Wood for Making Native American Style Flutes


Wood - what an important subject. There are so many things to know about the woods we use to make a Love flute. 

First let's talk about the trees themselves. Any piece of wood I might use to make a Native American style flute is from a tree that was at least one hundred years old. Most hardwood is probably from trees that were a great deal older – hundreds and hundreds of years old. Every tree is itself a manifestation of Great Spirits guidance over millions of years of evolution. The board I hold in my hands is a triumph of sustained effort stretching back to far before the advent of man on this planet. I have always felt that to work with such a material is indeed an honor. When crafted into a Love flute good, hard, properly treated wood will creat an instrument that can last for hundreds if not thousands of years.

I am very aware that the great forests that once covered so much of our planet are disappearing. Most will soon be gone – perhaps never to return to their former glory. I might grieve, but I know that I am not capable of understanding the designs of Great Spirit. I treat each remaining precious piece of wood that comes into my hands with respect. Made into a quality, hand crafter Native American flute the soul quality of a tree may live on long after the last of its kind have fallen to the chainsaw or to a changing climate.


I Waste No Wood.


Wood that does not become part of a Love flute or related object is burned as kindling to start a winter fire in my shop. I will often use wood that has small abnormalities if they will not negatively affect the tone of the Native American flute. In fact I deliberately look for such wood as it often possess superior tonal quality. These abnormalities are rightfully called character flaws. They are not blemishes or detracting elements. Rather, they express the uniqueness of the tree.  A character flaw can impart a singular beauty to the wooden Love flute. It expresses the reality that never before has there been such a flute. And, never again will such a unique instrument be made in all of eternity.

Had I the space and finances I would amass a great quantity of Love flute wood. I would probably end up with far more wood than I would ever use in a lifetime. Such is the allure of a beautiful combination of color and grain pattern. But I don’t have that kind of space in my little shop. So I must leave many boards behind in the lumber dealers warehouse. This is hard to do. Often I will see a series of boards from a particular tree. I know that never in this life will I see that same gorgeous composition of color and grain again. Yet I only have space for one of two of those magnificent boards. I can let the others go - knowing, as I do, that Great Spirit will provide other equally wonderful wood when I need it.

The list below of wood types is not exhaustive. I have refrained from judging the different species as to their tonal quality. This is because there is so much variation within each species. Not every piece of wood from a particular species of tree will be ideal for making a quality Native American style flute.

I use many different verities of domestic and foreign hardwoods to make Ancient Territories Native American Style Flutes. I have done research on the different woods that I use to ensure that I (and you) are not involved with wood species that are overly exploited or in danger of extinction. The only woods that seem to be threatened are cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa), blackwood (Dalbergia melanorylon) and ebony (Diospyron crassiflora). Therefore, I do not purchase these woods. A few pieces do come my way from another craftsman. These pieces would otherwise be discarded or burned.

The colors of most Love flute wood darken somewhat with age. This is because light rays and especially ultraviolet rays stimulate a photochemical reaction in the pigments of the wood. With most wood species this takes place so slowly that it is seldom noticed. You may see it when you remove or change the position of the leather band that secures the bird to the flute. Then you may see a lighter color on the covered portion of the wood that was shielded by the leather.

Many of you are not familiar with the different species of wood that you will find in Ancient Territories Love flutes so I am posting pictures of the different flute woods that I use with a brief description of their characteristics.


Types of Wood


Wood, Ash

  Ash

Ash wood is as American as apple pie. It is a medium dense, hard wood with distinctive   open pores and grain patterns similar to oak. Ash is a creamy white light colored wood      that is easy to work and makes a pretty Love flute.

 

 

 

African Blackwood   African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon)

This wood comes from Southern African and Tasmania. It is used extensively in the manufacture of musical instruments such as clarinets. Efforts are made to ensure a continuing supply of this important wood through reforestation and timber plantation management. Blackwood is a dark black color with some dark brown grain. It is relative hard and dense and finishes well. It is very expensive and hard to obtain as almost all the harvest is bought up by the big instrument manufactures.

 

African Walnut   African Walnut

This is a nice, dense, close grained hardwood with muted red/brown colors. Grain pattern is more wavy than straight but subtle. When finished it has a lovely luster. Easy to work with and makes an attractive flute. I seldom use it as I prefer American walnut.

 

 

 

Bloodwood   Bloodwood (Brosimum paraense)

Also called Satine, bloodwood, as the name infers has a deep red rose color of outstanding beauty. The color does darken somewhat with age, but not noticeably. Bloodwood is a very dense, heavy wood with a tight and straight grain. It is a wood that polishes out to a fine deep finish. When combined with other woods it makes an outstandingly beautiful Native American style flute.

 

 

Wook, Bubinga

  Bubinga (Gubortia demeusii)

Often called African rosewood, Bubinga has deep red/brown colors and a wavy grain pattern sometimes highlighted by dark streaks with purple overtones. This wood darkens somewhat with age. Bubinga is a very hard, dense and heave Love flute wood that takes on a beautiful finish.

 

 

 

Birds Eye Maple

  Birdseye Maple

This is not a separate species but an unexplained aberration in the grain pattern of ordinary hard maple (Acer saccharum) that produces small eye like grain structures scattered through out the wood. Its occurrence is quite rare and consequently the wood is expensive. All types of maple are hard, dense, light white to cream colored woods. It makes a very attractive Native American style flute in combination with other woods.

 

 

Wood, Beech

  Beech

Beech is a medium dense even grained domestic hardwood. It has a tight grain and its color ranges from tan to medium brown. It is distinguished by tiny, evenly and closely spaced dashes of brown color (called ray flecks) distributed throughout the wood. Beech wood is rather pedestrian in appearance and therefore I seldom use it.

 

 

 

Wood, Cherry

  Cherry

American cherry is a medium density wood with a close tight grain with beautiful pink/brown colors that darken with age to a rich russet brown. It has modulated tones of light reflective grain. Cherry is one of my favorite Love flute woods.

 

 

 

Canarywood

  Canarywood (Liriodendron tulipifera)

This tree is in the Magnolia family and is also called the tulip tree. It grows in Eastern North America. It is a medium density distinctively grained wood in mixed muted reds and yellows. It takes a great finish. It does not darken noticeably with age. A very attractive Native American style flute wood.

 

 

 

cocobolo

  Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa)

Sometimes called Mexican rosewood, Cocobolo has deep rich orange reds with black and yellow striping in a very distinctive grain pattern. It is considered one of the most beautiful rosewoods in the world. Cocobolo is a very dense, heavy and tight grained wood. The few small pieces that I get I use for the ends of my Collectors Love flutes.

 

 

Curly Maple

  Curly Maple (Acer saccharum)

Maple is a dense, hard, North American wood. Curly maple is an aberration of common maple that has a distinctive light reflecting wavy grain pattern of outstanding beauty. You can gaze at the changing patterns of light reflected through the wood as you turn it in the light for hours. It darkens slowly to a more golden color. Curly maple makes a very beautiful Love flute in combination with other woods.

 

 

Wood, Jarrah

  Jarrah

Jarrah is in the eucalyptus family of woods from Australia. It is a dense, close and even grained, slightly coarse wood. The grain patterns are a subtle mixture of dark browns to blacks. Although not a particularly striking grain pattern its an attractive wood that finishes well.

 

 

 

Wood, Jatoba

  Jatoba (Hymenaea courbaril)

Often referred to as Brazilian cherry because of its color is similar to American cherry (though it is not in the cherry family). The colors of this hard, dense somewhat coarse grained wood range from medium brown to rich orange and reds. I usually choose pieces that have fine black lines running through the wood. A very attractive wood that makes good flutes.

 

 

Lacewood

  Lacewood (Roopola brasillensis)

A soft to medium dense wood of light to medium brown color from Africa. It is also called leopard wood. lacewood is known for its fascinating lace like grain pattern that is distributed evenly throughout the wood. It makes a beautiful Love flute in combination with other woods.

 

 

 

Wood, Padauk

  Padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii)

This is a bright orange wood from South Africa. The orange color darkens with age to an attractive burnt umber. It is a dense but not heavy wood with wavy grain. Padauk is not an easy wood to work with but it's worth the effort. Native American flutes - especially in the key of C and D have a wondeful tonal quality

 

 

 

 

pauamerello yellowheart

  Pau Amarello (Yellowheart)

This is another of the many woods that come from South America. Yellowheart is a medium dense wood with an even, barely distinguishable grain pattern. It is a pale yellow to mustard color that does not change with time. Looks good when used sparingly for its distinctive color.

 

 

 

Purple Heart

  Purpleheart (Peltogyne paniculata)

This is a very common hardwood from Central and South America known for its amazingly purple color. It has a hard coarse grain with little grain pattern. The color darkens with age. Purpleheart takes a wonderful, smooth finish.

 

 

 

Pecanwood

  Pecan (Carya illmoensis)

These trees grow in the lower Mississippi valley. Pecan is in the hickory family. It is a hard, dense, somewhat coarse grained wood with champagne and beige coloring. It's a little difficult to work with because the grain tends to splinter and tear. It makes a very nice Native American style flute.

 

 

 

Santos Mahogany

  Santos Mahogany (Myroxylon balsamum)

Santos mahogany is one of my favorite woods. More expensive than many the others but worth it. It grows from Central America to Argentina. This is a beautiful, medium density mahogany with reddish brown colors that darken to a beautiful deep red. The figured grain can be straight or wavy with medium to high luster. A very beautiful wood. Love flutes made of Santos mahogany have beautiful, clear, rich tonal qualities.

 

 

Walnut wood

  Walnut

The most sought after of North American hardwoods. Black walnut is a medium dense wood with close pores and tight grain. It is dark brown with blackish/ purple overtones. Not a flashy wood but good looking when contrasted with other woods. I try and obtain boards with distinctive grain patterns. Makes a great Native American style flute - especially in the higher keys like A, G and F#.

 

 

 

Wenge

  Wenge (Millettia laurentii) 

Wenge is an exotic hardwood from Africa. It is a very striking, mostly black wood with fine grey/brown streaks. Its coarse texture and open grain makes it difficult to achieve a good flat finish. I use wenge more as an accent wood rather than in a whole flute.

 

 

 

 

Zebrawood

  Zebrawood (Microberlina brazzavillensis)

Zebrawood is a coarse textured African wood known for its distinct zebra like stripes of alternating black/brown and cream/tan colors. It makes a wonderfully showy flute. Because of this prized woods rather high price I have to charge alittle extra for Love flutes made from it.

NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand

Cookie Policy for At flutes

What Are Cookies

As is common practice with almost all professional websites this site uses cookies, which are tiny files that are downloaded to your computer, to improve your experience. This page describes what information they gather, how we use it and why we sometimes need to store these cookies. We will also share how you can prevent these cookies from being stored however this may downgrade or 'break' certain elements of the sites functionality.

For more general information on cookies see the Wikipedia article on HTTP Cookies.

How We Use Cookies

We use cookies for a variety of reasons detailed below. Unfortunately in most cases there are no industry standard options for disabling cookies without completely disabling the functionality and features they add to this site. It is recommended that you leave on all cookies if you are not sure whether you need them or not in case they are used to provide a service that you use.

Disabling Cookies

You can prevent the setting of cookies by adjusting the settings on your browser (see your browser Help for how to do this). Be aware that disabling cookies will affect the functionality of this and many other websites that you visit. Disabling cookies will usually result in also disabling certain functionality and features of the this site. Therefore it is recommended that you do not disable cookies.

The Cookies We Set

This site offers newsletter or email subscription services and cookies may be used to remember if you are already registered and whether to show certain notifications which might only be valid to subscribed/unsubscribed users.

This site offers e-commerce or payment facilities and some cookies are essential to ensure that your order is remembered between pages so that we can process it properly.

From time to time we offer user surveys and questionnaires to provide you with interesting insights, helpful tools, or to understand our user base more accurately. These surveys may use cookies to remember who has already taken part in a survey or to provide you with accurate results after you change pages.

Third Party Cookies

In some special cases we also use cookies provided by trusted third parties. The following section details which third party cookies you might encounter through this site.

This site uses Google Analytics which is one of the most widespread and trusted analytics solution on the web for helping us to understand how you use the site and ways that we can improve your experience. These cookies may track things such as how long you spend on the site and the pages that you visit so we can continue to produce engaging content.

For more information on Google Analytics cookies, see the official Google Analytics page.

Third party analytics are used to track and measure usage of this site so that we can continue to produce engaging content. These cookies may track things such as how long you spend on the site or pages you visit which helps us to understand how we can improve the site for you.

We also use social media buttons and/or plugins on this site that allow you to connect with your social network in various ways. For these to work the following social media sites including; Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, Google plus, will set cookies through our site which may be used to enhance your profile on their site or contribute to the data they hold for various purposes outlined in their respective privacy policies.

More Information

Hopefully that has clarified things for you and as was previously mentioned if there is something that you aren't sure whether you need or not it's usually safer to leave cookies enabled in case it does interact with one of the features you use on our site.

However if you are still looking for more information then you can contact us through one of our preferred contact methods. This Cookies Policy was created with the help of the CookiePolicyGenerator.com

Email: john@atflutes.com