Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Flute Finisher - Part 1

Building flutes requires much time, dedication, and materials.  There are many steps involved in the process and much hand craftsmanship.  If you've heard the term "flute finisher," you may wonder what that person's role is in the process.  It seems logical, based on the title, that this person would be the last person that touches the flute before it goes to the customer.  But, alas, there is much that the flute finisher must do first...

Flute finishers receive a "flute kit" that has all the parts necessary to finish a flute.  The flute kit consists of the body, keywork, and steels.  The parts of the kit have already gone through several steps from raw materials to finished parts.  In the flute kit, the body has tone holes -- whether they have been drawn or soldered.  Ribs and posts have been soldered to the body as well.  The keys have been formed and are attached to the mechanism tubing.  The steels are finished and shaped to fit into the mechanism tubing.  When it arrives at the flute finisher's bench, the parts of the flute in the kit are covered with protective blue film to prevent scratches while the finisher completes his/her work.  With Powell Signature and Conservatory flutes, the bodies and keys have already been polished.  With Powell Custom flutes, the body and keys will be polished by the flute finisher.

The flute kit has many essential elements, yet there are a few that the finisher will add as well.  Finishers add springs, hand-shaped corks, and felts.  They pad the keys, adding shims as necessary so that the pads are seated correctly.  Finishers also have to make sure that the keys are fit properly to the body.  In our next post, we'll take a look at the exact series of steps a finisher goes through -- beginning with the flute kit and ending with a completed flute ready for shipment!

Aurumite Conservatory "Flute Kit"
Flute kit contains body, keys, steels.
Bodies have tone holes, posts, ribs. 
Another view of the flute kit.
Close-up on keys and steels.
Close-up on more keys and foot joint.

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