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"How I Make Hand Calls"

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This is how I turn out a call, start to finish.


As my calls are smaller than most the size of the wood is what I happen to use.

This is just to give you an idea on how you may approach making a turned call.


1. I cut my wood to a suitable block, in my case, a 1"x1"x4".

2. Mark the centers and drill a 1/8" deep hole about 1/8" deep on the center points

on each end of the block.

3. With the turning point in the headstock of the lathe and a rotating center

point in the tailstock I turn the block down to a rough cylinder with a

good round area about 1/2" on each end of the rough dowel.

4. I switch out the turning point on the headstock to a 3-jaw chuck and switch out

the rotating center on the tailstock to a drill chuck.

5. Chuck up the rough dowel and use the tool rest as a guide to make sure the

wood spins true.

6. I then put an 8" 7/32 drill in the drill chuck on the tailstock and run it through the

rough dowel. This gives you a center line. THE END OF THE DOWEL


This is IMPORTANT as the drill may wander and not come out on center

at the headstock. But, not to worry, as you now have a center line for turning the call.

Also a 7/32 size hole will hold a JC Products reed without needing a sleeve.

If you want to use a sleeve you will use the appropriate sized drill bit to

make the center line hole through the rough dowel.

7. Switch out the 7/32 drill bit to a 9/32 or 1/4" drill bit and drill through the

center for a distance of 1 1/2". This gives you the air channel for the mouth piece end

of the call.

8. Remove the rough dowel from the headstock and turn it around so the air channel

mouth piece end is now in the headstock 3-jaw chuck.

9. Put a 1/2" step drill or uni-drill in the drill chuck. And drill out the bell end of the call.

I use a 1/2" because it doesn't have a tendancy to split the wood out like the larger

step drills do and it also fits on my rotating center on the tailstock.

10. Remove the drill chuck and replace with your rotating center on the tailstock.

Run this up into the 1/2" bell end hole and secure. You now have a rough dowel

centered and ready to turn.

11. Turn the call to your desired shape. I have marked my tool rest with a felt pen,

to tell me where the lanyard groove goes, where the mouth piece goes and

the end of the call.

12. I turn the lathe down to its lowest speed and use 320 grit sandpaper to smooth

the call and then switch to 400 grit and then 1000 grit.

13. I turn the lathe up to its highest speed and polish the call with 1000 grit

sandpaper. I then put any small grooves I want as decoration on the call, then with

a piece of wire, I use wire off of tie wraps, I burn dark lines into the call while

it is spinning at high speed. After that, I repolish with 1000 grit and take a

piece of cardboard and final polish the call with that. But be careful as you

can burn the wood with the cardboard.

14. With a parting tool I cut the bell end of the call.

15. You now have the call still in the headstock 3-jaw chuck. I then check and

make sure it's spinning true and adjust if I need to.

16. I take a piece of dowel with a taper on it and wrap a piece of 100 grit sandpaper

on it. And turning the lathe to its lowest speed, I sand out the bell end to get rid of

the step drill marks and to open the bell end into a megaphone shape.

17. I then finish the mouth piece end and cut it off with a parting tool.

18. I hand sand off the mouth piece end to get rid of the tool marks and the call

is now ready to finish.

19. I use Deft to seal my calls with. With a piece of wire to hold the call, I dunk

the call into the can of Deft and with a brush I wipe off the outside of the

call of excess Deft and hang it up to dry.

20. After drying, I put a buffing wheel into the lathe and buff the outside of the

call with a buffing compound to smooth it out and give the wood a natural shine.

21. I sometimes have to take the 7/32 drill bit and run it back through the air

channel to make sure the reed fits properly.

22. I fit in the reed and test the call.

23. I use india ink to put my monogram on the call and seal it with clear nail polish.


That's how I go about making my particular calls and I hope you find some of this information useful in your call making hobby.


Walt Betts....aka...NVWalt

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So the reed from JC Pennys . what do you ask for there. is it just reeds used in high scuool band instruments. Or do they sell different squeaks.

I can understand how to turn the bodys but not wher to find the squeaks .

BOBCAT you might be interested .I pretty much have access to an endless supply of very straight grain 1 1/8 HEX CUT OFF scrape ASH. lumber .

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PaPitt.....not J C PENNYS.

J C Reeds..... J C Products. https://www.jcproductsusa.com/

They are completely different from the reeds you are thinking about. Have a look at the link above and you'll have a good idea of what you need.

Actually Bob posted the instructions for another member, NVWALT. Bob is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a call maker.

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I have been wanting to buy a mini lathe for stuff like this. What kind of lathe do you use Bob?

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