The earliest known whistles date back to China in 3000 B.C., and whistles were found in Europe in the 1200s. Whistles are type of woodwind instrument known as "fipple flutes." The fipple refers to the block in the mouthpiece that helps produce the sound. Englishman Robert Clarke constructed the first tin whistle in 1843, using a design from a wooden whistle. By the 1950s, plastic was introduced to form the mouthpiece, and the shape of the whistle became cylindrical rather than conical. You can make your own tiny whistle by hollowing out a tree branch.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Wood carving knife
- Wooden dowel
Cut a small tree branch, preferably elder wood, to about the size of your finger. You want a tree branch that has soft pith in the middle of it so it will be easy to hollow out. You may need to try different branches before finding the perfect one.
Carve off the bark of the branch with a wood carving knife. Hollow out the middle of the cut branch using another stick. Try to get as much pith out as you can. You will be left with a small hollow tube.
Cut a 90 degree notch, 3/4 of the way down, at one end of your branch tube approximately 1 1/2 inches from the edge. Cut another notch at a 45 degree angle from the first notch. It will create a small triangle shape, and this will be the mouth end of the whistle.
Shape a wooden dowel into a tube to fit inside the mouth end of the whistle, right before the cut notches, with your carving knife. You will have to try it a few times before you get the right size.
Cut the dowel into the correct length once you have the right diameter. The length will be from the end to the cut notches, and it should fight tight. Cut a flat face on one side of the dowel to make an air passage for the whistle.
Push the cut dowel into the branch whistle mouthpiece. Carve the mouth end with a curve to make it easier to use. Test it out.
Cut another piece of dowel about 1 inch thick for the other end to plug the whistle up. The smaller the sound chamber the higher the pitch of your whistle.
Tips and warnings
- It may take a few tries before perfecting your tiny whistle. You may have to experiment with the hollow or the mouthpiece.
- Take your time to get it right.
- Use caution when working with sharp knives.
- Only use branches from non-poisonous trees and plants.
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