I've been getting into making woodwind instruments recently, and one of the biggest issues for me at the moment is my lack of a lathe. I've instead been chiseling out two halves of the bore and gluing them together. Is there a better way of doing this? Keep in mind that these are conical bores, otherwise I could use a normal drill to make the bore.

  • My first idea was, to look how instrument makers in 18th century worked, but it seems, lathes were existing there already (I didn't find information, whether or not these were used for instruments, however), even if more resembling foot-actuated sewing machines (unfortunately the picture is not in the english wikipedia article). So would it be an option, to build a primitive lathe with an electric drill motor?
    – guidot
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 8:00
  • @guidot Probably not. Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 12:59
  • You could try Bamboo: already hollowed-out. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:30
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    @luserdroog I'm specifically looking for how to make a conical bore. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 13:17
  • I believe you are doing it right. Two parts, glue together and add strips of leather holding it together. The cornetto instrument as well as the larger serpent was made that way. You might possibly order a conical "drill" to me made by an enginerring shop which you can drill with using muscle power. In a more modern version perhaps 3D printing?
    – ghellquist
    Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


You can also make them in sections, like a clarinet. For example, you could carve out the bell section by hand. When the bell is done tapering, this would be the end of the section. You could then carve the end into a smaller diameter, and glue some thin cork onto it. The next section would have a female end for the corked section to slide into. By doing this, you eliminate the need to glue the whole instrument together, and you can even experiment with mixing and matching sections that you carve with the same diameter ends. Just be sure that when you are carving the female ends, you carve a little at a time so that the opening isn't too big for the male ends.

  • What if I was making something that needed to be made in a single piece (like, say, a cornett)? Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 12:50
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    From what I understand, the traditional way to craft a cornett is the way that you are already going about it. They would carve out (sometimes very complex) curvature on either half, hollow out the inside, then bind it together and set it with some kind of glue. Some were also bound using leather around the exterior, so I imagine that took the place of the adhesive, and the leather was probably shrunk after being wrapped, to create a tight fit. Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 13:09
  • There is no reason, however, that you couldn't make wooden instruments in sections like I proposed, unless you are looking for traditional methods of making cornetts, specifically. Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 13:10

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