Sunday, June 29, 2014

Building the White Gold Flute - Part 4

In part 4 of our series on the gold flute, we meet with Alex Shtyrkov, Dennis Williams, and Weiling Zhou as several steps are completed.  In the video below, Alex finishes his work in the body making process by soldering the posts to the ribs, the ribs to the body, and the rings to the body.

In the next video, we visit with Dennis Williams and Weiling Zhou. The video begins with Dennis, who is fitting the mechanism steels.  Dennis must make sure that the steels are the proper length, shape, and that they run smoothly through the posts.  In the second part of the video, our engraver, Weiling Zhou, engraves the logo on the foot joint and body.  The engraving we see in this video includes the triangular VQP logo and "Verne Q. Powell Flutes." When the body engraving is complete, it will have the following, each on a separate line: triangular logo, "Verne Q. Powell Flutes," "Boston," serial number, and karat.  The foot joint will have the same with the exception of the serial number.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Building the White Gold Flute - Part 3

This week, we spent time with Custom flute body maker, Alex Shtyrkov, once again.  He was preparing to silver braze the tone holes,  Now, we realize that this type of tone hole is referred to as a "soldered tone hole," but Powell actually silver brazes its tone holes.  What is the difference?  Well, brazing requires a much higher temperature than soldering, and the flute is put through an oven for the brazing process.  We have a previous post on brazing and soldering at  In the video below, you will see Alex prepare the tone holes with a brazing paste and then put the flute through the brazing oven.

After the flute comes out of the oven, Alex removes the small fixtures that held the tone hole rings on to the body for the brazing process.  At this point, the actual holes need to be made in the body, which is referred to as "milling tone holes."  It is basically a process of cutting through the metal with a rotary device to make the hole.  After the holes are milled, Alex "faces" the tops of the tone hole rings so that they will be the proper height and shape.  You will see the milling and facing in the video below:

Check back next week as we the body making process continues...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Building the White Gold Flute - Part 2

We're in week 2 of our white gold NFA Custom flute's journey to being completed.  When we last saw the flute, it was in raw material form -- body tubes and components in the body and stringing kits.  As the body and stringing kits were being assembled in the materials department, the body tubes (center and footjoint), were sent over to Powell production team member Jason Sherman.  Jason's role is to drill very small holes in the tubes.  Each hole is the center of what will actually be the full tone hole.  As with the entire process, accuracy is key.  In order to drill these holes precisely, Jason programs a CNC (Computer Numeric Control) to drill the holes into their exact locations on the tubes, as you will see in the video below.  He repositions the tubes a few times during the process to drill offset holes as well as holes on the side and back of the tubes.

Footjoint after initial holes were drilled.
After the holes are drilled, the body tubes go back to the materials department and are placed in the body kit.  The body kit is then picked up by the body maker, Alex Shtyrkov.  We spent a few days with Alex as he prepared each and every tone hole to be brazed to the body.  Before the tone holes are brazed on to the body, they must be prepared to fit the tubes exactly.  Alex goes through each tone hole, fitting them and shaping them by hand.  Once they are ready, he attaches them to the body to prepare for brazing.  The tone holes must be secured so that they do not move during the brazing process.  Securing the tone holes requires the use of small fixtures that go through the initial center holes that were drilled by Jason.  Alex secures each tone hole, and then prepares them for brazing, which we will see next week...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Building the White Gold Flute - Part 1

Entering the order
As we prepare for the 2014 NFA Convention, we'd like to highlight the process of building a flute -- but not just any flute.  In fact, we are building a 14k white gold Powell Custom with 14k rose gold keys specifically for this year's Convention.  In our series of posts, we will follow the white gold flute from start to finish!  Recently, we discovered letters of correspondence between Verne Q. Powell and Fritz Baker.  Baker was the former principal flutist with the Denver Symphony and owner of Powell #900, the only completely white gold flute made by Mr. Powell.  Click here to read a previous post on the color of white gold and here for a detailed post on Mr. Baker's white gold flute.

The process of building a Powell flute begins with a sales order being entered into our computer system.  The order specifies the details and specs of the flute, and then a work order is generated.  The work order follows the flute along every step as the flute is being made

In the videos below, we see the next two steps that take place after the work order is generated.  First, materials must be inspected.  Then, the body kit and stringing kit are put together.  We visited the materials area of the production floor to film the following videos of the materials inspection with Materials Manager, Dawn Rothwell-Mann, and assembly of kits with Materials Coordinator, Helen Power.