Diaphragm Call Build-Along

Posted by Lonehowl on July 18, 2015 at 4:20 PM

Diaphragm calls....I get hit up often by  guys asking about the tools that are used to make em. Pictured are some of the tools used to do it. The press on the right is used to actually put together the diapragm call. The one on the left is the tape cutter. A lot of guys have these presses now days, but alot of them give up on them out of frustration. A definite learning curve to make a diapragm call, but a fun one! 

So I thought Id do sort of a step by step tutorial here...a video would be way better, but I am not setup for that right now, maybe in the future? Anyways, I shot a few pics as I was making a call, and Ill try to explain the process the best I can. Keep in mind, I will not go into great detail here, just sort of an overview of the whole operation, mainly because every call maker will build them differently than the next guy, with each having thier own tricks, preferences etc. Any particular mouth call, whether it be predator, turkey or whatever, takes a good deal of experimentation with how you stack the latex, stretch the latex, and cut the latex. A guy just has to dive in and make a bunch of calls, and decide what combination of all those steps works best for him, overall, for that particular call model. 

Some of my pics aint that good, so my apoligies up front.

So lets start. The basic steps are stacking latex, and locking in the side tension, and back tension.

This will be a 2 reed distress predator call. I have the parts of the call laid out so you can see what goes into them. You have an aluminum frame, pieces of latex, and tape. The scissors and tweezers are tools used along the way to build the call. 

The first step is to stack your latex (for multi reeded calls)  The top reed of the call goes down first, as your stacking the latex. You are basicly building the call upside down.

For predator calls, or any type of mouth call really, this step is important. It can affect how much rasp the call will have, how the call blows, etc.. You have to decide how much space you want between the pieces of latex. Here, you can see that I have a good amount of space. Normally on this call, it is a bit less, but just wanted to make sure it showed up well in the pics. 

After each peice of latex is arranged and laid down, tack it to the peice it is laying on with your scissors, or other pointy object. Just lightly tap all four corners, this will make the latex stick together so it wont move and will be easy to handle. Again, do this for each peice you layer.

So we are finished stacking latex, so now we grab the frame, and bend it  about 90 degrees:

Now place it into the press:

The frame has an adhesive on it, to help retain the latex in place. Peel it off:

Now take the stacked latex, and slide it into the frame, stacked edge first, in other words, pointing away from you. Get the edge of the latex close to the U shaped opening of the frame, where it folds over. Be careful not to shove the latex up against the frame to where it folds over or kinks up. Make sure it lays flat and is even on both sides( this is a really bad pic, sorry):

Now fold the frame over untill it's almost closed, maybe just touching the latex, and crimp that side.

Next, move the jig plate over, and stretch the latex to your desired tension. On this press, there is a clip that clamps the latex( in pic above), and you move it over to stretch the latex. It is connected to a dial that will measure stretch so that you can stretch your calls somewhat consistantly. Everyone has thier own call specs, so this is one of those areas you have to experimant a lot with:

Now, crimp that side of frame, locking in your side tension:

Now that the side tension is locked in, we need to lock in our back tension. This is done by hand, going by feel. There is an art to call making...with a little witch craft thrown in as well, and this is one of those areas that requires it. 

Move the jig plate to the last position. I use the tweezers to grab the latex and back stretch to where I want it. Gotta make sure you grab all the layers at once, in the middle, and pull your stretch. Some guys pull till they see a "smile" in the latex, some guys just pull the wrinkles out. Whatever you feel works for that particular call. If you see mouth calls for sale with a lot of wrinkles in the reeds, they likley have no backtension. In my opinion, they will not work as well as a call with proper backtension put in. JMO.

Slight "smile".

Now hold this stretch, and crimp the frame at the tab. (The tab is that ttle square peice on the bottom of the frame. It folds over to clamp the latex in place) Holding the ram down, I use the tab turner to turn the tab up and over the bottom of the frame, locking in backtension. One more little tap with the ram and you are done:

Trim access latex from around the frame:

So here is the(almost) fished call.

Now put your tape on. I lay the call down and put the tape on top, then turn over and fold tape over:

Get to the choppa! I mean, tape cutter:

Pull er down:


Now make your cuts. ( I didnt get this one cut like I normally like, I was in a hurry lol) This particular cut I have been making since 2012. It is very usefull. Anyways, another area that is crucial to making the call run right, and making the sounds you want. I use the small Fiskers scissors. These are super sharp and cut latex with ease. Most guys use fly tying scissors, like Dr. Slicks etc. I have a pair of them and they are ok, but I prefer the Fiskers hands down.

Done. In reality, building a mouth call only takes a couple minutes, if that. Some guys can sit down and make a couple hundred a day by themselves.  Some guys have several presses so several people can sit down and crank out a lot of calls.

The press setup that I have is a competition style press. There are different versions of this press available. There is a plain jane version, without the tab turner and dial indicator, all the way up to a sort of commercial version that uses air to activate the ram for high volume call building. There is also different  jig plates to accomodate small frame sizes as well.

Anyways, hope this little tutorial helps someone out in the future.

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