How to Make a Bone Flute

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Make a Bone Flute
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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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