Pre Tuned Kit Instructions
All of our flute making kits come with printed instructions. If you don't find the answers to your questions here, send us an email or give us a call.
Take a look at the picture below to familiarize yourself with the names for the various parts of the flute.
Deck damage: In my experience, the most common kind of damage to a flute kit is rounding over of the deck. The area where the block sits, called the deck, needs to be perfectly flat (as it is when you receive it). We have outlined this area on your flute kit with pencil. Sometimes rounding of the flute ends up rounding over the deck too. The flute won't work if this happens. It may either sound bad, or not make sound at all.
Breakthrough: There are two chambers inside of your flute, One you can look up into from the bottom end of the flute, and the other sits beneath the flute block. This second chamber is called the slow air chamber and is pictured above. When you are shaping your flute, it is very important to remember not to take too much wood away as you are tapering the mouth piece. There is 2 3/4 inches measured from the mouth end of the flute that can safely be tapered where the walls of the flute are thicker before the slow air chamber. To the left is a photo of a Stellar Basic flute showing a taper that is within a safe range.
Block damage: The groove in the bottom of the block is very precisely milled. If it is sanded or dented your flute may make bad sound, or no sound at all. The block is placed on the flute so that the square hole furthest from the mouth is completely exposed. When the block is placed correctly, air will be channeled over the front exposed square hole to create a "whistle". To the right is a picture of how the block should be placed.
Wall thickness: The flute can be completely rounded over, but the wall thickness by the finger holes and four “direction” holes should remain the same. It is safe to use sandpaper ofver the fingering holes, but avoid using your plane, or other carving tool. Just shave off the corners of the flute until it is rounded and finish rounding with sandpaper. If the wall thickness over the holes gets too thin the flute will raise in pitch.
Scratches and dents: Cedar is soft and will get dented and scratched easily. Be careful about zippers, buttons, rings, and other hard scratching your flute. you may want to put an old towel or pad down on your work bench to avoid damaging your flute kit.
Note: Most mistakes can be fixed. If you get into trouble contact us. We will try to help.
Shapping your flute
Your flute kit comes fully playable, but it still needs to be shaped and varnished. To begin, you will want to remove a lot of wood quickly. The best method, in my experience, to do this by hand is to use a block plane. You can find an inexpensive “pocket plane” at most hardware stores. You can alternatively use a rasp, a carving knife, a router, a lathe, or if you are feeling especially ambitious, coarse sandpaper. You will remove wood, rounding the corners and tapering the mouth end of the flute remembering all the things to avoid from the common mistakes section. Once you are happy with the shape of your flute, you can move on to sandpaper.
sanding your flute
You will begin with 60 grit sandpaper and aggressively sand your flute until it is a smooth round shape with no visible gouge marks from shaping. The idea is to finish shaping your flute with the coarsest grit of sandpaper. All consecutive grits will be to remove the scratches from the previous grit. You will move through the grits in this order, 60, 80, 100, 120, 150, 180, 220. When you have finished sanding with 220 grit sandpaper, your flute should be smooth to the touch with no visible scratches or gouges. If there are stretches visible before you varnish, they will stand out much more after varnish is applied.
Varnishing your flute
NOTE:Here is a very important thing to consider. The inside of the slow air chamber should be well sealed. This part of the flute collects condensation when played and the moisture will cause the inside wood to expand, cracking the flute.
Handy Tool/ Materials: 2 “ diameter plastic plumbing pipe PVC or ABS about 30”, cap to fit pipe, clear gloss polyurethane (strongly recommended), paint thinner or naphtha, a lag screw that fits the blow hole (5/16”?), some kind of swab to wipe out the bore (a shotgun swab is what we use ), paper towels, a stick (pencil or small screw driver) to use to transfer the flute to the peg, a peg or nail in a board to hang flute on to dry, 220 grit sandpaper.
Varnishing method: One method of getting every part of the flute inside and out well coated with Polyurethane is to dip it. To do this we use plastic plumbing pipe. Use a pipe 2 inches in diameter and about 30”long. Fit it with the end cap. Secure it in an upright position. The polyurethane and mineral spirits or naphtha, can be poured into the pipe. We use 90% polyurethane and 10% thinner (estimate!). Screw the lag screw gently into the blow hole of the flute as a convenient holder and plunge the flute completely into the poly, coating it inside and out. Remove it from the varnish and let it drip for a few minutes over the pipe. Hold it slanted with the holes down so the liquid can drain from the slow air chamber. Still holding it by the lag screw, swab out the bore to prevent drips. While the swab rod is still in the flute, wipe off all excess poly form the outside with folded paper towel. Remove the swab and put a rod through two of the direction holes and unscrew the lag. Then place the flute, blow hole down on a nail so the last bit of poly can drip out. Have the holes on the upside of the slant now so nothing can run out there. Check for drips once more in a few minutes. Allow to dry overnight. After the flute is completely dry sand it lightly with 220 grit sandpaper to break the gloss. At this point you should remove 20% of the poly from the tube and replace it with thinner. The next three coats will use this thinner mix. Repeat the dipping process three more times, sanding slightly between each coat. When the final coat is dry you can rub it out with the finest steel wool and apply a thin coat of bee’s wax.
Final Note: Another important tip. You can not substitute an oil finish for thew polyerethane in the above method. No oil finish will provide the water protection needed in the slow air chamber. Because wiping off excess oil is a necessary part of oil finishing, the inside of the slow air chamber would become a permanently sticky mess after multiple coats of un-wiped oil.. If you want an oil finish you should still use polyurethane inside the rear chamber of the flute. This can be done by pouring poly into the rear square hole while the blow hole is plugged. Pour it in and pour it out. Let it drip until it quits dripping Let it dry overnight and repeat three more times. Then shape the flute and finish the rest any way you like.