Introduction: Maknig a Didjeridoo From a Christmass Tree. Bore Out Method

Picture of Maknig a Didjeridoo From a Christmass Tree. Bore Out Method

 This is a basic Lesson in boring out a christmass tree.Taking this most comon of holiday waste and repurposing it for your own non christmas need. + you get to evicerate a christmas tree :D, take all that christmas cheer youve had to endure for the month of december and rip apart an 8 foot spruce,it will cleanse the palat of the sachrine sweetness of this overly comercial holiday.
  As with all endeavors of this sort there is a wide margin for error and often there is failure and disapointment. But dont fret,this is part of the process. We learn from these failures even if we do everything right and we still fail, we learn. So not to spoil the ending here but... This atempt crashed and burned in the end. But Im still creating an instructable for you to learn from and take what you will. Some of this is me playing with new tools but the method is tried true and quick. succes rate with it can be 50/50 though or worse or much much much better.Even with failures at this number its a faster method than any other for make a didje from a solid branch or tree. and your failure rate really depends on the wood and what it will do and its basic line/straightness, and your willingness to push your luck in the hopes of geting a better instrument.

im posting this as is for now. I will revise a bit later add a tool list and clean up few things gramar spelling and things that dont make sense. hope you enjoy.

Step 1:

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select a tree. shortly after christmas their plentyful in the trash.  the one i snaged was about 8ft. Its not about length here. Its about girth and taper for your selection.  This tree had a 4inch wide base great for what were doing. But if your going to try this method of didj making i wouldnt recomend one much under 3 average finished Didj isnt usualy longer than 5ft. So if your planing on making one this long make sure theres more than 2inches of thickness on the  end that will eventualy be the mouth piece. 

Step 2:

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Weve got our tree our dimensions are good. Now controled destruction. Gloves might be good. The sap will get all over you hands and make the black and sticky. My weapon of choice here is a hatchete quick simple and effective. You could use a pruning saw or those heavy duty pruning shears for cutting small branches. Cant rember what there calles right now but they have a crecent shaped blade ane long handles.  Anything cuting tool will basicly work. use your best judgement and be safe. Dont need to bleed on christmass.
take the tree in your left hand and hold it from the base cuting the branches one at a time from the bottom up. The picture with the hatchete leaning against the partialy de limbed tree show the direction you should be cutting.  
If you  cant support the tree with one hand lean it against someting. Some thing that you wont mind scratching up or hitting with a hatchete (and that wont damage your hatchete) A sharp edge is a must here,     A SHARP EDGE IS GOD WHEN IT COMES TO CUTTING TOOLS LIKE A HATCHET.  A sharp edge makes your work quick efeicent and safe because you dont have to over exert your self or force your tool to do work they cant do. A hatchet will glance off wood if its tool dull posibly cutting you. If you dont know how to handle a hatchete or cant sharpen it so that bites into the wood when strike it. Please pick a differnt method for your safety here. I consider this hatchete i have hear some what dull but very usable. Which is to say that its probably sharper than most of the knives in your average kitchen. It will cut you if you disrespect it to much. Most hatcehetes and axes are blunt about as sharp as a shovel. Im going off on a tangent here so back to the step. 
Remove the limbs till you have exposed the length of tree you want. which would be the 3rd picture here.

Step 3:

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Take out a saw and cut off your delimbed christmas tree from top. Try to keep the cut square and clean.If it didnt cut How you liked dont worry take another cut.see if you can get it a little closer. Rember it doesnt have to be perfect. Close is good enough..    A  45 degree      /    angle isnt close though   80 ish is fine. 

the  skinny end here is about 2 and 3/4" rember if its under 2 inches you should probably get a differnt tree.  

Step 4:

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Inspect your tree. Is it reasonably straight? does it bend woble or curve along its length? Are there any deep notches? 
you want it to be straight. the straighter the beter. If you notice the one end is bent a little on this tree. You should cut something like this off. This took off about 8 inches. which still left plenty to make a good Didj.

Step 5:

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now its time for the tools you'll need to bore through 5 feet of christmas tree.  a selection of wood boring bits and extensions are necesary for this.  forstner bits with 3 appropriat  sized 12"+ extentensions are what i noramaly use.  I recently bought some irwin tri flute speed bore bits so im testing them out here.   they seem to work quite well.
pick the size bit your going to use.  this tri flute is  1-1/4 inch with a 12 inch extension.the extension is for spade bits or anything with a 1/4 inch shank. The rule of thumb for your margins are about an inch bigger than your bit for the piece your drilling.  Callipers are great for figureing this out. wood isnt always round. So choose bit size based on where its narrowest , in the area you will be drilling.

Step 6:

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Clamp your christmas tree to something solid.I have a frame ive built for boring didjs just for this task. SO thats what i use. a work bench or anything solid will work. so long as you can get it secure.but id recomend  a pair of saw horse and a couple hose clamp or ratcheting tie down straps is really your easiest option. you'll also need something to brace against. a wall or fence or a tree when you drilling. otherwise you'll just push everything around and it will just be a mess.
 Im starting the hole with the bit in the extension to save time and to help true up my angle as i enter the wood. Put the bit Dead center. Measure if you want but most of the time i eyeball it.  Limbs and branches usualy arent round  you'll have to measure in 2 differnt axes to find the middle not just one. This is the narrow end by the way (i belive). You want to start the hole with the bit that will work on the small end. But you dont have to start drilling on the small end. It doesnt really matter which side you start on.just that the bits the size your going to drill in the narrowest portion of your didj.Rember you cant make the hole small when your done but you can always make it bigger if you want, and the bigger you go the more likely you are to tear out the side.

Step 7:

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start boring your hole. keep it stratight.  If you angle down it will go down. Up it goes up. Left left ,right right. if your your going in straight it still can go any direction.Bits wander in long holes they do that.  Drill about 2 inches or so at a shot and than back the bit out and clears the chips. repeat this for the rest of the drilling process.  REPEAT THIS FOR THE REST OF THE DRILLING PROCCESS! EVERY 2-3+ INCHES MAX. OR YOUR WOOD MIGHT BURST AN YOUR BIT CAN GET STUCK .  An thats bad.
Coninue this to you get to the bottom of your extension. Pull the bit out of the hole and flip the didj to the other end so your read to drill and just repeat the last step.

Step 8:

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Now youve repeated that step twice youve got a foot + drilled out on booth sides. take out another extension.and add it on to the extension you already have on the bit. I have a modified electricians bit extension im using instead 48"long?. Wasnt sure if this was goin to work out or not.? Its ment for a different style bit ant the tri bits have quite a bit of torgue to them.  id recomend a slower speed drill by the way for boring out didjs.and not battery powered either unless you have a lot of batteries.You need to drill for more than an hour straight to make a didj with this method. This drill has more power an less speed than the smaller style drills. Now drill about halfway. Than flip the didj around and repeat.  CLEAR THE CHIPS EVERY 3 INCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now where getting close.   your about halfway and your bit has come tearing out the side of the wood :). This is good. a little more drilling and you should feel the bit find the hole thats coming through the other side. if there close your inluck if there not the bit should follow the path of least resistance. keep drilling. If you know your definetlu halffway and you still havent felt the bit hit the hole flip the didj around and drill from the other side. still nothing?  take out the bit from the didj. and blow through the hole. make a seal with you lips and blow.. does the air rush through? yes than youve got conection to the otherside most likely.
look through the hole can you see anything? no ? get light you shine into it examine whats going on here. is it just a blockage? Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? I can.  

Step 9:

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this is the home stretch now.  this is where you make an break the didj on many levels. youve got a 5ft hole in a tree. be proud. ha.  Now gulp. we procced.

take a sharp knife and cut around the edge of the whole. For the next size bit. It needs a place to start opening up the whole and this is what it need to keep it centered.  This is what your doing here as your cutting open the edge.  once you start drilling it goes much faster than before.but. YOU STILL NEED TO CLEAR YOUR CHIPS EVERY 3 INCHES!!!!!!!! this is even more important now. you dont know how thick your sides are around your bit. do you have a half inch?a 1/4? an 1/8? think you know? your hole meet cleanly and you went in straight?  dont count on it. work carefull and work slow. stop drilling and see if you can feel hot spots around where your bit should be. do you feel heat on one side but not the other? if so the hot spot is a thin spot be careful and dont go to next size bit probably. it might be good to even stop drilling if you want to not ruin hours of work .Or..... boldly push on and hope for awesome and success.

Now to expalain whats goining on. Your drilling from the thicker end of your didj. (the bottom) halfway to two thirds of the way up. this is creating what will be essentialy a tapper internaly.
the largest bit your going to use on the bottom does not goe all the way to the half or two thirds point of the didj. how far up you go is a judgement call on your part.
About half the length or less of the bored hole should be narrow  the bottom quarter to third should be as big as you can make it and the inbetween should well be inbetween those two extremes. 
For anything above an inch and a half you basicaly need forstner bits. spade bit really arent ideal for these long holes the slap around inside and a 1-1/2" spade bit has more more torgue on the drill than a 2-1/4" forstner bit.

Step 10:

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trim the edges of the whole to accept the next size bit. You can jump a few sizes if you want but i dont recomend it. you dont really gain anything from it. You'll go faster steping it up slower. you clear more wood with every progressive bit and have more space for the chips to go. At this point its just a guide line but clear your chips as you go.if you cant see the bit after 2-3inches of driling clear the chipps!!!!!.
Measure  around where you want to drill up to.  Ive got about three inchess at this point in didj so i can go up to a 2 inch forstner bit. The hole is 1-1/4 inch so you will use a 1-1/2 bit drill out to that depth with the frostner bit in the extensions.  drill a little shorter with each progressively larger bit. Opening up the end of your hole more as needed with your knife to accomodate the larger bits as you go.

Step 11:

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This happens as ive said. Your drilling along and your bits arent where you want them. Why?  Becuase they do that the drift they wander the grain of the wood your angle etc. etc. etc.    i have thrown my drill after doing this 3 or for time in a row in differnt branches/wood.   i kid you not.
Its best to not throw our tools and get pissed. this comes with the territory.failure.  but 8 hours of work and nothin to show can suck and make one moody.
this was about a 2 + hour project including snaping the pics.
 This was fun however. This was an experiment in many ways and a time to play and blow off steam.  The side got torn out. No harm no foul. cut out the side for a beter view of what was going on and thin/thick the sides were and where the bit really was in the didj.   There was plenty of wood. everything got  done right. Maybee my electricians extension made it take an angle i dont know. but this is what happens. You get a thin side and it just gets thiner and than you go to the next bit size and you have no side.
if this would have been a succes the resst of this instructable would show the clean up drying and eventual finishing process but this is where this didj ended so this is where this instructable ends.

but if you do make it this far without failure and have your didj bored out to the size you want set it aside to dry. Assuming youve been working with a green tree like i was.  several weeks minimum dry time.  leave the bark on.  when it seems to be dry peel the bark off and work on finishing it up.  urethane will do fine for finish but its not really the best choice acusticaly. coat inside and out, tune apply wax and enjoy. If this had been succesful i would go in more depth with this bit all ya get.


friger (author)2011-01-18

I built a Diji from a Spruce tree about 10 years ago, I know the pain you were feeling when the drill burst out the side. Next time you might try what is called a bare foot auger. It is an auger bit that doesn't have a lead screw of any type. What happens is the lead screw or brad point will, as you correctly mentioned, follow the path of least resistance, that is usually a grain line along the less dense sap wood. Drill a short pilot hole with the regular auger bit first then change to the bare foot. This will require more brute force on your part but will yield more favorable results.

you could also, as I did , split the tree in half length wise and carve out the hole, then glue it back together.

8footape (author)2011-01-08

yeah the whole phalus thing is acurate with the old taboos. ha.
Born an raised in Florida. havent left the states either.
An ive got another piece i started along time ago that i can hopefully get up here to show the process to finish.

l8nite (author)2011-01-08

man that really really SUCKS ! You had a great "ible" and project going only to have fate throw you a curve, but you still shared the results and I think thats fantastic . Im sure we've all had our share of projects that didn't work out and really aggravate us, some aggravate us even when they DO work out ! I hope you get one finished so you can show us the rest of your procedures

alexsolex (author)2011-01-05

I know two stories about women and didgeridoos.
One is because of the profile of the digeridoo which looks like a phalus and so, women are forbidden to play.
An other one is about the fact that playing didgeridoo ask a lot of work to the lungs and the diaphragm. Aboriginal people believe that playing to much didgeridoo can be dangerous for babies a mother carry in her belly.

@8footape :
where are you from ? I find very funny to find people that like didgeridoo from so many countries. I'm french and I love playing didgeridoo. I went to australia for a 3 months holidays, and backpackers calls me "the white aboriginal". I loved this and it was a honor for me to be such named :)

I would love to see picture of eucaplytus christmas tree !

8footape (author)2011-01-05

women play the didjeridoo. culturaly there used to be a taboo. sure ya can post a pic

bertus52x11 (author)2011-01-05

Finally a useful purpose for the old Christmas tree!
Here at home I have a "Boofadoo", I once bought in France (they really call it that way). It's much like a didjeridoo only slightly smaller (1 meter). It is used to blow air into your fireplace or BBQ without getting your face burned. I always wondered how they were made, but now I know.
If you like, I can post a pic.

BTW, Is it true that only men can play the didjeridoo?

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