How to Make a 'Howler'





Introduction: How to Make a 'Howler'

You may or may not know what a 'howler' is, but for those who don't know, I'll explain. It is quite simply a noise maker. A very good one. It works upon the same concept of a soup can phone, it sends vibrations through the string when pulled, and the can amplifies the vibrations. The video above demonstrates these haunting noises.

I have early memories of my grandma telling me about these little noise-makers. Many stories I've heard about her brother scaring the kids throughout the woods with haunting noises during the night. It echoes quite nicely in an open field, which makes it very good for creeping out your friends. And better yet, it is very inexpensive to make. If you like this 'ible please vote for me in the Project: Prank Contest. Thanks!

Step 1: What You'll Need

-Small screwdriver

-Kite string
-Kerosene (I used lamp oil)
-Oatmeal can (Any similar cardboard can will work)

Step 2: Getting Started

First off, we will be making a small pinhole in the bottom of the can. This is where the string will go later.
Turn the can on its side, and use a screwdriver to make a tiny hole on the bottom. It should be no bigger than your string, so everything will fit nice and snug.

Step 3: Dipping the String

Cut off a good length of string, about 3 feet should do. If you are using a kerosene lamp like the one pictured, unscrew the top and dip the string inside. Make sure it all gets coated, just be sure you don't drop it inside. Pull the string out and wipe off any excess kerosene with your fingers, but try to refrain from wiping your hands on your pants, please.

Step 4: String the Button

Pull the string we just soaked in kerosene through a button, and tie a knot. The knot should be large enough to stop the string from pulling through. A few overhand knots will do nicely.

Step 5: Pull It Through

Pull the string (opposite the end with the button) through the hole inside the oatmeal can. If you have trouble getting it through, you can use the screwdriver to push it in.

Step 6: Making the Sound

Holding the can under your arm, pull the string between your fingers, pinching it tightly. Experiment with the way you hold the string and how fast you pull it until you find that perfect 'ghost' sound. Enjoy your newly made howler. Go scare some kids, and don't forget to vote for me in the Project: Prank Contest! Thanks!



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    We used these in scouts to scare the new kids at summer camp. Except we would use big bean cans or coffee cans taken from the kitchen. Do the same setup but use a heavy braided hemp rope. Then we would coat a heavy rag with lighter fluid. We would then have one person hold the can while the second person pulled on the rope with the rag. You can directional the sound by pointing the open end of the can. Try waving your arms in big circles while holding the can to create a wicked rolling sound. The larger the can and thicker the rope, the deeper the sound. So many kids scared to death with it that the adults running the troop eventually made us stop.

    DAYUM I thought it was like Harry Potter, with the screaming red envelopes, and the--ahhhhhh I'll never understand you people. Anyway, a great Instructable!

    5 replies

    What do you mean, "you people"?

    i think it was like harry potter screaming yougert pots that go yyyyyyoooooouuugeeeerrrrrrrttttt!!!!!!!!!! DO NOT EAT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    haha that's what i thought as well. :/

    WOW! I had forgotten about these. My father made these for me when I was a kid so that I could scare all of our neighbors. He called it a "Bull Roarer". He also used a large metal coffee can which can really sound off. You can also rub the string across candle wax to stiffen it and make the sound when you pinch and pull to make the sound. You can use different type of containers such as plastic coffee cans or what ever you can find. Try the candle wax though as it is less messy and smelly than lamp oil. Have fun! 

    5 replies

    Hah, bull roarer, now there's a good name for it. I just called it a howler because I didn't know any other name for it. And my grandma did mention using candle wax, but I had forgotten all about it. Thanks.

    Bull roarer is different. Bull roarer has a surf board shaped wooden dowell at the end of a long string. Whip it around by the end of the string and you have the sound that was made in the movie Crocidile Dundee.

    So it wasn't a didgeridoo used in that movie?.

    Sounded just like one.

    Or is that also in that movie and I'm forgetting an additional instrument sound?

    Didgeridoo is a wind instrument. A long pipe through which the lips are vibrated.

    Thanks! If you liked it, please vote for me in the Project: Prank Contest. Voting should start on the 5th of April.

    you just made my day. i work for fred meyer which is owned by kroger! :) nice instrucable btw! 

    1 reply

    Thanks! If you like Kroger stuff, you should check out this little crab I made from a Kroger brand yogurt cup. Here's the link.