Bamboo has long been used by indigenous cultures to make everything from tiki huts to watermills. Because the plant species is so versatile and strong, it can be used for almost anything. That includes instruments too. Today, it continues to be used for a variety for things such as flooring, material and even paper. But when itís carved properly, bamboo also makes beautiful music.

[Edit]Preparing to Make the Flute

  1. Gather supplies. To make a bamboo flute, youíll need a drill, a rotary tool such as a Dremel, and attachments for it. Youíll also need a general purpose hand-held sander, masking tape, a saw, a ruler or measuring tape, and a box cutter or sharp knife. You should be able to find all of these items from the hardware store.
  2. Scour for bamboo. Of course, youíll need some bamboo as well, and you donít always have to buy it. Even if it is not a plant that is native to your area, sometimes you can find it growing on the side of the road because these plants tend to take root and flourish almost anywhere. However, if you are unable to find bamboo out in nature, head to your local hardware store and buy from there.

    • Also, look in your local yellow pages. Carpet stores sometimes have bamboo flooring that comes in bamboo rods that you could use.[1]

  3. Choose a quality bamboo. When youíre selecting bamboo, make sure that the diameter is between 3/4 inches and 7/8 inches. However, thin-walled bamboo about 1/8 inch-thick or so produces the best sound. Also, look for a good piece of seasoned bamboo that isnít cracked. It shouldnít be really flexible or have any visible cracks, rips, splinters or holes.[2]

    • Make sure that the bamboo has at least one node -- a notch where it is solid inside instead of hollow like the other parts of the bamboo. Itís usually marked by circular ridges that look like joints on the bamboo. One node at the end of the flute will become what is known as the ďcork.Ē The node should be smooth and without holes on the inside or the outside so that the flute has proper tone.[3]

[Edit]Preparing the Bamboo

  1. Remove the branches on the bamboo. Use a hacksaw if necessary. Youíll also want to sand down any notches left behind from where you cut off the bamboo. If you have one, use the hand sander to do this; itís much faster and easier than sanding by hand.
    • The piece of bamboo that you selected might have several nodes. If itís a long piece of bamboo, select the part of the bamboo that you are going to work with and sand down that section so you donít sand the entire bamboo stem unnecessarily.

  2. Cut the pipe to the length you want based on the key. The length of the pipe determines the key that it plays. To make a flute that plays in the key of A, cut a 14 inch length of pipe. For an F flute, cut it to 18 inches, and for a key of D cut it to 21 inches. Choose a section of bamboo with joints that are a little bit more than half as far apart as the intended length of the instrument.

    • For instance, if you want a 14 inch flute, the nodes should be a little more than 7 inches apart from each other. In other words, there should be a little more than 7 inches of tube between each node.
    • The aim is to cut it so that there is a node at the end and another node more or less in the middle. You want the flute to have a node at one end and another more or less in the middle after you cut it to size. It should have at least one.
    • Wrap a piece of masking tape around the area that you want to cut, then cut it with the hacksaw. The tape helps stop the bamboo from splintering.
    • Cut outside of the node. Donít cut into it.

  3. Select the node that is to become the cork. Choose the part of the bamboo with the node near the end to be your cork. Then, measure 2 cm (0.78 inches) out from the node and mark it with a pencil. This area is will be known as the cork of the flute. The blow hole, which is formally known as the embouchure wonít be placed far from it. Donít cut into this area.
  4. Check the node that you selected to be your cork again for holes. Because if it has holes in it, then it the fluteís tone might not be proper.
  5. Knock out the solid nodes. As previously noted, the inner portion of the nodes are solid, not hollow like the rest of the pipe. So, youíll have to knock out all of the nodes except for the one near the end serving as your cork. You can use a hammer and chisel to do this. Stick the chisel or a sharp tool up against the node inside the tube, then hit the top of the tool with a hammer. Youíll slow chisel it away.
    • Another option is to burn out the nodes with a hot poker, but the safest option is most likely boring out the nodes with a long drill bit.

  6. Clean out the inside of the flute. Wrap sandpaper around a dowel rod about 20 inches long and tape the sandpaper to it. Then, rub the sandpaper against the inside of the bamboo to smooth the inside of the tube. Also, sand the places where the nodes were located so that it is as smooth as possible.

[Edit]Making the Flute

  1. Measure the wall thickness. Now that the bamboo is open, you can see the thickness of the walls, which youíll need to know to calculate the diameter of the embouchure -- the blow as previously noted. Using your ruler, measure each one to the nearest millimeter and write down your measurements. Then, set them aside for later.
  2. Measure the exact placement of the embouchure. The embouchure should be one diameter up from the cork -- the node you selected at the end of the bamboo. For instance, if the width or diameter of the bamboo is 8 centimeters (3.1 inches), then you will measure 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) up from the cork. Then mark it, and this is where the center of the blow hole will be placed.
    • The diameter is the length of a circle.

  3. Calculate the diameter of the embouchure. Now, you need to know how wide to make the blow hole because the width of the hole makes a difference with the sound of the flute. Use a flute calculator such as Flutomat to calculate the measurements for you.
    • Input your measurements of the flute's inner diameter and wall thickness.Then, choose the key you want the flute to be in. If you cut your flute to a specific length for a specific key, you can skip this step if you want. The application will calculate the diameter for the embouchure and the other holes in the seven-note Western scale. Write down the diameters of each hole. [4]
    • For instance, suppose the diameter of the blow hole is 10mm (0.393 inches), then according to the calculator, the diameter of the following finger holes 1-7 might be 8.0 mm(0.3149 inches), 8.5 mm (0.335), 9 mm (0.354 inches), 7 mm (0.275 inches) ,9.5mm (0.374 inches) ,10mm (0.393), 5.5mm (0.217 inches).

  4. Measure the length between the finger holes. Use the flute calculator, which also calculates the space between the edge of each hole and the open end of the flute. It gives the measurements based on each holes distance from the embouchure. So, mark where each hole should be to make sure that they will fit on your pole. Once, all your measurements seem correct and everything seems to fit on the bamboo, then youíre ready to drill.

  5. Clamp the bamboo down and begin to drill the embouchure. Use wood clamps to clamp it down. Then, with the embouchure facing up, begin drilling with the 2mm (0.078 inches) drill bit where you made your mark for the first hole. Once youíve made a small hole with the drill bit, increase to a larger drill bit like 8 mm (0.315 inches) . Steadily increase the size of the drill bit until you get to a bit larger enough to make the size of your holes. For instance, if your embouchure is 10 mm, increase your drill bits in increments until you get to a 10mm drill bit to make the hole that size.
    • When youíre drilling, hold the bit perpendicular to the bamboo with a steady hand. If you hold the drill at an angle or are unsteady as you drill, you might drill the bamboo improperly or splinter, crack or rip the bamboo. Be deliberate but careful as you drill.

  6. Sand the hole. Use a Dremel or a similar rotary tool to make the hole nice and smooth. Put a sanding attachment on the rotary tool. Use one of the attachments that has medium grit sandpaper. (Feel the paper to check. The rougher the sandpaper, the more gritty the sandpaper.) Gently sand the hole with medium grit and then a smoother sandpaper while being careful not to change the shape or size of the hole.
  7. Blow into the embouchure. You need to test it to make sure you get a familiar, mellow, "flute-like" tone. If you need to make adjustments, sand the outside edge of the embouchure with a sanding file at a downward slant, but only do this if you think it needs adjustment. If it sounds good to you, itís better to play it safe and not make any adjustments.
  8. Recheck your finger hole markings. Make sure that they are in the right place respective to the blowhole. The Flutomat calculator gives the space between each hold from the end of one hole to the end of the next hole. So, it doesnít give you the holeís center. Youíll need to make your hole one radius up -- half the diameter-- of the hole. This is where the center of the hole will be and where youíll drill. Then, drill in the same manner that you drilled the blowhole.

    • Make sure your holes are marked in a straight line.
    • Drill in successively larger bits, which means start with the smaller bits to make a starter hole. Then, slowly increase to the larger bits to get to the size drill bit to make the appropriate size.
    • Some parts of the bamboo and thinner than other such as where a branch was growing. So, be mindful of this when youíre drilling.
    • If you have to drill a hole over a node, this area will be thicker than other areas. Take your time and drill slowly.

  9. Clean up the insides of the holes. With your rotary tool, sand the edges of the hole so that they are smooth. If you are scared of making a mistakes or sanding too much, use the sanding file. Theyíre also great for smaller holes. Once youíve cleaned up the drill holes, youíre ready to play.


[Edit]Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo (inside diameter is 2 to 3 cm)
  • A drill
  • An assortment of drill bits ranging in diameter from 2mm to 1.5 cm
  • A rotary tool like a Dremel
  • Accessories for the rotary tool such as a cutting wheel and various sanding and grinding bits.
  • A general purpose hand-held sander
  • Sandpaper for the hand-held sander ranging from medium to fine
  • A sharp knife or a box-cutter
  • Masking tape
  • Measuring tape/ruler or calipers ( optional)
  • Marker or pen
  • A ruler or masking tape
  • 20 inch long dowel rod
  • Sand paper long enough to wrap around dowel rod
  • Sanding file (optional)
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Fine grit sandpaper(optional)


  • Sand in one direction instead of back and forth to prevent splintering of the bamboo.
  • Clamp down the bamboo well so that it doesnít move when youíre drilling.
  • Apply steady pressure when youíre drilling so that your cuts are deliberate your limit splintering.
  • Put masking tape of the places where youíre going to drill to help prevent splintering and chipping when youíre drilling.


  • Make sure the bamboo is secure when youíre cutting it. If it shifts while youíre cutting it, you could accidentally injure yourself or cut a secure of the bamboo that you didnít intend to cut.
  • Be careful when youíre cutting with the hacksaw. You donít want to injure yourself.
  • If you are under 13 make sure that you have adult supervision if you are attempting this project.


[Edit]Quick Summary