Custom Duck and Game Calls
by Fox Chapel Publishing Co. Inc., East Petersburg PA USA
As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 164
This is a book devoted to making what are essentially musical instruments. Like other wooden instruments, it is not only the quality of the craftsmanship that determines the worth of the final result. It is also the quality of the sound they produce.
'Without the music', the authors say, 'a game call is only a pretty piece of wood or plastic'.
As their book explains, many factors have combined to make stalking game less efficient than it was, even 50 years ago. Therefore, 'calling game of all kinds - ducks, geese, turkeys and even big game and large predators - is an essential part of the hunt today, whether the hunterís instrument is a gun, a camera or binoculars'.
The major components of almost all of the Calls presented in this book are turned. The most common type consists of a 'barrel' and a 'stopper'.
The barrel is the outer casing which also forms the mouthpiece of the instrument. The stopper fits inside the barrel and carries the tone making parts of the Call. These are principally a tone board, a wedge and a reed which may be made from a wood such as bamboo, but which is now more usually made from 'one of several plastic polymers'.
The tone making parts of a Call are called the 'guts' and the authors suggest that beginners should purchase 'guts' kits for making their first Calls.
After an introductory overview of the history and use of Calls, Chapter 2 discusses the features required in lathes used for Call making, and offers advice on the sharpening of lathe tools and the selection of wood.
The next four chapters deal with making the barrel and stopper. First, there is the use of mandrels. Unlike the techniques employed in pen making, the wood is 'often gripped inside the bore with an expanding traction device' and mandrels designed for game calls 'may be mounted between centres or held in a collet chuck alone'.
There is also a discussion on the subject of Planning the Barrel and Stopper Shape before practical descriptions of actually Turning a Duck Call and Drilling Call Blanks.
A chapter on Embellishment Ideas provides guidance to improving the attractive appearance of the finished pieces.
While the suggestion is again made to buy the 'guts' for early attempts at Call making, details are given of various methods of constructing Tone Boards and Reeds.
The next chapter diverts attention from the Barrel and Stopper form of Call to three other types - friction calls, pot calls and diaphragm calls, all of which may also be made by woodturning.
After a brief discourse on finishing, the book ends with some notes on the use and care of game calls, a few thoughts on plans and patterns and an interesting Gallery.
Units of Measurement: Imperial
Chapter 1: Understanding Game Calls
Chapter 2: Tools and Materials
Chapter 3: Mandrels and Accessories
Chapter 4: Planning the Barrel and Stopper Shape
Chapter 5: Turning a Duck Call
Chapter 6: Drilling Call Blanks
Chapter 7: Embellishment Ideas
Chapter 8: Tone Boards and Reeds
Chapter 9: Friction, Diaphragm, and Other Calls
Chapter 10: Finishing Touches
Chapter 11: Use and Care of Game Calls
Chapter 12: Plans and Patterns
A: U.S. Standard: Fraction to Decimal to Metric Conversion