Recorders are often thought of as instruments for children, and most of us probably learnt a simple tune on a recorder in elementary school. The recorder, however, is an instrument with a rich history, and its roots in music history date back to the medieval era. You can make your own recorder out of materials such as wood or PVC pipe. However, this article will show you how to make a recorder out of bamboo, a durable material.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Bamboo stick, approx. 375mm long and 14mm diameter
- Tape measure
- Long drill bit
- Drill bits of 4mm, 6mm and 7mm
- Round file
- Wooden dowel approximately 14mm in diameter
- Flat file
- Belt sander
- Chromatic tuner
Hollow out the bamboo with a long drill bit. Carefully drill all the way through without taking too much bamboo off the sides. Use a round file to smooth the inside edges of the bamboo, especially the nodes. File the nodes until they are nearly flush with the rest of the bore.
Make the mouthpiece with the wooden dowel. Use the flat file to take about 1mm off the top of the dowel. Cut the dowel to approximately 20mm in length.
Cut a groove in the top of the bamboo, where the finger holes will be. Use a chisel to make this groove an angled cut about 15mm long and 8mm wide, and the top of the groove will be 20mm from the top opening in the bamboo. The top of the groove should go all the way through the bamboo, making a small hole.
Use the flat file to make a grooved surface on the inside of the bamboo, from the top to the groove. You may need to use the chisel to make this groove.
Place the dowel inside the bamboo, making sure the flat edge of the dowel is facing the groove you just cut inside the bamboo. There should be a small space between the dowel and the bamboo edge. You should be able to blow into the end of the bamboo and get a sound. If you cannot get a sound, remove the dowel and make the groove on the inside of the bamboo deeper.
To make the mouthpiece curved like a that of a typical recorder, use a belt sander. Start about a third of the way down from the top of the mouthpiece and make the curve. This step is optional, because a curve does not affect the sound the recorder will make.
Drill the finger holes into the bamboo. The first hole (the one closest to the mouthpiece) should be 4mm in diameter and 190mm from the top of the recorder. The next hole is 6mm in diameter and 215mm from the top; the third hole is 7mm in diameter and 243mm from the top; the fourth hole is 4mm in diameter and 270mm from the top; the fifth hole is 7mm in diameter and 290mm from the top; and the final hole is 7mm in diameter and 325mm from the top. These specifications will allow your recorder to play in the key of B flat major. You may need to adjust the finger holes by making them a bit larger if the recorder does not play quite in tune. As you play the recorder, use a chromatic tuner to tune each hole in succession.
Roll up a piece of sandpaper to finish the edges of the holes. Play your recorder.
Tips and warnings
- Always wear safety goggles when working with tools.
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