Something a little bit different - I tried to make a flute. For my first attempt, I tried to keep the flute as simple as possible. When I started this project, I hoped to make something that was playable. Still, I mostly approached the project as a learning exercise - this is the most complex woodworking project I've attempted, and I wasn't expecting anything to go smoothly.

I used North American Tulipwood for this first attempt. This is not a good choice of wood for a flute. However, frankly, the wood that'd be good for a flute is expensive, and as I wasn't sure I'd be able to produce anything remotely right on my first attempt, I didn't want to splash out for it.

To make the flute, I started with one long piece of North American Tulipwood, mounted it on the lathe and rounded it off. Next, I purchased an extra-long drill bit and bored out the centre - the drill bit isn't long enough to drill out the centre out in one go, so I had to remount the flute the other way around and bore from the other end. The boreholes didn't line up perfectly in the middle of the flute, but they were pretty close, and I managed to smooth the bore out with some sandpaper on a stick. I then turned the flute down to the correct diameter.

I started drilling the flute holes with the embouchure (the blowhole). Fortunately, I already had the correct size drill bit for this hole - I used a small Forstner drill bit. Once that was drilled and shaped, I shortened the flute bit by bit until I got the note I wanted - a low D.

I then started on the finger holes. I started by drilling a small hole, checking the note, then drilling a slightly bigger hole, and rechecking the note, repeating that process until the note was quite close to where it needed to be. I had to order some additional drill bits for this - I had an existing set, but that only ranged from 2mm to 8mm in 1mm increments - the new set ranges from 1mm to 13mm in 0.5mm increments. Once all the notes were quite close, I had a second run through all the holes to improve the tuning. Although drilling the holes and tuning the flute took longer than expected, it wasn't that difficult.

As mentioned, I was expecting this project to be a pleasant learning experience, but I was hoping to make something that was playable. Most of the notes play pretty nicely - except the low D and the low E - these notes come out a bit quiet and weak, and unless you are blowing the embouchure perfectly, you don't even get that. Sanding the inside of the flute, particularly around the finger holes, helped - but it's still not perfect. However, I learnt a lot by making it, and I'm confident my second attempt will play better.

What I think I mostly got out of making this flute is a new hobby - buying drill bits.