On making an instrument *6

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February 18, 2009

My flute has holes! And, as a friend said, “Wow, look, it has bling!”

flute with holes and bling

Rewind a couple of hours: Today was a very fun class for me. Drilling the holes on the milling machine was actually very easy, and it is somehow very fulfilling to complete that part that, in fact, makes this wooden cylinder a flute, both visually and functionally.  I first had to mark the embouchure and finger holes on the wood with a pencil – I had found the distances by reducing those of my tenor flute by 25%. Then off to the milling machine I went, where Paul showed me how to set it up and secure the wood onto the base. Here is the cylinder clamped onto the milling machine. If you look closely, you can see small pencil marks where the holes will be.

on milling machine


waiting for action

So then, the drill bit is spinning around, and you slowly lower it with the lever, and it very easily just drills into the wood.

the completed flute body

The headjoint was the same, though we used a little bit bigger drill bit for that one. Here’s the finished headjoint.  (I apologize that the focus in the photo is actually on the corks in the back. I’m using my iPhone 3G camera for this whole journey, mostly because I always have it handy. But, the shorter cork is the one we chopped a bit off of to use in the headjoint.)

headjoint and corks

Once I sanded it inside (to remove any little splinters created by drilling), we put the cork in (which Paul measured and shaped while I wasn’t looking), and then the moment of truth…

My flute plays! It is in G, at 415. Ultimately we want it in G at 440, but that will get worked out in the next couple of weeks.