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10/12/2018 How to Make a Bamboo Flute (with Pictures) - wikiHow

How to Make a Bamboo Flute


Three Parts: Preparing to Make the Flute Preparing the Bamboo Making the Flute

Bamboo has long been used by indigenous cultures to make everything from tiki huts to watermills. Because the plant species is so
versatile and strong, it can be used for almost anything. That includes instruments too. Today, it continues to be used for a variety
for things such as flooring, material and even paper. But when it’s carved properly, bamboo also makes beautiful music.

Part
Preparing to Make the Flute
1

1 Gather supplies. To make a bamboo flute, you’ll need a drill, a rotary tool such as a Dremel, and attachments
for it. You’ll also need a general purpose hand-held sander, masking tape, a saw, a ruler or measuring tape,
and a box cutter or sharp knife. You should be able to find all of these items from the hardware store.

2 Scour for bamboo. Of course, you’ll need some bamboo as well, and you don’t always have to buy it. Even if
it is not a plant that is native to your area, sometimes you can find it growing on the side of the road because
these plants tend to take root and flourish almost anywhere. However, if you are unable to find bamboo out in
nature, head to your local hardware store and ask around.
Also, look in your local yellow pages. Carpet stores sometimes have bamboo flooring that comes in bamboo
rods that you could use.[1]

3 Choose a quality bamboo. When you’re selecting bamboo, make sure that the diameter is between 3/4
inches and 7/8 inches. However, thin-walled bamboo about 1/8 inch-thick or so produces the best sound. Also,
look for a good piece of seasoned bamboo that isn’t cracked. It shouldn’t be really flexible or have any visible
cracks, rips, splinters or holes.[2]
Make sure that the bamboo has at least one node -- a notch where it is solid inside instead of hollow like the
other parts of the bamboo. It’s usually marked by circular ridges that look like joints on the bamboo. One
node at the end of the flute will become what is known as the “cork.” The node should be smooth and without
holes on the inside or the outside so that the flute has proper tone.[3]

Part
Preparing the Bamboo
2

1 Remove the branches on the bamboo. Use a hacksaw if necessary. You’ll also want to sand down any
notches left behind from where you cut off the bamboo. If you have one, use the hand sander to do this; it’s
much faster and easier than sanding by hand.
The piece of bamboo that you selected might have several nodes. If it’s a long piece of bamboo, select the
part of the bamboo that you are going to work with and sand down that section so you don’t sand the entire
bamboo stem unnecessarily.

2 Cut the pipe to the length you want based on the key. The length of the pipe determines the key that it
plays. To make a flute that plays in the key of A, cut a 14 inch length of pipe. For an F flute, cut it to 18 inches,
and for a key of D cut it to 21 inches. Choose a section of bamboo with joints that are a little bit more than half as
far apart as the intended length of the instrument.
For instance, if you want a 14 inch flute, the nodes should be a little more than 7 inches apart from each
other. In other words, there should be a little more than 7 inches of tube between each node.
The aim is to cut it so that there is a node at the end and another node more or less in the middle. You want
the flute to have a node at one end and another more or less in the middle after you cut it to size. It should
have at least one.
Wrap a piece of masking tape around the area that you want to cut, then cut it with the hacksaw. The tape
helps stop the bamboo from splintering.
Cut outside of the node. Don’t cut into it.

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3 Select the node that is to become the cork. Choose the part of the bamboo with the node near the end to
be your cork. Then, measure 2 cm (0.78 inches) out from the node and mark it with a pencil. This area is will
be known as the cork of the flute. The blow hole, which is formally known as the embouchure won’t be placed far
from it. Don’t cut into this area.

4 Check the node that you selected to be your cork again for holes. Because if it has holes in it, then it the
flute’s tone might not be proper.

5 Knock out the solid nodes. As previously noted, the inner portion of the nodes are solid, not hollow like the
rest of the pipe. So, you’ll have to knock out all of the nodes except for the one near the end serving as your
cork. You can use a hammer and chisel to do this. Stick the chisel or a sharp tool up against the node inside the
tube, then hit the top of the tool with a hammer. You’ll slow chisel it away.
Another option is to burn out the nodes with a hot poker, but the safest option is most likely boring out the
nodes with a long drill bit.

6 Clean out the inside of the flute. Wrap sandpaper around a dowel rod about 20 inches long and tape the
sandpaper to it. Then, rub the sandpaper against the inside of the bamboo to smooth the inside of the tube.
Also, sand the places where the nodes were located so that it is as smooth as possible.

Part
3 Making the Flute

1 Measure the wall thickness. Now that the bamboo is open, you can see the thickness of the walls, which
you’ll need to know to calculate the diameter of the embouchure -- the blow as previously noted. Using your
ruler, measure each one to the nearest millimeter and write down your measurements. Then, set them aside for
later.

2 Measure the exact placement of the embouchure. The embouchure should be one diameter up from the
cork -- the node you selected at the end of the bamboo. For instance, if the width or diameter of the bamboo is
8 centimeters (3.1 inches), then you will measure 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) up from the cork. Then mark it, and
this is where the center of the blow hole will be placed.
The diameter is the length of a circle.

3 Calculate the diameter of the embouchure. Now, you need to know how wide to make the blow hole because
the width of the hole makes a difference with the sound of the flute. Use a flute calculator such as Flutomat to
calculate the measurements for you.
Input your measurements of the flute's inner diameter and wall thickness.Then, choose the key you want the
flute to be in. If you cut your flute to a specific length for a specific key, you can skip this step if you want.
The application will calculate the diameter for the embouchure and the other holes in the seven-note
Western scale. Write down the diameters of each hole. [4]
For instance, suppose the diameter of the blow hole is 10mm (0.393 inches), then according to the
calculator, the diameter of the following finger holes 1-7 might be 8.0 mm(0.3149 inches), 8.5 mm (0.335), 9
mm (0.354 inches), 7 mm (0.275 inches) ,9.5mm (0.374 inches) ,10mm (0.393), 5.5mm (0.217 inches).

4 Measure the length between the finger holes. Use the flute calculator, which also calculates the space
between the edge of each hole and the open end of the flute. It gives the measurements based on each holes
distance from the embouchure. So, mark where each hole should be to make sure that they will fit on your pole.
Once, all your measurements seem correct and everything seems to fit on the bamboo, then you’re ready to drill.

5 Clamp the bamboo down and begin to drill the embouchure. Use wood clamps to clamp it down. Then,
with the embouchure facing up, begin drilling with the 2mm (0.078 inches) drill bit where you made your mark
for the first hole. Once you’ve made a small hole with the drill bit, increase to a larger drill bit like 8 mm (0.315
inches) . Steadily increase the size of the drill bit until you get to a bit larger enough to make the size of your holes.
For instance, if your embouchure is 10 mm, increase your drill bits in increments until you get to a 10mm drill bit to
make the hole that size.

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When you’re drilling, hold the bit perpendicular to the bamboo with a steady hand. If you hold the drill at an
angle or are unsteady as you drill, you might drill the bamboo improperly or splinter, crack or rip the
bamboo. Be deliberate but careful as you drill.

6 Sand the hole. Use a Dremel or a similar rotary tool to make the hole nice and smooth. Put a sanding
attachment on the rotary tool. Use one of the attachments that has medium grit sandpaper. (Feel the paper to
check. The rougher the sandpaper, the more gritty the sandpaper.) Gently sand the hole with medium grit and then a
smoother sandpaper while being careful not to change the shape or size of the hole.

7 Blow into the embouchure. You need to test it to make sure you get a familiar, mellow, "flute-like" tone. If you
need to make adjustments, sand the outside edge of the embouchure with a sanding file at a downward slant,
but only do this if you think it needs adjustment. If it sounds good to you, it’s better to play it safe and not make any
adjustments.

8 Recheck your finger hole markings. Make sure that they are in the right place respective to the blowhole.
The Flutomat calculator gives the space between each hold from the end of one hole to the end of the next
hole. So, it doesn’t give you the hole’s center. You’ll need to make your hole one radius up -- half the diameter-- of
the hole. This is where the center of the hole will be and where you’ll drill. Then, drill in the same manner that you
drilled the blowhole.
Make sure your holes are marked in a straight line.
Drill in successively larger bits, which means start with the smaller bits to make a starter hole. Then, slowly
increase to the larger bits to get to the size drill bit to make the appropriate size.
Some parts of the bamboo and thinner than other such as where a branch was growing. So, be mindful of
this when you’re drilling.
If you have to drill a hole over a node, this area will be thicker than other areas. Take your time and drill
slowly.

9 Clean up the insides of the holes. With your rotary tool, sand the edges of the hole so that they are smooth.
If you are scared of making a mistakes or sanding too much, use the sanding file. They’re also great for
smaller holes. Once you’ve cleaned up the drill holes, you’re ready to play.

Community Q&A

Que stion

Is one end of the flute supposed to be blocked off, or are both ends supposed to be open?

wikiHow Contributor
Community Answ er

The end nearest the blow hole is the blocked end. The other end is open.

Que stion

What should I use to treat the wood when it is finished?

wikiHow Contributor
Community Answ er

An organic wood sealer or natural substitute, as others will likely contain hazardous chemicals.

Que stion

What is the simplest way to make a flute?

wikiHow Contributor
Community Answ er

As per this article, you could carve it out of bamboo, or buy pieces and assemble it or just buy the flute assembled.
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Que stion

How is the sound made?

wikiHow Contributor
Community Answ er

Sound is produced from a flute by blowing onto a sharp edge, causing air enclosed in the tube to vibrate.

Que stion

What causes a bamboo flute to change pitch?

wikiHow Contributor
Community Answ er

You can change the pitch by covering some of the holes on the flute with your fingers and then blowing in the top hole.
Remember to not cover the top hole.

Que stion

Can I glue a hole in the cork?

wikiHow Contributor
Community Answ er

Yes, if there is a small hole in the cork you can glue it.

Que stion

How big should I make the inside diameter of the flute?

Kim G
Community Answ er

Depending on your desired key for the flute, the diameter should be between 3/4 and 7/8 inches. Bamboo sticks with
thin walls of approximately 1/8 inches produce the best sound.

Que stion

How many finger holes should be made?

wikiHow Contributor
Community Answ er

depending on the size of your flute, an average bamboo flute has five or six holes. The larger it is, the larger the variety
of notes you can play.

Que stion

How do I know where to put the embouchure on my bamboo flute?

wikiHow Contributor
Community Answ er

The distance of the embouchure hole is approximately equal to the diameter of the flute. If the diameter of the bamboo is
4 mm, then you measure that distance from the plugged end and drill there.

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Things You'll Need

Bamboo (inside diameter is 2 to 3 cm)

A drill

An assortment of drill bits ranging in diameter from 2mm to 1.5 cm

A rotary tool like a Dremel

Accessories for the rotary tool such as a cutting wheel and various sanding and grinding bits.

A general purpose hand-held sander

Sandpaper for the hand-held sander ranging from medium to fine

A sharp knife or a box-cutter

Masking tape

Measuring tape/ruler or calipers ( optional)

Marker or pen

A ruler or masking tape

20 inch long dowel rod

Sand paper long enough to wrap around dowel rod

Sanding file (optional)

Medium grit sandpaper

Fine grit sandpaper(optional)

Tips

Sand in one direction instead of back and forth to prevent splintering of the bamboo.
Clamp down the bamboo well so that it doesn’t move when you’re drilling.
Apply steady pressure when you’re drilling so that your cuts are deliberate your limit splintering.
Put masking tape of the places where you’re going to drill to help prevent splintering and chipping when you’re drilling.

Warnings

Make sure the bamboo is secure when you’re cutting it. If it shifts while you’re cutting it, you could accidentally injure
yourself or cut a secure of the bamboo that you didn’t intend to cut.
Be careful when you’re cutting with the hacksaw. You don’t want to injure yourself.
If you are under 13 make sure that you have adult supervision if you are attempting this project.

Sources and Citations

1. http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/how-to-carve-a-homemade-bamboo-flute-zmaz82ndzgoe.aspx?PageId=1
2. http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/how-to-carve-a-homemade-bamboo-flute-zmaz82ndzgoe.aspx
3. http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/100/4/711/F3.expansion.html
4. http://www.iotic.com/flutomat/

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