Introduction: Rainstick Made From Wood Window Blinds

Picture of Rainstick Made From Wood Window Blinds

A rainstick is a long, hollow tube which is filled with small pebbles or beans and has small pins or thorns arranged hectically on its inside surface. When the stick is upended, the pebbles fall to the other end of the tube, making a sound reminiscent of a rainstorm as they bounce off the pins. Rain sticks have become very popular in the last 200 years, and are often sold to tourists.
The rainstick is believed to have been invented in Peru, and was played in the belief that it could bring about rainstorms.

- Wikipedia -

My version or the rainstick is a bit less exotic. I decided to make it out of an old wood window blind I had in my garage for years. The idea comes from this excellent video from Steve Ramsey. I reproduced his version of the rainstick. My 2 cents are for the recycling of these old wood window blinds.

My kid, Thomas, showing the final result.

Step 1: Deconstruct the Blind

Picture of Deconstruct the Blind

You need 6 boards out of the blind to build a full length rainstick.  If you want to make a smaller instrument, you can cut these in half and use only 3 boards.

Except for the boards, there is not much to save in an old blind. I saved the boards, the control ropes and sent everything else to the garbage.

Step 2: Cut 30 Degrees Bevels on the Sides of the Boards

Picture of Cut 30 Degrees Bevels on the Sides of the Boards

On a table say, cut 30 degrees bevels on both sides of the boards. This will end up making an hexagon tube. To make a tube with more sides, adjust the angle so that the total always sum to 180 degrees.

Since these are thin boards, it may be difficult to cut it perfectly right. Thin boards can bend if too much pressure is applied while cutting.

Step 3: Assemble the Boards With Tape

Picture of Assemble the Boards With Tape

It is now time to assemble the tube. Lay down the boards, bevels down, over a flat surface. Align all boards at one end using a square or a straight board.

Once the boards are perfectly aligned, tape all the pieces together using masking tape. Start by applying three perpendicular pieces of tape and then apply long pieces over the joints. Make sure the surfaces are clean so that the tape stick firmly to the boards.

Step 4: Apply Glue and Close the Tube

Picture of Apply Glue and Close the Tube

Turn the assembly on the other side and fill the bevels with wood glue. Spread the glue evenly along the bevels to maximize the strength of the joints.

Close the tube using masking tape. Once the tube is closed, "clamp" the assembly using multiple pass of masking tape. Let the assembly dry for a few hours.

Step 5: Cut the Two Ends

Picture of Cut the Two Ends

Pick any pieces of scrap wood in your shop to make the two ends of the rainstick. To make sure it fits both ends, trace the shapes using the ends of the drying tube. The assembly is not perfect so this will insure you that the ends will fit the shape of the tube.

Once both ends are cut, find the center of the pieces and drill a hole the size of the wood dowel you will use for the project. I used a Fostner bit to make the hole and stopped about 1/16" before piercing the other side so we dont see the wood dowel when the rainstick is finished.

Step 6: Cut the Wood Dowel to Length

Picture of Cut the Wood Dowel to Length

Then length of the dowel must be the length of the tube plus twice (2 ends) the depth of the holes you made on both end caps. Not much to say here ...

Step 7: Glue One End to the Wood Dowel

Picture of Glue One End to the Wood Dowel

Glue one end of the tube to the wood dowel. This assembly will hold the metal baffles in the rainstick. While the tube ant these parts are drying, start cutting the metal baffles.

Step 8: Cut Expanded Metal Lath Baffles

Picture of Cut Expanded Metal Lath Baffles

The number of baffles you cut depends on the length of your rainstick and on your patience. Cutting all these small screens is not the most interesting part of the project. I stopped after 18 of these. That make an average of 2.5" between each baffle in the tube.

The expanded metal lath I used is made to apply plaster on irregular surfaces. Make sure to wear gloves because the the lath is very sharp.


Step 9: Assemble the Baffles on the Wood Dowel

Picture of Assemble the Baffles on the Wood Dowel

Mark the location of all baffles on the wood dowel and put it all in place. Once all baffles are in place, use a glue gun to fix it to the dowel.

Try to align them as much as you can. You will be able to make some minor ajustement when inserting the assembly into the tube.

Step 10: Rainstick Final Assembly

Picture of Rainstick Final Assembly

The final step. Insert the baffles into the tube. While pushing the it in the tube you may have to cut some miss-aligned baffles to be able to fit it in the tube.

Once the baffles are in place, glue the end to the tube and let it dry for about an hour. Then, add one to two cups of rice or whatever you want to produce sound. You can try different materials to obtain the sound you want before to glue the other end. 

Once the tube is filled with the material of your choice, glue the other end to the assembly and let it dry.

Because there are small holes in the boards to let the ropes pass through, you will need to find a way to close it. I opted for black electrical tape.

Step 11: You Are Done!

Picture of You Are Done!

You are done! The sound of this rainstick is a bit metallic but the site allows easily to produce rain sound for more than 15 seconds.

The kids love it. That is a good way to initiate kids do exotic musical instruments ... until they break it and spill the rice all over the place.

Comments

marian1936 (author)2010-08-05

Clever design idea. I would like the look of the wood. Good idea using the black tape, too. I did a simpler one, using a cardboard tube (from gift wrap). Drilled skewer-sized holes ~1" apart in the spiral seam of the tube, inserted a barbecue skewer into each hole, cut off the remainder with a small wire cutter and added a dot of glue. The skewer was inserted until it touched the opposite side. I put a dot of glue onto the leading end of the skewer so it would adhere to the inside of the tube. Glued a cardboard end piece at one end. Let it dry overnight. Added rice and closed the other end. Then deccoupaged brown paper bag pieces onto the tube to cover those holes and give the appearance of bark or old leather. Rubber stamped onto some of the pieces (horses, western style motifs, coyotes, etc.). I wrapped some jute or raffia around one end and tied it. One could glue real bark pieces onto the tube instead of paper. The grandkids enjoyed it for years.

pchretien (author)marian19362010-08-05

Hi, Thanks for the great comments. I invite you to look at the Steve Ramsey video that inspired this project. He is actually the best woodworking vlogger on the web!

marian1936 (author)pchretien2010-08-06

Can you lead me to his site, please?

momoluv (author)2016-04-03

This is cool :-)

jreidy1 (author)2011-06-16

My inspiration too.
http://www.woodworkingformeremortals.com/2010/07/rainstick.html

I used chicken wire that I folded over itself several times and stapled to my dowel. I used white rice for my noise makers.

What was really cool is I had some antique (well 60 year old) Costa Rican mahogany that I used.

Wood Working for Mere Mortals is a great page and really inspirational.

Peace,

j

pchretien (author)jreidy12011-06-16

Can you post some pictures? Yes, Steve is doing a tremendous job with it's channel/blog. Posting one project a week is a lot of work.

NutandBolt (author)2010-07-28

Great Recycling solution, second life for old blind, beautiful instructable and great video ;-)

pchretien (author)NutandBolt2010-07-28

Thanks a lot! I have about 12 boards left ... any idea what I could with it?

ZackBlack (author)pchretien2010-08-06

at 6 boards each 12 "extra" boards = 2 more rain sticks!

pchretien (author)ZackBlack2010-08-08

Ah ah ... yep, good math but with a full time job and two kids I'll spend my time on designing something new! :) Thanks for the comment!

glorybe (author)2010-07-27

Summing the bevels to 180 degrees is not a good description. I am aware that it works if the person considers six boards with two bevels on each board but it is better to suggest that 12 bevels would equal 360 degrees. Using 360 degrees and counting bevels suits the mind better.

pchretien (author)glorybe2010-07-28

Since all bevels are of equal angle, I think both definitions can be used.

crapflinger (author)2010-07-27

the "screen" is "expanded metal lath"

pchretien (author)crapflinger2010-07-27

Thanks ... I'll fix that!

ChrysN (author)2010-07-27

Looks and sounds great!

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