Friday, 19 August 2011

Make your own twig whistle

Freddy's Grandfather (Farfar) is a genius when it comes to wood; he can make anything from a whistle to a barn.  So here is the whistle and I'll ask him to rustle up a barn for a future post.


The whistle is made from a piece of branch about 20cm in length and 1.5cm diameter (just approxomately as it's not so important).  The type of tree didn't seem to matter as he tried with a few different types before being satisfied with the result:  it seemed to be more important that the piece was well dried (for a good sound).

Here is how Farfar did it:
  • Take a sharp knife and start by shaving a typical mouthpiece shape at the end of the twig that looks a bit like the end of a recorder.  This bit happened a bit quickly so I don't have a photo but you can see it clearly later on.  
  • Next score a ring around the piece of wood about 8cm from the end you just sculpted into a mouthpiece so that it cuts trough the bark only. 
  • Then, using the handle of the knife, tap around the ring you just cut in order to loosen the bark.
  • If you tapped sufficiently (and if the bark is dry enough) the 8cm length of bark should just slide off the end of the twig.
  • Once the tube of bark has been removed the wood underneath it is shaped as shown in the pictures below.  The idea is to remove a small amount of wood from the shaped mouthpiece end (to allow air to flow in), and then a large groove in the middle of the bare section where the sound will be created.  It is important that a small amount of wood is removed in between these to parts to create a channel for the air to pass through.
  • Replace the bark tube and cut a small slit in the same place as therecess you have created underneath (but not as big).

The picture below shows the small gap created between the wood and the bark at the mouthpiece end.
 

 Then all you have to do is try the whistle out!  Nice one Farfar!

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