Archive | January, 2016

Northumbrian Pipe Maker – New Sets

A busy day in the Northumbrian Pipe Makers Workshop.

 

Today has been a day of preparation, with several projects underway.

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Northumbrian Pipes – Blanks for 3 sets

I’ve been turning down the wood for three sets and you can see them here.  Each set has a Chanter, and two turned pieces for each of the four drones.  You can also see the smaller pieces above each set which will be the stocks needed to connect the chanter and bellows to the leather bag.  These will each have a metal ferrule which not only looks great but adds strength where the sections join.

At the bottom of the picture are a couple of extended chanters I’m working on.  These will each have 17 keys when finished.

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Northumbrian Pipes Wood Blanks

Of the three sets shown, two are 7 key sets but I also started today on the Keyless set.  You can see the shorter Chanter and wood for the three drones required for this set.

Now that these have been roughly turned to size, they’ll be rested for a while and given further time to settle.  This step is important, and gives me time to make the bags, the bellows and dedicate some of my time to making the keys for the extended chanters.

 

 

 

 

For more information on buying a set of Northumbrian Small Pipes contact me at Kim@Northumbrianpipes.co.uk.

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Northumbrian Pipe Maker – Keyless Set Drawings

Northumbrian Pipes – Making a Keyless Set

 

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Northumbrian Pipes – Keyless Chanter Sketches

I’m delighted to have been commissioned to make a Keyless set of Northumbrian Pipes.  Most sets now have 7 Keys and 4 Drones.  This set will be different.  The ‘original’ Northumbrian Small Pipes were beautifully crafted with a keyless Chanter which played 8 notes.  Pitched in Pipers’ G (F+20 cents), the 3 drones were tuned to Gdg with no need to change key.  Being keyless, the chanters are slim and elegant, and the three drones complement the simplicity to form a delicate and beautiful set of pipes.

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Northumbrian Pipes – Keyless Chanter Sketches

My first job is to sketch out some design options.  To accentuate the simplicity of the instrument we’ve decided on slim, clean lines which emphasis the wood, with simple end caps and mounts to provide a subtle contrast.

End caps and mounts are often made from Blackwood or imitation ivory, but we’re going to use Tagua Nut for this set.  Also known as Vegetable Ivory, it was extensively used for small carvings and making buttons but modern materials have largely taken over now.

In keeping with a ‘basic’ and simple design, metalwork will be subtle to allow the beauty of the wood to be most prominent.

For more information about buying your own bespoke set of Northumbrian Pipes contact me at Kim@northumbrianpipes.co.uk

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Northumbrian Pipe Maker – Bellows

Making Northumbrian Pipes Bellows

 

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Northumbrian Pipes – Bellows Cheeks

Northumbrian Small and often Border Pipes are bellows driven, so each set has a set of bellows.  For this set I’m using Elm for the cheeks.  The Elm is cut to shape and a stitching groove established near its edge.  This groove is then drilled and what will be the inside of the cheek varnished while it is accessible.

 

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Northumbrian Pipes – Stitching Bellows

The Leather is hand stitched through the drilled holes using Saddlers Stitch.  This stitching takes time and is done in such a way that an airtight seal is established between the leather and the wooden cheek.

 

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Northumbrian Pipes – Stitching finished and ready for inlay

I’ve finished one side of the bellows here.  Once both bellows cheeks are stitched on, the next step will be to fill the stitching groove and finish the handmade brass fittings

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Northumbrian Pipes – Bellows Fittings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once completed, the one way air valve will be made and the leather belts, hinge and straps fitted.  The Bellows are then finished off and tested.

For more information on buying a set of Northumbrian Small Pipes contact me at Kim@Northumbrianpipes.co.uk.

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Northumbrian Pipe Maker – Keys

Northumbrian Pipe Maker – Making Keys

Northumbrian Pipes Maker

Keys are Hand Forged from Brass

Northumbrian pipes are available either with or without keys.  Originally, the instrument had a plain chanter with no keys and a unique and distinctive repertoire to tunes were played.  In the 18th Century, this chanter was developed by makers in Newcastle-on-Tyne and North Shields through the addition of keys. This allowed pipers to explore the fiddle repertoire as well as the older pipe tunes of the region.

Keys are hand made, which is an extremely time consuming job.  However, the results are well worth the effort, both in terms of the tunes which can be played and the beauty of finished chanter.  I’ve been making keys this week from brass sheet.  This is cut, cold forged and filed to shape.  The round head which will cover the hole on the chanter is cut and soldered on before a leaf spring is hand made and riveted to the key shank.

 

 

 

Once finished, the key is drilled to take the pin which attaches it to the chanter and final shaping and adjustments are made to ensure a smooth action.

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Final Fitting to Ensure Smooth Action

 

 

 

For more information on buying a set of Northumbrian Small Pipes contact me at Kim@Northumbrianpipes.co.uk.

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The finished round section

Northumbrian Pipemaker – Preparing Wood

The most popular wood for Northumbrian pipe making is African Blackwood.  This is bought in squared billets and my first job is to turn it to rounds on the lathe.

 

Once turned, each piece is individually bored to the appropriate diameter, cut to length and then returned to the shelf for several months.  This allows the piece to slowly dry and prevents cracking.

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Cut and turned wood is then slowly dried

 

For more information on buying a set of Northumbrian Small Pipes contact me at Kim@Northumbrianpipes.co.uk.

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