A Homemade Whistle in Less Than a Minute




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In this Instructable I will show you how to make a quick whistle from a tin can.

When I was a kid we used to make these whistles out of jam tin lids. 

Apart from being a fun toy for kids, I think these whistles would be great working with dogs, directing cranes, or even to attract attention in an emergency. They are pretty loud and you don't have stick your fingers in your mouth - this can be a pain if you happen to be wearing gloves or your hands are dirty.
I have heard that similar whistles are popular with shepherds in New Zealand who use them for directing their dogs.

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Step 1: What You Will Need

1 lid from a tin can
duct tape

A drill with a bit about 3mm
hammer and centre punch
A small piece of ply or something to bend the tin around. About 4mm thick.
A knife for cutting the duct tape.

Step 2: Make the Tin Safe

Cut some duct tape into a strip about 10mm wide. Use this strip to cover the sharp edge of you tin lid.

Step 3: Make Your Whistle

Simply bend the tin lid in half around something (a piece plywood is perfect) that will maintain a gap of about 4mm between the two halves. Keep the ply in place and drill a 3-4mm hole right through the whistle. The hole should be about 5mm from the folded edge, about half way along.

Clean up any sharp bits from around the hole, and that's it.

Just look at the video to see how easy it is.

Step 4: How to Make It Whistle

This part is harder to explain than making the whistle...

Place the folded part of the whistler against the bottom of your tongue.
Push your tongue back with the whistle so the tip of your tongue points at the roof of your mouth.
Let you lips gently seal against the top and bottom part of the whistle.
Blow soft and hard and experiment with different mouth shapes until your make it whistle.
It might take a bit of practice to get started, but before long you will notice dogs and cranes desperately trying to follow your instructions.

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24 Discussions


11 months ago

As a kid that lived next to the rail-road tracks, we would pickup the banding straps that would fall off the rail cars or were left behind when they were off loaded. These were 7/8 inch wide with a 3/16 inch hole every inch. We would bend off a small strip that had 3 holes and fold in half lengthwise to make the wistle. Annoyed all the adults.


Reply 3 years ago

I had to laugh at Pattie076's comment
as I too use to make these out of bottle caps. Many years have
passed since then, and I forgot how to do it. I've been looking
through the internet for examples of them, and I was delighted to
find your instructions. I have dogs I need to train, and I wanted
something to get their attention – this definitely does the job!


4 years ago

I liked this whistle except for putting the metal lid in my mouth.
I finally tried an old credit card or hotel key. It wasn't quite as durable but easier to make and no unpleasant metal taste.
I even made one in a hotel room with the hairdryer to bend the plastic.

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

Great idea. Hope you didn't have trouble getting back into your room.


7 years ago on Introduction

Cool! Great instructions! It didn't take long, and was very satisfying in the end! Thanks!


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

It works as a dog whistle "as is" - this is what shepherds use to signal their dogs on the far side of a field.


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

It does take a bit of trial and error to figure out how to make it whistle, but once you get the technique it's easy.
I tried to explain how in the last part of the ible. But it's not easy to communicate in words.
Good luck.


8 years ago on Introduction

The whistle seems to get warmer or colder as you play it. Convection cooling and heating? Neat!