How to make a rain stick (with pictures)

How to make a rain stick (with pictures)
How to make a rain stick (with pictures)

If you like the sweet sound of falling rain, you can play it whenever you want by making a rain stick. This cylindrical musical instrument mimics the sound of rain when you tilt it side to side. Native to South America, it was created to call for rain during long periods of drought. You can make a rain stick with a tube, into which you stick nails or wooden sticks and pour a certain amount of rice, seeds or beans. The sound of rain is produced by the seeds or rice slipping through the tube as you tilt it and bouncing against the nails or thin wooden rods you have planted in the tube. In this article, we explain how to make your bamboo, PVC or cardboard rain stick to invoke the rain god or to simply add a new musical instrument to your collection.


Method 1 of 2: Create a bamboo rain stick

Make a Rainstick Step 1

Step 1. Obtain a good piece of bamboo

For the best sound, choose a piece of dry bamboo that is wide and long. The wider and longer the bamboo, the more the sound produced will be warm and rich in harmonics. You can prune your piece of bamboo yourself or buy a piece of the desired length from a nurseryman. Obtain a straight piece of bamboo without holes or bumps.

Make a Rainstick Step 2

Step 2. Dig your bamboo

If your piece of bamboo is not hollow, remove the material inside with a metal rod. When this is done, wrap a piece of sandpaper around the end of the metal rod and secure it with a small piece of string. Now clean the inside of the bamboo piece with the sandpaper in order to remove the rough edges. The interior must be perfectly smooth.

You can use a metal rod, but if you don't have one on hand, you can use a hardwood or plastic stick to sand the inside of your piece of bamboo with the sandpaper

Make a Rainstick Step 3

Step 3. Make marks on the surface of the piece of bamboo

Take a pen or a felt-tip pen and make dots on one side of the piece of bamboo, forming a pattern. You will drill holes in the places where you draw the points and you will later place the nails or the thin wooden rods that will penetrate into the bamboo tube and which are essential to obtain the sound of the rain. For example, draw a spiral pattern on the tube starting at the top of the piece of bamboo and ending at the other end. Draw a nice pattern that will serve as a decoration and make a lot of marks, the seeds that you will put inside the tube must have many obstacles on which to bounce.

Make a Rainstick Step 4

Step 4. Make holes at the locations of the marks

Make holes in the places where you placed the marks using a drill with a bit of a diameter slightly smaller or the same as that of the wooden rods that you will insert in the rain stick. Drill the tube gently, when you make a hole, you don't have to pierce the other side of the tube!

If you don't have thin wooden rods or a drill, you will be using nails. Hammer in the nails where you made the marks with a hammer. The nails should be long, but not too long, as they should not pierce the other side of the tube when you drive them fully in

Make a Rainstick Step 5

Step 5. Place the thin wooden rods

Take a wooden rod and coat the end with strong glue. Push the rod into a hole until it touches the opposite wall of the bamboo tube. Cut the end of the rod coming out of the tube with a small saw, pair of scissors, or wire cutters. Push in the other wooden rods and cut their ends. Continue until all the holes are plugged.

If you are using nails instead of wooden rods, ignore this paragraph

Make a Rainstick Step 6

Step 6. Allow time for the glue to dry

Let the glue dry for at least an hour before continuing to work on your rain stick.

Make a Rainstick Step 7

Step 7. Sand the rain stick

Take a sheet of fine sandpaper and sand the surface of the tube where you placed the wooden rods.

Make a Rainstick Step 8

Step 8. Close the bamboo tube

Cut two rounded pieces of wood the same diameter as the openings at the ends of your rain stick. Close one end of the tube by placing one of the wooden plugs that you have previously coated with strong glue. Keep the other cap, you must place the rice or seeds in the tube before closing your rain stick permanently.

If you don't have any wood, you can close your rain stick with pieces of plastic, cardboard or other material, having the necessary diameter to close the tube tightly. Coat them carefully with strong glue before sealing the ends of your rain stick

Make a Rainstick Step 9

Step 9. Pour gravel into the bamboo tube

You will get a different sound depending on the type of material used to create the sound of the rain. Fill the bamboo tube up to the eighth or quarter of its length with seeds, rice, gravel, plastic beads or small coins, etc.

  • If you fill the bamboo tube too much, you will not get a proper sound. Fill it up to a quarter of its length, but no more.
  • If you don't put enough seeds, rice, or gravel in the bamboo tube, you won't get a satisfying sound either. You should fill it up to the eighth of its length at a minimum.
Make a Rainstick Step 10

Step 10. Now cover the other end of your rain stick

Coat the second circular piece of wood you cut out with strong glue or wood glue and close the open end of your rain stick. Allow the glue to dry for at least an hour before using your instrument.

Method 2 of 2: Make a cardboard or PVC rain stick

Make a Rainstick Step 11

Step 1. Provide a thin, long tube

You can use both cardboard and PVC. If you choose to use PVC, sand the inside and outside of the tube with fine sandpaper or a sanding sponge.

Make a Rainstick Step 12

Step 2. Dot the tube with a pen

Mark one side of the tube in a pattern with a felt tip pen or a pen. You will insert thin wooden rods at the location of these marks to produce the sound of rain. Draw a spiral pattern on one side of the tube starting at the top of the rain stick and ending at the other end. Each mark should be two centimeters further and one centimeter above the previous mark.

Make a Rainstick Step 13

Step 3. Drill holes where you made the marks

Use a drill bit the same diameter as your wooden rods to punch holes where you drew the marks with a pen. Be careful not to puncture the other side of the tube.

If you don't have wooden rods, you can also hammer nails into the tube without making any holes with the drill first. Drive a nail in each spot where you made a mark. The nails should be long, but they should not puncture the opposite side of the tube

Make a Rainstick Step 14

Step 4. Insert the wooden rods

Coat the end of a wooden rod with strong glue and push it into the tube until it touches the other side. Cut off the protruding end of the tube with wire cutters, a pair of scissors or a small saw. Insert the other wooden rods into the tube and cut their ends until you have blocked all the holes.

  • If you have stuck nails in the tube, disregard the previous paragraph.
  • You can use strong glue specially designed for use with PVC. In the photographs, the glue we used is actually Gorilla PVC cement.
Make a Rainstick Step 15

Step 5. Let the glue dry for an hour

Do not touch your rain stick for at least an hour to allow time for the glue to dry properly.

Make a Rainstick Step 16

Step 6. Sand the surface of the rain stick

Remove any rough edges that may be in the locations where you placed the wooden rods by sanding the tube with sandpaper or a nail file.

Make a Rainstick Step 17

Step 7. Close your rain stick

Close the opening at one end of the tube with a circular piece of PVC or heavy cardboard the same diameter as the tube. Leave the other end open to place the seeds, gravel or rice in the rain stick.

Make a Rainstick Step 18

Step 8. Pour seeds into your rain stick

Pour seeds, rice, gravel, beans or whatever material you want into the tube, filling it up to one-eighth or one-quarter of its length. Cover it with one hand and tilt it with the other hand to listen to the sound produced. You can change the amount of material to change the tone and tune the instrument.

Make a Rainstick Step 19

Step 9. Seal off the other end of the rain stick

When you are satisfied with the sound obtained, place a circular piece of PVC or heavy cardboard with the same diameter as the tube on the open end after coating it with strong glue. Do not touch the tube for at least an hour to allow time for the glue to dry.

Make a Rainstick Step 20

Step 10. Decorate your instrument

Decorate your rain stick by gluing pieces of decorative paper on it and decorating it with Mod Podge. You coat the tube with glue then cover it with decorative paper and place a new layer of Mod Podge on the paper. Then let the glue dry before using your instrument. You can also paint your rain stick by creating custom designs.

Make a Rainstick Step 21

Step 11. Admire the result of your work

Dress appropriately to dance the rain dance!

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