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How to make a wooden penny whistle

Updated April 17, 2017

Creating a wooden penny whistle is a fun yet challenging process. With careful measurements and some tweaking, you can easily create a one-of-a-kind handmade musical instrument. Some musicians love to use a penny whistle during parades and marches. Its unique sound rises above other instruments while maintaining a concert-grade quality. If you don't want to spend too much money on a musical instrument, you can create a wooden penny whistle in just a few simple steps.

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  1. Cut your wooden pipe to achieve a length of 3.5 cm. This will be the "fipple" or the mouthpiece of your wooden penny whistle.

  2. Slide half of the connecting sleeve onto the pipe and use your metal punch to secure both pieces together on each side of your pipe connector.

  3. Use your marker to mark 2.45 centimetres from your sleeve’s bottom part. Drill a small hole using your power drill's 7/32 bit through both the pipe and the sleeve.

  4. Use a fine-grit sandpaper to sand the dowelling from the top and side view of the channel until it snugly fits inside your pipe. See to it that the dowelling measures 2.5 cm in length and about 90 mm in width at one end, while the other end with the flattened side measures 75 mm in length.

  5. Carve a channel at the centre of the dowel’s flat end using your carving tool. This must measure around 90 mm in thickness right at the end of the dowel, while its thinner end measures 75 mm.

  6. Insert your carved dowel into your wooden pipe right at the end of the fipple, with the thinner end first.

  7. Use your mitre saw to cut an angle right onto the end of the fipple. This will allow you to cut through both the wooden dowel and the pipe. Use your sandpaper to smooth the surface to form the end that will go into your mouth.

  8. Start building the body of the penny whistle by cutting your wooden piping to 30.5 cm in length using the mitre saw.

  9. Use your marker to designate the exact spots where you will be drilling the holes of the pipe. Mark the following millimetre points from your pipe’s bottom: 42, 70, 92, 116, 140, 152. Use the ruler for measuring.

  10. Drill the marked areas using your electric driller using the following drill bit sizes from the bottom of the pipe: 17/64, 17/64, 3/16, 15/64, 15/64 and 13/64.

  11. Slide the fipple at the top of the pipe to complete your wooden penny whistle.

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Things You'll Need

  • 40 cm wooden pipe (1.25 cm diameter)
  • Metal punch
  • Pipe connector to fit 1.25 cm pipe
  • Marker
  • Electric drill
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • 40 cm wooden dowelling (2 cm diameter)
  • Carving tool
  • Mitre saw
  • Ruler

About the Author

Susan Raphael

Based in New Jersey, Susan Raphael has been writing technology-related articles since 1991. Her work has appeared in “Wired” magazine, and “Mac Addict” magazine. Raphael received the Janet B. Smith Literary Award in 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from New York University.

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