“I got started making flutes when I had a few weeks away from work and was looking for something to fill the time, and I haven’t been able to stop since (except when I’m making magic wands). I hope you enjoy playing your NAF (Native American Flute) as much as I enjoy making them!
Native American flutes were part of the culture and ceremonies of many North American tribes, including the Apache, Navajo, Ute, Lakota, Hopi and Anasazi. Flutes of this type have been discovered dating from as far back as 600 AD, and are usually made of wood or bone.
These flutes have a special dual-chamber design – when you blow into the mouthpiece the air actually comes out of a hole in the top, goes through the block (the bird-like wooden thing on the top), and over a second hole where the sound is created. This gives Native American flutes their unique “breathy” sound.
Native American flutes can have anywhere from 2 to 8 holes, but I prefer the 6-hole flute that gives an excellent range of notes. The first three fingers of each hand are used to cover the six holes, leaving the thumb and little finger to “chill out.” My flutes are pitched in a variety of keys, with F# being the most common.
It is not fully clear how all these flutes were used within their native cultures, but I encourage you to experiment with your flute to see how it fits into your life. It can be played alone or with other instruments, and has a very meditative quality that makes it great for de-stressing or setting a mood.
I would like to give a special thanks to all on the Native Flute Woodworking - Native Flute user group for all the help and information on the construction of Native American Flutes.
Examples of Native American Style Flutes I have made.
I sell Native American style Flutes under the brand name of Fancy Gap Flutes. These are examples of flutes that I have produced, though many have been gifted to friends and family. I find people like them not only for the sound, but also as a display piece.
This is a printable brochure for Fancy Gap Flutes.
I had made a few PVC flutes, but this is my first wood attempt. It is made out of an old spruce 2 x 4 and is a solid piece of wood, bored on my lathe. The walls are very thick, but it plays ok.
As my first flute, when I completed it, I took it to the house to show my wife. I put it on the porch table and walked away. When I came back some time later, a dog got it and took off with it. To a dog, it appears to be a really cool stick. My neighbor found the chewed up carcass and brought it back home. That is why it has the walnut on each end. Still plays.
I have attempted many different ways to create the bore and Slow Air Chamber (SAC) of a Native American Flute(NAF).
This page describes a jig I made for a plunge router. This jig worked well for me and helped me create many 3/4 and 1 inch bore NAFs. In reading forum posts, many people are looking for inexpensive ways make their NAF. Not all people have access to expensive wood working tools. I hope someone finds this method useful.