View Full Version : Turning wood-wind musical instruments

10th Apr 2006, 01:27 PM
Hello all. Does anyone know of any courses in turning wood-wind instruments (flutes, pipes, etc)?

10th Apr 2006, 02:48 PM
I don't know of a course, but I will be trying to make a custom clarinet barrel soon. I will post piccies when it is done.


10th Apr 2006, 07:20 PM
As an ex-clarinet player may I say you're ambitious buggers and I hope you succeed. Esp. sourcing the ebony or equivalent.

I suspect that the outside of the three carbon bits would have been turned but the inside drilled with a 'D bit'.

10th Apr 2006, 10:47 PM

As a present clarinet player I know what I am letting myself in for!!

I am not using ebony (outdated wood for clarinets according to modern thinking).

I am hoping to use rosewood, or grenadilla or cocbolo and if those work, I might even give King Billy a go (as it is meant to be a good tonewood).

As for the bore. I will be attempting to make a Moennig tapered bore barrel. These produce better tonality - or so the story goes. I am NOT attempting a full clari though... :o

11th Apr 2006, 06:47 PM
We had a local guy along to a Guild meeting 2-3 years ago who makes reproduction recorders(for want of a better name). I think he has produced at least 50-60 of them. He said he could spend up to 2 weeks making the tapered reamer for these .......... and if he does not get the shape right (sound of the finished item is off) , he throws it away and starts again.

He said he had tried many different timbers and found the best local timber to use was tasmanian native olive, grows on the East Coast in very limited quantities and not readily available.

Kev M

11th Apr 2006, 06:54 PM
, I might even give King Billy a go (as it is meant to be a good tonewood).

Just curious, but wouldnt king Billy be too soft, I thought you needed hard timber to get a good tone? :confused:

Al :)

11th Apr 2006, 07:11 PM
thanks all

11th Apr 2006, 07:25 PM
King Billy is known as a good tonewood (I don't know why - but it is)... However, I have heard this from a maker of stringed instruments and I don't know how it would hold up for a clarinet.

I don't think hardness has much to do with it, more resistance to moisture and cracking and warping...

As for local woods - I will start off practicing the shape on Tassie Oak, then once I get it right, I will go to rosewood (a proven clarinet material) then, maybe King Billy or the live that you mentioned...

As for spending hours developing reamers, I already know the dimensions I need, although I was thinking about turning the inside of the barrel by hand - finely scraping to dimension. I wouldn't dream of doing this for a longer piece of work, but a clarinet barrel is only the bit connecting the moutpiece to the rest of the body and it is about 66mm long and even shorter on the internal section as it accepts a tenon into both ends.

Of course, any advice anyone has would be great.

12th Apr 2006, 11:05 AM
Say why dont you try a flute or a fife first.
The geometry is much simpler I believe.

When I was at school one of the fathers made hsi daughter a fife from plastic tube. The teacher was quite sus of the idea till she played it.... seemed to be OK.

I wouldn't expect the "tonal quality" of the wood would be anywhere as critical on woodwind as it would be for stringed instruments as the timber doesn't "sound" in woodwind I would expect the shape and geomerty would be the critical thing.

Oh and the timbers ability to withstand spittle.


12th Apr 2006, 11:13 AM
Qld Maple is good tone wise and very stable....pretty easy to turn as well...
nice chunks r pretty easy to come by in these parts...


12th Apr 2006, 11:15 AM
Thanks Soundie,

I don't know if this was addressed to me or to andrewsd...

If it was to me, I am familiar with clarinets and making a full clarinet is WAY beyond what I am planning, in fact making a flute or fife is way beyond what I am planning - however, a simple barrel (i.e. short tube with a gradual taper) should be doable.

The argument about whether wood for a clarinet matters or not is still open to debate. There are experts who say it does, there are also experts who say that they are not convinced. I have yet to hear an expert say conclusively that it doesn't though...

But yes, the geometry and moisture/cracking/deforming resistance are the main things.

However, people do say that rosewood clarinets sound different to grenadilla clarinets. This is one of the reasons that I am trying to track down several chunks of wood for this project - see in Buy and Sell.

Oges was generous enough to send me a rosewood cut off he had lying around, and once I get the dimensions right on cheapo wood, I will give that a go.


12th Apr 2006, 11:17 AM

I have never heard of maple being used before - how does it stand up to moisture variation? Also, is Qld maple different to US maple? Most clarinet research in recent years comes out of the States.


12th Apr 2006, 11:45 AM
I was actually planning on making a set of bag pipes, eventually. There is a lot of work in them so if anyone knows where to find plans on making drones and chanters, i would be very grateful.


12th Apr 2006, 11:51 AM

Sorry to have hijacked your thread.

I know very little about bagpipes (except that I like it when it is played well, but hate it when it is played poorly). :rolleyes:

Good luck.


12th Apr 2006, 11:59 AM
Don't apologise Cam. Have enjoyed reading the posts. Even if I don't get anything on bag pipes, the stuff about clarinets etc is fascinating.

12th Apr 2006, 12:15 PM
Thanks mate,

It was just that I saw that you are fairly new here and I didn't want you to get the impression of someone coming in and grabbing all of the attention leading away from your original question. That being said, hijacking is pretty much the norm around here! :p

I am glad that you enjoyed the other stuff (as that was my original thought) and if you do have a go at bagpipes - make sure that you post piccies!