Homemade Flute Lyre




A friend is to play a flute while escorting her mother down the aisle at an upcoming wedding. Originally she had planned to make a flute lyre out of cardboard. Thinking that this was a rather scruffy solution given the circumstances, I offered to attempt to make one for her in my workshop.

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Step 1: Cutting and Bending the Main Body

I started with a scrap piece of 1mm stainless steel, I marked out a rectangle 5" by 2.5" with a sharpie and cut it out with an angle grinder. I marked a line 1.5" from the bottom. I would bend this in a bench vice with a few taps of a hammer to create the shelf the music will sit on. I marked out a rectangle 1" by 1.5", three sides of which I cut with a dremel prior to bending. This is where I would attach the upright support.

In order to keep the lever secure in position, I cut a groove in the front of the shelf, however this only gave lateral support and so the lever could slip on the vertical plane. To combat this I made a plate to sit over the edge of the shelf and drilled a hole through which the lever would pass. I put a small piece of weld on the back of the lever to stop it falling completely through the hole. This plate provided a much more secure fulcrum for the lever to work against, making the mechanism tighter and more dependable. The plate is bolted on to the shelf through the two holes nearest the edge of the shelf.

Step 2: Making the Lever

The lever is the part of the lyre which holds the sheet music against the body. I started with two steel rods. I marked out the centre of the first rod and then equal lengths at either end. I placed the rod in the bench vice and heated it with my propane torch to soften it. I placed a protractor (a metal one obviously) next to the rod and bent the two ends to roughly 45 degrees with the centre bend being slightly shallower so that the ends would meet the edges of the body.

I cut a groove in the end of the other rod so that they would be a tight fit and then welded them together. This is when I put a bead of weld on the back edge of the lever to stop it falling through the hole in the plate. To finish the lever, I ground the inside edge of the tips of the lever flat to increase the surface area that would make contact with the sheet music and create a stronger hold.

To create the tension in the lever I used a pair of expanding springs. They bold to the rear set of holes on the shelf of the main body and loop over the points of the lever to meet in the middle. I had originally intended to mount a compression spring under the shelf to push the lever back, but this lacked enough force to hold the music as firmly as I wanted. I then tried mounting the springs on the screws connecting the shelf and the plate and using a tension spring setup but this lacked control and the return trajectory of the lever could be inconsistent. My final method provided a reassuring level of return force and since the force acting on each side of the lever was about equal, the return trajectory was much straighter and more predictable.

Step 3: Making the Upright Supports and Painting

I cut two strips of the same 1mm steel I used to make the body, being 3.5" long and roughly 0.75" wide. I marked a front and a back side on each and marked a 1" section at top and bottom. The top section would overlap the main body and be used to secure the two together with a pair of bolts. The bottom section would be bent in the bench vice, 1 forward and 1 back. This would then be bolted to a leather belt which is how the lyre is attached to the wearer's arm. The two uprights being bent in opposite directions provides support and stops the lyre from leaning backwards or forwards when being worn.

I broke the whole thing apart and painted it black so that the shine of the bolts and springs would stand out. I had originally planned to cut down the bolts but I found them aesthetically pleasing as they were, but that's just a personal taste consideration. Once all the bolts were tight, the lyre felt solid and secure and easily held a A4 music book in place even when I turned it upside down.

Thanks for reading my first instructable.

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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    How heavy is it? If that's solid rod, it looks like it would be fairly heavy. It looks great otherwise though!

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    The rods are 5 mm diameter so they aren't massively heavy. The whole lyre weighs less than 1/2 a kilo including the belt. The key thing to remember is to keep the centre of balance as low as possible, that's one reason the lever doesn't go all the way to the top. This is also the reason why the screws for the springs are as close to the rear of the shelf as I could get them, to keep all the weight and and tension centralised. Given that this was intended and successfully does keep a full size music book in place a little weight was always going to be necessary just for stability.

    Thank you for you interest and comment.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is cool. I play the flute (badly) and have never heard of a flute lyre before. Thank you for sharing!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks. You can find some really ornate examples of professional flute lyres online, mine was more functional than flashy. Thanks for showing interest.