This photo essay documents the steps employed to make a well tuned bamboo flute in the key of E. Although the tuner will help quite a bit, I will still have to rely primarily on tuning by ear. I have several of these sandpaper dowels read to go - some with course paper, some with fine paper for polishing the bore. When you lift your finger from a hole on a flute, you get a higher note as the hole effectively shortens the flute to the edge of the hole. This is deceiving in a way, because it is all the tedious marking, drilling, and enlarging that flute making and tuning is all about.
Starting at the most footward hole, and working one at a time, I copied the placement and size of the holes on the Yew flute.
As you can see, I'm using the running end of the thread to wrap over the top of the loop. Like a pint-sized tug-of-war, I'm pulling the loop with my right hand and the running end with my left. I hope to shortly have either a video or sound file prepared so you can hear these flutes as well as see them.
Forgive my crappy playing, I'm just trying to learn the song and not doing so well.? I have other excuses too, but will save them for when it counts! Jim, I've tried playing those end blow anasazi style flutes but just can get a good sound out of them.
There is something really cool about listening to the very flute you are making while watching the tutorial.
Sharing materials and info and just photos of what we make is what it's all about for me.
I am going to try this way before I make a split branch as Jim's excellent buildalong seems to have disapeared. Quest, I believe that if the diameter is larger the tube will be shorter for the same note.


Jim is an accomplished maker and player of Native American-style flutes, residing in Virginia. Jim has a passion for these wooden six-hole flutes, and he has a flair for teaching how to make them. Jim was once told that every tree has a song and with this always in his heart, he wishes to share his wonderful instruments with you. Ream the wood to the desired size and shape using a CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) lathe. Drill the embouchure opening, the fingering holes and the key holes using what's called a "setting out" machine. Fine tune the instrument using small hand-cutting tools to shape the holes properly, making sure they are completely free of any rough edges.
Thus, we will have to make adjustments to the length of the bamboo, and the placement and size of the finger holes to reach our goal.
Flutes are tricky to tune because you can consciously (or unconsciously) bend notes considerably simply by blowing with more or less force. I continue wrapping around the flute body and over the loop until I get nearly to the end of the thread. Ken, I took your advice and posted the Youtube at the beginning so people can listen while looking at the post.
Born in Yakima, Washington, he actually grew up in Montana and has been living in Virginia since 1974.
A Lakota flute player at a dinner party first introduced him to Native American-style flutes. While the first step in making a Native American-style flute can be to find the right tree and to see the flute inside of it, any piece of suitable wood can be a fine starting spot. There's nothing like the pure tone made by a well-crafted wooden flute, and few things compare to the beauty of such an instrument.
You can use many types of wood to make a flute--maple, African blackwood and cherry, to name a few.


As much of the outside wood as possible is removed at this point, bringing the shape of the flute to a more prominent stage.
Screw the flute key hardware in place, then give the flute a final polish and it's ready to be played. Next comes the personalized forming of the flute to fit the maker's arms, hands and fingers, hollowing out the bore to make the unique resonance, drilling the six finger holes, and sealing the mouthpiece’s pressure chamber. Making a flute from scratch is a time-consuming process and can take years to perfect, but if you have the desire and the patience, you can learn to craft wooden flutes that are worthy of being passed down through the generations. If for some reason you need to construct the flute from more than a single piece of wood, choose the closest match from your stock. The CNC allows for precision cutting of of the exterior design of the body, cutting slots and grooves to seat the key hardware. At the time, he was learning how to make wooden long bows and his wife brought home a book on Indian bows. With slight adjustments to the initial finger hole positions and a standardization of the bore hole diameter and length, flutes can be tuned to play in almost any major or minor key. The book contained a few pages with brief instructions on making a Native American-style flute. Flutes vary in length, depending upon the key, but a concert flute is tight at two feet, so you want to start with a length of wood a little over that.
With these instructions, encouragement from a friend, and a piece of wood, Jim set out to try and make a flute. Use a gun drill mounted to the lathe tool holder to bore a rough hole through the center of your processed wood pieces. Make sure to store the processed wood pieces in a cool, dry place so they don't warp or split.



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