How to Carve an Ocarina Out of Wood




Introduction: How to Carve an Ocarina Out of Wood

About: recently unemployed, I like to make things just to see if I can,

In this instructable you will learn how to carve and ocarina out of wood!
From Wikipedia:
The ocarina. Variations do exist, but a typical ocarina is an enclosed space with four to twelve finger holes and a mouthpiece that projects from the body. It is often ceramic, but other materials may also be used, such as plastic, wood, glass, clay, and metal.

Ok Audio sample uploaded at Utube

Step 1: Tools an Materials

Materials required: 4" X 1 3/4" X 1 1/4" block of wood ( I used bass wood)
4" X 1 3/4" X 1/8" sheet of wood ( I used bass wood)

Tools required : pen, pencil, steel ruler, 1/4" chisel, small carving chisel, small skewed chisel
various small files, 150 sand paper, 220 sand paper, drill bits or a unibit

Optional tools and materials : carving knifes, gouges, and wood burner, Kiwik-wood for repairs

Step 2: Making Marks on the Block

Start by marking the long sides of the wood block with your pencil or pen for 1/8" in.
You can use the sheet that will become the top of the ocarina to do this.

Next use your steel ruler to mark one end 5/8" in this is where the airway will go.

On the other end make the end 5/32" in.

Next on the 5/8" side mark a 1/2" wide channel, this will be your airway.
I have marked it with red stripes for clarity.

Step 3: Start Carving the Chamber


Begin carving the inside of the ocarina by scoring the lines with red arrows pointing to them with the
chisel facing out. (As a side note; if you have a router you could probably rout out the inside.)

Again using the chisel start digging out the inside by working the chisel to the score mark.
As you carve up to the edge continually score it to keep the walls as clean as possible.

Stop part of the way down and cut the airway .Carve slivers at a time and Finnish it with a file.
Some notes on the air way it is shaped like a ramp, and starts big and end small with the width remaining the same.
The air way at the end that you blow should be about 2/32" and the end that is part of the cavity should be about 1/32".

Ok set this part aside and for now and get the sheet that will be the top of the ocarina out.

Step 4: Making the Fipple

This next part is important, it is called the window or fipple.It's what makes the sound.
Draw a line 5/8" in across the width. On this line draw a rectangle about 1//2" X 1/4" indicated by the red.
using the 1/2" chisel ,small chisel and the small skewed chisel cut the square out and clean it with a small file.
Once you Finnish cutting out the rectangle draw a second rectangle behind it about 1/2" long indicated by the blue.
Use the 1/2" chisel and (or) the small chisel to carve out a ramp. This ramp should look like the end of your 1/2" chisel.
I have included a picture of a cross section so there is no doubt as to what this part should look like.
just a couple of minor details make a small angle on the bottom as indicated by the red and sand
 flat sand the entire bottom with 220 sandpaper.

At this point put the two parts together and blow, you should be hearing a tone!
And no you don't need to glue it yet, just press the two parts together.

Step 5: Remove More Material Until You Get a C Note

now go to the online tuner.
Now blow and look at the note that is displayed. In my particular instance it's an F5.
Music notes go like CDEFGABC . Since we want the Ocarina to be a C we will need to
remove more material until we get a C, which will likely be a C5.
with the little blue arrow at the bottom as close to "0" as possible.
If you a get a funny little "b" that is flat or a pound symbol "#" that is a sharp.
(for the purposes of this instructable and for those who don't know about music)
While trying to get a "C" if you get a a flat (funny little "b") the tone is on the low side . If its a sharp (pound #) the tone is on the high side.
If it's sharp remove material. If it's a flat and you removed too much material you can put some back by putting small pieces of wood in the chamber, but you probably won't need to.
I have included a fingering chart. the black dots are the holes you cover to get the note.

Step 6:

Making the tuning holes
 this part is complicated.
A little more on music so bear with me.
(for the purposes of the instructable)
music notes start with a C, then D,E,F,G,A,B and the next C up.
This is called an octave (8 notes).
If you did everything correctly you should be getting a C5 on the tuner which is
one octave above middle C (C4, middle C is the middle C key in a keyboard)

Thing to keep in mind while drilling your tuning holes, start with a small hole and increase the size until you hit the desired note.

The holes are #1 top right, #2 bottom right, #3 top left, and #4 bottom left.

their placement isn't too critical

Start with the #1 hole and start small and keep going up in size till you hit a D note.Remember to clean the holes with 150 sandpaper after drilling.
Then continue with hole #2. To tune #2 you have to cover #1 (the one we just made) keep going to you hit an E note.
(you get an F by leaving 1& 2 open incase you were wondering)
Now the #3 hole. To tune the #3 hole you must cover the #2 hole and leave the #1 open until you get a G
For the 4th and final hole you can cover hole #1 and tune for B or leave them all open and tune for a C.
If the last note doesn't seem to work try blowing softly.

Once your done tuning it. Glue the top on and carve out a mouth piece to make it comfortable to blow on.

Step 7: Finnish and Play!!

That's it!!!! Your done!
If you like you can spray paint it, stain it, carve it, burn it , and or urathane it. 
Here are some sites that contain ocarina tablature ( sometimes called fake music).
It shows you where to put your fingers to play a song.

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    5 years ago

    Many thanks for this - I had fun making it, it only took a few hours, it sounds MUCH better than I expected, and I am going to make another using what I learned from the first one. Here are a couple of things I learned that might help others:

    1. Your instruction for Step 2 says to mark 5/32" in from the bottom end of the block. But judging by the proportions in the picture, it looks to me as if you actually marked 5/16". (The area marked does not look like 1/4 of the area at the mouthpiece end, which you have a 5/8" - measuring it on the picture it is 1/2 of the depth of the mouthpiece area, which would be 5/16".) I went with 5/16", which also made me feel less nervous about chiseling towards it.

    2. I wished you had mentioned roughly how far to dig down before beginning to test for tuning, as I was nervous at first about going too far. Estimating from your pictures, I went down about 1/2" and was paranoid from there on in, but it was fine - I had a fair bit more digging to do before I reached C. I forgot to measure the final depth before gluing the lid on - maybe I'll do it next time. (Tip for idiots like me: if you get no sound, check that in your joy at finishing you did not glue the lid on the wrong way up!)

    3. Cutting the holes precisely for tuning is the hardest part (at least for someone at my level of woodworking). My first one has a #2 hole that is a fraction too big, which messes up some of the ratios, though it still sounds pretty good overall. I think I'll do better with the next one. Getting a unibit helped a lot. The online tuner can be replaced with one of the many free tuning apps for mobile devices.

    4. I had read online that some wood ocarinas are coated inside to protect from moisture, so I coated the inside with some polyurethane, wondering if it would change the internal volume enough to mess up the tuning. It did, and I ended up doing some more carving to re-tune. I may experiment with a future one with tuning it a little flat and then varnishing inside.

    Thanks again!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    A wood carving tip for step 3: A drill, or better a drill press, can be used to quickly remove most of the material, leaving the chisel for cleanup. A piece of tape around the bit can be used to gauge depth if you don't have a drill press. By the way, how deep was your chamber before you started tuning?

    Also, can we get the audio sample in a compressed format, like .mp3?


    10 years ago on Step 7

    Finish*. Finnish means from Finland, not complete. Sorry if I'm acting like a grammar Nazi, but the little things make a large difference to the meaning of a sentence.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction



    10 years ago on Step 4

    Once you *finish* cutting out the rectangle draw a second rectangle behind it about 1/2" long indicated by the blue.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Would it still work if i place the part you blow in on the side like a sweet potatoe?


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    umm I don't know, but I don't see why not. Bass wood is inexepensive so you can experiment.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Where could i buy bass wood? can i just go to a home depot or a craft store?


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know where you are but I get mine from a woodworking store called
    There might be store or one similar to you, you could also look on line.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    actualy you could carve one out that actualy looks like a sweet potato and it would work. If you have one all you would have to do is copy it.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    U tube link added


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yes I really want to hear it compaired to a clay ones like the songbird occarinas.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for all the positve comments!
    I am working on an easier to make version that just uses 1/8" sheet wood.
    It should be up by tonight or tomorrow.


    11 years ago on Step 7

    Bravo, Bravo. Very nice tut. I didn't read much except the tuning section but the pics by themselves explained it. I made one for all my friends :) again nice.