Meet The Maker, by Greybeard of Tree Of Life Designs June 09, 2017 11:32

Enjoy this bit of insight into who Ed Dougherty is as a woodworker and flute maker! I decided to turn this into a nice blog post for our website. Originally submitted to the World Flute Society's Overtones newsletter, this was fun to write as well as read interesting facts about other flute makers. For information on how to join World Flute Society as a member and get your own copy of Overtones, please visit

What do you wish flute customers knew about you?

I consider myself to be a Woodworker first. I truly the enjoy the artistry and craft of woodwork and am continually inspired by the medium. Growing up, we lived next door to my Grandfather, who was a woodworker. I spent a great deal of time in his shop, watching and helping him work, being his “gofer” and sweeping up sawdust.  That early experience instilled in me the desire to have a shop of my own one day.  In addition to flutes I enjoy woodcarving, making walking sticks, restoring old furniture, woodturning on my lathe and talking wood with crafters of all stripes.

When I first felt the “call of the flute” I was quickly hooked and it was only natural that I eventually tried my hand at crafting my own. I sought out whatever resources that were available at the time, from reading the very academic physics books on the subject, to befriending  as many makers and players as I could asking them the question “what makes a good flute?" I incorporated those elements along with my Engineering and Design background and set out to make the best flutes I could make. It was never my intention to become a Flutemaker, but with every flute that I made I became more and more drawn to it and now, ten plus years later here I am. I remain committed to my craft and continuously strive to make incremental improvements in my technique and the instruments that I make.  To this day I am truly humbled and rewarded by each flute that I make and with every single interaction with members of our flute community.

What do you think that your specialty is in flute making?

With some exception, each and every flute that I craft is a unique, standalone piece. Of course I have a signature style, but do enjoy being challenged and inspired to create something new and different each time out. Anyone who’s visited my shop will attest that I am a bit of a wood junkie and I am continuously adding to my inventory and always looking for new and unique pieces to craft.

In addition to the best tuning and voicing that I am capable of I always seek to showcase the inherent beauty of the wood itself. That philosophy starts with the first cut that I make. It continues with combinations of woods that I select right, the way I lay them out right through to the finishing techniques that I employ.  I am particularly passionate about my finish. It’s well known that I choose the most natural and environmentally friendly finishes available. Plant based waxes and oils are my go to products and leave my wood flutes looking and feeling like wood. To me, that is large part of the Tree of Life experience.

Why do you make flutes?

Like most of us I was initially drawn to the sound of the Native Flute. Once I made the decision to learn to play the challenge became finding an affordable and well-made instrument, which for a beginner was a bit overwhelming. Quality and pricing varied greatly and at the time choices were somewhat limited. Like many new players I made some poor choices and almost gave up. Eventually I stumbled on a decent flute, discovered that yes, I could play after all.

I made my first flutes as a personal challenge, just to see if I could do it. I realized that I genuinely enjoyed making flutes and quickly progressed. It was a natural extension of my woodworking and I invested heavily in improving my personal skills and shop setup. As time passed, flutes and flutemaking have become a significant and meaningful element of my life. I have met and befriended so many talented musicians, flutemakers and players including the incredible woman that eventually became my best friend, wife, and partner in Tree of Life Designs. I consider myself truly blessed and rewarded by the experience. A couple thousand flutes later I still get excited by the prospect of the next piece from my humble shop, hope that it is slightly better than the last and sincerely look forward to connecting with its new owner.

Ed “Greybeard” Dougherty
Tree of Life Designs