Bamboo features a strong, light outer coating with a hollow centre. This natural material is pliable when fresh and dries into a hard, nearly unbreakable material making it perfect for carving wind instruments like whistles. A bamboo whistle sounds lighter and airier than metal whistles because the material itself is so light. Making a bamboo whistle takes a bit of patience since the bamboo needs drying time, but the process is easy to accomplish.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Fresh 1- by 10-inch piece of bamboo
- Small coping saw
- Small flat file
- 7/8 inch thick dowel rod
- Wood glue
Choose a bamboo piece free of joints; bamboo joints are solid inside and won't allow air to pass through your whistle. Measure 1 inch down from one end and make a small, horizontal pencil line.
Place your coping saw on the line and saw firmly to make a slit about 1/4 inch deep. Place the edge of the small file into the slit and rub it back and forth to widen the space. Tilt your file toward the longer end of your bamboo at a 45-degree angle. File until you've created a U-shaped hole about 34 inches long with a flat end closest to the short end of the bamboo.
Place the bamboo in a sunny, warm spot for about two weeks to dry. When the bamboo is brown and stiff, it's completely dry. Run a dowel rod through it to get rid of any remaining fibres inside. If you don't let the whistle dry before finishing, it will crack.
Cut an inch from one end of your dowel rod with a hacksaw. Stand the piece on end and saw it vertically in half. Slip one half into the short end of your bamboo whistle so edge of the end lies under the near edge of the filed notch in you bamboo.
Blow into your whistle. If it sounds off, try pulling the dowel out of the mouthpiece a little. Once the sound is satisfactory, trim the dowel if necessary and smear a drop of wood glue on the rounded side. Adjust it quickly before the glue dries and let it cure overnight.
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