Christensen Wood Flute (c.a. 1920)

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African Grenadilla

Chrostensen Wood Fute info from “THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS OF THE BOEHM FLUTE  IN THE UNITED STATES, 1845-1945: A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN BOEHM FLUTEMAKERS VOLUME I” BY Susan Marie Beagle Berdahl

The catalogue description of the wood flute indicates that African grenadilla and cocuswood were used. Christensen claimed that the wood he purchased had been seasoned, after splitting, for ten years in the open air, making it of superior quality. The process for making the wood flute was described as follows:

The important product is shipped in rough logs, four feet in length, which are split and cut in the required dimensions for the body, head and foot-joint. These pieces are in turn bored with a small reamer of about 3/8 inch in diameter and stored in a dry corner to season. As five years must elapse before this wood becomes thoroughly air dried, an immense supply must necessarily be kept on hand. Artificial seasoning or kiln-drying destroys its life and timbre.

When seasoned and ready for manufacture, each piece is carefully bored with graduated reamers to the required size, the walls turned and thinned and ferrules placed on each end. Now comes the test to detect any hidden cracks or checks. The piece, while suspended from a string, is struck with a small mallet; if the blow produces a clear, bell-like tone, all is well, if not the piece is thrown aside. The next process is to place the perfect pieces in reservoirs or vats of oil where they remain from four to six months. This method safeguards against cracking and warping, preparing and filling the wood so thoroughly that forever after, oiling inside the bore is unnecessary.

In cutting “the tone holes an ingenious invention is employed, which bores and phrases each hole in its acoustically correct position, absolutely accurate; a feat practically impossible by the old-time hand methods.

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