Wight Woodturners

May 2018 Club Meeting – Joe Caldwell Talk

Thursday 25th May 2018

We usually have one evening on our calendar devoted to a talk by a guest speaker and on this occasion Mike was pleased to welcome back Joe Caldwell, otherwise known as ‘the didgeridoo man’. Joe had given a talk about 5 years ago at Riverside but had many further developments to tell us about. Some of the talks we have listened to have been accompanied by illustrations but Joe treated us to recitals on the instruments he had made.


Joe started his interest by playing didgeridoos but then made one himself. Didgeridoos were originally made by native Australians who used Eucalyptus which had been naturally hollowed by termites.

The first instrument which Joe played was a didgeridoo made from Yew found at Ventnor. After shaping and sanding this was sawn in half on a bandsaw and then hollowed with an Arbortec. The mouthpiece is formed with epoxy resin.This instrument is tuned to the key of E.

He also showed us a didgeridoo made from driftwood found near Ventnor. This is light and stable and wormfree. It was about 5’ 6” and was decorated with glow in the dark resin. And tuned to the key of C. Joe then showed us an ocarina.

Since he last saw us Joe had moved on to making ocarinas. These were larger than the more usual ceramic ones and consequently played lower notes. They were sealed vessels with 5 holes and sounded a bit like an American flute.

The breathing technique is akin to that used for bagpipes but the ’bag’ is replaced by the cheeks.

As well as ocarinas, one of which was tuned to a Japanese scale, Joe demonstrated bull roarers which were used ward off evil spirits at the beginning of ceremonies. His was made from Mulberry.

In addition to demonstrating and telling us how these instruments were made Joe related the various items to aboriginal culture and told us how his journey had developed including taking tuition from experts in France and participation in international events. It was a very instructional evening which was enjoyed by those in attendance.