That’s what Glenn Schultz used to tell people who bought his famous Thin Weasel wooden whistle. It was true then and it’s true now. Wooden whistles have acquired an undeserved reputation for being delicate and hard to care for. They do want a little bit of respect and attention but not so much that it should deter someone who loves wood from owning one. Most of it is really common sense.
Extremes of heat and cold should be avoided, especially rapid changes from one to the other. The interior of a closed car on a hot sunny summer day is likely to be disastrous to a wooden whistle. Luckily, a whistle is small enough to slip in a pocket and taken with you. If a whistle has been out in the cold for a long time, allow it to slowly come up to room temperature in its case before playing it.
When a wooden whistle leaves my shop, it’s had at least two light oilings which is all it should need for quite a while. Glenn used to used a 5:1 mix of light olive oil to almond oil with a few drops of vitamin E oil added to prevent the oil from becoming rancid. I’ve used that mix, and also plain almond oil with vitamin E with equal success. Please note that you do not to have to oil a whistle often or heavily. I’ve had several come back to the shop saturated with oil which is not good for the wood. It can soften or warp that delicate knife edge of the blade, and loosen the bond between the wood and metal fittings. People seem to be under the impression that if a little is good, a lot is much better. Not in this case. Apply a thin coat of the oil of your choice when you look through the finger holes and see that the wood looks pretty dry. Let the oil sit for a few minutes, then wipe out the excess. Clean any oil from the inside and outside of the tuning slide. It will attract dust and gunk the slide up. Store the whistle in two pieces. For a cleaning or oiling rod, I use a takeout Chinese food bamboo chopstick with the thin end split for the length of an inch or so to hold a scrap of an old t-shirt.
When you’re done playing, shake out excess condensed breath moisture. If you’ve been playing for a long time and the whistle is very wet, swab it out using that bamboo rod and a clean, non-oily scrap of cloth.
That’s really about all there is too it. If you love the look and feel of wood, there’s no reason you should stay away from a wooden whistle because you’re afraid you can’t take care of it. I’ve been making these whistles for nearly fifteen years now, and I’ve had very few people bring problems with them to my attention, and I’ve been able to tend to all of these. Most of all, enjoy playing your whistle, whether it’s one of mine of not!