How to Make Your Own PVC Pipe Tin Whistle

Written by marjorie gilbert
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How to Make Your Own PVC Pipe Tin Whistle
A smaller version of this pipe can make a PVC tin whistle. (pvc image by Greg Pickens from

The tin whistle originated in China about 5,000 years ago, according to The Whistle Shop, and made its first appearance in Europe in the 11th century. The tin whistle is considered a member of the wind family, and is characterised by four holes for the fingers on the front of the whistle and two holes on the back for the thumbs. One of the things that separates it from its cousin, the flute, is that it is played from the top rather from the side. For that reason, it is closer to the recorder. You can make your very own tin whistle out of a more humble material than tin: PVC.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 1/2-inch-diameter PVC Schedule 200 pipe (irrigation)
  • Pencil
  • Hacksaw
  • 1/2-inch-diameter plastic dowel
  • Awl
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Utility knife
  • Hacksaw
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • File
  • Tuner or tune pipes

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    Preparing the Pieces

  1. 1

    Measure the pipe and mark it at 14 inches. This is the length of the pipe you need for your tin whistle. Use a hacksaw to cut it to this length.

  2. 2

    Measure the plastic dowel and make a mark at 1-1/8 inches. Use the hacksaw to cut it to length.

  3. 3

    Cut another piece of PVC pipe so that it's 1-1/8 inches long.

  4. 4

    Cut the 1-1/8-inch PVC pipe and dowel so that one end is a 45-degree angle.

  5. 5

    Smooth all rough edges with sandpaper.

  6. 6

    Sand the back of the angled edge on the short PVC pipe and dowel. If you make a mistake, cut these pieces again and start over.

  7. 7

    Turn the short PVC piece over so that the longest side, the one with the point, is against the table. Cut through the centre of the side that's facing you, running along the length of the pipe.

  8. 8

    Make a mark that's 1-1/8 inch long that runs from the end of the body of the PVC tin whistle down its length. Draw two lines that are equidistant from each other and the same length as the first line you drew. These two lines should be spaced .23 to .4 inches apart. Draw a line to connect the two.

  9. 9

    Cut along the two lines that are spaced .23 or .4 inches apart. Cut along the line that connects them. The end result should look like a short, narrow rectangle. Sand all the edges to make them smooth.


  1. 1

    Slip the cut dowel into the end of the longer PVC pipe. Make sure that the high, angled side of the dowel is against the rectangle you cut in the back of the pipe. The top edge of the angled portion can extend a little beyond the pipe.

  2. 2

    Slip the shorter PVC pipe over the outside of the body of the PVC tin whistle. Line up this piece so that it is even with the dowel or extends a little beyond it.

  3. 3

    Blow on the tin whistle. Adjust the position of the dowel either up or down until the whistle makes a D that is a little flat.

    The Holes

  1. 1

    Place the PVC tin whistle on the table so that the longest side (the one where the mouthpiece extends beyond the dowel) is facing up. Draw a line down the centre of the pipe's length.

  2. 2

    Make a mark that is 6-1/4 inches down from the bottom of the rectangle you cut in Section 1, Step 9. This will be the first hole. The second hole needs to be at the 7.13-inch mark, the third at the 8.14-inch mark, the fourth at the 9.33-inch mark, the fifth at the 10.16-inch mark, and the last at the 11.4-inch mark.

  3. 3

    Make the holes at these marks with an awl. The first two holes need to be .2 inches in diameter, the fourth .28 inches in diameter, the fifth .2 inches in diameter, the sixth .6 inches in diameter and the last hole .28 inches in diameter.

  4. 4

    Sand the holes with sandpaper and check the rest of the PVC pipe tin whistle for any rough edges.

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