Great Woodshops: The Art of Engineering Flutes

Dave Copley, an ex-aircraft engineer, makes world-class wooden flutes in a small garage workshop.
By Kara Gebhart Uhl
Pages: 102-107

From the October 2005 issue #150
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Dave Copley tenderly lifts an African blackwood flute with sterling silver keys and rests it against his lips. A complex, hard-edged sound emerges from the handcrafted instrument as he plays a traditional Irish slip jig called “The Snowy Path” (written by Mark Kelly of the band Altan).

Copley says a wooden flute sounds different – darker – than the sound from the more ubiquitous metal flutes.

The sound made by wooden flutes was standard fare in orchestras until the late 1800s. Metal flutes, which produce a much brighter sound, are far more common today. However, wooden flute makers still exist and we found two – Copley (a 52-year-old ex-aircraft engineer) and his wife, Marlene Boegli (a 44-year-old silversmith) – in a small garage workshop in southwest Ohio.

From the October 2005 issue #150
Buy this issue now