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Can/Should I use Yew for a practice chanter???

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smckerrell

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I've got some amazing Yew--and am aware of it's toxic properties--always wear a respirator when turning it--but I'd really love to use this for a practice chanter which would involve blowing into the thing. Can I do this? Should I use epoxy or something to seal the whole thing inside and out--or just go with a different wood equally as close grained?

all suggestions much appreciated--photo attached of blank on the lathe

Simon.
 

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Woody2Shoes

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I think you're right to be careful of the dust while working, I don't think there's any threat to you from blowing down it playing tunes - besides, there's a reed/mouthpiece isn't there?
I'd just seal the outside with sanding sealer and carry on regardless...
 

Droogs

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no a good idea unless your are able to fully seal the chanter both on the outside and down the hole in the middle.
If you need a new chanter, I have one, a nice Indian rosewood with silvered lauries you can have as I can't play anymore due to arthritis in 2 fingers
 

akirk

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I think you're right to be careful of the dust while working, I don't think there's any threat to you from blowing down it playing tunes - besides, there's a reed/mouthpiece isn't there?
I'd just seal the outside with sanding sealer and carry on regardless...
the reed is further down the instrument - there is a top section which comes off and the reed is inside that, in the middle of the airflow - my chanters (cheap ones!) have a plastic mouthpiece then the wood of the chanter...
 

Droogs

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The habit of pipers is to take a breath throught he side if the mouth and not remove the chanter from the lips while playing/practicing; this means that there is a high chance that as you take a breath you will draw air up through the middle of the chanter and into your mouth as well.
 

Lazurus

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I think with the wide choice of less controversial timber available I would save the Yew for another project.
 

niall Y

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Hi Simon,
This ties in with something I'm pondering at the moment - having just part-turned some wet bowl-blanks in yew. Later, when I finish turn them. will it be safe to eat out of them? so I'll be following the rest of this thread with interest.
Since I see that you are turning this chanter on, what seems to be a regular lathe, I have to ask - how are you managing to bore out the central hole with the correct diameter. I've been experimenting myself. with the intention of making some Irish whistles in wood, and I;d be interested in how you do this..........
Cheers, Niall
 

smckerrell

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Hi @niall Y yes--interesting thanks--I've done it roughly this order:
  • Rough turn the blanks to round
  • Bore a 3mm hole all the way through in one go--I am basically using my nova chuck to hold the spindle blank in contration mode, and using the tailstock with a Jacobs chuck in it to make the full boring--in and out quite laborious--still I can get all the way through but I've tried twice and it's way off centre--but doesn't matter too much. Using a simple long drill bit (c. 300mm long) for this part.
  • Then I use the bored hole as the centre points to turn the external shape of the chanter
  • Then use a drill press to drill the finger holes.

That's probably a terrible way of doing it--but it's the only way I could work out with the kit I've got here. Anyway--very enjoyable and I'll probably ditch the Yew chanter (too worrying It hink) and I've picked up some lovely Sapele (I think) so I'll probs have a go next with that one.

Interested in anyone else's methods/good ideas for getting a straighter bore hole.

whistles would be very interesting--and presumably would be shorter. So you could use a shorter drill bit in the jacob's chuck? The fipple would be hard--but presumably you do that in two pieces right?
 
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Yew can make nice smallpipes, Ross Calderwood over at Lochalsh Pipes has been using it and making some really nice sets. It may be worth asking him about using it.
I personally wouldn't use it for a practice chanter even if you fit a plastic mouthpiece, I'd rather be safe than sorry especially with so many other woods to choose from.

Iain
 

niall Y

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Hi @niall Y yes--interesting thanks--I've done it roughly this order:
  • Rough turn the blanks to round
  • Bore a 3mm hole all the way through in one go--I am basically using my nova chuck to hold the spindle blank in contration mode, and using the tailstock with a Jacobs chuck in it to make the full boring--in and out quite laborious--still I can get all the way through but I've tried twice and it's way off centre--but doesn't matter too much. Using a simple long drill bit (c. 300mm long) for this part.
  • Then I use the bored hole as the centre points to turn the external shape of the chanter
  • Then use a drill press to drill the finger holes.

That's probably a terrible way of doing it--but it's the only way I could work out with the kit I've got here. Anyway--very enjoyable and I'll probably ditch the Yew chanter (too worrying It hink) and I've picked up some lovely Sapele (I think) so I'll probs have a go next with that one.

Interested in anyone else's methods/good ideas for getting a straighter bore hole.

whistles would be very interesting--and presumably would be shorter. So you could use a shorter drill bit in the jacob's chuck? The fipple would be hard--but presumably you do that in two pieces right?
Hi Simon,
Thanks for the prompt reply. It's always interesting to see how others tackle the same problem. At the moment I pretty much do things in the same way, but I drill out the central hole on the lathe with my Record long hole-borer, This gives me a hole diameter of 8 mm. What I'm after is a finished internal diameter of 12 mm so I've been trying to track down a counter-bore that will allow me to locate in the 8 mm hole and widen it to 12 mm. I've not had much luck tracking this particular sized cutter,however, I've got hold of an end bearing guided router cutter and am hoping to be able to remove the bearing and replace it with an 8 mm sleeve, when I can find some spare time.
I'm not familiar with the internal diameter of chanters, but is it somewhat wider than the 3 mm of your initial hole? Do you widen it by simply drilling out with a standard jobbing bit from both ends?
Regarding your original query and my own shared concerns about the Yew. I just Googled "toxicity of hardwoods" ... based on this I might have to give up woodworking all together !
Niall
 

Droogs

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Hi @niall Y

Interested in anyone else's methods/good ideas for getting a straighter bore hole.

You could try either of these for a more centred hole, depending on if you have the kit:
Drilling the hole in a series of short depths of hole and stepping up in diameter until 1 drill size under the final diameter needed and then a pass through with the final size as a skimming pass type of thing through the entire length.

or

Use or make a steady and peck drill through until just large enough to pass a boring bar and or followed by a reamer held in the Jacobs chuck in the tailstock down the hole


edit

had a thought, you could drill an over size hole down the middle of the chanter and then fill with resin, once left to cure you could then turn. Give it a coat of resin on the outside and drill the finger holes in position but oversize and fill them with resin and redrill these and the core out to the correct size and then give it all a really good polish up and maybe fit some contrasting lauries
 
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smckerrell

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thanks all--v interesting. @Iain Allen those yew smallpipes at lochalsh look brilliant--lovely set up. great to see these native woods being used for real instruments.
 

Droogs

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For those who think they are reasonable pipers or on the chanter, try getting a daduk and giving that a go

starts 41 seconds in

 

Robbo3

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I can't answer your question but the man who probably can is Simon Hope who is famous for making Scottish small pipes
- HOPE woodturning
Contact info at the bottom of the page.
 

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