PVC Pipe Rain Stick

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About: Recently I read that there are over 60 million American households that participate in some form of crafting in a given year. Well, I am one of them . . . . . I love crafting !!! So please enjoy some of my...

Some time ago I saw an Instructable on how to make PVC pipe look like real wood. I wanted to try out the technique so I decided to make this beautiful rain stick

Definition of a Rain Stick: a percussion instrument made from a dried cactus branch that is hollowed out, filled with small pebbles, and capped at both ends. When slightly tilted, it makes the sound of falling rain.

BUT I made one out of PVC pipe!

I have entered this in the PCV Pipe Contest so your vote would be appreciated

Step 1: What You Will Need

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5: Drill Holes Through the PVC Pipe

  • Cut your PVC pipe to approximately 36 inches length (or however long you want yours)
  • Begin drilling holes, making sure to drill completely through the PVC pipe
  • Drill holes beginning at one end of the pipe
  • Drill in a random pattern as you progress through the pipe

You can drill all of the holes (around 300) at once, but it gets a little confusing trying to find each holes exact match when there are so many holes. I found it easier to drill, insert skewer sticks, cut and glue 10 or so at a time without getting confused.

Step 6: Inserting Skewer Sticks and Gluing

  • Insert skewer sticks completely through each of the drilled holes
  • Using a jewelry cutter tool, cut the sticks off at the PVC pipe surface
  • Place a dab of wood glue on both skewer stick ends
  • Rub the glue it in and around the exposed skewer stick with you finger, but leave a bit of a glob

Step 7: Half Way Through

This is what the rain stick looks like half way through the process. Make sure to drill the holes randomly without trying to make a pattern. This will help create a more natural rain sound.

Step 8: Sanding

After drilling, inserting, cutting and gluing about 300 holes and skewer sticks, lightly sand the entire PVC pipe with sand paper until smooth.

I used an electric sander with a 100 grit sander paper, but you can hand sand it if you prefer

Step 9: Faux Wood Texture

  • Begin scraping the PVC pipe with a metal file and brush
  • Pull and push the file and brush in all directions, creating long and short grooves and gouges
  • Use sand paper to smooth off any shavings or sharp edges

Step 10: Add the Color

  • Find an oil color that matches the type of wood your trying to emulate
  • Wipe it on with a rag, making sure to work it into all of the grooves and gouges
  • Let it dry completely

Since I used oil-based paint, it took several days to dry completely

Step 11: Finish Off the Ends

  • Cap one end of the pipe with a cork that is approximately 1-1/2 inches wide at the center and approximately 1-3/4 inches at the largest end

I bought mine at a local hobby store

  • Push cork all the way in and rub in some of the same oil paint that you used to paint the PVC pipe

Step 12: Fill the Rain Stick

  • Fill your rain stick with anything that makes a beautiful rain sound

I used approximately 2 cups of combined beans, peas, lentils and rice. But feel free to try other items

  • Since one end of the PCV pipe has already been corked, put your hand over the other end and tilt the pipe back and forth, listening to the sound
  • Keep adding or subtracting beans and such until you achieve the sound you like

If you like the sound, cap off the remaining end with a cork and paint it

Step 13: Voila

This picture does not do it justice, but I couldn't find a way to portray it's beauty. It truly is amazing considering it is made from a PVC pipe, bamboo skewer sticks and some beans.

I hope you can see it's beauty and I hope you give this Instructable a try

PVC Contest 2017

First Prize in the
PVC Contest 2017

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    46 Discussions

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    Chimonger

    1 year ago

    Wow! Great instructable!
    I've made rainsticks of PVC too...but never did the wood-tone coloring. I used a Dremel tool, to carve mystical symbols, colored using art paints and a wood burning tool. Used thin, flat-head nails set into the drilled holes in the PVC, held in place with a little melted PVC shoved over them. Otherwise, left them white colored. I used regular PVC end caps....but like that large cork much better....where do you get corks that big?
    If you want to make it look like there's irregularities in the sides, lumps and bumps, for instance, you might try melting extra PVC onto the pipe, to look like branch stubs. A wood-burning tool and a Dremel tool, works PVC very nicely; those can actually help stick parts together. PVC glues or such, might help add some irregularities to the surface, too....just gotta make sure they are stuck-on really well, and blended-in with the pipe, so they don't chip-off during use.

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    KarenK116Chimonger

    Reply 1 year ago

    Again, sorry for the late response Chimonger, I love this idea. I am definitely going to add a stump to mine. I bet that looks awesome. Do you have any pics?

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    ChimongerKarenK116

    Reply 1 year ago

    Sorry, wish there were pics! I'd used 2" d. white PVC pipe; used a dish scrubby sponge to scrub off the painted-on lettering. I got plain pipe caps for each end, but there's other interesting PVC parts, in case one wants to get very creative.
    Then used a dremel tool to etch-out designs on it. Since this was a "plastic cactus", I used small flat-head nails in pre-drilled holes, in a double spiral around the pipe, locked-in by using a wood-burning tool to melt a tiny bit of the plastic pipe over each nail head to hold them in place permanently, as the pins for the tiny gravel to make the rain sound; I gathered tiny pea gravel, or fish tank gravel, or tiny shells or stones, to put inside.
    Once the nails and rocks were ready/assembled, the end caps can be closed-up....whether they are glued on using pipe cement, or pinned in place using small screws, for future disassembly, is up to the maker. Once the designs were as wished, I used acrylic art paints or permanent markers to color or highlight them.

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    KarenK116Chimonger

    Reply 3 months ago

    Wow, what a great idea. I must try your instructions

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    ChimongerKarenK116

    Reply 3 months ago

    I really like your use of wood skewers; those would have a softer more organic sound, than the metal nails I used!
    Wonder if using a propane torch might help kinda melt-soften the pipe, allowing to deform it slightly, so the shape is more organic?

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    eguevaraz1

    5 months ago

    I make one similar a 5 or 6 years ago but replace the stick with a ... mmmm ... I don´t know the name on english In México is named "Malla de gallinero" it comes in 90-120 cm width and I buy the lenght of the pipe + 20 cms rolled and pushed inside the pipe. doing that i skip the process with stick (Drilling, glueing and cutting)
    The decoration was on chrge of my son, he was 6 or 7 at this time it was an scholar project.
    Here is the "Malla de gallinero" https://www.construactivo.com/mallas-alambres/1631...

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    allen.benge

    1 year ago

    This is a beautiful piece of craft work. I have made furniture, archery equipment and other items from PVC pipe, and this would be a unique gift item. I have seen many rain sticks, and find them peaceful and tranquilizing. I don't quite get the idea that someone would feel the 'need' for a rain stick, they are an interesting adaptation of a Native American item. Good work!

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    KarenK116allen.benge

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you for the kind words Allen. I must admit, It did turn out beautiful. A funny story about the need for a rain stick. We live in Colorado and so we get snow in the winter months. I made this stick a couple of years ago and that year we weren't getting much snow. So jokingly, I performed my version of a rain dance to make it snow. Well the next day we got a huge blizzard that dumped over a foot of snow. My husband banded me from using it the rest of the season. hahahahaha. We now call it a 'snow' stick . . . . I'm sure it was just a coincidence but it made for good conversation during the holidays

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    ChimongerKarenK116

    Reply 1 year ago

    LOL! That is wonderful story! Love it!
    I'd made a rainstick for my Dad, years ago. He was very tall and imposing stature; carried it to the banking work in San Francisco one day. Of course, people were curious. On break, he took it to the coffee shop nearby, that had 20' tall walls of windows on 2 sides...so great view of skies.
    One co-worker insisted on trying it, despite Dad warning him that he'd left his umbrella or rain coat at work, so would get wet if he shook it the wrong way.... The guy shook it a little, and a few huge rain drops started splotching the huge windows, out of a nearly clear sky. He shook it some more, and rain increased to dripping down the windows. Shook it again, and it started a downpour. Needless to say, some very impressed, saucer-eyed co-workers then wondered what kind of man my Dad really was...or was it the tool, and was it because of it's maker? My rainsticks also kept the neighborhood kids impressed...rain would suddenly show up when they were used...might not always be much, but some. Always works better with a good story to go with it. Ambiance.

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    KarenK116Chimonger

    Reply 1 year ago

    Sorry Chimonger, I was going through my comments here and just saw this. I absolutely love this story about your dad and his rain stick. Stuff IS better with a good story behind it. Thank you for sharing.

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    Pashta

    1 year ago

    I am so excited!! I just happen to have a bunch of skewers, pvc pipe, and wide corks, wondering what to make out of them. I will do this tomorrow when I go into my workshop!!! I'll add pictures when done!

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    tonynemisit

    1 year ago

    Great instructable . I am going to give that a try . The 'wood' grain effect looks great .

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    KarenK116tonynemisit

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you Tonynemisit. I'm so happy that your going to try making one. Please, please, please post up the pictures. Creating the wood grain effect is the best part of this project. It's fun to do and It really does look like wood grain when your finished.

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    grapenutKarenK116

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, Captain Crunch, Frankenberry, & Count Chocula were already taken; so I had to pick a cereal that doesn't get eaten by very many internet users I guess. But you're not the first person to find it humorous ; )

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    YukonJulie

    1 year ago

    Great instructable! I'd love to see a video of the finished product and hear what it sounds like with the items you've filled it with. I think traditional South American rainsticks use shells on the inside to create the sound effects, with thorns in the sides.

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    MillerI

    1 year ago

    Me, too. (too soon?) I love the woodgrain technique and actually have a client project that will use this right away! I also don't have a use for a rainstick but thanks for the 'ible.

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    KarenK116MillerI

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks Miller1, Please post up some pictures if you create something using this technique