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What woods we use
We offer a range of different woods in the construction of our flutes.

What woods do you use?

At RKF we try to use as many different types of timber as possible to give the greatest variety of choice both visually and acoustically. Our only limitations are what timber we have access to, as stock and availability can vary. We prefer to use English timber as we have a trusted supplier who has a wide variety from Cedar to Bog Oak, however we are also fortunate to have a local supplier of exotic timbers such as Purple heart and even Ebony.

For those interested in custom orders we ask that we are able to choose the timber as wood is a natural product and not everything is suitable or ready to be made into a flute due to factors such as moisture content. This does not mean that we are not open to customers own timber but we would have to assess this on an individual basis.

Where do your woods come from?

We have two main trusted suppliers of timber. The majority of our English timbers come from our good friend Mike who after retiring as a master cabinetmaker many moons ago decided to continue his love of wood in the form of milling and selling a wide variety of timbers.

Our exotic timbers come from a local supplier who has been sourcing and selling rare and exotic timbers for several decades. We work with their extensive knowledge to ensure we only purchase timbers that are not CITES protected, meaning they are not an endangered or limited species.

What is the difference between the woods you use?

There are two ways to look at this, from an aesthetic and an acoustic perspective.

Aesthetically due to the fact that all timber is a natural product we can almost guarantee that every flute despite its design will be completely individual. This is because grain and colour variations even from the same plank or tree are almost completely individual. For example Cedar (our most popular softwood) varies between a light honey colour, to a darker honey colour but can also have hints of pink and even black (if spalted).

The grain variations can be a more simple open wavy grain to a tight grain resembling fire, and has even been known to have a iridescent ripple running through. This is often the same for each of our timbers meaning that aesthetically there dozens of variations and possibilities.

In addition to this as we try to use a huge variety to maximise character our flutes have been made from burr planks even those with knots or pips.
Once you enter the realms of exotic timbers the variation aesthetically increases even further with colour choices from chocolate browns, to purple, to red, to striped, to deep black.

Acoustically there are two major differences, and these are between softwoods and hardwoods. Typically softwoods produce a softer and fluffier tone whereas hardwoods produce a harder, fuller and sometimes crisper tone. This tonal difference depends greatly on the density of the timber used, the harder the timber the harder the tone. Depending what timber is used can mean that identically tuned flutes can have subtle tonal differences giving them each an individual voice.

This however can vary still depending on the positioning of each timber choice. Our flutes are constructed from two halves and each half impacts a different tonal element of the instrument. The top part of the bore (with the playing holes) affects how the note is formed, whereas the bottom part of the bore affects how the notes echo is produced.

An extreme example would be if the top bore were made of a softwood such as cedar and the bottom were made of the densest wood Ebony then each note would form softly with a hard, crisp echo. However if you were to reverse this combination the flute would produce a crisp, almost classical note with a softer more woolly echo.

With the huge variety of timber species which we use with their added variations this means that the process of choosing a flute is very personal in terms of aesthetic and acoustic tastes.