How to make a homemade train whistle

Updated February 21, 2017

Few things get a child more excited than the sound of a train whistle. As times change and trains are less accessible, that sound does not have to fade into the past. Making a simple, wooden train whistle is a fun project to engage children in, and a variety of different sizes can be created to make different pitched whistles.

Drill a 7/16-inch hole 3 5/8 inches into the end of the 10-inch block of pine.

Test the dowel rod to ensure it fits into the freshly drilled hole. If the dowel rod does not fit, sand it down slightly.

Flatten one side of the dowel rod with a sanding file to allow air to pass through the whistle. Add a line of glue to the dowel rod, and slide it into the hole. Allow the dowel to stick out at the edge.

Cut a single, angled notch into the block with a scroll saw once the glue dries. Test out the sound of the whistle.

Sand all the edges until the wood is smooth. After you sand the whistle, stain or paint it. If you are making the whistle as a project with a child, give the child the option of decorating the whistle with markers.

Cut the 10-inch block of pine into two pieces. One piece should measure 8 inches, leaving a 2-inch piece to be used later.

Use a 7/16-inch drill bit or lathe to make four holes in the top of the 8-inch length of pine, each one 3/8 inch from the coinciding edge. The first hole should be 7 1/4 inches deep, the second 4 1/4 inches, the third 6 1/4 inches and the last hole 4 3/4 inches. Make sure the holes are smooth and straight.

Measure and cut four angled notches, one into each corner, 3/8 inch away from the corner.

Make four reeds by cutting a 7/16-inch piece of wooden dowel into 1/2-inch lengths. Sand each piece flat on one side, then glue the reeds into the holes, leaving about 1/8 inch of space at the top of the whistle.

Create a top piece for the whistle from the leftover 2 inches of pine block by drilling a hole 3/4 inch around and 1/4 inch down into the centre. Align this piece with the longer block, and glue it into place hole-side up.

Sand the block, bevelling the edges if you wish. Leave the wood unfinished, or decorate and finish the whistle.


These plans may be modified to make smaller or larger whistles.


Use nontoxic paint or finish if you decide to decorate it, because the whistle will have contact with the lips and mouth.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-inch piece 2-by-2 pine
  • 4-inch wooden dowel rod (7/16-inch diameter)
  • Drill
  • Sanding file
  • Wood glue
  • Scroll saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain, paint or markers
  • Lathe
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About the Author

Jennifer Hudock is an author, editor and freelancer from Pennsylvania. She has upcoming work appearing in two Library of the Living Dead Press anthologies and has been published in numerous print and online journals, including eMuse, Real TV Addict and Strange Horizons. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing from Bloomsburg University.