Making A Wooden Ocarina

Ocarina is a Native American wind instrument. It is almost 12,000 years old. It always has a charming melody to it. Making your own ocarina is actually not that hard. All you need is the right piece of wood and some wood working instruments. Are you interested in making an aesthetic wooden Ocarina? Follow our article named “Making A Wooden Ocarina” to find out how.

If you’re someone who is struggling to find a project for a shop class, then this is just the project you need. You will most likely have all the tools at your disposal. The ones you won’t you can manage quite easily.

Gathering Up The Necessities

Before you start, you need to identify all the tools and materials you need and make sure you have them at your disposal. The things you need are:

  • Saw
  • Machete
  • Chisel
  • Sandpaper
  • Power/hand drill
  • Wood glue
  • Protective goggles
  • Face mask
  • Sweet Almond oil

These are the materials that you must have to make your ocarina. But if you have the resources to collect some better tools like electric ones, then we would suggest those as they are safer to use. They are quite easy to use as well. Some of them are:

  • Mitre saw
  • Disk and belt sander
  • Drill bit set
  • Chromatic tuner
  • Dremel

When you’re making an ocarina it is vital that you know the range of your instrument or how you want it to be. The smaller your instrument, the higher the pitch and vice versa.

You can use wood from Oaktree for making your ocarina. When choosing the wood, make sure the piece that you take is flat. Unless you have a wood cutting machine that would cut your wood evenly. Now that you have gathered everything, you can start making your wooden ocarina.

The Procedure

  • Cut Out The Top and Bottom

You have to start by outlining the desired shape of your ocarina on the piece of wood. This shape won’t include the mouthpiece. You will have to make the mouthpiece separately later.

  • Smoothening The Edges

Use your machete to cut the edges to size. Then use the sandpapers to smoothen them out. Take precautions so you don’t cut or sand too much.

  • Carving Out Plates

Use the chisels to carve out wood from the top and the bottom wood plates. The thinner the walls, the better. So, you can try giving it 1/4 inch thickness. You should probably wear gloves as there is a risk of getting your fingers cut. It is a lengthy process. Sometimes it takes 2-3 days just to get carve the wood from the wood plates.

  • Middle Lining

Trace both the top and the bottom plate one after the other. You can make it thicker than the top and bottom plates or you can make it as thick as them.

  • Mouthpiece Lining

Put your top or bottom plate and place it against a wooden piece. Now draw the outline for the mouthpiece. You can just cut it out with a saw. After cutting it, fix its shape using the machete and sandpaper. Trace the mouthpiece on the plates. You can cut out the top plate after you’re done.

  • Making the Air Passage

You can use a chisel to make the air passage. But if you have access to a miter saw, then you can use that as well. Follow these steps to make the air passage:

  • Drill the hole about 1/2 inch away from the edge. Make the hole as wide as a Popsicle stick.
  • Make a dado cut from the edge to the fipple hole. It should be 1/8 of an inch deep. Now make another cut 1/16 of an inch deep from the hole to the edge.
  • Now curve out the fipple hole from the bottom of the plate.

Once you’ve finished, cut out the mouthpiece plates and glue them all. Don’t put in too much glue as it can get inside the air passage. If any glue does still enter the passage, use a toothpick to take it out.

  • Arranging Them

Before arranging them, make a lining for the mouthpiece. Once finished, glue everything together. Use as much glue as necessary and clean any damp presence. Now let it dry for a day or two. Once it dries, smoothen them out with sandpaper.

  • Drilling for Holes

If you don’t have any idea about where the holes should be drilled, then check out some pictures from Google. But if you already know how to use an ocarina then you know where the holes are supposed to be.

You can just tell a friend to trace out the holes while you hold your fingers pointing over the location of the holes. And then you can just drill away.

After you are done drilling the holes, check out the tunes. If you have a chromatic tuner then it would all the more perfect.

Precautionary steps:

    • Don’t put too much pressure on the drill
    • Go at it by one size at a time
    • Since a wooden ocarina can’t get fixed, be extra cautious
  • Oiling

To keep ocarina working you have to oil it occasionally. This is the last step. Make sure you are done putting everything together and also with tuning. You can use sweet almond oil for this process.

When applying oil, close all the holes of your ocarina with your fingers. Then pour the oil through the fipple hole. Gently shake the ocarina until you feel like it has absorbed a decent amount of oil.

As for the outside part, apply oil on a piece of cloth first, and then rub your ocarina with that cloth. You don’t have to worry about applying too much oil since this will be the first time.

Bottom Line

Ocarina is an American instrument. They are usually made of other materials like plastic and ceramic as well. Plastic ones are cheaper ones. But wooden ones are for the aesthetics. You can color it as you desire and add it to your collection of ocarinas.

You can also read: Donner vs. Mooer

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