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How to make an Awesometastical PVC Flute

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For a school project, we were assigned to create and perform a musical instrument. We decided, seeing as one of our group members plays the flute, to make a flute out of PVC piping. After a little bit of research, we came up with a process that was fairly easy to follow and created a flute that didn't sound half bad! This Instructable will take you step by step on your way to creating a PVC flute.
 
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Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed
The materials need for making the flute are as follows:

1)   
A length of PVC pipe ¾ inches inner diameter  (15 inches works well, so you have room to mess up, or you can just go by about the length of your forearm, including your hand.)
2)   ¾ inch PVC cap (to fit the pipe)
4)   Pencil
5)  Rubber band
6)  Files
7)  A saw to cut the PVC
8)  Clamps
9)   Drill Press
10)  Electrical Tape in the color of your choice.

Step 2: Cutting the PVC

Picture of Cutting the PVC
There is no one length of PVC that we have figured to be the "best" length, or a length of PVC that plays and has the best tone. But know that  the longer the PVC pipe is, the lower the flute will sound, and the shorter it is, the higher pitch it will be. This is because the shorter length of PVC gives the air less time to travel through.
When cutting the PVC, it is best to clamp it to the edge of a table with the section of PVC you wish to cut hanging off the edge. Make a small indent in the PVC with the saw to start yourself cutting, and then cut all the way through the PVC. The straighter the cut the better.

Step 3: Planning out the Flute

Picture of Planning out the Flute
Before you start to cut the holes in the PVC piping, it is necessary to first plan out where you are going to cut the holes. The diagram below shows where to mark, with a pen or pencil, spots on the pipe to cut the holes. For more information on the placement of your holes, you can visit: http://www.friendlyplumber.com/pipe_flute.html.
Jonas.B3 years ago
Did you tune the flute or did you just drill holes at random?
Dunno what he did, but if you go to the instructable called "Make 4 easy bamboo flutes for free" you will see that the author mentions a software called Flutomat, which allows you to calculate hole distances.
The direct link for flutomat is
http://www.cwo.com/~ph_kosel/flutomat.html
dead link
Right. Now you can find it here:
http://11wall-west.com/~ph_kosel/flutomat.html
I just found this nice alternative
http://twjcalc.sourceforge.net/2.10/TWJCalc2.10.html
Nice! :)
rainman0024 years ago
dead link
box head1 year ago
Can you plz tell me where you put all the holes and what size and how long the PVC pipe was
Blobtroll1 year ago
What key (octave) does the flute play? i am working on this for a school project as well.
Neat idea, but I heard that PVC over time can leach some kind of toxic fume, but I'm not sure. I wonder if your instructions would work on bamboo?
When making PVC instruments, you should not use PVC but C-PVC. C-PVC is a little more expensive, but is classified as safe for water going INTO your home. PVC is only classified as safe for water going OUT of your home that you are not going to drink.

I doubt the danger is high, but just a very small increase in cost will eliminate the worry.
Logic indicates that anything, over time, will leach less fumes, not more (if that wopuld be the case).
I suspect that PVC scare is grossly exagerated and, as someone pointed out, you are not going to warm or boil the flute while playing.
At any rate, though in most instruments material is essential for the sound, for some reason the flute seems quite imprevious to it. Flutes have been made of many different metals, wood, plastic and even glass, and no matter what, they tend to sound very much alike.
So I would say you may safely try with many different materiales, if you are concerned about PVC. Also remember that there are plastic home pipes designed to carry hot water and guaranteed for 50 years or so, so those should not emit any noxious element.
EastsidePrep (author)  modelmanjohn4 years ago
 It should work on bamboo as well as long as it is hollowed out all the way through (you can leave the last membrane in there as the cap). PVC fumes tend to be a problem if you are heating it up, your contact is pretty minimal using it as a flute.

If you have some bamboo, give it a try. Make sure you remove the membranes in the bamboo and either leave the last one (and measure from there) or cap the bamboo with something like a cork.
richeypaul13 years ago
That is a fantastic idea! So creative. It's amazing what one can do with a little PVC pipe. I'm sure a plumber can appreciate your creativity.
zascecs4 years ago
Next project, PVC saxaphone.



 
tripman zascecs3 years ago
did you make a pvc sax? im working in it but is not easy... do you have some idea? i made the structure but is dificult to make good sound, sorry about my tarzan english
I'd LOVE that! I will subscribe to whoever is the first to do that.
I would too!
I'd better start making it then... =P


...somehow...
eulaliaaaa!3 years ago
She looks like my cousin!!!
mtm1010974 years ago
Nice instructable (very informative)

 where do you go to school because my school in New Jersey( I'm not going to say where) is blue and gold warriors. thanks.
EastsidePrep (author)  mtm1010974 years ago
EastsidePrep is actually the school (Eastside Preparatory School, Kirkland, WA) account.  When students and faculty have projects that they want to share, we post them under this account.

Our mascot is the Eagle.