Monday, April 13, 2009

"Branching" out...

Back when I collected some cedar and dogwoods from that forest that was ripped down a couple of years ago, I held on to this stick of cedar thinking one day I'd split it and make a 'branch flute'. There are some flute makers who do this exclusively, and it's a neat concept. Certainly some of the earliest aboriginal flutes were made this way...split, hollowed out, and the lashed back together using sinew and natural adhesives. Ah, if it were only that easy!

Anyway, I had a hankering to split it and try my hand at time I'll take pictures of all the steps, but in this case I just flew into it rather quickly. I used a Dremel tool and cutter heads to work at hollowing out the heartwood (thankfully, cedar is quite soft and easy to work)...get's tricky because you don't want to cut too close to the outside.

Long story short, I hollowed it to my satisfaction and glued it up overnight. Making the 'nest' area for the block and sound hole mechanisms creates some obstacles to overcome. I have various tools that will make it easier in the future, but I chose a flattish area and filed it to a usable size. Given the length and the bore I cut, I knew I had to drop a tuning hole somewhere down the flute, so I found a small knot area that seemed to be about the right proportion that I needed, location-wise, and burned it out. Very natural looking hole, if I do say so myself.

The wood had a significant number of long cracks, the worst of which I filled in with CA glue (super glue) and a little bit with Bali Coral powder. I at first used varnish to fill in the smaller cracks because it dries so quickly; however, I didn't like the 'look' and took 400-grit sandpaper and sanded it off, being careful to preserve as much of the woods natural form and beauty as I could. Once I got it off, I went back to multiple hand-rubbed coats of "salad bowl finish", a nice penetrating oil that dries hard and 'safe'. The lustre of this flute is really gorgeous.

Well, wouldn't you know it...when I checked the flute for a fundamental, I got a perfectly clear note that was a hair under "A", and given this happened right at my "Verdi A432" epiphany, I tuned this puppy Verdi-style. I really do plan on getting a video/audio sample of my playing it, maybe today, so I can embed it into the blog (stay tuned!)

(click on pics to enlarge)

In the pictures you notice there is no block/fetish...I kept trying different blocks but they just didn't go with the flute. I returned to the same area and picked up old pieces of cedar to see if I could come up with a unique but naturally shaped block...

Alas, I took a small, simple piece and 'roughed it' into a modest, low profile bird...and it seems to fit the flute perfectly as the body gets to stand out front and center...

It's a dream-flute that I will keep in my stead, along with the original low E Verdi I blogged about earlier. They are not only special but 2 of the finest playing flutes I've made. Too, they're matched Verdis, so I can record them together. Ah, where are those 36-hour days I need???

1 comment:

Mark Smith said...

Your the Flute makin Man!!! Great work