One thing about Duck Dynasty, A&E's reality television series on the lives of the Robertson family, who became wealthy from their family-operated duck call business, is that you never really see much about the duck calls. Most of their duck calls are molded plastic and others on the market are CNC machined. So Woodcraft set out on another Woodworking Adventure and found a not so rich and famous woodworker who has a duck call business called Final Descent Duck Calls in Valparaiso, Indiana.
Timothy Morley serves our country in the United States Coast Guard on Lake Michigan and has been a woodworker all his life. He started the Final Descent Duck Call business in 2010, handcrafting wooden lathe turned duck calls from Cocobolo and other woods purchased from his Woodcraft store in Woodridge, Illinois. He prefers a dense oily wood as it provides not only great sound, but turns well and is a solid choice for the elements in which it will be used. Tim also makes the calls from Woodcraft's SpectraPly wood, stating the colors have been a big hit for his business. He also likes to use Cedar wood, which he cuts himself, as it makes a great looking duck call.
Tim provided us with a blow by blow duck call (pardon the pun!) description on how he creates these beauties. To get started, here is the sound from one of his duck calls, played by Tyler, a 13 year old friend of Tim's.
Here is the Final Descent story by Tim Morley,
"My name is Tim Morley and I started making duck calls approximately two years ago. I am a self-taught call maker and it has taken me these last two years to get the calls just right. I wanted a nice call, the kind you would want to show off to your buddies in the blind, but I did not want the popular plastic calls made by the thousands of call makers out there today. I figured the only way to make a call I would really love was to make one myself."
"I started by doing a lot of research. After that it was trial and error and learning how to turn a duck call properly. When I make a call I try to stay away from calipers as much as possible. That is why I think I can say my calls are custom and unique. I started getting a lot of response from friends and family and that’s when I decided to start selling them. I called it Final Descent Duck Calls and started a Facebook page and from the start it has been nothing but fun."
"The first step to making a duck call is drilling a 5/8 inch hole in the center of 2x2x4 turning blank. The blank then goes onto my tapered mandrel. I then take the corners of the blank off with my gouge. I turn it until it’s a complete circle. After that, I measure my band with a pair of digital calipers. I then mark the blank for the width of the band with the calipers and turn the blank down to fit the brass band. Once I press on the brass band, I drill three holes, pin the band on, followed by cutting off the pins, filing them down and putting it back on the mandrel."
"Once the band is on the turning blank, I start turning the shape of the barrel. The barrel is where most of the call’s character comes from. It does change the sound, but not as much as the insert. Once I have turned the wood to my preferred shape, I sand it, starting with 150 grit and finish with 600 grit."
"Once I am done sanding I apply my finish, which is a CA finish. I always use a medium CA. I start my lathe at its lowest speed and put two drips of CA on a paper towel. I then coat the spinning barrel with CA by swiping the paper towel dipped in CA across the barrel. After that, I lightly spray the barrel with an accelerator. I repeat this process approximately 5 to 10 times. In between coats, I lightly wet sand the CA coated barrel to get any defects out. After wet sanding, always wipe the barrel with dry paper towel. I use a paper towel for safety because it will tear much easier than a rag. I also repeat the process used on the outside to coat the inside with a CA dipped q-tip. Once I get the final coat on, I buff the CA with car polish. I use a buffing wheel that is held by a collet and chuck. Once all surfaces on the barrel are coated with CA, I wet sand the band. Now that the barrel is done I start turning the insert."
"This insert is where most of the sound comes from so taking your time is very important. I start with a 1.5x1.5x4 inch piece for a turning blank. I measure how long my jig is and I turn that part of the blank down to 5/8 of an inch because that will be the part that is cut out on the jig. This part is called the sound board. Once that is turned, I then turn the end of the insert or the part that you see and hold. After that is done, I put the notch for the lanyard."
"Next I put the insert into my collet and chuck and drill the tone channel with a ¼ inch drill bit. This part takes a lot of trial and error because you have to learn what length of hole sounds best with your jig. Once the tone channel is drilled I apply the CA finish. After the finish is applied, I cut the tone board out using my jig with a jig saw and use a file to bring it down to the jig surface. Then I clean the tone board up with sand paper."
"Once that is complete, I cut the cork that holds the reed in place. I tune the call by cutting my reeds from a sheet of Mylar starting with the reed on and making it a little longer then the insert. I seat the reed under the cork. I cut a little bit at a time when tuning the call. The process for tuning the call can be very tedious. Once the reed is seated, I put the insert in the call and give it a test blow. If it does not sound right, I take the insert out of the barrel and cut a little off and try it again. I do this until I have the sound that I desire."
"After I have let the call sit for a few days, I check it for any flaws. This completes the call making process."
Tim mentioned that he gave away his first duck call to see how perspective customers would like them. "After that business has been busy and quite good", Tim said. Be sure to check out and order your wooden call from Tim's Final Descent Duck Call selections or perhaps have Tim create a custom design for your very own. Go to the Final Descent Duck call Facebook & photo gallery pages, and get one made today!
Regardless if you make the big time TV network Tim, we wish you continued quacking success in your new business venture, creating these wooden Final Descent Duck calls!