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Blog entry by Den posted 10-13-2011 09:25 PM 6877 reads 8 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I start making a blog, I didn’t know I could put so much on one blog, so I made a lot of small blogs, then someone told me that I could combine all the blogs together, so that is what I did, so what you are reading is a combine of all the blogs into one. If I knew how to erase the other blogs I would.
1. You will need a Tuner, which you can get at a music store, tell them what you are planing to use it for and they should help you with that, I believe you can buy one for about $30.00 or less.
2. You will need a router that can hold a 7/8 (mm 22.225) (2.2225 cm) router bit, and if you think that you will be getting serious about making alot of flutes you might want to consider a Router that holds a 1/2 (mm 12.7) (1.27cm)and 1/4 (6.35 MM) (6.35 cm) shank. The bit you will need for this project is a core or round nose bit, because you are going to route two wood halves with a router bit that is 7/8 and each blank depth is going to be 7/16 (11.1125 mm) (1.11125 cm) and when you glue them together they will make a perfect circle that is 7/8 (22.225 mm) (2.2225) I will explain this later. If you have every drilled or thought that you would like to drill a bore of 7/8, (which I have had no experience in) then have at it. You will be dealing with a length of 22” (558.8 mm) (55.88 cm) over all. 2” (50.8 mm) (5.08cm) for the mouth, 4” (101.6 mm) 1.016 cm for the SAC (I will explain later, the air chamber) 1” (25.4 mm) (2,54cm)block inside the flute dividing the sac and the bore. and 16” (406.4mm) for the bore length. you can add another 1” if you want making it 17” (431.8 mm) (43.18 cm) long. Most of which will be cut off. Never cut it at the length of the diagram shown below, you need to creep upon the given size to reach your fundamental note. F# The type of wood used, and where you live plays a huge roll in how your flute will be voiced, your location or atmosphere play a huge problem in tuning your flute.


3. a Lathe would be helpful, but you can hand plain one if you don’t.
4. Some common sense; don’t know were you can get that.
5. Drill bits, small files, or fingernail files.
6. note book
The type of wood is personal, I prefer Cedar or Redwood, Cherry, and Rosewood. most.lumber places. Since this might be your first time at this you can get some cheep wood, or use what you have laying around. Write down every step you do in making your flute, so that you can remember what you though you did but didn’t do.
The wall thickness of your flute will be 3/16 (4.7625 mm) (.47625 cm);
You can make flutes with walls that are different in thickness, it can be 1/8 (3.175 mm)(.3175 cm) 3/16 (4.7625 mm) (.47625 cm)or 1/4. (6.35 mm) (.635 cm) The wall thickness of a flute can change the sound of the flute, and by changing the wall thickness of a flute will change where you put the finger holes in the flute. We will be dealing with a 3/16 wall.
Your I.D. of your flute should be 1”1/4 (31.75mm) (3.175cm) It doesn’t have to be perfect, but when your flute is turn it should be 3/16 wall thickness. the size of the TSH (True Sound Hole) which I will discuss later)and the size of the bore and it’s length base upon the Fundamental key chosen, will tell you where to place the finger holes in the body of the flute. I will provide that for you. here is what you will need as far as wood is concern.
2 pleces of wood
24” long 609.6 mm 60.96 cm
1”1/2 wide 38.1mm 3.81 cm
3/4 thick 19.05 mm 1.905 cm
Take the two pieces and lay them on top of each other or together in your hand and look to see if they fit tight together, hold them up to the light and see if light can be seen through them, if you see light You may have to plain them or sand them to make them fit close together. Once you have two sides that fit snug together, decide what end you want to have the bore end to be, also make sure that you mark those two piece you want to be the end and mark also the inside that is to be bore out, because mostly you will pick up one piece and do the wrong end and route out the top rather than the inside. Now, inside of the two blank that you put together you write the word cut or route, also decide which end you want to be the blow end, (the end to your mouth). When putting the two piece together, run several marks across both blanks on the side so you know that they go together in that direction.
Now get a square so you can draw a straight line. Make sure that both pieces are 24” long; (609.6 mm) lay them side by side of each other on a table or what ever/ and from the mouth end (that would be the small routed end), measure 2” (MM 50.8) (CM 5.08) and take your square and draw a line through both of them. (diagram shown below) (A)
from that line; and then from the line measure 4” (MM 101.6) (CM 1.016) Now at the end of the 4” line measure 1” (MM 25.4) (CM 2.54) and mark that the same way. Now take your sq. and follow the line on each piece of wood so that it follows all the way around your blank and meets. The diagram below should help you.
If you need to see a picture of this email me [email protected] remember hepler not helper pl not lp
Now, at each end draw a center line at both ends on both blanks.
In the 4” (101.6 mm) (10.16cm) area you will be routing out that area only and it will also be 7/16 (11.1125 mm) (1.11125 cm) deep and 7/8 wide, It is referred to as the SAC ( Slow Air Chamber) you will do this on both pieces. You can view it on the diagram. You will begin and end at the line you have drawn (with in the 4”) you are not to pass the line. When you put the two piece together you will line up the lines drawn on the sides, see diagram. The 1” is to be solid as well as the 2” (50.8 mm ) (5.08 cm )(not routed) at the end of the 1” (25.4 mm) (2.54 cm ) line closes to the end of the flute, you start or stop at that line. From the 1” line to the bottom of the flute, you route the same as you did the 4” SAC ,, 7/16 deep 7/8 wide.
If you start with one piece say at the bottom first and route to the 1” line, the other blank you start at the opposite end; in other words one piece is to start opposite the first piece. see diagram. look of arrow direction..
You do this to keep the wall thickness the same when they are put together, it is not uncommon to have wall thickness different, this will help to have both walls the same thickness when you put them together.
Because I’ve been doing this for so long I realize that what I have written makes sense only to me, and that it may not make any sense to you so please help me to help you make sense out of this, no question is toooo stupid. Email [email protected]

This picture has to do with, two channels, also the attachment is off, the SAC area is 4” and you should have 2” from the SAC to the end of the wood. Between Your SAC and BORE, is 1” (25.4 mm) (2.54cm) this becomes a space block between the two chambers SAC and Bore.
Draw a line with a Square that follows all around and meets together. Do this with both halves. The picture missing is the same as below. (A) Having selected the half you want for the top, draw a center line on this half and draw the
SAC and TSH which should measure 3/8 wide (9.525 mm) (0.9525 cm)by 7/32 (mouth to Foot) (5.55625 mm)(0.555625cm) Do not go larger, this is very important (A)
Now that you have drawn the lines, turn over the one you have chosen to be the top of your flute.
Now on top of your work piece the one chosen for your top with the center line. Draw your SAC and TSH as shown in the picture below.
” they are 3/8” wide (9.525 MM) (0.9525CM) left to right and 7/32” up and down (5.55625 MM) (0.555625 CM)
it is very important that this size is not bigger or smaller than what is given in the diagram. Once you have drawn them out, drill them out.
Get a drill bit that does not go beyond the line or size that you have drawn 3/8 7/32 use small files to enlarge to set size. After you drill the holes in the sac and tsh it should look like the diagram below, notice that in the picture the holes are not out side the line.
This other picture is the other side. I use small files for the tsh and sac to open and square the shape of the tsh and sac to it’s proper size .

continue to work on the sac and tsh, remembering not to go over the line, they must remain 3/8” by 7/32
(9.525mm by 5.55625 mm) (0.9525 cm by 0.555625)

this picture show a ruff look at what you will try to accomplish as you file,
you should notice in this picture that the SAC and the TSH are up against the block. Every flute makers has his own idea as to where to put the TSH; either against the block or some will measure about 1/8 (3.175 mm)1/4” (6.35mm) (0.635 cm) from the block wall. I go about 1/16 1.5875) from the block and file back. After your have gotten the TSH and SAC file as shown in the picture. the distance between tsh and sac is 1” . In this area sand so that it is smooth, no deep lines that might have been put there by nicking it etc. you want that area to be smooth, so you could put a square on it and drag it from one end to the other and see no light under the square. Turn over your work piece and use a razor to cut a line on both sides of the TSH and SAC about a 1/2” long (12.7 MM) (1.27 cm) (does not have to be exact) it is design to direct air to the exit of the SAC hole. And help you shape the TSH
Then use a chisel to chisel a ramp at a 45 degree. Make sure you do not exceed the 3/8 wide (9.525 MM) (0.9525 cm).

both the sac and tsh should look like the below picture. again by no means finished.

as you chisel down, you will have to watch the edge of the TSH and SAC, leave about 3/32” (2.38125 mm) (0.238125)on the edge of the TSH, you can leave more wood on the edge.
When you are done, sand the area around the TSH and SAC as smooth as possible and the bore length. I put a sealer in both the SAC area and the bore. Then I put 4 to 5 coats of Shellec and cover it well. you can use a paint brush or use a rag. You do not want to have any spill on the edges where you will be applying glue, because it will pop apart latter; so keep it clean. . Before gluing, get a stick and wrap it with a paper towel, and tape it to the stick the stick should be long enough to go all the way down the bore…get the towel wet with water, after gluing you will want to put it in the bore end to wipe out the excess glue that has spill into the bore. You can choose your own glue for wood. I use Titebond 3.
You will want enough clamps to clamp about 4” (101.6 mm) (10.16 CM) apart from each other, I clamp both ends first and line up the bore, so that it is perfectly round (7/8 bore) and the mark at the blow end; because of the glue the pieces will slide so when you done clamping recheck everything. Remember not to clamp to hard, your no trying to squeeze out the glue. Let the flute set up over night.
Before you lathe your flute, you will want to measure from the SAC towards the mouth 1”1/4 (31.75 mm)(3.175 cm) you will also want to apply the same measurement (1”1/4) to the TSH and measure towards the foot of the flute, you’ll need to mark that with a dark line so that when you lathe your flute you do not pass that line as you will go in to your TSH and SAC area. see diagram (Yellow)
and when you are done lathing your flute it should look like the diagram above. I usually plane the bottom part of the nest to match the flute on the lathe.

Your mouth piece can be any shape.

Below are pictures of the kinds of blocks that sit on top of the SAC and in front of the TSH/

The photo above is made from two kinds of wood. The dark wood is 3/8 wide, which is the same size as the TSH, the light wood was glued to create side flanges. The photo below is cut from one piece of wood

The next two shows the under side of the block. as you can see I glued a 1/32 piece of wood as shown, this 1/32” (0.79375mm) (0.079375 cm) allows the air to flow from the SAC to the TSH,

The below photo is a routed channel in the block . also two of the photos shown have no side flanges. The Flanges are to block wind if you play outside from going over the TSH/ it also helps to get the airflow forwarding across the TSH more directly. For some reason beyond me, the block design with or without flanges, will change the sound of the flute, even if the flanges are 5/8 high it will change the sound. Try making different block and see if you notice a difference. One thing, what ever block you tune your flute with, that block stays with that flute. Don’t mix blocks after tuning your flute because it will not sound right.

I drill holes in the side of the block to tie down the block on the flute. Some just rap the leather around the block, what is important is that it sits tight and snug on the nest, after you tie down your block, lift it up to the light and see if you can see light underneath your block and the flute, there must be no light, do this before tuning.
By the way, 1/32 is a set channel do not go bigger or smaller, trust me on this one.
If you have completed your flute up to this point you will want to cut a ramp towards the SAC where the air comes out. (This is shown in the picture below.)
Start measuring from the back of the TSH 3/8 and draw a line, from the line to the sac, chisel a ramp, this angle should be 35 degree, he helps with the pressure build up, you can make it a deeper angle, what will happen is it will change the air pressure and how it response, so in reality angle it to fit what you like, (experiment) If you have the flue longer and their are many who do, like 1” or 3/4 long this creates a lot of moisture and you won’t beable to play for a long time, you will have to untie your block and wipe out the moisture, you will know that the moisture is build up because it will be harder to blow and it will sound funny. so keep the flue or what I call the air runway about 3/8 long (9.525 mm) (0.9525 cm) the 3/8 is the flat part, referred to as the flue. The picture shows that the TSH and SAC nest are routed down in the flute; we are not going to do that. You should try different nest as you continue making flute to see which you like best also you might like them all.

The first diagram shows how the air comes out of the sac and how the block should sit over the SAC area the right side of the diagram shows what the area looks like with out the block. Most flute players move the block back from the TSH about 1/8 (3.175)mm

the last diagram show and ex-ray side of a flute and how the air flows.

When you have finished lathing your flute and have plane sides and under the flute, take your flute and drill a 5/16 (7.9375 mm) (0.79375cm)hole for the mouth end, blow out the shavings, look down the mouth to make sure that it’s clean, you can do this by having the sac exit face the light. At this point it’s time to put an edge on the TSH (which is towards the foot).. Now file the edge of your TSH and it doesn’t have to be sharp, (I like mine sharp as I can get it, remember you can chip this area very easly. you can have 2/32 (1.5875 mm) (0.15875) blunt end if you would like. The edge of the TSH will change the sound of the flute base upon how thick or thin the tsh is. Remember to sq. up the edges of the hole the best you can, and make sure the the inside of the TSH around the side is filed. Sand the ramp and edges smooth, I use a jeweler eye piece to view that area and finger holes, you don’t want any wood hairs. Put your block on the sac and in front of your tsh move it back and forth, some like it about a dimes width from the back of the tsh as I’ve mention.

At this point you are ready to blow in your flute to get a fundamental of F# If your measurement was 17 inch long, a couple inches longer than the diagram shows, that is not a mistake, and therefore will not give you a F# right off.. I usually have a few inches added so that I can cut and creep upon the fundamental, I have found that different woods, and atmosphere makes a difference. As you blow in your flute, make a cut about 1/4 (6.35) and with each cut blow in your flute and you will see yourself getting closer to the fundamental. (make a note of it) Almost every 1” (25.4) is a different note. so that should guide you as to how much to cut. And if you drew a line from what the diagram suggest that also will be your guide to where you want to cut to, if for any reason it is not, say your 1/4” off, and you have a good fundamental, then wait and come back to it, (as it might change.)

Before you drill the finger holes. You should have establish your F#, your F# should be 5 Cents to the plus, because as you drill the finger holes it will drop to 440-A- center. As you blow in your flute you should also be getting an over blow sound which means that the sound jumps a octave or two don’t panic as this is normal, look down below where it says “Here is how to fix the over blow”. once fixed continue on. If you have your Perfect F# and it is right on or close to the length given in diagram you are now ready to drill your finger holes. Start from the bottom and measure up, and mark all finger holes on your flute. The first hole at the bottom is referred to as hole number 1, next 2, 3 and so forth. Here it is up to you how you want to tune each finger hole, what I mean is, some believe that you drill one hole and tune it, then drill hole two and tune it and so forth. I drill all 6 holes first, because each hole sounds and tunes to each other. I also tune each hole about 10 to 15 cents to the neg (-) side, I do this with all holes and then let the flute sit for a half hour, then go back and fine tune each hole to right on 440-A center and you can go 5 cent to the plus (+) which I prefer.,because I know that playing the flute can change with atmosphere etc.

that whole area needs to be filed about a 45 degree; do about 6 stokes, (not many) the back of the tsh too. (confused //write me) [email protected] now move the block back towards the mouth about 1/8” (3,175mm) (0.3175cm) until it sounds good. Usually if you put the block so that it’s not up against the TSH it sounds better.
The diagram below will show you what each note for each finger hole should be. The diagram below has the size of the finger holes already given, however my advise to you is to start 3 sizes smaller than what is given and as you tune each note you enlarge it as you go, even tho you may end up with the given size that was given in the diagram.
Below is a repeat of what has already be given, just a little different…...
Cover all finger holes and play to hear the F# then start with the bottom finger hole open to get a note of A if not an A enlarge the hole and continue until you reach an A////This is important, two things you need to do, 1) never drill or enlarge any finger hole bigger than what is given in the diagram if you need to enlarge a finger hole larger than what is given….you need to undercut as shown in the drawing below. 2) bring all finger holes 10 to 15 cents to the(-) which is to the left of your tuner, tune all finger holes to the left of the tuner – cents,, it does not have to be right on 20 cents to the – around there. Let the flute set for a while and then fine tune all finger holes, about 5 cents to the + to the right of the tunes. TUNING…follow the diagram of the finger holes below, follow the left one which I prefer, Cover all fingers, lift up the number 1 and tune it, leave it 15 or so to the – cents, then next hole (second hole) from the bottom to tune it to the note of B and continue to enlarge it until you get a B, to the – cents as above, continue on up and do the same for the first 3 finger holes, the 4th finger hole is tune different. cover the third hole and cover 5 and 6 leaving the 4 hole open. To tune the 5 hole your cover the 6th hole and 4th hole only. The Diagram below will show that,( the one to the left referred as cross fingering) Remember to stick to the diagram measurements that are give for the flute. If you come to a given note in the diagram and your finger hole is smaller than what is given but you still achieve the note, then leave it, the size given for the finger holes iin the diagram are not written in stone. just the note is…..Don’t worry too much about the undercutting diagram below.,except when you need to tune it beyond what is given size. Remember that if you haven’t reach your note, and the hole is the size given in the diagram, Start undercutting all around the hole, (example in diagram) if that still doesn’t do it, enlarge the hole a little. But if you followed everything, you shouldn’t have to do that.
Below are two diagrams for tuning, if you choose the right side, pattern 322222, then your flute tuning will be different. instead of having F# //A B C# D E F#, IT WILL BE—
F#// A B C# D# F G,

Well everyone hope this helps, take care. Inches and MM diagram below.

IF YOU DECIDE TO EMAIL ME here is my email [email protected] remember that hepler is not helper the p and l can be confusing…

6 comments so far

View Letorix's profile


119 posts in 3243 days

#1 posted 10-14-2011 04:29 AM

Very interesting, good job and info.

View rance's profile


4272 posts in 3900 days

#2 posted 10-31-2011 09:11 AM

Interesting process. You’ve blogged it well. Although I find it very interesting, I doubt I’ll be making one any time soon. Techniques DO cross boundries though. Thanks for sharing.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View dduf018's profile


1 post in 2796 days

#3 posted 10-15-2012 12:44 AM

Thanks for a great post…I’m going to try this…

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24589 posts in 3845 days

#4 posted 08-22-2014 01:34 PM

Thanks , Den for the great instruction!!

Do you know Bill Hughes from Utah?

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View pkj's profile


5 posts in 2011 days

#5 posted 12-04-2014 04:18 AM

Dennis I just met a week or so ago and he turned out to be one of the most helpful person that was more than willing to share his knowledge with me. He even invited me to his shop and showed me what I was doing wrong and helped fix my flutes. I want to build a beautiful sounding flyte and learn to make them as pretty sounding as well as looks. Dennis has helped get started he is an awesome person to ask for help. Thanks for taking time to help me.

-- Paul

View bigfoot13hh's profile


1 post in 1773 days

#6 posted 07-28-2015 04:55 PM

Excellent instructions. I have a couple of questions about equipment needed for construction. Would you be willing to visit via phone? If so please email me at [email protected]

Thanks, Paul

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