How to Make 12-Inch Bamboo Flutes

Updated May 25, 2017

Flutes and recorders are popular instruments to play, and many flutes can be made relatively easily. Bamboo is one material often used to make flutes because it is durable. Also, no two bamboo flutes are alike because each piece of bamboo is a unique form of nature.

Hollow out the bamboo with a long drill bit. File the nodes on the inside with a round file. Do not take off too much bamboo on the sides. Smooth all edges with the round file.

Use the flat file to take off a small amount of the side of the wooden dowel, about 0.03 inches. Cut the dowel to about 0.7 inches long. This dowel will make the mouthpiece.

Mark the top of the bamboo, where the finger holes will be, with a pencil. Make an angled cut about 0.5 inches in length and 0.2 inches in width by using the chisel. This cut will be about 0.7 inches from the top opening of the bamboo. The groove will go completely through the bamboo, making a small hole.

File the inside of the bamboo from the top to the groove you made in Step 3. This slightly flat edge will match the flattened side of the dowel, but there should be a small space in between the inside of the bamboo and the dowel.

Place the dowel inside the bamboo, matching the flattened edges. You should be able to blow into the bamboo and make a sound. If you cannot make a sound, remove the dowel and use the flat file to file down the inside of the bamboo, as in Step 4.

Start about a third of the way down the mouthpiece end of the bamboo and make a curve using the belt sander. This step will make the mouthpiece look like a typical flute mouthpiece. Cut the bottom of the mouthpiece, opposite of the groove you made for the mouthpiece. If you do not want a mouthpiece shape, skip this step.

Drill the holes into the bamboo with the various drill bit sizes. Start by making the holes smaller (you can always make them larger). The first hole (the one closest to the mouthpiece) will be about 7 inches from the top of the flute. The next hole is about 8.1 inches from the top; the next is about 9.2 inches; the next is about 10.2 inches; the following is about 11 inches; the final hole is about 12.5 inches from the top of the flute. You may need to make the finger holes a bit larger if the flute does not play in tune. Use the chromatic tuner to tune each note (the flute should play in the key of B-flat). Use a rolled-up piece of sandpaper to finish the holes.


Always wear safety gloves and goggles when using tools and working with wood and bamboo.

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo stick, approximately 12 inches in length and 0.5 inches in diameter
  • Tape measure
  • Drill and assorted bits
  • Round file
  • Wooden dowel approx. 0.5 inch in diameter
  • Flat file
  • Chisel
  • Belt sander
  • Chromatic tuner
  • Sandpaper
  • Pencil
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About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.