generally needs thinning out before use—follow the directions on the can. Apply two or three coats on the outside of the call body. The interior of the call is usually left raw.
The tapered tube holds the reed, block, and wedge. I make this part the same way I make the call body. Start with a blank about 3 in. long with a rough diameter of l/8 in. Bore a ^-in.-dia. hole in one end of the blank, to a depth of Va in. Then replace the ^-in.-dia. bit with a Vfc-in.-dia. bit and bore to a depth of about 2 lA in. This will create the small and large hole configuration shown in the drawing above.
Part off the blank at about 2 in. and remount on topers, as done earlier with the call body. Taper the tube as shown in the drawing, so that the end with the 5/S-in.-dia. hole is small enough to extend at least in. into the body of the call. The fit here is critical: The tube must stay snug for use, but be removable for rccd tuning and replacement. Remove material gradually to arrive at a good fit. I give the large end of the taper a diameter between '/fc-in. and 1 in. Then I turn a couple of grooves on the outside diameter of the large end to keep the call from slipping through eold-numbed fingers.
This part is a bit more complicated. Since slight variations in block shape can account for tonal differences in the finished call, it's a good idea to turn a coupic of sounding blocks, rather than just one.
Start off by turning a cylinder about 4 in. long to an O.D. of in. Grasp this cylinder in a 3-jaw chuck, and bore the cylinder to a depth of 23/l6 in. with a -in.-dia. bit. Then part off the cylinder at a length of 2 in. Save the offcut; you'll need a piece of it later to make the wedge.
Your sounding block blank is now a cylinder with a blind bore. (The hole doesn't extend all the way through the cylinder.) The next step is to split this cylinder approximately in half along its length. I make this cut on the handsaw, with the aid of a V-block. I tape the blank to the V-block and set up the rip fcncc to guide one edge of the jig. (Sec photos, below.) Note: You can vary the sound of your call somewhat at this point by making this lengthwise rip slightly off the center of the cylinder. A
Shaping the call body. Mount the bored-out call body between live centers, on a tapered point and on a piece turned to fit the hole.
Halving the sounding block. Left, secure the blank to a V-block with § tape, and guide the block's edge against the handsaw's rip fence to make the cut. Above, the finished sounding block has a stopped groove and a slightly rounded end. I
block with a deeper groove usually produces a lower lone. For more on varying call rone, read the section on " Tuning Up."
You now have a half-round piece that exposes the blind bore as a stopped groove. The groove is the air channcl for the reed. Sand the bandsawn surfacc smooth and flat. "Then, carcfully round the ungrooved end of the sounding block. (Sec bottom right photo, opposite page.) I do this shaping on the belt sandcr, using a fine-grit belt.
This is the thin piccc of material which vibrates to produce the call's sound. As you might suspccr, the rccd has the largest cffcct on the tone of the call. Anyone who has ever played a rccd instrument will tell you how important (and temporary) the reed can be. Duck call reeds come in a lot of different flavors. I have seen reeds made from metal, bamboo, plastic, and—in occasional emergencies—shotshcll hulls (the only suitable material available in most duck blinds!). Reeds may be single or double, like the one shown here. I even remember seeing one old call with a triple rccd!
The reed's width should match the width of the sounding block's flat area. Length can match that of the sounding block, or be up to l/4 in. less than block length. The "free" end of the reed needs to be rounded on one end, as shown in the photo above. Reeds arc available from the P.S. Olt Co. (P.O. Box 550,
Assembling the call. The reed covers the sounding block's groove and is sandwiched between the block and the wedge. All three parts fit snugly in the tapered tube.
Pckin. IL 61554, 309-348-3633). These reeds arc made to fit specific styles of Olt calls, so they may require trimming to fit other styles of calls.
If you decide to strike out on your own, try cutting reeds from polyethylene plastic that's between 0.010 in. and 0.020 in. thick (available from plastic suppliers). I've also had good results cutting rccds from soda bottles.
Assembly of the call is simple. The rccd is held in place by the wedge, a small section of the same cylinder from which the sounding block was cut. (See drawing.) I sand the flat side of the wedge to a slight taper in order to produce a snug fit. Place the square (open) end of the sounding block into the tapered tube until it bottoms out in the
-in.-dia. hole. Lay the rccd—rounded end out—atop the Hat area of the sounding block, covering the groove. Slide the wedge into the space above the rccd, small end first. The wedge should hold the reed snug to the sounding block, allowing the exposed length of the rccd to "play" when air passes across it. (See photo, left.) Oncc the rccd is sccurcd in the tube with the wedge, slide the whole assembly, reed end first, into the call body. Now let the quacking begin!
For some tips on duck calls, see the sidebar below. If you've tried these techniques and aren't getting the tone you're after, your call might need some tuning.
Rccd number and thickness, combined with reed position—how far the reed extends over the sounding block groove—will do the most to determine the tone of your call. Generally, tone grows lower as reed length or thickness increases. A double reed will produce a louder, raspier call than a single reed.
The condition of the sounding block is another factor in call performance. 'The rounded profile at the end of the sounding block will affcct auditory quality. To fine-tune your call, you may need to experiment with these variables. A
STEPHEN BLENK is a contributing editor to A \V when he isn't fending off ducks in Washington state.
JUST SAY "KAK" AND "TICKET"
It takes practice and a sense of humor to fool a cluck
Calling ducks lakes practice, hut the trial-and-error process can be a lot of fun. Ducks are social critters, and respond to certain calls predictably. Most calling is based on the calls of the mallard species.
To use a duck call, try holding the exposed end of the tapered tube in the web of your thumb and forefinger, and place the other end of the call body lo your lips. With your fingers closed over the back of the call, try grunting the sound "kak" explosively into the mouthpiece. As you do this, open your fingers as the pressure build* up behind ihem. This should produce a pretty fair "quack," similar to a hen mallard. It you blow too hard, you'll get a squeal that sounds more like an adolescent drake whose voice is cracking!
Try to get «in experienced c «lller lo work with you, and be prepared for lots of laughs in the learning process. All the sounds made on a mallard call are combinations of the "kak" noise and a "wick" noise, in addition to a chuckle (feeding call) which is made by saying the word "tic ket" into the call while opening and closing your hand.
for more information on calling ducks, try your library or a sporling goods store. Don'l miss this opportunity to laugh at yourself, or to get some great views of waterfowl!
Twist-Lock Marking Gauge
Twist the Beam to Set This Gauge for Marking By Frank Klausz
A marking gauge is useful for all sorts of layout tasks, from marking mortises to laying out dovetails. I rely on a gauge more often than a pencil when marking because I like the precise line width a gauge pin leaves and the ease with which it can be set to any distance from the edge of a workpicce.
I own several types of gauges, but the gauge shown here (sec photo above left), is my favorite because it's simple to make and even simpler to use. Like a traditional gauge, this one consists of a beam with a marking pin and a fence with a hole in it that slides along the beam. But instead of a screw-type locking device, this gauge relies on the eccentric shapes of both beam and hole to lock the fence in position. To set the fence for marking, you give the beam a twist, and the fence locks tight and square to the beam.
This cam-type action isn't new to marking gauges. You can sometimes find old twist gauges at auctions, or you can buy a modern gauge with this twist-lock feature from Harris Tools (76 Qucntin Rd„ Brooklyn, NY 1 1223, 800-449-7747; price S22.50).
The gauge shown here has a single marking pin. 1 use it for general chores such as laying out dovetails or marking the center of a board for rcsawing. To make a mortising gauge for laying out hand-cut mortises and tenons, you can use a pair of pins, spacing them to match the width of a particular mortising chisel.
Marking with a twist. This unusual marking gauge is a snap to make and easy to adjust with just a flick of the wrist. I
Putting It Together
Use a dense hardwood for the fence and the beam so these parts will wear well. Here arc some things to keep in mind when purring the gauge together:
Make the fence first. After shaping the outside contours of the fence, drill the hole in the ccntcr with a ^/4-in. Porstncr bit. Use the drill press to ensure that the hole is square to the face of the fence. That way, the fence will lock square to the beam. Then use a scroll saw or coping saw to enlarge the hole as shown, orienting the shoulder cut across the grain for strength. (See drawing.) Smooth any bumps with a half-round file so the sweep of the curve is fair.
I like to glue one or more ivory discs into the bottom face of the fence. The ivory, which I get from old piano keys, provides some wear resistance, but its main function is to tell me at a glance which direction my pin is facing. This way, I can quickly grab the gauge off the bench and start marking out.
Make the beam to fit the hole. The width of the beam blank should be about '/t6 less than the long diameter of the hole. (See drawing.) To shape the beam eccentrically, saw a rabbet into the
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