Instructions for How to Make a Bamboo Flute

Updated November 21, 2016

The bamboo flute, or dizi, first appeared 7,000 years ago in China. During the Ming and Quing dynasties the dizi became popular as an accompanying instrument in various stage dramas. There are two main types of dizi, Bangdi, which was short and accompanied clapper-type stage shows, and Qudi, which was longer and was used to accompany Kunqu operas.

Cut a length of bamboo with a fine toothed saw about 18 to 20 inches long, and 3/4 to 7/8 of an inch in diameter. Seasoned bamboo is preferable as opposed to green stems. Thin walled sticks will make a better sound in the final instrument. Each section along a bamboo stick has a natural divider, so ensure one end of the stick is still sealed.

From the blocked end, measure 1 inch and make a mark with the pencil. Then measure 6 inches further and make a second mark. Make 5 more marks 1 inch apart from each other; you now should have 7 marks total.

Heat up your half inch steel rod, using your propane torch until it is red hot. Now burn away the excess fibrous material by slowly inserting the rod through the open end of the bamboo, make sure not to burn out the seal at the end.

Use your torch to heat the drill bit, holding it with pliers, and carefully use the bit to burn holes where you have marked along the length of the bamboo.

Take a small square of sandpaper, and roll it into a tight tube. Use this to file away the blackened scorch marks in the holes you have made. You now have a bamboo flute.

Polish the flute with linseed oil, and you're now ready to try out the flute.

Things You'll Need

  • Propane or Butane torch
  • Steel rod, 1/2-inch in diameter
  • Fine tooth saw
  • Pencil
  • Small square of fine-grade sandpaper
  • Drill bit, 1/4-inch
  • Bamboo pole
  • Tape measure
  • Linseed oil and rag
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