The Pain of Old School

Honestly, I almost wish I had done this sooner. Realistically I did. The first one was “hollowed” with a gouge. That was also when I learned that leather gloves aren’t enough to protect against a gouge that has slipped. You might be surprised at how much that huge thumb muscle on your palm can bleed. I know I was.

Today, I sanded the the first hand-bored body. Yes, that was a challenge. I know a little about working with wood. Very little. I do know that when sanding you start with a coarse grit and move up in stages to a fine grit. 60 grit is pretty much like having little tiny pebbles glued to the paper. That is, until you apply said sandpaper to a rounded surface one inch in diameter. The pebbles come off and you rub them against the wood with a piece of paper. Not very effective. Moving up to 100 provided a better smoothing.

There are some splinters and a few divots (I’m still getting the hang of this gouge thing) so I decided to try filling them. I used plain white glue. I figured it’s only lightly toxic (it’s used in elementary schools, after all) and when it dries on my finger I can just peel it off. Put a drop in front of the splinter, draw a finger along the line and voila, filled splinter. Same technique to the divots. It’s sitting in the garage drying now. I’ll bring it in the morning. Maybe tonight. It’s supposed to start raining for two days.

I have two bodies from which to remove a considerable amount of wood. The first one I tackled is the one that isn’t sideways. That’s a configuration I’m more familiar with. So I gouge out the Slow Air Chamber and the blow hole. That part went pretty smoothly. The Sound Chamber though provided some exercise. Toward the foot of the body there is a knot. It’s not terribly big but the thing has practically turned to amber. It released a not unpleasant aroma, too. I get it smoothed out and the rest of the 18 inches gouged out. Doesn’t look too bad. I’m learning how and where to apply pressure to the gouge.

Now for the other side. I look toward the end and the surface of the knot I encountered already is HUGE on this side. I can see that it goes through to the outside. It’s less than half the size on the outside so maybe it’s a nice tight funnel shape. As I begin to dig through it, I realize it’s no funnel. It’s more like a cancerous growth waiting for oxygen to spur it on like a wildfire. This thing is HARD! I’m worried now about the edge on my gouges. Rather than tackle this thing immediately, I go back and finish off the rest of the Sound Chamber, above and below the knot. Five minutes later I realize that was a bad mistake. First, I now have this “mound” sitting in the middle of my flute barrel. Why is that a problem? Because now when the edge of the gouge cuts through it invariably digs itself into the already shaped sides! On top of that, the deeper into this thing I get, the harder it seems to get. It’s not like slicing layers of wood now, it’s more like shaving granite! I get about two-thirds of the way through it and notice moisture. Ooze.

Not only is the color beautiful, like a golden honey, it smells richly of wood and it’s making my right arm hurt from the should down to my fingers! That’s when I notice that in one section of it, I’ve dug too deeply. There’s going to be an odd bulge at the foot of this flute. I don’t dare sand the outside down to round like I usually do. Sanding probably wouldn’t affect this thing anyway. With my luck, it will laugh at me and shatter the whole end of the flute.

I never even got to the sideways monster. Depending on the agenda for her first day of vacation, I may work on it inside. She’ll probably want to get some sewing done, so I better bring in one of the powwow tables.

Guess I better go out and get the materials. Just in case the rain starts and is heavier than forecast. I don’t need open flute cores absorbing moisture. One of them is already warped a bit. Like me.

So, always work the knot first. Less pain that way. Pay very close attention to the depth. Yep, another learning experience.

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