How to make a bamboo flute

Bamboo has played a huge part in many cultures and, today it is still used in a wide range of projects. Below, we explain how to make a bamboo flute in a few simple steps.

What you will need to make a bamboo flute

  • A drill with an assortment of 2mm, 8mm & 10mm bits
  • Ruler
  • Hacksaw
  • Rotary tool with a medium grit attachment
  • Wood clamps
  • Bamboo

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 3/4 to 7/8 inches in diameter
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Dowel rod - approximately 20 inches

Musgrove Willows stock highly graded bamboo canes, ideal for garden structures and craft.

Different lengths provide different tones

The length of the bamboo will play a major part in determining the key that 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, cut to 18 inches and for a D key make sure your bamboo is 21 inches long.

Preparing the bamboo

  1. Check the node that you have selected for holes (both inside and 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 them all out except the one nearest the end. This serves as a ‘cork’ and will help to tune your flute. Without a cork the flute will not be able to be played 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 only one direction

Next steps to making a bamboo flute

  1. Once the bamboo is prepared, measure from the node, measure 2cm out and mark with a pencil. This will be the end of your flute - where the mouth piece is situated
  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. (Make sure your line is straight)
  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 a 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 simplest 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 is a delight to hear. Even more so when crafted by your own hands. 

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