How to Make a Flute Out of Wood
With all the new woodworking techniques you’re learning, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to make your own wooden musical instrument? How about the most common wooden musical wind instrument: a flute? This guide will show you how to make your own wooden flute.
Making your own wooden flute
In making a flute, you need the best kind of wood and basic woodworking instruments. Grab a pencil and paper to take note of the things you will need.
Things you’ll need
- Hand-held sander
- Masking tape
- Measuring tape
- Box cutter or sharp knife
1) Look for the ideal bamboo
Head to a local hardware store for some bamboo. You can look for bamboo growing in your area if this is indigenous to where you are located. Choose bamboo with a diameter between 3/4 inches and 7/8 inches. Look for thin-walled bamboo about 1/8 inch-thick or which is known to produce the best sound. Bamboo should also be well-seasoned and is not cracked.
The bamboo should have at least one node or a notch where it is solid inside instead of hollow. This is usually marked by circular ridges that may seem like joints in bamboo. One node will become the flute’s cork. Look for a smooth node without any holes in the outside or inside to maintain a good tone.
2) Preparing the bamboo
Remove the branches, sand down any notches. Use a hand sander because this is faster than using sandpaper and doing it by hand. If the piece of bamboo is a long piece select the part you are going to use and sand it down.
Cut the bamboo flute to the length you want according to the key. The length of the pipe determines the key. For a flute that plays in the key of A use a 14-inch length of pipe. For an F flute 18 inches and for a key of D 21 inches.
Cut outside of the node and not into it. Choose the node that will become the cork and measure 2 cm out from the node and mark it using a pencil. This area is will be the cork while the blowhole won’t be placed far from it so don’t cut into this area.
Knock out the solid nodes except for the one near the end serving as your cork. Use a hammer and chisel to stick against the node inside the tube to remove the nodes.
Clean out the inside of the flute with sandpaper wrapped around a dowel rod about 20 inches long. Rub the sandpaper against the inside of the bamboo to smooth out the inside of the tube.
3) Making the flute
Measure the wall thickness using your ruler. Measure the exact placement of the embouchure. It should be one diameter up from the cork. Calculate the diameter of the embouchure. Use a flute calculator like the Flutomat to calculate this for you. Use these measurements in the inner diameter and wall thickness of the flute.
Select the key you want to play in because this will affect the length of the flute. Measure the length between the finger holes with a flute calculator. Mark where each hole should be and make sure that these will fit your pole.
Clamp the bamboo down and drill the embouchure. Begin drilling with the 2mm (0.078 inches) drill bit and increase to a larger drill bit just like the 8 mm (0.315 inches). Sand the hole using a Dremel or any rotary tool to make the hole nice and smooth. Blow into the embouchure to test its sound. You can make the adjustments to the size of the mouthpiece at this time.
4) Finishing your project
Recheck the finger hole marks and make sure that they are in the right place respective to the blowhole before you drill. Drill in larger bits then slowly increase to the larger bits.
Clean up the insides of the flute. Using your rotary tool, sand the edges of the hole to make sure that these are smooth and perfect. Once the drill holes are clean, you are now ready to play.
A flute out of bamboo is one of the most common musical instruments. To make your flute, you must use the right kind, shape, and structure of bamboo, use the right tools and be patient in perfecting your work.