New Jackson Hole Hats Back In Stock…

Teton_BrushStroke_idea4tmt_cap_JH_Front__ebay_05Many of you knew Teton Marketing because of our Native American Flutes handcrafted right here in Jackson Hole. We are growing and adding new products all the time.  Recently we released our first hat that was primarily a hat to help spread the word about the company.  Our latest hat that should appeal to everyone who lives or visits Jackson Hole is back in stock.

High Altitude Designs from Teton Marketing is a new line of active wear clothing that people can use every day living here in Jackson Hole and beyond. Watch for the introduction of clothing, hats and more as they introduce them throughout the summer.  Each clothing item will be branded with the Teton Marketing logo and appropriate taglines.  All logos and taglines will be embroidered for a clean tasteful look.  We hope you will enjoy each addition as they come available.

tmt_cap_foreverwest_back_ebay_05The current Teton Marketing hats come from the Otto Collection and they are adjustable to fit any head.  We now offer four versions of the hats, all four versions feature variations of the Teton Marketing Logo, the website address, the Wyoming Bucking horse,  the state name “Wyoming”, “Forever West” and of coarse “Jackson Hole”on the back of the cap.  All of the current caps are jet black in color. These are very nice hats and all logos are embroidered, not silk screened. Each hat is $23.99 plus shipping.  We are working on several more hat designs for those of you who love Jackson Hole Wyoming as much as they do.  In production now is a new ladies with the popular military style hat.  A sample picture of the this new hats style is located below and to the right.  If you are interested in one of these new ladies hats email us to reserve one.

DT619_BlackCharcoal_Hat_GA13About Their Logo

wymadeInspired by the place they live.  The Teton Range is truly one of the most inspiring mountain range in the world. Most people equate the Grand Tetons with Jackson Hole. Our Logo for Teton Marketing is their vision of what they see everyday. Like many of their flute fetishes that tend to be more whimsical, their logo falls comfortably in line with them. They tried to find a balance between a literal view of the range and their whimsical view. We think they accomplished this.  Visit their website to see other products offered from…


Cool New Jackson Hole Hats Available…

Teton_BrushStroke_idea4Many of you know Teton Marketing because of the Native American Flutes they hand craft right here in Jackson Hole.  Teton Marketing is growing and adding new products all the time.  Recently they released their first hat that was primarily a hat to help spread the word about the company. Now they add a new hat that should appeal to everyone who lives or visits Jackson Hole.

tmt_cap_JH_Front__ebay_05High Altitude Designs from Teton Marketing is a new line of active wear clothing that people can use every day living here in Jackson Hole and beyond. Watch for the introduction of clothing, hats and more as they introduce them throughout the summer.  Each clothing item will be branded with the Teton Marketing logo and appropriate taglines.  All logos and taglines will be embroidered for a clean tasteful look.  Teton Marketing hopes that you will enjoy each addition as they come available.

tmt_cap_foreverwest_back_ebay_05The current Teton Marketing hats come from the Otto Collection and they are adjustable to fit any head. There are now offer three versions of the hats, all three versions feature variations of the Teton Marketing Logo, the website address, the Wyoming Bucking horse,  the state name “Wyoming”, “Forever West” and of course “Jackson Hole”on the back of the cap.  All of the current caps are jet black in color. These are very nice hats and all logos are embroidered, not silk screened. Each hat is $23.99 plus shipping. They are planning to add several more hat designs for those of you who love Jackson Hole Wyoming as much as they do. You can Get your Teton Marketing hat today at

About Their Logo

Teton_BrushStrokeOnly_70x127wymadeInspired by the place they live. The Teton Range is truly one of the most inspiring mountain range in the world. Most people equate the Grand Tetons with Jackson Hole. The Logo for Teton Marketing is their vision of what they see everyday. Like many of their flute fetishes that tend to be more whimsical, their logo falls comfortably in line with them. They tried to find a balance between a literal view of the range and their whimsical view. We think they accomplished this.  Visit their website to see other products offered from Teton Marketing…

By Appointment Only – Check Out Our Flutes When Visiting Jackson Hole…

Come Visit Us Here In Jackson Hole


Award Winning Chakra NAF Flute

Award Winning Chakra NAF Flute

TNJ_Homepage1When shopping for a new NAF flute to purchase there are a lot of really great choices available these days.  We know that purchasing a flute over the Internet is not an easy thing to do.  Pictures do not always do justice to the craftsmanship found in many high-end flutes made today.  Recordings of the flutes too are nice to have available but a recording does not provide you the same experience as when you can hold the flute in your hands and play it.  If you are considering one of our flutes trying to purchase one over the Internet can create even more of a dilemma as none of our flutes are the same.  Each flute is uniquely different.  They are different in their aesthetics, how they feel in your hands, the materials used, the precious stones inlaid,leather accents and most importantly how each flute plays and how each one sounds.


Port Orford Cedar

Because every one of our flutes are fully handcrafted, each one we complete is truly a one of a kind.  We can craft two flutes out of the same piece of wood, same bore sizes, same lengths – basically try to duplicate every step the same and we end up with two very different flutes.  One of the things that plays a very large role in how our flutes will play and sound happens during the shaping process.  Each flute is hand shape using hand planes, chisels, rasps, sand paper and even some power tools.  The process is definitely slower and takes a lot more care when creating one.  We believe that if you are provided with the opportunity to see our flutes in person and have the time to handle each one in our available inventory you will more than likely find one that will fit your specific needs.

Every Flute Is Made By Hand

Every Flute Is Made By Hand

If you or any of your friends are planning a trip to Jackson Hole Wyoming this summer and you would like to experience one of our hand crafted flutes then give us a call.  We maintain a gallery in our home here in Jackson Hole and we are available to share with you our collection by appointment only.  We will spend one on one time with you and you can spend as much time as you need to see all that we have to offer.  Each summer we have guests that look us up and find the perfect match for them while visiting this beautiful part of the country.  Although we try to maintain some of our flutes in retail galleries it is hard to purchase one without having the ability to ask questions from someone knowledgeable and have the time to play the flute prior to choosing.

OGW_6H_GRNTURQ_120412_1_smIn addition to completed flutes we generally have a fairly good selection of flutes in different phases of building.  You may choose to order one of these partially completed flutes and incorporate some of your own design ideas before it is finished.  Either way if you are looking for a Native American Styled flute then consider visiting us here in Jackson Hole.

If you live in Wyoming we invite you to contact us and make an appointment to see our flutes as well.  Wyoming is a great state to own a flute as there are so many beautiful place you can find to play your flute.  We are easy to find and we live in the town of Jackson Hole.  Call Tim or Peyton at (307) 690-0427.  If you prefer send us an email at “” – we are sure you will enjoy your visit.  As always we invite you to visit our website at and see what we are up to.


Laying Out Your Native American Flute Playing Holes…

shop1This post is dedicated to the process of laying out the playing holes on your Native American Flute that you have been working on.  The two areas that give flute makers the most trouble are the Windway, which we just posted an article on, and the placement of the finger or playing holes on the flute.  If you look hard enough on the Internet you will find information about placement of the playing holes and how to tune your flute.  Some place their holes based on a specific key in a pre-determined place on the flute bore and others use a method that allows the holes to be spaced more evenly giving a more balanced appearance to the top of the flute.  I am not going to talk about how other flute makers accomplish this part of the flute making process but I will share with you how it is I do it here in my shop.

It is important to note that most of the flutes being crafted that I see are done so in one of two ways.  The flute maker is either using a lathe or a rifle boring machine to make their flutes.  The advantages of a lathe is that you can use a micrometer and make sure that each flute type you are making has the exact outside dimensions thus being able to duplicate multiple flutes and have them come out for the most part exactly the same.  This is basically true as well when using a boring machine because these flute blanks are usually then turned on a lathe after the inside of the flute has been bored.  If you have read any of my other blog posts you know that all of our flutes are hand shaped using a hand plane and finished by hand sanding.  This does take longer to complete a flute in this way and you will never have two flutes that are exactly the same.

naf3Laying Out Your NAF Flute

EternalComfort_6_smayc_glued_1inchbore_x30_1_blogWhat I do to get my playing holes in the proper place is this…  I first glue my blanks halves together and let them sit in the clamps usually overnight.  This is not completely necessary as you can remove the clamps after a couple of hours if you wish.  But I do not do any work on the flute blank until 24 hours has passed.  Then I check to see if the flute plays a note of any sort.  Depending on the bore of the flute blank I usually have an idea as to what key I am looking for.  For example if I have a flute blank that is a 7/8″ bore I might be shooting for an F or an F# when I am done.  So the first thing I do is to decide if I want to include the 4 Winds Tuning Holes or not.  If I am going to add the tuning holes I will trim the bottom of the flute until I get within one key of where I want to be.  So if I am shooting for an F# I will trim the bottom of the flute to an approximate F.  If I am not going to use the tuning holes I will trim the bottom of the flute blank to within about (minus) – 15-25 cents (using an electronic tuner) of the note I think I want.  This means that the note is to the flat side.  Then I leave it alone.  Keep in mind that I am still dealing with a square flute blank.

Usually people want to know why I keep the note to the flat side and not tune it fully to the key and the answer is that as I shape the flute the fundamental note is going to change.  As you shave down your flute blanks the fundamental note will start to creep up.  Keeping it to the flat side makes it easier to correctly tune it later.  Now you are ready to layout your playing holes.  The next thing is to decide if you will be making a five hole or a six hole flute.  We build both and as far as how we measure for each it is basically the same.

Measuring for Holes with NO Four Winds Tuning Holes

Assuming you do not want the Four Winds Tuning Holes then measure the distance between the end of the flute and to the very front edge of the cutting edge.  Take the midpoint of this measurement and then mark the top of the flute.  Draw a mark using a square across the body of the flute.  This mark will be where your #3 playing hole will live.  For clarification I count my holes starting at the foot of the flute – the bottom hole is the #1 hole for me.  Now you can measure down the flute for the #2 and #1 hole from this starting midpoint.  A good measurement for a comfortable placement of your fingers is to measure on center 1 1/8″ from center point to center point.  So you should have your #3 hole at midpoint then 1 1/8″ down is the center of the #2 hole and the same for the #1 hole.

Next measure from the center of the #3 hole up the body of the flute towards the blowhole 1 1/4″ and make your mark.  This mark is where the #4 hole would be placed.  Then from the center of the #4 hole measure 1 1/16″ and make your mark for the #5 hole.  Measure again 1 1/16″ up the flute and make your mark for your #6 hole.  The top three holes are 1/16″ closer pocedar_aw_1_1smtogether than the bottom three holes.  And, the distance between the #3 and #4 holes is the farthest distance between all of the holes.  These measurements are important and for just about most of the flutes we make these work real well and the holes are at a comfortable distance for the player.  If you ever decide to move the midpoint #3 hole for any reason do it to the up side of the flute.

NOTE: If you are building a five hole flute you will not be drilling the #4 hole but you will still want to keep these measurements to locate the #5 & #6 holes.  When we make a five hole flute we many times will use the area where the #4 hole would be in a six hole flute to put a bezel set stone.  We do not always set a stone here but it adds a nice touch to the overall aesthetic of the flute.

Now that you have your marks on the top of your flute you need to also mark the midpoint of the width of the flute blank and draw a centerline down the center of the flute so you cross all six of your hole markings.  At this point we always take a very small drill bit of about 3/32″ or 7/64″ and drill pilot holes at each of the measured spots.  Now you are ready to go ahead and EternalComfort_10_blogstart the shaping process.  You will want to shape your flute to just about the final shape before you start to tune you flute.  As you shape your flute down your fundamental note will start to creep up a bit and this is why you need to be to the flat side of the note.  Be sure to keep checking your fundamental note at you shape.  This is also a good way for you to learn how each thing you do to your flute affects the sound.

The picture to the right is a picture of a six hole flute we recently made for another customer.  Take a close look at the placement of the holes.  In this picture you can see we used the 4 Winds Tuning Holes for this flute.  When you use the 4 Winds Tuning Hole you will take your midpoint measurement from the center point of the top 4 Winds Hole (NOT THE END OF THE FLUTE) to the cutting edge.  The 4 Winds Tuning Holes is effectively the end of the flute.  The distance beyond these tuning holes is for aesthetics and it adds extra length to the overall flute.

If you are crafting your own NAF flutes please consider visiting our website at as we supply many flute makers across the country with their flute making supplies.  All orders for pre-cut flute blanks ship with three proprietary schematic drawings (at no additional charge) that can help you in your flute making  journey.  If you like this blog we would appreciate you leaving a comment or two.  If you want to receive future blog articles consider subscribing to our blog.  Each time we post something new you will receive notification in your email inbox.

Crafting The Windway Area of your Native American Flute…

EternalComfort_12_smTNJ_Homepage1One of the more enjoyable things to do with your spare time is to tackle making your own Native American Styled Flute.  I keep hearing stories from customers that are very similar to others I hear from people on the street almost daily.  People come in contact and are introduced to the Native American Flute in many different ways, and for many they are simply captured by the haunting yet comforting sound these beautiful wind instruments make.  For some once they have purchased a flute or two the next logical step is to consider building their own flute, not sure why that is but it seems to be a common thread we hear all the time.  It just seems like a natural progression for many I guess.  There are many ways to craft a Native American Styled Flute and not everyone wants to do it our way, but for this post I am going to focus strictly on how it is we craft the windway parts of the flute and for us this process is done primarily by hand.  That is not to say we don’t use power tools in our shop because we do, but the majority of the crafting of our flutes is done using hand tools.

Components of the Native American Flute

Components of the Native American Flute

The most critical part of you flute short of getting the inside of the flute components crafted correctly is the crafting of the windway area.  This is the part of the flute where all the sound is born.  A correctly crafted windway can make or break your flute.  This post is dedicated to just that – sharing our method for crafting a windway on what we call our 307 Native American Flutes.  For those who are curious – 307 is simply the area code for the State of Wyoming.  Living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a great place to make these instruments as there is so much around us that can inspire you.  All of our flutes are voiced for the first time just a few miles from the magnificent Grand Tetons.  But the crafting happens in our shop when it is quite and no one is around.  I hope that by sharing with you this post it will help those of you who are starting this journey into making your own Native American Styled Flute and hopefully provide some needed direction.

Ok so you have purchased yourself some flute blanks (hopefully from us) and you are ready to go.  This post assumes a few things.  First, that you have purchased a set of blanks that are made up from two halves and that you have already bored the blowhole, the slow air chamber and the flute bore components into your blanks.  You are now ready to create the windway area of the flute.

Please note:

The schematics below are available if you will email me at “” and request legible copies of the image files for your own use.  We are not charging for these schematics but we do ask your permission to place you in our emailing list for future updates about our products.  These schematics are Copyrighted and we do not allow the use of these schematics for commercial purposes or reproduction without prior written consent from Timothy Jennings or Teton Marketing.  We do sell different flute blank options depending on your skill level.  So visit our website from time to time –  Every flute blank order is shipped with three proprietary schematics for no additional charge. 


Taking your time in crafting this part of your flute is an absolute must.  Making a mistake here can cause you some real headaches.  Almost any mistake can be corrected but some mistakes can really give you a headache.  It is this part of the flute that most people have a hard time finding information on how to build.  Many flute makers simply don’t want to bother sharing this information with others for various reasons.  Take a good look at the schematic above.  The top schematic shows a side view of the Windway area.  What you are looking at is the Exit Hole coming out of the Slow Air Chamber and into the Focusing Channel.  Remember that there is going to be a fetish that sits on top of this area that will direct the airflow down the channel and onto the cutting edge.  Remember to email us for a legible copy of these schematics.

Important Point of Interest: – Our focusing channels are cut into the body of the flute and not into the bottom of the fetish.  Some flute makers prefer this way and others prefer crafting the channel as part of the fetish.  We think that for those of you crafting your flute mainly by hand that this is the preferred method.  So here is how we do this here in Jackson Hole…

The first thing you need to do is to transfer some lines with a pencil across the top of the flute blank that will contain the Windway area.  You are looking to mark the edges of the Solid Block area.  This is the solid area that sits between the Slow Air Chamber and the long Flute Bore.   I like to then add about ⅛” in length to both ends of these marks.  This extends the marks slightly into the apex of the bores on both side.  This will guide you for placement of the exit hole from the Slow Air Chamber and entrance hole for the Cutting Edge.  Again what you are aiming for is that the exit hole coming from the SAC sits a bit back of the apex of the router bit curve and the same is true on the other end.

Focusing Channel Dimensions

For the great majority of flutes you will make the dimensions of the Focusing Channel should be approximately ⅜” wide and long enough to pass just beyond the front and back of the solid block.  The depth of the channel is very shallow and sits directly in the middle of the blanks width!  About the thickness of a standard credit card works really well or about 1/32” deep.  This is important because if your channel is too deep you will allow too much air flow through the channel and you will end up with no back pressure which is not what you want.  If it is too shallow you will end up with too much back pressure and it will not play right either.  In addition, if the channel is too deep then your cutting edge will have a hard time splitting the air flow properly.  If you end up with a channel that is too shallow – no worries you can carve it a bit deeper using a standard 3/8″ wide flat chisel.  If you are too deep then you can use a good flat sanding block or block plane to bring it down to the proper depth. 

The Exit Hole Dimensions

The exit hole is the hole you will cut from the focusing channel into the SAC and this hole allows the air from your lungs to pass out of the SAC and into the Focusing Channel.  This exit hole can be just about any size you want as long as your fetish covers the hole and the channel properly.  We usually make the Exit Hole the same width as the Focusing Channel.  The standard length we make the hole is ⅝” in length measured from the mark that extends just past the apex of the router bore.  If you cut it longer that 5/8″ it should not affect your flute at all.  But 5/8″ is a good all around length.

This is also where you want to create a softened ramp in the top of the inside of the flute blank that will help guide the air up and out of the SAC with as little interruption as possible.  In addition you will want to soften the exit hole area that leads onto the focusing channel area.  You will want to soften this sharp edge at the top and front of the exit hole.  We use a combination of a Dremel type tool and small wood files to create a rounded area and then we sand everything really well.  This ramp I am talking about is created at the apex of the very top part of the flute bore from the inside.  We use a very sharp gouge to create a tapered soffit that tapers from the blowhole side (closest to your mouth) up to the edge of the back side  of the exit hole.

Cutting Edge

This is the most critical part of the Windway process.  TAKE YOUR TIME with this part of the flute.  So what you want to do is to start with the line you marked for the front edge of the solid block – then you will measure forward (towards the foot of the flute) 6mm.  I use millimeters here because they are more accurate.  The hole you create here is going to be ⅜” wide or whatever width you Focusing Channel is and no more the 6mm in length.  If you have a drill press you can use a ¼” (6.2mm) square Mortising bit to create the initial hole (many of our flute blanks already have this cut for you).  Then you will turn the flute blank over and from the inside of the bore take a very sharp chisel that is no more than ⅜” wide and create a tapered edge from the inside to the tip of the front edge of the hole you just created.

IMPORTANT POINT HERE – before you try to create the tapered edge find a place where you can clamp the flute blank down very tightly to a work bench.  You will clamp it with the inside of the flute facing up.  By doing this you will lessen the chance of splitting the top part of the flute where your edge is to be thus creating a real problem for you.  Be sure to use a wood block on top of the blank and clamp the blank using the block as a protective piece so you won’t mar your flute blanks gluing surfaces prior to gluing.

Start by taking your chisel (make sure it is very sharp) and taking off very small amounts of wood at a time.  You want an angle that is approximately 45 – 48 degrees.  Your goal is to create a sharp wedge-shaped channel that peaks at the front edge of the entrance hole.  Your distance from the front of the block to the very edge of your taper should not be too much more than the 6 -7mm you started with.  So what you end up with is an edge like the drawing above shows plus a very subtle ramp leading into and down the flute bore.  Then you can fine tune this edge with files, exacto blades or chisels so that the final distance is just about 7mm from front of solid block to the front edge of the cutting edge.

Just like you did with the Slow Air Chamber and exit hole where you created a tapered ramp you want to do the same thing here only the ramp is tapering into the flute bore.  Once you have finished this use some very good sandpaper and feather the ramps into the surrounding bore area.  Start with 100 grit and finish with 220 grit.  Again take your time here.  What you are trying to accomplish is the smoothest transition for your breath to travel without too many rough spots.

Now you need to seal the inside of your flute blanks.  You will need to sand the entire inside of the flute blanks down to 220 grit and then mask off the entire gluing surfaces (use a good blue tape).  Then you can seal the inside of the blanks prior to gluing them together.  We use Deft aerosol products in our shop and we stock them ready to ship.  We start with several coats of Deft Sanding Sealer and sand in between every third coat until we are satisfied the bore is smooth.  Then we finish with 4-6 coats (minimum) of Deft Satin finish.  Let dry for at least 45 minutes and you are ready to glue.

The final tuning of your cutting edge area will happen after the flute blanks have been glued and you are ready to start tuning your flute.  Using a very small wood file you will taper the top edge (from the outside top of flute blank) of the cutting edge and you will taper it gently downward (towards the blowhole) until the very edge of this part sits in the approximately middle of the airflow coming down the Focusing Channel.  Try to keep your distance of the cutting edge to not more than 7mm if you can.  This seems to be a good overall measurement for the entrance to the cutting edge.

Playing Holes are another subject we are asked about constantly and we will address this part of flute making in another post.  Also shaping your flute by hand will affect how your flute tunes so do not get ahead of yourself when tuning your flute.  Make sure you find your fundamental note first and keep it to the flat side of the note you are seeking.  Then shape your flute to almost exactly where you want to finish.  It is at this point you will want to proceed with the tuning of your playing hole.  Please feel free email us with questions and time permitting we will do our best to provide you with timely answers.  Leave a comment or two below and let us know what you think…

Artist Timothy Jennings

The Story About Mary…

Click images for a larger view.

EternalComfort_12_smWe recently completed the construction of a very nice flute for one of our customers, Mary Blakeley, who lives in Idaho. This is one of the first flutes where we crafted the entire flute and fetish but did not put a finish on the flute prior to shipping. Mary wanted to complete this process for her flute on her own and we are excited to see what she has in mind. This flute was crafted from a very interesting piece of Sassafras. Sassafras is very nice wood to work with and we like the tonal qualities of this wood. Generally Sassafras is kind of non descriptive wood and it does not have the flash that other domestic species can have. But this board was unusual because the grain patterns were very nice. The problem was – the board was twisted and bent and wow – we were not sure we were going to be able to make it work. After consulting with Mary she made the decision that this piece was for her so we agreed to go ahead and see what we could do.

EternalComfort_4_smBecause we liked the grain patterns so well we cut the best sections out of the board and spent two weeks trying various tricks to help straighten the blanks out. After a couple of weeks and several different methods we realized that we were going to have to simply do our best during the glue up phase and make sure we had enough clamps on the blanks and a good solid coat of glue to boot. Prior to glue up there were two things we needed to do. First Mary requested we write into the inside of the flute the name “GOD” in Paleo Hebrew which we did. We sealed the name into the flute body and it is now part of this flute. Second, we scored the entire gluing surfaces by hand with a sharp blade to give us some extra bite for the glue. Prior to the glue up we inlaid a small piece of ironwood into the top of the flute. This inlay became the cutting edge on this flute and the EternalComfort_6_smcontrast came out perfect. Then we clamped it up and as you can see we made sure we had enough on the blanks. We left the blanks in the clamps overnight to make sure we gave it ample drying time and later the next day we removed the clamps and the results could not have been better.

We wanted to shoot for a lower C# which made this a very long flute, almost 30 inches in length. We used the four winds tuning holes and spent hours tuning the flute the best we could. A C# is just about at the outside abilities for a 1 inch bored flute. We achieved the fundamental note and like all of our flutes we voiced it for the first time right here in Jackson Hole Wyoming, home of the Teton Mountain range. The fetish is one of our custom made whimsical feather designs that was EternalComfort_13_smcrafted from a single piece old growth walnut with a band of sap wood in it. The base of the fetish is the sapwood and the feather is the black walnut color. A chimney was created to help with prevention of the #6 hole from jumping to easily and the results were pleasing.

After many hours of frustration and several challenges that we were faced with this flute ended up being one my favorites that I have worked on in quite some time. Nothing came easy on this flute and there were several times where I thought it was going to end up in my fireplace. But with Mary’s constant coaxing and support this flute came out just beautiful. We have shipped to her and we now await pictures from her once she has completed her finishing project. We will post them when we get them. All in all a very nice project.

MaryBlakeley_1_smUPDATE: Mary received her flute and finished it herself with her favorite wood oil and beeswax  The picture to the left is the finished flute at her home in Idaho. Mary did a real nice job on completing the project and now she is busy bringing the life of this flute to others where she if helping people heal from problems they face. Recently Mary sent an email to me about one of her first experiences playing the flute she now calls “Eternal Comfort”. In her message to me she was sharing an experience where she was playing this flute over a sick woman trying to bring comfort to her. Within minutes this lady had fallen to sleep. Below is a quote from her email to me that is one of the best descriptions of how sound and music communicates to us. This is a project where I have received more from Mary then Mary has from me. This is a very special woman with a desire to only help others – we need more like her…

“Amazing but that is what God does with music. Most believers want to have their emotions manipulated with music but they don’t realize that to God, music is communication. He communicates to us through the music of creation, twinkling stars, rushing water, winds that whisper and winds that roars through the trees, crashing waves and babies cries. The native flute is so special because when we give it our breath, it give us it’s song and each one has a song all its own. Through it we can release the deep sounds of our being.”

Let’s Talk Tools and supplies required to assemble a Native American Style Flute

Let’s Talk Tools & Supplies
Hand Tools required for flute building a 2 piece flute

Before getting started on tools and supplies there is some general information which has been helpful to me in my journey as a flute builder.  First, if there is a flute circle in your area, become a member.  This will connect you with others that are interested in the NAF. This connection will give you the opportunity to see and play flutes made by a variety of flute makers.  Many of the members of our flute circle have extensive collections of flutes which they normally bring (one at a time) to the meeting.

You will also connect to players, builders and people who are just interested in learning more about the Native American culture.  Many active flute circles are listed on the International Native American Flute Association or (INAFA) website.  The internet can also be a great resource for locating a flute circle in your area.  Unfortunately, they can be few and far between.  We are lucky, the flute circle that my wife and I have joined is in Norman Oklahoma where we live.  Many members travel 60 or more miles one way to take part in our monthly meetings.  I also recommend becoming a member of the INAFA as they list most of the flute festivals and other flute related activities that are held around the country.  Their quarterly newsletter is full of NAF related activities across the country and a listing of many builders, some may be located near you.  Which could be a possible resource.

The more flutes you see, touch and play the better builder you will become.  Don’t be afraid to look under the hood (ask the owner or builder if you can remove the bird to see what is underneath, or have them do it) Seeing what other builders are doing in this area can help you improve you building technique. In my opinion the most critical portion of a flute is the area under the bird, the leading edge of the bird and the splitting edge.  All which can be seen better if the bird is removed.

If you are going to purchase a flute online, make sure that you ask about the builders return policy.  Each flute plays differently (back pressure, finger hole placement, tone quality and voice) having a flute that you can comfortably play, and has a tone quality that is pleasing to your ear is important.  Each flute, even if made from the same wood by the same builder can have a different and unique tone and sound quality.  Purchasing a flute without hearing and playing it may leave you disappointed.  Many of the builders I have run across have a satisfaction guarantee policy or trial period.

In my case, I offer a 10 day satisfaction guarantee.  You can visit my website for details, (Journey of Life Flutes).  Ordered flutes are completed to the purchasers specification and when finished the flute is paid for and shipped.  Upon ordering, no down payment or deposit is required.  I work on the honor system.  Shipping time isn’t part of the 10 day trial period.  Within the trial period, if the new owner isn’t totally satisfied with their purchase, they can contact me and return the flute in its original condition and packaging and I will refund the purchase price minus postage or make them another flute.

It’s time for me to get off the soap box and start with the serious stuff .  What tools you’ll need to complete your first flute.  I am going to make an assumption that you have a workbench or some solid surface to work on.  Not sure your significant other would appreciate using the kitchen counter top as a work bench.  But then that is up to you.  A good solid work space is necessary for some of the operations will require the blank to be held in a stable position when cutting the ramp.

2 main categories of tool are:

  • Tools that are a necessity
  • Tools that are nice to have

In my last post I mentioned that I would cover the tools required to build a flute and that no special tools would be needed if you purchased pre-routed blanks with the wind way cut. Well, I may have bent the truth a bit.  Depending on your experience and what you have been doing you may already have some or all the required tools.  However, If you are starting from scratch with no tools then you will need to make some small purchases of a few tools to fill in your flute tool inventory.

I have included photos since some of the tool may be unfamiliar.  As the old saying goes “ a picture is worth a thousand words”, but I will write a thousands word anyway.  This is in no way meant to be instructional as to how to get a particular task done.  That will be covered in the how to build post which will be coming next.  This is just a list with explanation of the tools, the next post will cover the assembly.

Wood glue (Need to have)

You will be gluing the 2 sides of the flute together so some type of glue is necessary.  I suggest  “Titebond III”.  Some builders use “Titebond Extend” which allows more open time to move the pieces around before the glues starts to set.  Experiment with both.  I have found that I don’t need the extended time.  You will find that when you glue and clamp the blanks together that they tend to slide around and some alignment, will be necessary.

Start off with a small bottle, this glue will go a long way, and has a shelf life. Of course, if you have other uses for wood glue then purchase whatever you feel is necessary. If your shop is unheated and you live in an area were the temperature goes below freezing, take all your glues in at night. If they freeze, they turn into a jelly like substance. My glue goes in the house with me at night.

Clamps (Need to have)

You will need some type of clamps to hold the glued up flute together during the drying process.

IMG_0881I suggest using spring clamps. Medium size works well.  As with many tools you can purchase expensive clamps or lower price clamps.  I found some 6 inch spring clamps at Home Depot that were about a $1.00 each.  They work well for the purpose and you will need 8 to 10 clamps.  The advantage of using spring clamps is that they are quickly placed and removed, will not damage the softer woods, and allow for quick adjustment of the 2 halves.

“C” clamps can be used but have several disadvantages.  First, they are heavy and cumbersome.  As I have mentioned, the two halves will slide around and trying to screw down several C clamps and adjust the halves for alignment is just about impossible.  Also, if you are working with a softwood, like any of the cedars, which make wonderful flutes, “C” clamps can damage the wood by applying too much pressure.  If “C” clamps are all you have, and you want to try using them I suggest you place a scrap clamping strip of wood on both halves, this will spread the pressure out along the entire length of the flute blank and also protect the flute wood from damage.  Double sided tape can be used to hold the clamp pad wood to the flute blanks.

Brad Point drill bits (Need to have)

IMG_0869Brad point drill bits are designed specifically for drilling wood. Very handy to have around the shop. Again if you are just getting started you can purchase a set of these bits for around $5.00 and up. If you are a woodworker I suggest you purchase to best set you can afford. You will be using these to drill your “true sound hole” TSH and the pilot holes for the finger holes. Normal twist bits have a tendency to slide around when getting started and can cause you to drill a hole off center or out of place. Brad points are the way to go.

Riffler files (Need to have)

IMG_0867You will need a small flat file (mill file) for finishing and shaping the TSH.  A mill fine is flat rectangular shaped.  Again, sets of these files have a wide price range.  Purchase a set of steal riffler files.  You may be temped to purchase a set of diamond impregnated riffler files.  I have found that the mill file in these sets don’t have a sharp 90 degree edge and can’t be used to square off the corners of the TSH.  Having sharp corners and edges in this area is important.  This can impact the play-ability and voice of the flute. Diamond files also have a tendency to get clogged with wood particles and can be difficult to clean.  My recommendations are to stay away from this type of file.  Riffler mill files seem to only come in sets.  The mill file is the one that you will use the most and I have worn out several this past year and had to purchase an entire set just to get that little mill file. (See photo)

Small wood rasp (Nice to have)

WoodCraft sells a small flat wood rasp which I have found helpful when increasing the size of the TSH.  WoodCraft also sells a small handle that will clamp onto any small file that makes them easier to control and more comfortable to use.

Wood Chisel (Need to have)

You will need a wood chisel to cut the ramp to the TSH.  If you don’t have any, buy a name brand 3/8” wide chisel.  Less expensive chisels will not hold a good edge and for our purposes this tool needs to stay sharp.

Glue Mop (Need to have)

When gluing the two half’s together, glue will run out the sides of the joint.  This is called squeeze out.  This is important if you don’t have any squeeze out them you didn’t use enough glue.  Squeeze out will happen on the outside and the inside of the flute body.  The glue inside will need to be mopped out before it dries or you will have a great deal of difficulty getting it out afterwards.  An easy way to get this job done is to use a ½ inch dowel rod with an oval slot cut into the end. (see photo)  This closed loop will hold a 6 inch strip of damp cloth through the slot. I normally cut mine at 6 x ¾, you want to tight fit when running this mop in and out of the barrel.  I use old cotton socks cut into strips for this job, they work well.  Make sure you have all the lint and loose particles of cloth removed before mopping.

Small Square (Nice to have) See Photo

I find a small 6 inch sliding square very useful when making my flutes.  I priced one at WoodCraft at something like $70.00.  My response to the sales person was, “ Isn’t that kind of high for that tool?”  He told me that it was accurate to within .00001 of an inch. Well that is impressive, but we are working with wood. I went to Harbor Freight and purchased one for about $5.00 and it works just fine. I went back and purchased another one to have a spare. I don’t know about your shop but in mine small tools have a tendency to hiding under wood, sandpaper and other shop stuff that is lying around.

Sand Paper (Need to Have)

Sanding is a part of just about all wood working.  If a craftsman takes all the time and work to make a project, but doesn’t sand it correctly, the poor finish will negate all the hard work put into the project.  Sanding is a necessary evil, I don’t know anyone that enjoys doing it but it must be done.  You will need several different grits to get a nice finish.  Many times a variety pack can be purchased starting with a 80 grit and ending up with a 150 or 220.  If 220 isn’t part of the package pick up a few extra sheet of that grit.  This will get you started.

You may need to set up a sanding table.  This make it possible to get the 2 flute blanks to fit together as tightly as possible.  Purchase a roll of adhesive sand paper.  When I stared I purchased three grits but have found that the 320 grit is the most useful and lasts a very long time.  To set up a sanding table you will need a very hard and flat surface.  I use the extension table on my table saw which is flat and about 28 inches long.  I stick a piece of this sand paper the entire length of the table.  This allows me to sand the whole length of each blank at once.  We will talk about this more when we get to the “how to make” section of my next blog post.

Shaping tool (Need to have)

Once you get the blanks glued together you will need to mark out the nest and then start shaping of the exterior of the flute.  I use my lathe but for this process we will assume that you don’t have a lathe available. There are several tools that can be used to shape the outside of the flute.  A wood rasp, a spoke shave, wood plane or stationary belt sander can all be used.  How you do this is up to you.  The tool or tools you choose will have some impact on the final shape.  Flutes don’t have to be round. I have seen many shapes, so think it over, and then decide your final shape.  If you have any of these tools available then I suggest you use what you have.  If not, to keep you cost down, I suggest using a wood rasp and sand paper.  This will give you several options in your final shape and a lot of control over the end product.

Wood Vice (Nice to have)

IMG_0870A device for firmly holding the flute blank during the shaping and other process is very handy.  Wood vices are different then the standard workbench vice in that as their name implies they are made for holding wood.  These devices have a very wide price range but I have found that the one offered by Harbor Freight for under $15.00 has worked well for me.  It can be clamped temporally to the work surface or screwed down.  I have mine clamped to my workbench with the supplied screw clamps for the past year and have never had a problem with it.  I did add oak clamping pads to the vice clamping surface which I made from some scrap wood I had lying around. (See photo)
Well that should get you started.  In my next posting we will start the construction process. If you have any question I can be reached through my website.


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