Windway Cutting Machine

Original design by Alec Loretto

As a young recorder maker I would like to say that my breakthroughs all came with Eureka moments when I plumbed the depths of baroque design and acquired stunning insights into arcane mysteries, but I would be lying. My breakthrough was the purchase of an Alec Loretto windway cutter. A big investment in the 1980’s, it arrived from Australia in a box marked ‘spare parts’ to avoid something or other, and required construction like an oversized Kinder egg toy.

Alec was a charming New Zealander, one of the gang of Morgan, von Heune, and Glatt, who supplied the early music world with their first hand-made recorders. However, Andreas Glatt retired muttering about A405 to found his own recording label, briefly re-emerging just before his untimely death a few years ago, Friedrich von Heune semi-industrialised his workshop, and Fred Morgan, together with Frans Bruggen took the world by storm and swept up most of the business. Alec did sell recorders, never on the scale of Friedrich or Fred, but used his engineering talents to create his own unique windway cutting machine that helped to launch the careers of almost the whole generation of the new makers that Fred had taught.

I met him a few years ago in Basel, where he told me that he was farming Angora goats in the Alps with his new girlfriend. We came to an amicable arrangement that I could duplicate his machines, and parted at the station. I never saw him again, he died a few months later. I showed my rather worn-out machine to my friend Andy Mason, and he promptly took it away and did better.


The machine is a bench shaper with the cutter and template pivoting round a central universal joint.


The carriage is supported on two steel bars that slide within bronze bushes.

Head Joint

The head joint is supported by an adjustable cone.


The beak is supported in a three point clamp that is adjustable for all sizes.

Steel Rocker

Cutters are held on a steel bar that is fitted into a heavy steel rocker, which pivots round the universal joint. A stop is incorporated into this bar which can be adjusted backwards and forwards.

Adjustable Wings

At the template end, which is located at an approximate ratio of 4:1 from the cutter, adjustable lateral wings, and a base plate give the ability to control the windway sides and roof

Cutter Set

The machine is supplied with four cutters, 8,10,12, and 14mm, and two different diameters of support bar.

Video Presentation

Please click here to view a video presentation featuring the aforementioned local engineer Andy Mason and myself demonstrating the windway cutting machine.

I can only emphasize that, if you want to make recorders reproducibly and accurately, then this machine is an essential piece of kit. It certainly sent my recorders into overdrive, and without it I would not have survived.

Please get in touch for further information.