How to make a bamboo flute

Bamboo has been a huge part of many cultures and a unique plant of prehistoric ancestry. Bamboo can be used for a multitude of projects and is very diverse. It can be used for a variety of creations in and out of the household including musical instruments. On how to make a bamboo flute, here is a simple guide on what you need and what to do:

What you need

  • A drill with an assortment of 2mm, 8mm and 10mm bits
  • Ruler
  • Hacksaw
  • Rotary tool with a medium grit attachment
  • Wood clamps
  • Bamboo with diameter between 1/8 inches for the best sound

NOTE: Make sure the bamboo has at least one node (also known as a notch) that is smooth and without holes to provide a quality tone.

  • Bamboo ¾ to 7/8 inches in diameter
  • Medium grits Sandpaper
  • Dowel rod approximately 20 inches

Musgrove Willows have a selection of highly graded bamboo canes that are ideal for a variety of hobbies including gardening structures and craft making. Please visit: https://www.musgrovewillows.co.uk/bamboo-cane-seagrass/bamboo-canes

Different lengths provide different tones

There are a variety of lengths of the bamboo that will determine what key your flute will play. If you require the flute to play key A, cut it to the length of 14 inches. For an F key tone, to it to 18 inches and for a D key it is 21 inches.

Preparing the bamboo

  1. Check the node that you have selected for holes in the inside and the outside. If it does have holes, then it might be best to choose a different section where the node is whole. Having holes within the node will affect the tone of the flute.
  2. With any remaining nodes that are solid and not hollow, knock out all of them except the one near the end which serves as a ‘cork’. This will help tune your flute, without a cork it will not play properly.
  3. Wrap the sandpaper around the dowel rod and secure it with tape. Place it inside the bamboo and smooth the insides of the tube.

Tip: To avoid splintering of the bamboo, sand in one direction

How to

  1. Once the bamboo is prepared measure from the node, measure 2cm out with a ruler and mark with a pencil. This will be the end of your flute where the mouth piece is situated and is separated by the node.
  2. Carefully cut along the pencil line with a hacksaw and sand the end to make it smooth.
  3. The embouchure or mouth piece should be one inner diameter length from the cork. For instance, if the diameter of the bamboo is 8cm, then it will need to measured 8 cm up from the cork. From the node measure the bamboos inner length and mark with a pencil, this will be the centre of the mouth piece (blow hole).
  4. Using a flute calculator (Flutomat) you can determine how much space you need between each flute hole from the mouth piece. Mark with a pencil where each hole needs to be drilled making sure it is in an even line.
  5. Secure the bamboo with the wood clamps making sure the mouth piece is facing up. With a 2mm drill bit, drill each hole, then increase the hole by drilling with an 10mm drill bit. By using this steady drilling method, you will avoid the bamboo from splitting, cracking or ripping.
  6. Sand each hole with a rotary tool and a medium grit attachment to smooth out the holes. Clean up the drill holes, getting rid of any dust.

Bamboo flutes are one of the traditional and simple musical instruments in the world. Their ease and playability make them a natural choice for many who are looking to enter the musical world. The bamboo flute delivers a subtle harmonious sound that would be a delight to hear and a great talking point when crafted by your own hands. 


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