Luc Verhoeven logo
Home   Visit the Gallery   Read the FAQ   Sold Items   Visit the Historical Flutes Gallery   Links   How my flutes are made


How my flutes are made.

Be patient, be very patient.This page contains a zillion pictures!

Disclaimer: This is NOT an 'how to make a flute' manual. It is an impression of how I make a wooden flute. Some necessary steps may have been forgotten. I do not show all 'odds and bits' and may have forgotten to take pictures of essential steps in the process.  If an eye or a finger is lost when trying to do what is shown on this page I cannot be held responsible.   Following the 'intructions' below will result in a wooden stick with holes in it, not a flute. It takes more than what is shown here. Whatever you do, be sure to take safety precautions. Wear safety goggles and gloves! Ask advice from a skilled person! Keep away from small children! Et cave canem !

how/002.jpg
Choose a nice log of wood from your woodpile and choose a design. A good detailed drawing comes in handy.

how/004.jpg
Mark out the pieces and put arrows on them.The arrows will help to get the grain aligned while working. I always draw them 'foot to head'.

how/004.jpg
Cut the pieces of wood. (Yes, I use a hand saw. That's what 'handmade' means!)

how/005.jpg
Four pieces ready for the lathe.

how/006.jpg
The foot piece is chucked in. Ready to cut the socket. The sockets on the other parts will be made after the bore has been reamed. Since the foot has a reverse taper it's not possible to use my 'socket cutting system' on this.

how/007.jpg
The foot socket is drilled with a Forstner bit.

how/008.jpg
After the foot socket has been drilled it's time to predrill the foot bore. This is done about 1 to 2 mm undersize.

how/009.jpg
A nice socket!

how/010.jpg
The foot is held between centers and turned to a cylinder.

how/011.jpg
The rough turning is done. In this stage the grain of the wood starts showing and gives a hint of how the flute will look like in the end. The piece will now be stocked to be able to stabilize for several weeks before it gets reamed and finished.

how/012.jpg  how/013.jpg
The head, left hand and right hand need to be step drilled before they can be reamed to the final dimension.
First stage is drilling a pilot hole. I use an 8 mm shell auger. You can see the drill sticking out of the tail stock in the first picture.
(Of course the tail stock will be butted up to the billet when drilling, but that way you cannot see anything!)
The shell auger is fed by hand through the tail stock.This is a slow process. Drilling the head gives me about 10 to 15 minutes to reflect on life (Flutemaking is Zen!).

how/014.jpg  how/015.jpg
This gives an idea of the accuracy of a shell auger.First picture=entrance, second picture=exit. Almost no run out.

how/016.jpg  how/017.jpg
The pilot hole is enlarged with a series of spade drills ground to a V-shape. After this stage the bore starts being conical (be it in steps).

how/018.jpg
Time for reaming! The bore is reamed to the final dimensions, again this is done by hand.

how/019.jpg  how/020.jpg
After the bore is reamed the billet is turned between centers to a cylinder. It is now left to stabilize for several weeks.
During this period the bore will shrink a little and sometimes become slightly oval. After the waiting period the bore will get a second reaming.

how/021.jpg
Head, LH and RH reamed and ready!

how/022.jpg  how/023.jpg
The flute I'm making will feature 'faux' ivory rings. These are drilled with Forstner bits on the lathe

how/024.jpg  how/025.jpg
... and cut with a hacksaw.

how/026.jpg
While the ivory is on the lathe I turn the endcap.

how/027.jpg  how/028.jpg
After being reamed the foot is turned between centers.

how/029.jpg
A shoulder is turned to take the faux ivory ring.

how/030.jpg
The ivory rings are glued to the foot...

how/031.jpg
...and turned to the desired profile.

how/032.jpg
Time to cut the socket of the head. You can see the self made nylon guide and boring bar in this picture.

how/033.jpg  how/034.jpg
The guide is inserted in the head and held snug with the 2 O-rings.The boring bar can move freely in the guide and cuts a nice concentric socket.

how/035.jpg
Cutting a socket is as easy as that!

how/036.jpg  how/037.jpg
After the socket for the RH piece is cut in the same way as for the head (with a different guide and boring bar of course) the ivory ring is glued on and it is finished.

how/038.jpg
Every socket needs a tenon to go with it.

how/039.jpg  how/040.jpg
All sockets and tenons cut and the desired profiles turned. Now this actually starts to look like a flute.

how/041.jpg  how/042.jpg
Since this is a one-keyed flute I need to make a key.I glue a paper cutout of the key onto a strip of brass and trace it with a marking awl.
I shape the strip of brass with a hacksaw and some files.

how/043.jpg
A rough shaped key with the necessary tools

how/044.jpg  how/045.jpg
The strip is only 1.5 mm thick and so I need to solder a small bit of brass onto it to hold the pivot pin.

how/046.jpg
Of course we need a spring which is riveted to the key with a simple brass nail.

how/047.jpg  how/048.jpg
A passing on the buffing wheel and the key is finished.

how/049.jpg
I drill the hole to take the pin first.

how/050.jpg  how/051.jpg
Then after roughing out the keyslot with a Dremel I use a broach to get the keyslot to the wanted depth and width.
The broach removes the wood in a fast and secure way.

how/052.jpg  how/053.jpg
The keyslot is finished. The key is fitted.

how/054.jpg  how/055.jpg
The fingerholes are set out on the different pieces and drilled (slightly undersize)

how/056.jpg  how/057.jpg
The mouthhole is drilled with a series of drills to a diameter slightly undersize.

how/058.jpg
The mouthhole is made oval and sized to the final dimensions. The undercutting is done by hand with a pull rasp, scrapers and my favourite tool: a dowel with sandpaper.
(The fingerholes are sized to the final dimensions and undercut in the same way)

how/059.jpg  how/059b.jpg
The flute is immersed in tung oil and left to soak for at least 24 h.

how/060.jpg  how/060b.jpg
Excess oil is removed and the flute is left to dry for at least a week.

how/061.jpg
All tenons are fitted with thread and greased.

no picture yet
After a final voicing and tuning a coat of carnauba wax can be applied and the flute is ready to be played.

no picture yet
All finished! I can now play it in gradually and do some more tweaking as I get to know the flute.
Eventually it will end up on the website to make somebody else happy.