The first flutes were carved from materials such as wood and ivory. These flutes can produce the same melodic sound that we hear from modern flutes. Wood is an ideal material for carving flutes, but it makes it much easier if you choose a softer wood that is meant for carving, such as basswood, aspen mahogany or butternut.
Wear gloves and protective eyewear. Secure the wood into the vice, and saw it so the rod is a foot long. Keep the wood in the vice to begin the hollowing process.
Use the longest drill bit you have and start drilling from the centre of one edge of the wooden rod. Do this to hollow out the middle. This will take some time because you must be careful and detailed when hollowing out the rod. Hollow out as much as you can with the drill bit on each side, then take a piece of sandpaper and secure it to the drill bit. Continue hollowing out the flute with the sandpaper.
Repeat Step 2 on the other side of the wood. Be careful to smooth the edges as much as you can inside the wood to create the hollow appearance of a flute. Once completed, make sure you can see all the way through the flute and that the sides are even to each other.
Create a cap for one side of the flute. Carve a round top about a 1/2 inch tall and 3/4 inch in diameter. Glue a small piece of cork slightly smaller in circumference to the cap, and insert that into one of the hollow sides of the flute. This will make sure the air goes only in the blowhole and out the end hole.
Use sandpaper secured around a metal rod to finish off hollowing out the wooden flute. Glue the top wood piece back on with wood glue. Let it dry. This is what will be closest to the blowhole.
Mark a 1/2 inch down from this top with your writing utensil. This will be the blowhole. Next, move down one more inch and make a mark. This will be the first finger hole. Keep moving 3/4 inch down from there, marking a hole each time until you have seven marks, including the blowhole.
Soak the flute in warm water for a half hour to moisten the wood and to keep it intact when you drill the holes. Pat it dry after soaking.
Heat up a small drill bit over a flame, and carefully drill through the marked blowhole and finger holes. After drilling, go back and reinsert the drill bit into each hole while holding it with a pair of pliers.
Insert the metal rod with sandpaper secured around it into the hollowed out body to get rid of any debris. Insert a small drill bit secured with sandpaper around it into each of the seven holes to smooth out any ridges.
Use the small and large files to design detail and curves to the flute. Attempt to the play the flute, and use the tuner to find the correct notes.
Always practice extreme caution when using sharp instrument, open flames and power tools
Tips and warnings
- Always practice extreme caution when using sharp instrument, open flames and power tools
Things you need
- Rod of wood 3/4 inch in diameter
- Power drill
- 1/4-inch-thick slice of cork
- Protective eyewear
- Assortment of drill bits
- Small file
- Measuring tape
- Marking utensil
- Metal rod
- Round file
- Wood glue
- Bench with a vice clamp