Introduction: The Poong Stick ("Whistling Stick")

Picture of The Poong Stick ("Whistling Stick")

This is a neat, and very quick little toy that I first came across on the "Happy Scientist" website.

A couple of minute's work, and you have a toy to keep the kids happy, a fun craft activity, a hook for a fascinating science lesson, and probably the cheapest and quickest at that.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

All you need is a flat, thin piece of wood and something to carve it with.

I have successfully used lollipop sticks, tongue depressors, coffee stirrers and chip forks.

I guess it doesn't have to be wood, but it does need to be fairly rigid.

Step 2: What to Do

Picture of What to Do

The basic poong stick is simple - carve one end to about the thickness of a matchstick.

For your own comfort, carve, scrape or sand the narrow part to a more rounded cross-section.  Corners and sharp edges will cut your thumbs or increase the chance of blisters.

You don't have to stick with the plain, er, stick.  You can carve and shape to your heart's content.

The basic carving takes only a couple of minutes with a decent sharp knife.  I haven't tried, but if you add a sanding bit to your rotary tool, you could probably churn them out in seconds.

Step 3: Safety

Picture of Safety

OK, I don't really have to warn you about safe use of blades, do I?

But, when you throw a poong stick, it can fly off in unpredictable directions, and it has a narrow, pointy end.

If there are several people using poong sticks at once, you should seriously consider issuing eye protection, especially if you are doing this as a group activity with children.

Step 4: Using the Poong Stick.

Picture of Using the Poong Stick.

Hold the narrow section of the stick between whichever two digits you "click" with when you snap your fingers.  That's probably your middle finger and your thumb.

Snap your fingers to make the stick spin as rapidly as possible, and make a gentle throwing action at the same time - after a little practice, the stick will shoot out of your fingers in an odd, spiralling trajectory, making an odd poong sound as it goes (why do you think I changed the name to "Poong Stick"?).


Step 5: The Science Bit

Picture of The Science Bit

The Poong Stick generates sound as it spins - the air vibrates as it passes over the edges.

You can set your class the task of investigating how to vary the Poong Stick's sound - changing the length and width are obvious, but what about the thickness?  Or how rounded the edges are?

Does a Poong Stick with a varying width give a mixture of notes?  Does the material the stick is made of matter?

How would you measure the sound? 

Could you make a set of Poong Sticks that will play a tune??

Step 6: A Year Later...

Picture of A Year Later...

...and the school where I recorded that video doesn't exist any more, but the Poong sticks carry on.

I met Martin Raynsford at the Derby Mini Maker Faire 2012, and while I stood there, he drew up and cut a selection of Poong sticks (the middle one lives in my wallet now).


Kiteman (author)2011-07-23

Poong Stick merchandise is now available from The Complete Kiteman.

ZombieHades (author)2015-05-26

eilu made it! (author)2015-04-18

Made this one out of a popsicle stick using a swiss knife. Going to show it to my nephews and nieces later. :)

Kiteman (author)eilu2015-04-18


Jayefuu made it! (author)2014-02-04


Kiteman (author)Jayefuu2014-02-04

Awesome !

YankeesFisherman123 (author)2014-02-02

Awesome thnx man

You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it!

Jayefuu (author)2013-06-19

Someone handed out lollies at work today. Guess who had their Instructables leatherman out whittling within minutes.

Kiteman (author)Jayefuu2013-06-19

Hehe, LOL!

chubawabu (author)2012-04-14

amazing instructable.

Kiteman (author)chubawabu2012-04-15

Thank you.

coppertop8 (author)2012-03-31

Is it sad that I'm so entertained by this?

Kiteman (author)coppertop82012-03-31

Not at all!

iamdmc (author)2012-03-10

WOW! this is very fun! I used a popsicle stick and it worked! it has a range of noises, from medium high to very low. THANKS KITEMAN!!!!!!

Kiteman (author)iamdmc2012-03-11

You're very welcome!

thomasthetankengine (author)2011-06-07

Awesome! Making one right now. I have the materials in front of me. Could I use an X-acto knife?

Of course. Just remember to shave rather than hack.

Awesome! Thanks ;) made one..It's pretty simple but it still makes that awesome sound! Glad you could help me. Maybe a mass-produced version will pop up someday? –Thomas

Should not be too hard to mass produce, just need to get a cutting die made and find someone with a clicker press.

Ha, imagine a sweat-shop full of kids eating popsicles and then shaving the sticks...

Lol =P Ice cream shops might be strangely crowded after this 'ible...and whats a sweat-shop? Haha...I was at an international Future Problem Solvers competition over the weekend. Met kids from all over the world..England, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. It was in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Way to represent America, FPS. Lol ;) I will tell you what place I get out of the world. I was inly competing against 23 other kids and I got 1st for the State Bowl. I will probably get something will mean I'm the __ best FPSer in the whole world for my age group. Yay! Sorry for the long probably wouldn't normally listen to an American 12 year old for this long haha jk.

Redstormx1 (author)2012-02-23

These were used before the computer for sounds effects..

What happens if u attack a string to the end and just spin it around and around

Kiteman (author)Redstormx12012-02-23

I guess it would be a bull-roarer?

demmons1212 (author)2011-12-07

nice man nice

Kiteman (author)demmons12122011-12-08

Thank you.

kylekosan23 (author)2011-07-23

these things r amazing

Kiteman (author)kylekosan232011-07-23

Thank you!

kylekosan23 (author)Kiteman2011-07-23

ya theyre so addicting i play with then for hours in my room but y6our fingers start to hurt when you snap tham

batonas (author)kylekosan232011-10-06

use some sand paper to round it up

Kiteman (author)kylekosan232011-07-23

Mind you don't get blisters...

kylekosan23 (author)Kiteman2011-07-23

haha ya

jphillips15 (author)2011-09-23

So, are you going to make these commercially? I can help you if you want. mr.jesse.phillips [at] the gmails

bluesquirrel (author)2011-09-23

I just whipped up a simple one of these in about 5 minutes. I have 74 more Popsicle/craft sticks to experiment with now. Time to see what I can to with these! :D

Kiteman (author)bluesquirrel2011-09-23

Have you seen this challenge?

jphillips15 (author)2011-09-22

holy crap. Best thing ever!

scarabeetle101 (author)2011-08-21

I love these. I saw this 'ible on holiday but didn't get a chance to follow it until today. When I made mine it struck me that these would make fantastic business cards! Mind if I use this?

Kiteman (author)scarabeetle1012011-08-21

Go ahead!

Post a photo of them, if you can (you might want to blur any personal data, though).

Gunfreak2300 (author)2011-07-20

Step 1: Make this
Step 2: Wait until a friend is asleep
Step 3: While asleep, whisper, "We're under attack from aliens!", and throw the stick, multiple times.
Step 4: Profit!

kylekosan23 (author)Gunfreak23002011-07-23

haha il try it

~•SMART•~ (author)2011-07-08

Awesome! Widdled and spray painted mine digital camo.

Cool, but I think you mean "whittled" - "widdle" is what puppies do on newspaper...

(Any chance of posting a picture?)

Yes, I'll post one as soon as I can find it, they fly everywhere!

kelcylane (author)2011-07-07

!!!! i want to make these and teach my friends how to use them and give them to my friends at my birthday because that would be awesome!

Kiteman (author)kelcylane2011-07-08


You could even give them to friends who live away, because they'll fit in an envelope!

Science Swine (author)2011-06-24

Congratulations on number one hit on google for this!

Kiteman (author)Science Swine2011-06-24


bonnie13 (author)2011-06-24

I love the traditional toys, especially those using objects around the house. Some of the other projects are from original ideas and required more time and effort to design them.

dlcain (author)2011-06-22

Kiteman: These are a lot of fun. I just had my scouts make some of these. For some of them this was their first time carving something, and loved making them. It was a great way to teach them how to be safe with a knife, and make something fun. You've got my vote when the time comes. Great job!

Kiteman (author)dlcain2011-06-23

Thank you!

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
More by Kiteman:Fallen Astronaut 2Custom laser cut metal business cardsDashboard Phone Stand
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