How to Make a Bone Flute

Hobbyist flute-makers have fashioned flutes from almost any material imaginable. In 1996, the discovery of a bear bone with four holes along its side inspired amateur flute-makers to take up the art of making flutes from bones. Here's how you can use your flute-making skills to turn bone into a working flute.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill

  • File

  • Pointed chisel

  • Clear stain or lacquer

  • Sandpaper

Step 1

Find the right bone for your flute. Bone flutes are more novelty than they are for playing, although bone flutes do actually produce musical sounds. Use a bone that isn't too thin and brittle, and that will give you an inner diameter closely resembling the modern flute. The wing bone of a large bird, such as a turkey, or the leg bone of a lamb or other similar-sized animal are good bones to work with.

Step 2

Sand the interior of the bone. Bones are hollow, but there will be bone marrow on the inside. Find a stick that fits just under snug in the bore of your bone. Glue heavy-grit sandpaper around the stick and insert it inside the bone to ream smooth the interior bore.

Step 3

Shape the bone. Use a metal file to fashion the mouth end of the bone flute. File away any sharp edges that might get in the way when you play. Use a belt sander to achieve more drastic changes to the shape of the bone.

Step 4

Drill three holes starting an inch from the mouth end of the flute. Space the holes 1 inch apart. Drill carefully, using just enough pressure to break through the bone. Drill a fourth hole 1 inch from the opposite end of the mouth end. Clean out any broken bone fragments with the reaming tool you used to smooth the bore.

Step 5

Finish the bone flute to achieve the look you want. You may want to keep the raw, primitive look of the bone by itself. You can use a small, pointed chisel to etch your bone flute with primitive designs. You can stain it with a very light antique stain. The finished bone flute will make a fine conversation piece and produce diatonic musical notes.