Introduction: PVC Pipe Rain Stick

Picture of PVC Pipe Rain Stick

Some time ago I saw an Instructable on how to make PVC pipe look like real wood. I wanted to try out the technique so I decided to make this beautiful rain stick

Definition of a Rain Stick: a percussion instrument made from a dried cactus branch that is hollowed out, filled with small pebbles, and capped at both ends. When slightly tilted, it makes the sound of falling rain.

BUT I made one out of PVC pipe!

I have entered this in the PCV Pipe Contest so your vote would be appreciated

Step 1: What You Will Need

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Step 2:

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Step 3:

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Step 4:

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Step 5: Drill Holes Through the PVC Pipe

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  • Cut your PVC pipe to approximately 36 inches length (or however long you want yours)
  • Begin drilling holes, making sure to drill completely through the PVC pipe
  • Drill holes beginning at one end of the pipe
  • Drill in a random pattern as you progress through the pipe

You can drill all of the holes (around 300) at once, but it gets a little confusing trying to find each holes exact match when there are so many holes. I found it easier to drill, insert skewer sticks, cut and glue 10 or so at a time without getting confused.

Step 6: Inserting Skewer Sticks and Gluing

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  • Insert skewer sticks completely through each of the drilled holes
  • Using a jewelry cutter tool, cut the sticks off at the PVC pipe surface
  • Place a dab of wood glue on both skewer stick ends
  • Rub the glue it in and around the exposed skewer stick with you finger, but leave a bit of a glob

Step 7: Half Way Through

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This is what the rain stick looks like half way through the process. Make sure to drill the holes randomly without trying to make a pattern. This will help create a more natural rain sound.

Step 8: Sanding

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After drilling, inserting, cutting and gluing about 300 holes and skewer sticks, lightly sand the entire PVC pipe with sand paper until smooth.

I used an electric sander with a 100 grit sander paper, but you can hand sand it if you prefer

Step 9: Faux Wood Texture

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  • Begin scraping the PVC pipe with a metal file and brush
  • Pull and push the file and brush in all directions, creating long and short grooves and gouges
  • Use sand paper to smooth off any shavings or sharp edges

Step 10: Add the Color

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  • Find an oil color that matches the type of wood your trying to emulate
  • Wipe it on with a rag, making sure to work it into all of the grooves and gouges
  • Let it dry completely

Since I used oil-based paint, it took several days to dry completely

Step 11: Finish Off the Ends

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  • Cap one end of the pipe with a cork that is approximately 1-1/2 inches wide at the center and approximately 1-3/4 inches at the largest end

I bought mine at a local hobby store

  • Push cork all the way in and rub in some of the same oil paint that you used to paint the PVC pipe

Step 12: Fill the Rain Stick

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  • Fill your rain stick with anything that makes a beautiful rain sound

I used approximately 2 cups of combined beans, peas, lentils and rice. But feel free to try other items

  • Since one end of the PCV pipe has already been corked, put your hand over the other end and tilt the pipe back and forth, listening to the sound
  • Keep adding or subtracting beans and such until you achieve the sound you like

If you like the sound, cap off the remaining end with a cork and paint it

Step 13: Voila

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This picture does not do it justice, but I couldn't find a way to portray it's beauty. It truly is amazing considering it is made from a PVC pipe, bamboo skewer sticks and some beans.

I hope you can see it's beauty and I hope you give this Instructable a try


Pashta (author)2017-12-06

I am so excited!! I just happen to have a bunch of skewers, pvc pipe, and wide corks, wondering what to make out of them. I will do this tomorrow when I go into my workshop!!! I'll add pictures when done!

Yoruk (author)2017-12-01

Very beautiful result !!!

KarenK116 (author)Yoruk2017-12-04

Thank you Yoruk

tonynemisit (author)2017-11-28

Great instructable . I am going to give that a try . The 'wood' grain effect looks great .

KarenK116 (author)tonynemisit2017-11-29

Thank you Tonynemisit. I'm so happy that your going to try making one. Please, please, please post up the pictures. Creating the wood grain effect is the best part of this project. It's fun to do and It really does look like wood grain when your finished.

grapenut (author)KarenK1162017-11-30

Thanks, Captain Crunch, Frankenberry, & Count Chocula were already taken; so I had to pick a cereal that doesn't get eaten by very many internet users I guess. But you're not the first person to find it humorous ; )

KarenK116 (author)grapenut2017-11-30


allen.benge (author)2017-11-28

This is a beautiful piece of craft work. I have made furniture, archery equipment and other items from PVC pipe, and this would be a unique gift item. I have seen many rain sticks, and find them peaceful and tranquilizing. I don't quite get the idea that someone would feel the 'need' for a rain stick, they are an interesting adaptation of a Native American item. Good work!

KarenK116 (author)allen.benge2017-11-29

Thank you for the kind words Allen. I must admit, It did turn out beautiful. A funny story about the need for a rain stick. We live in Colorado and so we get snow in the winter months. I made this stick a couple of years ago and that year we weren't getting much snow. So jokingly, I performed my version of a rain dance to make it snow. Well the next day we got a huge blizzard that dumped over a foot of snow. My husband banded me from using it the rest of the season. hahahahaha. We now call it a 'snow' stick . . . . I'm sure it was just a coincidence but it made for good conversation during the holidays

Chimonger (author)KarenK1162017-11-30

LOL! That is wonderful story! Love it!
I'd made a rainstick for my Dad, years ago. He was very tall and imposing stature; carried it to the banking work in San Francisco one day. Of course, people were curious. On break, he took it to the coffee shop nearby, that had 20' tall walls of windows on 2 great view of skies.
One co-worker insisted on trying it, despite Dad warning him that he'd left his umbrella or rain coat at work, so would get wet if he shook it the wrong way.... The guy shook it a little, and a few huge rain drops started splotching the huge windows, out of a nearly clear sky. He shook it some more, and rain increased to dripping down the windows. Shook it again, and it started a downpour. Needless to say, some very impressed, saucer-eyed co-workers then wondered what kind of man my Dad really was...or was it the tool, and was it because of it's maker? My rainsticks also kept the neighborhood kids impressed...rain would suddenly show up when they were used...might not always be much, but some. Always works better with a good story to go with it. Ambiance.

Chimonger (author)2017-11-30

Wow! Great instructable!
I've made rainsticks of PVC too...but never did the wood-tone coloring. I used a Dremel tool, to carve mystical symbols, colored using art paints and a wood burning tool. Used thin, flat-head nails set into the drilled holes in the PVC, held in place with a little melted PVC shoved over them. Otherwise, left them white colored. I used regular PVC end caps....but like that large cork much better....where do you get corks that big?
If you want to make it look like there's irregularities in the sides, lumps and bumps, for instance, you might try melting extra PVC onto the pipe, to look like branch stubs. A wood-burning tool and a Dremel tool, works PVC very nicely; those can actually help stick parts together. PVC glues or such, might help add some irregularities to the surface, too....just gotta make sure they are stuck-on really well, and blended-in with the pipe, so they don't chip-off during use.

YukonJulie (author)2017-11-29

Great instructable! I'd love to see a video of the finished product and hear what it sounds like with the items you've filled it with. I think traditional South American rainsticks use shells on the inside to create the sound effects, with thorns in the sides.

MillerI (author)2017-11-28

Me, too. (too soon?) I love the woodgrain technique and actually have a client project that will use this right away! I also don't have a use for a rainstick but thanks for the 'ible.

KarenK116 (author)MillerI2017-11-29

Thanks Miller1, Please post up some pictures if you create something using this technique

BillB263 (author)2017-11-28

If you are going to heat the pvc pipe up in order to bend it you could do it in a couple ways. If you want a specific shape of a bend you would need to make a jig to put it in after heating and leave to cool in that shape.
You could heat it in a couple different ways. Take a bucket of sand and heat it over a flame. Cap one end of your pipe and once the sand is good and hot pour it into pipe capping other end and bend it in your jig and leave to cool. This will also help keep the round shape of the pipe when bending and not allow kinks at your bend points.

Or you could build a steam bending oven (like for steam bending wood). The sand method seems easier.

KarenK116 (author)BillB2632017-11-29

Wow, these are ingenious ideas. I just might have to give one of them a go. I would like my rain stick to look more realistic with a few bends

StephenO2 (author)2017-11-28

Great job! Have a workshop with downspouts that would look better with your more organic look!

KarenK116 (author)StephenO22017-11-29

That sound like a fabulous idea StephenO2. Please post up some pictures :)

thatswho (author)2017-11-28

This is really beautiful. I would love to make one for my sister who
lives in a drought-prone area! But how did you get the cut ends of the
skewers so dark when they have a coat of glue on them? Also, what size is the pipe? Thanks.

KarenK116 (author)thatswho2017-11-29

Thank you ThatsWho (love the name). I do hope you make one of these for your sister. It truly would makes a beautiful gift. I sanded the pipe down after the glue dried and it exposed the wood in the bamboo. I guess the glue penetrated down below the surface. A few of the sticks came loose during the sanding process and I had to re-glue them, but they took the paint just fine. I used a 1-1/2 inch diameter and 36 inch long size of PVC pipe.

Alaskan Bev (author)2017-11-28

This is totally beautiful, KarenK116! Great 'ible with excellent photography and user-friendly directions. I never really thought about needing a rainstick (even though I am a musician) but now I see how incredibly I simply must have one! I love giving homemade gifts. Once I build my prototype I guess at least half the people on our list will be receiving them. I'm going to experiment with sizes, etc., and will let you know in a few weeks (or months). Thanks for your work and sharing.

KarenK116 (author)Alaskan Bev2017-11-29

Wow !!! Thank you for the kind words Alaskan Bev. I too love handmade gifts and this makes a perfect one. Please, please, please, if you make any, post up some pictures. And let me know how they sound. I experimented filling mine with several items before I settled on the beans, peas and rice.

grapenut (author)2017-11-28

2 thumbs up. Truly in the spirit of Instructables that I really like.

KarenK116 (author)grapenut2017-11-29

Thank you grapenut (I don't know the meaning behind the name, but I love it)

mmmilstead (author)2017-11-28

It is beautiful and I'm going to try it right away. I've been looking for years,

it looks more simple than I ever imagined , that's a good thing for me.

KarenK116 (author)mmmilstead2017-11-29

Oh I'm so glad your going to give it a go. Please, please, please post up some pictures. It is pretty simple but a bit time consuming drilling and gluing all of the holes, but stick with it. It is surprisingly beautiful considering it's made out of a PVC pipe

FerretPD (author)2017-11-28

I notice that you run the bamboo skewer all the way through...have you experimented with only drilling *one* side, and pushing the skewer 99% of the way in...leaving an item to be "plucked* by the beans that is much more receptive in vibration...? (yes, I realize that this effectively doubles the drilling requirements...but I think it might result in a prettier sound in the end)

KarenK116 (author)FerretPD2017-11-29

Wow, what a great idea. I might just have to give that a try. I bet the sound would be magnificent. Thanks for the ingenious idea.

isaacacheampong (author)2017-11-28

Everything was perfect...except "Viola"! Joking aside, this is a seriously impressive Instructable! Simple, ingenious and beautiful! Thank you so much for posting!

Bahhhhh, Thanks for catching that. I'm going to change that 'Viola' right now. Sometimes that spell checker gets me .... Baahhhhh. Thanks for the nice comments

JennyEW (author)2017-11-28

What a great idea! I looked at this Instructable to find out what a Rain Stick was. Very interesting, and this gave me inspiration to accent some down spouts at the house that are truly ugly! Thanks for this!

oragamiunicorn (author)2017-11-21

I cant see myself needing a rainstick anytime soon, but the pvc faux wwod technique is certain to be of use in the future. Just out of interest have you experimented with heating the pipe first to give some subtle shaping , breaking up the straight lines of the pipe to look a bit more organic?

PierreV21 (author)oragamiunicorn2017-11-28

Good suggestion !

KarenK116 (author)oragamiunicorn2017-11-21

wow, that is a great idea. I think heating it and shaping it such a great idea. I'm going to have to try that. Thank you for the comment

altomic (author)2017-11-22

I like the fake wood. very nice.

might use this method to make a "wooden" katana case

KarenK116 (author)altomic2017-11-22

Cool, I'd love to see a picture of it

dchall8 (author)2017-11-22

Pretty genius

KarenK116 (author)dchall82017-11-22

Thank you

jpmarth (author)2017-11-21

Nice job on the faux wood treatment! Looks great!

KarenK116 (author)jpmarth2017-11-21

Thank you

About This Instructable




Bio: Recently I read that there are over 60 million American households that participate in some form of crafting in a given year. Well, I am ... More »
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