anyone should have a flute more adapted to personal style and technique.

Anyway, I will be working on a cylinder flute design that would be capable but fit as first instrument also , and that should be a better first introduction to flute making as well as playing - in tune and easier to tune, steadier response. The Rudall and Pratten flutes have slightly more room for expression, the large holed renaissance I find more suited to melody, though there is a fair overlap.

The base D tonehole modification for short foot idea is here:

https://e.pcloud.link/publink/show?code ... JfJFBN3Ymy

So in short, the intervals between notes will change depending on styles and techniques, and the maker will choose those best adapted to the ones chosen or usually played.


An example, I pick up the Rudall style flute after playing a renaissance flute and the same tune I'm playing sounds well out. After now some twenty or so hours on the Rudall, I remember "ah yes, play it open with good amount of pressure" and the tune is all in line. Now, I could tune it more to fit the other style of playing, rolled in or small flute embouchure opening and medium pressure..
it is a choice. The Rudall is very flexible on 1st octave notes, so I would be having "a lot of fun" if I tried to tune to anything but a fairly steady (read fairly high or experienced ) pressure playing style... but it can be done over time. In that case you play the flute at own ease during say a week, and notice which notes seem often out or difficult when played at ease, then adjust for them. Then same again.

This is a reason why it is recommended to find one flute you like playing, that you like the sound of, because it takes time to learn the intricacies and subtle adjustment on a flute, particularly it seems these styles of flute, the positive side being that they offer a larger range of tone, pitch and expression. That is how it seems to me anyway, though others might disagree.

If you are making your own flutes though, it provides the opportunity to adjust them to what suits you, which involves some patience and learning but is also often rewarding.
Tonehole
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Re: Basic wooden flutemaking method, and resources

Post by Tonehole »

Thanks Greenwood -

not a flute maker here - player mostly.

The vintage era Rudall Rose flutes are very well made with all the tuning challenges you describe. I find the modern makers are particularly incredible at modifying the Rudall Rose bore to make up for the original limitations. I could never get a short D foot Rudall Rose anything close to D = 292Hz. Mostly C# at best :lol:

Phil Bleazey's flutes come to mind. His work is a little short of astounding, making confidence in only one offering of a hybrid tapering bore from the Rudall Rose model with a very bulbous headjoint similar to Pol Jezequel's designs - both of which deviate from the standard elegant Rudall Rose design found in makers who offer both Pratten bores and Rudall Rose bores. Interestingly neither flutemaker offers a sectionable short low D foot and is instead built as a 3 piece (headjoint, tuning tenon and body).

The corps d'echange for different pitch tunings would make a separate low D footjoint sensible although this option seems less common in 19th century romantic conical flutes (with the exception of Peter Worrell who offers A=440Hz and A=452Hz) for some of his shorter B flat designs.
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