How to Make a Bamboo Rainstick

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A traditional style bamboo rainstick
A traditional style bamboo rainstick (Image: Andy Brice, Creative Commons)

Rainsticks are musical instruments that create the sound of rain as you tip them from side to side. The origins of the rainstick are believed to come from a rattle similar to the rainstick which was used by Central and South American Indians.

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo
  • Hand saw
  • Metal rod
  • Long drill bit
  • Long file
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Wooden kabob skewers
  • Wood glue
  • Clippers
  • ½ inch thick piece of wood
  • Filler

Cut the bamboo to the desired length. Remove the material inside the bamboo with a metal rod or long drill bit. Use a long file, or piece of sandpaper attached to a rod, and file the inside of the bamboo rainstick until it's smooth. Use the sandpaper to file the ends if needed.

Drill holes into the bamboo about 1 inch apart in two spiral rows from top to bottom, using a drill bit that is the same size as the skewers. Put a dab of wood glue on the tip of the wooden skewers and push them into the holes until they are touching the other side. Repeat until all the holes are filled with a skewer.

Let the glue dry completely. Clip off the skewer ends sticking out of the holes and sand the nubs. Wipe the rainstick with a slightly damp cloth to remove any dust.

Cut two plugs from the ½-inch thick piece of wood to put in the ends of your rainstick. The plugs should fit snugly, but not too tight or you might split the bamboo. Put wood glue around the edge of one of the plugs and insert it into the end of your rainstick. Let the glue dry thoroughly.

Put filler into the rainstick using pebbles, sand, popcorn kernels, beads, beans, rice or anything else that gives you the sound you want. Experiment with different types and amounts of filler until you get the sound you like. Test the sound as you fill the rainstick by placing a cloth over the open end and tilting the rainstick to check the sound.

Put wood glue on the second plug and insert into the end of the rainstick. Set aside to let it dry completely. Decorate your rainstick with bits of leather, feathers or other items as desired.

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