A Guide to Making a Bamboo Whistle
It is easy to make a whistle using bamboo. A whistle made from bamboo will last a long time and if you practice a lot, you may end up playing some fantastic tunes. Bamboo whistles can be for fun, or they can have a more practical use, such as taking on a long walk when you might want to alert your friends where you are. Since this whistle is lightweight, it is very easy to carry.
- Find a piece of bamboo. It must be hollow; if it is not, hollow it out with a pen or drill.
- Cut a piece about 150 mm long. Keep in mind that the smaller and narrower the piece of bamboo, the higher the pitch. And if you make it too high, it might be impossible for the human ear to hear. In this case, it might be a good dog whistle!
- Choose the smoothest and straightest end. This will become part of the mouthpiece. Make a mark about 15 mm from this end. Cut across the end in a curved shape until you reach the hollow centre.
- Make another mark 10 to 15 mm lower from the mouthpiece cut. From this mark, scrape into the cut using a knife; form a notch. This should leave you with a semi-circular hole that goes into the centre.
- Block up the bottom end of the bamboo whistle. For this task you will need a smaller piece of bamboo that is about 10 mm in length. Before fitting the smaller piece inside the bamboo whistle, make sure to block any holes in it by using glue. Fit the smaller piece to the base of the whistle and if it does not fit snugly, adjust and fill up any spaces with glue.
- Make the mouthpiece:
- Cut another smaller piece of bamboo. Make it the same length as the cut that you made to the top end of the whistle.
- Flatten one side by splitting a piece off. This piece should not reach the centre and it should be about 1 mm thick.
- Block up any holes in this piece of bamboo with glue. Place it inside the top of the whistle. Again, use glue if needed to ensure that the sides of the mouthpiece align properly, with the cut flat-side of the whistle facing up. Make sure not to glue the flat side!
- Test your whistle. Wait for the glue to dry. Check whether it works or not. If it doesn't, try one of the tips below.
- Decorate it by carving it, painting it or gluing on natural items such as shells, feathers, little tree seedpods etc.
- A workbench, table or other flat surface is best to work on to make the whistle as these will help to keep your whistle steady as you work with it.
- Don't blow too hard or too softly. Experiment to get the best sound.
- If you have problems with the sound or you whistle is not working properly, here are some ideas to "troubleshoot" it:
- Make the notch longer, so that the semi-circular hole is more elongated.
- Check that all holes other than the notch, and mouthpiece are blocked up completely.
- If you want to make the whistle using just natural techniques, try replacing the glue with tree sap or block the holes with splinters of bamboo.
- Take frequent breaths while playing; blowing too hard or for too long may make you feel dizzy.
Things You'll Need
- 3 pieces of bamboo of differing thicknesses; one for the whistle, one for the end of the whistle and one for the mouthpiece (see text for an idea on size)
- Knife and/or saw
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