The transverse flute---of which the modern flute is a prime example---is played by blowing across an opening at one end with the body of the flute extending to the right of the performer, rather than by blowing downward into a flute held vertically. In this article, you'll learn how to make a simple transverse flute out of PVC or CPVC that can play two octaves.
The raw materials and a finished PVC flute
Cut the PVC pipe to 15 9/16 inches. Sand the ends of the flute while holding it under running water to avoid breathing in the dust.
A diagram showing the location of the holes for this flute
Secure the pipe in the clamp. Mark the following measurements: 6 7/8 inches from the left end of the pipe, 8 inches from the left end of the pipe, 9 1/8 inches from the left end of the pipe, 10 ¾ inches from the left end of the pipe, 11 ½ inches from the left end of the pipe and 12 ¾ inches from the left end of the pipe. These measurements may seem very precise, but they will make your flute play in tune.
Drill the following holes in the flute at the places marked above: 3/8-inch diameter hole at the 6 7/8 mark and the 8 mark. Drill a hole 11/32 inch in diameter at the 10 ¾ mark, a hole 7/16 inch in diameter at the 11 ½ mark and a hole 5/16 inch in diameter at the 12 ¾ mark.
Rotate the flute on the clamp 25 degrees and drill a hole 3/8 inch in diameter at the 9 1/8 mark.
Push the dowel through the flute to remove any bits of PVC left inside from the drilling. Wrap a small bit of sandpaper into a cylinder and use this to sand the insides of the holes very lightly.
Glue the cap for the pipe onto the left end and let dry. When the glue is dry, clamp the flute and drill a hole 7/16 inch in diameter through the cap and pipe body, starting 5/16 inch away from the end of the pipe. Sand the opening until smooth. Your flute is ready to play.
- Always wear safety glasses, gloves and a mask when sawing or sanding PVC pipe.