Introduction: Giant Xylophone Made From Bed Slats

About: Dan Goldwater is a co-founder of Instructables. Currently he operates MonkeyLectric where he develops revolutionary bike lighting products.

I made a giant xylophone by recycling the wood slats from an old bed!

Its a lot of fun to bang on. It is strong to survive.

Construction is simple and took about 4 hours. It has 16 notes.

I did not tune the notes, because the things that bang them do not care.

If you want your notes to be "in tune" - its possible, but it takes a lot more time.

You can also build it like this with rope supports: but you should read my steps about the correct note length and anti-node support locations.

Step 1: Bed Slats From a Discarded Bed...

I had these in the basement for a while, just waiting for a good idea.

First, remove the connecting strips.

Step 2: What You Need

Materials for 16 notes

  • Wood slats from an old bed
  • Wood 2x2, 6 feet long.
  • 16 lag bolts, 1/4" diameter. 2-1/2" long.
  • 16 washers, 1/4" size
  • 32 felt furniture pads, 3/4" or 1" size


  • Drill with 5/16" and 3/16" bits
  • Saw
  • Leather punch
  • Measuring tape

Step 3: Measure Your Notes

Measure your pieces in mm, it will make the length calculation much easier.

My longest piece is 760mm long. This is the lowest note.

Calculate the length of the next piece by dividing by 1.0595. This ratio gives you the "equal tempered scale" of notes.

For me, the 2nd piece length is: 760 / 1.0595 = 717mm. Write this onto the 2nd piece of wood.

For me, the 3rd piece length is: 717 / 1.0595 = 677mm. Write this onto the 3rd piece of wood.

Keep repeating until you have as many notes as you want.

Cut the notes to the lengths you wrote on them.

Do you want your notes to be "in tune"?

Variations in the thickness, density and knots in the wood all cause the notes to be a bit off. If you want to be "in tune": I recommend using google to search for other xylophone projects. Many of these explain the process of tuning the wood notes in detail. Summary: If a note is too low, saw it shorter. If a note is too high, use a sander to make it thinner near the center. You'll need to compare against a piano.

Step 4: Drill Mounting Holes at the Anti-nodes

The mounting holes must be placed precisely.

Check where you wrote the length onto the note. Multiply by 0.225 to get the mounting location.

For example: If my note is 760mm long: 760 x 0.225 = 171mm

Measure 171mm from the end of the note and drill a 5/16" or 3/8" hole. This is the "anti-nodal point" where the note does not vibrate when struck. If you put the hole anywhere else, it will prevent the note from sounding.

The mounting hole must be larger than the mounting bolt and allow the note to move freely.

Repeat this process, calculating the anti-nodal point for each note and drilling the hole.

Step 5: Drill Your Mounting Block

I used a 2x2 piece of wood to mount the notes. Other sizes could work too.

My notes are about 70mm wide. I drilled mounting holes about 90mm apart along the length of the 2x2.

Mounting holes are drilled at 3/16", to accept a 1/4" lag bolt.

Step 6: Prepare the Hardware

The notes need to be able to vibrate freely and not clunk against the mounts.

I used felt furniture pads. I punched 1/4" holes into them so they fit nicely onto the bolts. A strip of foam might work also. You need 2 pads for each note.

Step 7: Attach Bolt to a Note

Bolt goes through the hole in the note. Felt washer on both sides.

Step 8: Attach Notes to Mounting Block

Screw the notes into the mounting block.

Don't crush the felt pads. You want about 1/4" between the notes and the block, and also between the notes and the bolt heads.