Turning the Native American style flute

After posting about showing the Bell woodturners how I make the flutes, I thought it a little ironic that I didn’t turn a flute at the woodturning group.  There are, afterall, several steps to making a flute and the turning is only one step, yet perhaps  one of the most fun steps.

With my new iPhone in a plastic bag and hanging from my peg board, I tried to capture a time lapse of flutes being turned.  This was not easy!  But you can judge the success for yourself.

A typical approach to the flute is to use a roughing gouge, a parting tool on the extreme ends so I can pay attention to how thin the walls get, and a sander.  The longer flutes vibrate in the middle and even though I have tried using a fine spindle gouge and a light touch, it is faster just to sand.  Usually after a 180 grit, I look for the boa constrictor syndrome.  Run your hand along the walls of the sound chamber (the longer part of the flute) and see if it’s smooth.  Inevitably there is a bump — not visible to the eye but to the hand.  I take a wide parting tool to those and a very light approach.  Then back to sanding: 180, 240, 320, and finally 400 grit.

The iPhone proved invaluable for taking the video. It’s smaller and lighter than any camera I have. It also has a darn good resolution.  As for the music, while I play an A minor flute as the melody line, the backing music was created in GarageBand on the iPhone too.  The first night I had the new iPhone, I was curious to see what it could do. I should have been sleeping but was so impressed with the speed of GarageBand (faster than my laptop!) I ended up composing backing tracks for my new “Night Song” album (hence the name).

Hope you enjoy.