Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to make a whistle inspired by the Native American flute

How to make a whistle inspired by the native American flute

This kind of musical instruments just amaze me. Native Americans used to make flutes by splitting branches and using simple hand tools. 

My whistle has a lot in common with these flutes. The whistle has two chambers. When you blow air into the mouth it is directed to a sharp edge which splits the air and creates the sound. On top of the whistle and part of the mechanism is a small wooden piece called the bird.

I begun the project by cutting a scrap spruce piece in half. I then secured it on my bench with a wedge and flattened it with my block plane.

Then I marked my 1st and 2nd chamber to hollow my two pieces. I used a variety of chisels to remove the material I didn’t want going mostly with the grain of the wood.

Then I drilled two holes on my drill press and using a chisel and a file I made the holes from which the air moves from one chamber to the other. I also made a groove on top. This way the air flows between the bird and the body towards the cutting edge.

I drilled the mouth hole and glued the two pieces together using glue and clamps.

I rounded over the whistle using my block plane. Be careful not to round the surface under the bird. I did the final shaping of the mouth piece using my flat chisel.

I made the bird out of a small spruce piece and rounded it over on my block plane. The plane was secured upside down on my vise.

The bird on the native American flutes was strapped tom the body with leather stripes. I used string and a knot I saw on another type of bamboo flute people make in India.

My whistle is ready. 

If you want to make a flute you need to have longer front pipe and drill holes for your fingers. But of course this is a different story because you have to tune your instrument to play correctly. Native Americans used to make the flutes using their body measurements but that’s a hole new chapter.

I hope you like the project, definitely diid!

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