How to Make a Pipe Xylophone

Updated February 21, 2017

Every kid knows that if you bang on something hollow with a stick it makes a pleasing noise. Well, it's pleasing to the kids; parents may disagree. A xylophone is one of the first instruments your child will get to experience. Making one at home will let you help your child to get a leg up. Most people use metal to make a xylophone. But, metal can cause cuts; a safer and more unique alternative is a xylophone made of PVC.

Measure 1 inch from each end of both posts with your speed square and place a pencil mark. Place your speed square against the side of each post at the 1 inch marks, find the centre of the posts and make another mark in each spot to mark your drill points. Drill through each drill point to make a hole 1 inch from each end of both of the posts.

Measure 18 inches from the end of the PVC pipe and make a pencil mark. Cut the PVC with your hacksaw. Mark and cut pieces 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, and 11 inches. Sand the ends of each piece to remove any plastic splintering. Wipe the ends with a clean, dry rag to eliminate residue.

Measure and mark a spot 4 inches from each end of the 18 inch pipe. Drill through those spots while being sure that they are both in line with each other. Measure, mark, and drill spots 3 1/2 inches on the 17 inch PVC, 3 inches on the 16 inch piece, 2 1/2 inches on the 15 inch piece, 2 inches on the 14 inch piece, 1 1/2 inches on the 13 inch piece, 1 inch on the 12 inch piece, and 1/2 inch from each end on the 11 inch piece of PVC. Sand and wipe these holes as necessary.

Slide an all thread rod through both holes on one of the posts. Place a washer and nut on both sides of the post on both of the threaded rods. Snug them tight by holding the outside nut with an adjustable wrench while tightening the inside nut with the other wrench. Snug the rod on the other end of the post.

Slide the 18 inch pipe onto both rods and twist a nut onto the rods to hold it into place. Tighten these nuts by hand. Slide on each piece of pipe, longest to shortest, with a hand tightened nut between each piece of pipe. Slip the rods through the place a washer onto each rod and slide the second post onto the all thread. Place a nut and washer onto the all thread. Tighten the outside nuts one at a time with a wrench while holding the inside nuts with the other wrench.

Place the cloth over the jaws of your pliers and pull it tight. Grasp a bead with the cloth covered pliers making sure that the top of the bead is not touching the cloth. Drill into the ball about half way through. Turn the ball over and tap it on the table to knock out any sawdust. Squirt a drop of glue into the hole and slip the dowel into the bead. Allow the glue to dry for 2 hours.


For a different look, try sanding and painting each piece of the xylophone before assembly.


Leather work gloves and safety glasses are necessary for safety when using a power or hand tool.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 posts (4 inch by 4 inch by 12 inches)
  • Speed square
  • Pencil
  • Drill with 3/16 inch bit
  • 1 inch PVC (8 feet long)
  • Hacksaw
  • Sandpaper
  • 2 rods of all thread (24 inches long)
  • 8 washers
  • 2 nuts
  • 2 adjustable wrenches
  • 2 wooden dowels (1/8 inch diameter by 12 inches long)
  • 2 wooden beads (1 1/4 inch diameter)
  • Wood glue
  • Pliers
  • Clean, dry rags
  • Leather work gloves
  • Safety glasses
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About the Author

After learning electronics in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s, Danny Donahue spent a lifetime in the construction industry. He has worked with some of the finest construction talent in the Southeastern United States. Donahue has been a freelance writer since 2008, focusing his efforts on his beloved construction projects.