Introduction: How to Make a Wooden Ocarina
Hello everyone, I know I haven't made an instructable for a very long time but I'm back and I would like to share my newest project with you. Since the beginning of high school I have made about 10 ceramic ocarinas and 3 wooden ocarinas but now that I have graduated, I have decided to finally make an instructable on how to make one of these awesomely haunting instruments. This project will be perfect for anyone struggling to find a project for shop class because not only will they have every tool they will need at their disposal, but they will also be able to obtain the materials much more easily.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take photos for a couple of steps so I will try to recreate and explain them the best that I can.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
For this project, you will need a few tools. You will need a:
- power drill
- drill bit set
- disk and belt sander
- wood carving gouge
- mitre saw
- wood glue
- chromatic tuner
When it comes to making an ocarina, or any instrument, the range will always be important. The size is a major part of determining the range of your ocarina. Generally, the smaller, the higher in pitch, and the larger, the lower in pitch so when it comes to making your own ocarina, personal preference can mean different measurements. I will use the measurements to my ocarina which I believe is classified as a tenor(G3-C5). You will need:
- two 2 x 4 x 12 pieces of oak which will be used for the top and bottom of the ocarina
- one 1/2 x 6 piece of red oak which will be used for the lining between the top and bottom and between the body and mouthpiece
- two 1/2 x 4 x 4 squares to be used as the top and bottom plates of the mouthpiece, they should be the same type of wood as the body, not the middle lining.
- one 2 x 4 x 3 1/2 of white pine which will serve as the middle lining of the mouthpiece
- Sweet Almond Oil
To get the 2 x 4 and 1/2 x 4 x 4 pieces oak, I cut them out of a stock of oak my teacher gave me. I have provided a diagram of how the stock was divided into the different pieces. Also, the measurements provided on the list are nominal while the measurements on the diagram are actual.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Top and Bottom
The first step in making your ocarina is to draw an outline of the shape you want your ocarina to take. The shape does not include the mouthpiece as that will be made later on. Unfortunately I made the slight mistake of designing the ocarina with a curve leading to the mouthpiece, this was later corrected and I have added a line showing how the ocarina should have been cut out.
Step 3: Smoothing Out the Outer Edges
Using the disk and belt sander, smooth out the edges of the top and bottom of the Ocarina. Be careful not to accidentally sand the sides that are to be glue to the middle lining. Make sure to leave the ocarina round and smooth and do not be discouraged if it takes a while as it can be a lengthy process depending on the wood.
Step 4: Carving Out the Top and Bottom Plates
Using the wood carving gouge, carve out the top and bottom plates until they reach the thickness you want. Generally, when it comes to ocarinas, the thinner the better so I gave mine the wall thickness of about 1/4 of an inch. This step is the lengthiest one as I spent a good 3 days carving them out but it was very well worth it. Unfortunately, I did not have a picture for this step so I made a demonstration of the plates out of clay. It shows how the plates should look once you carve them out.
I advise you to wear gloves for this step as it is not fun to accidentally cut your thumb with a chisel, believe me been there, done that.
Step 5: The Middle Lining
For the middle lining, trace the top or bottom plate on the 1/2 x 6 piece of red oak. Once you've traced the plate on the 1/2 x 6, trace another line along the inside of the first one. You can make it as thick as the walls of the top and bottom plates or you can make it a bit thicker it doesn't really matter, heck mine came out crooked from the inside.
Step 6: The Mouthpiece Lining
Take the top or bottom plate and place it against the side of the 2 x 4. Draw the mouthpiece on to it and using the jigsaw, cut it out. This will be used as the middle lining of the mouthpiece as well as the roof of the mouthpiece's airway.
After you have cut the lining out, you will need to sand it down with the disk and belt sander in order to create the angle needed for the mouthpiece. I have provided an image to demonstrate how the lining should be sanded down.
Step 7: The Top and Bottom Mouthpiece Plates
Take the mouthpiece lining and trace it on to the plates. After you have traced the lining on to them, feel free to cut out the top plate but not the bottom one.
Step 8: The Airway
Usually when it comes to making the airway for a wooden ocarina, a chisel is the tool of choice. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to try this method since school was going to end in about a week, so I used the mitre saw to perform this instead. The mitre saws in my school have a depth adjuster allowing me to achieve a dado cut of about 1/8 of an inch. I have provided my own diagram above demonstrating the steps in making the airway.
1.) Drill a hole about the width of a Popsicle stick(I used a 7/16 drill bit) a 1/2 inch away from the edge of the plate.
2.) You will then make a dado cut from the edge of the plate to the fipple hole. The cut should be about 1/8 of an inch in depth and as wide as the fipple hole.
3.) Make another dado cut from the end of the fipple hole to the edge . The depth for this cut should be about half of the first cut. For example, the depth I used was 1/16 of an inch
4.) Using the dremel, carve out the fipple hole from the bottom of the plate, this will create the ramp in which the sound is produced. I highly recommend not to make the ramp extremely sharp as it can become weak and susceptible to damage. I found that keeping it dull gave me a nice dark tone.
Once you have finished making the airway, you can place the lining on top of it and see that the lining completely covers the fipple hole leaving only the small airway exit visible. To fix this, mark where the fipple hole starts on the lining and carve it out using the edge of the belt sander. It is important to not go farther than where the fipple begins. I have provided a diagram above.
After you are done, cut out the mouthpiece plates and feel free to glue the three parts together. Do not put too much glue as it can seep into the airway when pressed. If you find that some glue does seep into the airway, you can clean it out with a toothpick.
Once it is glued and dried, the lower mouthpiece plate will be poking out a bit, sand it down to make it flush with the rest of the mouthpiece. I have all provided a diagram.
Step 9: The Body-to-mouthpiece Lining
Once you have finished making the mouthpiece, lay it on top of the 1/2 x 6 and trace it. You want to cut out an oval for the lining. The size of the oval can vary depending on the size and shape of the ocarina. Once you have cut out the oval, you will cut out another oval on the inside to allow the air from the airway to go through. Once you have done that, glue the lining to the mouthpiece and smooth it out with the sander.
Unfortunately I did not take a picture of the lining with the hole for the airway cut out so I have provided a diagram to show how the lining should be cut out.
Step 10: Putting Everything Together
Once you have finished making the mouthpiece, linings and body, it is safe to glue everything together. Apply adequate amounts of glue and wipe off any excess with a moist towel. After the glue is done drying, proceed to sanding the ocarina until you remove all, if any, cosmetic defects.
Step 11: Tuning the Ocarina
Take the ocarina and hold as if you were playing it with all the holes closed. Have somebody trace over your fingers. When you have traced your fingers, place a dot where you fingers actually come in contact with the surface. Then drill each point with the smallest drill bit available to you.
For this process, you will need a chromatic tuner.
Now that you have drilled the points where your fingers are to be, blow into the ocarina with all holes closed. This will produce the fundamental note(lowest note). My ocarina had the fundamental note of G3 so if I uncover the first hole, it should give me an A3, then the second hole a B3 and so on. If your ocarina's fundamental note is a G#3/Ab3 then you will have to be careful in maintaining your sharps and flats throughout the tuning process.
If you need a more in-depth analysis of tuning your ocarina, you can click on the link below, it will show you which notes belong to what hole, based on what key your ocarina is in.
A few precautions:
-Do not force the drill bit as it can chip the ocarina
-Go one size at a time, if a 2/8 drill bit doesn't change the pitch much, don't go straight to a 3/4 drill bit.
-Unlike a clay ocarina, a wooden ocarina cannot be fixed if you make a hole too big so be very careful.
Step 12: Oiling Your Ocarina
I had my ocarina stained with red mahogany wood stain. I do not believe it affects the way you apply oil or the way the oil penetrates into the wood.
You can now enjoy playing your ocarina :) Thank you for taking a look at my instructable and I hope you have fun making your ocarina!!!