Monday, March 22, 2010

"Ugly Boy...start your engine!"


It's been a slow train a-comin' since last fall when my router system died.  Any new flutes I've produced since then were from a group I'd glued up and planed down before the unfortunate demise.

But with the advent of 'warmer' and non-snowy weather, the new Freud system showed me it's 'stuff' late last week, what with it's hefty, powerful router motor cutting through wood like butter.  It is significantly easier to work with and overall will help me be more productive.  Thanks, Santa!!!

Below is the first graduating class from Freud High...there are 3 transfer students that really don't have anything to do with the router system, though, the 2 branch flutes (top) halved and ready to be hand-gouged, as well as the almost-completed branch flute you'll read about in a minute.

There are 3 flutes in the middle that still have electrical tape on the ends...putting end caps on flutes would be a piece of cake with epoxy, except for one little thing that makes all the difference in the world:  it is MUCH harder to cut and achieve a true flat surface that is 90-degrees to the flute body.  You would think that as I slowly drop the chop saw that it would do the trick, but it doesn't always do that...I'm talking very minor gaps and imperfections, but it takes a lot of effort to do it 'right'.

Those end-capped flutes are with my more premium woods.  The top one is figured Myrtle with Claro Walnut endcaps; next is Quilted Maple with figured Sapele caps, followed by Curly Maple with figured Sapele caps.

Those 3 along with the bottom 2 are all 1" bore flutes, and most likely will fall very close to mid F in key.  The Yellowheart flute (take a guess!) and one below it are 7/8" bore and will more than likely be G/Ab.  On the far right are 2 round-bore flutes with a 1/2" bore, and most likely will fall more towards high E.  But you do see one next to those that is already prepped for finishing...

I had always been meaning to go by the large warehouse of a Habitat for Humanity resale store in Asheville. While very close to the prestigious Biltmore Village, it's off on an industrial side road, with a rutted, muddy-when-wet parking lot across the street.  The hillside by the parking lot is full of young 'trash' trees of various species, unkempt from years of neglect in a no-owner's zone of sorts.  The day I went by I saw some pruned branches litering the edge...and noticed many were naturally hollow and very light.  Now you know why I carry a small handsaw in the back of the car...

I have reason to believe the hollowed branches were younger shoots of Royal Paulownia, and while I've never done it before, I dug through long drill bits and cleaned out the bore by hand, inserting a cork to divide the 2 flute chambers, and opting for a teak soundboard insert as the wood was stringy and wouldn't shave flat.  The upshot is this is a bored flute and hasn't been split in half and glued...and to add to the character the bark is perfectly intact.  It's a sweet high D flute that will need to have good finish coats on it so the bark is sealed on, but it's almost ready to roll.

I will be deterred by other projects and auditions for the next couple of days, but it feels good to have the ball rolling again, and the mental cobwebs blown out from months of negotiating these woodworking steps.  Amen for spring!

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