Make a Whistle From Bottle-tops.




About: The answer is lasers, now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Find me on Reddit, Tumblr and Twitter as @KitemanX

We've all heard the amazing loud "survival whistles" made from bottle-tops or acorn caps.

I wanted to make something more ... controlled.

(you can probably work out what to do just by looking at the photo, but read on.)

Step 1: What You Need

I made this with two soda bottle caps and a piece of drinking straw, using hot-glue, my Leatherman and a drill with a twist-bit for wood (I'll warn you in advance that the hole in the caps must be drilled - if you melt the hole, the edges will be too rounded to make the whistling noise you need).

Step 2: Drilling and Ripping

Drill a hole in one of the caps, somewhat off-centre.

Inside the cap, rip out the lining of the cap from around the hole - this makes the edge of the hole thinner, and better at splitting the air.

Step 3: Gluing

Once you've ripped out the liner, glue the two lids edge-to-edge.

I used hot-glue, because the two caps had slightly wonky edges.  The hot-glue filled in the gaps nicely.

Step 4: Adding the Straw

Squash a piece of drinking straw into a flat oval, and experiment with positioning it at the hole whilst blowing.  It needs to blow across, yet slightly downwards.

When you have the best position figured out, tack the straw in place with a couple of drops of hot-glue, check again that the position is correct, then add more glue around the straw to hold it in place.

I also trailed a couple of strings of glue over the straw, with the idea that they would keep the straw in the correct oval shape.  I don't know if they are actually needed, but they didn't damage anything...

Anyhoo, there you go - the whistle has a pleasant tone, a bit like a small train-whistle, and is not so loud that small children will run screaming from the room, or get in major trouble for playing with it in the house.

Step 5: Modifications

Randofo challenged me for a video.

I got the whistle back off my son, and made one.  I also decided to modify the whistle to play more than one note.

I held the whistle on its side, noted where my index finger lay, and drilled a 3mm hole there (after moving my finger out of the way...)

The result is a nice warble, something like the small plastic ocarinas kids play at school.

Maybe I'll make a larger version, and add enough holes to actually play a tune?



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    37 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 5

    I'm gonna make this right now!!!!!
    O, wait, homework first...
    I'm gonna make this a.s.a.p!!!!!

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 5

    Is that you because Wilgubeast's picture of you as Feature Author was different.

    You look younger...

    2 replies
    Dream Dragon

    7 years ago on Introduction

    A very small and simple "Ocarina". Pitch is affected by the size of the holes, and can also be adjusted by "Shading", bring something CLOSE to the hole don't cover it completely and notice the change in pitch, (about a semi tone). It's the way a "Bosun's Call" works.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    mine isn't working - what size hole did you drill here? i noticed the side hole is 3mm, but you don't mention the size of the top hole.

    also, i wonder if the size of the straw matters - both width AND length.

    once i get this to work, i was thinking of trying two peanut butter lids and a barrel from an ink pen.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    i had to make a really big hole for it to work
    just try making a hole then blowing over it if it doesnt sund make it bigger


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 2

    The whistle is very sensitive to the precise angle the air hits the edge of the hole, and I found that it worked better when I slightly flattened the straw.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    i tried very hard to use the wistle and every time i found the spot for the straw and picked it up to put glue underneath it it lost all its sound and didnt work. i also couldnt get the straw to stay flat. HELP!!!!

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The straw will stay flat enough if you squeeze it hard and crease it.

    If the position is proving fiddly, try a small blob of modelling clay or blue tac:

    Stick the straw roughly in place, then fiddle until it's right, and while the clay holds the straw still, glob around it with the hot-glue.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice whistle!

    How did you enter this in the contest? I thought it was only open to those who live in the US or Canada? Have I been missing something?

    I haven't made any contest entries because they all say that you can't enter if you live in the UK.


    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    But, if you were to win, to where would you send the prizes? Or would instructables just refuse to send them to you and send them to second place instead?

    You got my vote nonetheless.