Introduction: Soda Can Rainstick
240 cl of Soda and a Rainstick as Bonus !
Today I will explain how I made a Rainstick out of 12 tiny-cute 20cl soda cans. If you want to get
a grasp of how it sounds there's a sound sample after this text
Bill Of Materials:
- 12 small soda cans (20 cl)
- 1 black duct tape roll
- 1 Fiberglass reinforced transparent duct tape roll
- 1 bag of Lead Shot (see 3rd picture): these are tiny lead balls (normally used to kill birds I guess)
the one 1 found has lead balls whose diameter vary between 1.5 and 3.5 mm
- Can Opener (see the orange item, bottom-left of 2nd picture)
- Scissors (to cut duct tape)
- Universal pliers (see on left side of 2nd picture)
- Middle size Electrician Pliers (see 2nd picture)
- Metal Cutting Pliers (see 2nd picture)
Step 1: Cutting-out one end of each can
- Drink 11 of these 12 soda cans and rinse them. Important Notice: keep the 12th can separate,
it will be opened "from the bottom"
- For 11 of these 12 cans (one is teated another way), use the can opener to cut out the top aluminum
disc (with the stay-tab, see pictures 4 and 5)
- For the 12th can (let's call it "Can 12", stay upon a kitchen sink (to limit the effect of soda spurting all
Then open this can "from the bottom side" (with the Can Opener) without using the "stay-tab" opener
of the top side and cut-out out the base of the can. This 12th can will be at the top-end of the Rainstick
Step 2: Cutting and Shaping 10 "Valves"
- For 10 of the "normal" cans (leave one separate), you will now cut the bottom end of the can to make
a Valve, that is without removing it from the can (see pictures 6-9)
Important Notice: The objective is to build a "Lead shot brake" to allow the lead balls to fall not all
at once but instead to make them "flow" from on can to the next thus producing this characteristic
- Start by using the Can opener to start cutting a circle in the bottom of the can, you will have a 7 to
10mm wide notch
- Now use the Metal Cutting pliers to cut a valve and leave a length of 4 to 7mm of metal uncut
- Fold the valve so that it points outwards, then with Universal pliers) shape it so that it's like a kind
How to make the Helix: for making the helix, visualize the valve has three vertical bands and fold
the 2 outer bands in opposite directions (see pictures 10-12)
Reason for the helix: the helix pattern is to bring symmetry in the sequence of cans assembled
together (to allow continuous sound by rotating the Rainstick upside down)
Step 3: Preparing the Cans for easy flow of the Lead balls
- Now all these cans have lots of metal barbs which may "trap" the lead balls and prevent efficient
flow of the lead balls...
- So use the Electrician Pliers to flatten them along the inner aluminum wall of the can
Step 4: Rainstick Assembly Part 1
- Take the "valve-less" can from Step 3 (with the bottom-end uncut), this will be the start of our
assembly (the bottom of the Rainstick): let's call it "Can 1"
- Take one of the "valved" can (let's call it "Can 2") push its valve inside itself, and join its valve to
the empty top-end of Can 1
- Now use the black duct-tape to make a stable joint between these 2 cans
How to make joint to build a straight rainstick: if you join the cans vertically, this will probably
end as a "twisted tower" so as like me I guess you prefer the rainstick to be a straight stick (so
that it can be put vertically on its bottom can and be enough balanced to not fall).
To make a straight stick, I found that it's easier if you make all the joints by using the floor as
a "square rule" and for doing so the assembly must be done horizontally on the floor (a little
like when using a rolling pin to flatten a ball of dough)
- Continue the assembly with the next 10 "normal valved" cans, but with both
Inversing Valve orientation and Rotating Cans to make valves orthogonal to each other:
- Inversing the valve orientation: if the previous was pointing to the inside, the next has to point
to the outside and vice-versa
- Make valves orthogonal to each other: when joining the cans rotate the new can toward the
previous so that valves are each at 90 degrees from each other
Step 5: Rainstick Assembly Part 2
- Now you should have a stick with 11 cans
- Take "Can 12" (which was opened "from the bottom" in Step 1)and fill it with the Lead Shot balls
- Now there is a delicate step: join "Lead Shot filled" Can 12 with the 11 cans assembly Part 1.
If you manage it with enough caution, you should have only a small portion of the lead balls falling
out during this step (like between 25 and 50... remember these are tiny metal balls)
Step 6: Reinforce the Rainstick
- With the "black duct tape" joints the Rainstick is still fragile and must be reinforced to allow him
to last a long while (see pictures 17-20)
- Use the "Fiberglass reinforced transparent duct tape", put it at an angle of 30-40 degrees to the
bottom-end of the Rain stick ans wrap the duct tape along all the length of the Rain stick
- Now from the top-end of the Rainstick, re-wrap the Rainstick with the "Fiberglass reinforced
transparent duct tape" at an angle of 30-40 degrees to the top-end of the Rainstick and in opposite
direction with the previous wrap
Now enjoy your instrument !!
NB: nevertheless do not give it to young children without care as they may break it in a snap
(especially if they are 2 or more and try to catch it from another child's hands !)
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