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Pipemaking again at last!

For some time I have busy making work for a commission.  It is a set of three easels that sit on tabletops.  Here is a foto of one.

The three easels took up all my work space in the workshop, so I could not do any turning. Since Monday I have been able to get back on the lathe.  Check out the heap of turnings! [See the gas bottle in the background for comparison.  The heap is a metre high.]

It takes a bit of work to make a heap that size!  The rain is needed to wet the shavings so that they start to decompose.

"DD" Fifes [or flutes]

Making "DD" fifes is very exacting work.  You are turning a long hollow piece of wood and ending up with a tube with walls 3mm thick. If it goes wrong you have a piece of rather nice looking firewood.

The "channels" in the wood are depth markers which set the exact depth I can remove wood to.

Sanding has been completed but no polishing has taken place.

There is a nail-hole that needs to be dealt with.  That means filling with glue and sanding dust.

The superglue has dried so I can re-sand.

The Order is Ready

The first foto in this blog shows clearly that it is better to stick to one model of instrument than to make many different ones.

I can turn out a "D" pipe in an hour and it will be nine times out of ten, perfectly playable and in  tune.

My third fife was in tune enough to satisfy my musical ear.  The "DD" bamboo fife took five instruments to get the tuning right. They are all shown in this foto.

The three instruments on the middle are the "D" fife, the "D" pipe and the "DD" bamboo fife.

That Pesky DD Fife

It takes persistence to finish a musical instrument to the level that it really works.  After the failure of the first "DD" fife through having a bore that was not straight, I set out  to make some more, having learnt from the first.  I sorted out a long length of Matai that was from some demolition, possibly that of my own old garage that had stood where my present  workshop now stands.

This piece of timber was not quite as good as the first one.  Heart wood is the best wood from any tree.

That's How It Goes

When you are doing a new project, you need to do four or five models of the same instrument in order to get one right.

This is the first model of a "DD" Fife that I am making for an order.  There is quite a lot of work in this little procject.

I have only one auger drill that can reach 550mm into a piece of wood.  It is 12mm in diameter.  I have to bore the hole out with a 16mm auger to have the hole in the middle at least 16mm in size.  I have to do this from both ends so that the rebore meets in the middle.

Getting an Order Ready.

This post shows the steps needed to prepare an order for delivery.

I was asked to deliver a "D" fife and a "D" Pipe.

Here is the pipe, already turned and polished with the fipple cut.

It is a very nice piece of Maire. Maire is to wood as gold is to metal.

The next step is trimming off the excess around the fipple.

The end is shaped on the table sander.

Tuning the pipe involves cutting off pieces from the end.  This time I cut off four pieces before it was tuned to "D".

A Disastrous Day in the Workshop

Most of the time my day in the sorkshop goes very easily.  I am making pipes,  "D" pipes.  They are all similar, and the routine of the work ensures things go smoothly.  The machines are well oiled, the tools are sharp and the workshop well lit.  Everything hums.

Yesterday it didn't.  Reason.  I had received an order for a "D"pipe, a "D" fife and a bamboo "DD" fife, the long one, 550mm long.

The first problem:-  my supply of bamboo Textilis, the "right" bamboo for pipe making, was depleted.


I have been working very busily on three new projects.  The first has been perfecting the smaller holed version of the Constellation model.

Making a pipe with smaller finger holes is not just a mateer of putting in smaller holes.  They have to be adjusted so that the spacing is further part.  When I did this I found that the upper octave did not play correctly.  So I decided to use a smaller pipe.  I drilled the pipe out to 12mm, as usual.  I did not use the reamer which opened up the pipe to 17mm at one end and to 13mm at the other.


I finished a tranch of pipes on the 18th of September. This foto shows them before oiling.  The sound from these was the most consistent I have been able to achieve so far.

I am back home after my third trip away in three weekends.

On the 21st and 22nd September I was in Hamilton taking a workshop for the mens' shed.  On the first day I demonstrated the making of bamboo pipes.  On the second day we moved onto turning pipes out of wood.  At the end of the Sunday workshop some kind student showed me some cherry.
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