Saturday, May 24, 2014

Building a Didgeridoo

I decided to make a didgeridoo from scratch.
I've been into didgeridoos ever since I was a kid and first heard their calming rhythmic sound in the movie Crocodile Dundee. It's a shame I don't have a more interesting and less cringeworthy first encounter with a didg but whatever. Over the years I have learned how to play the didg and have purchased a few from various people and places and thought it that maybe it might be fun to make my own.

I was visiting friends on Saltspring Island who have a beautiful wooded property and were nice enough to let me tromp through the woods in search of the perfect tree to cut down. It was wet and snowy and cold but I found a good one in due time... and cut it down.

Then, once felled, I stripped the branches off and cut it into three pieces roughly the right size and shape. I lugged it home and was ready to get started. Except that after some research I found that to do it right I should let the wood dry for a year before I start. I don't have that kind of patience so I grabbed the worst piece of wood I got (the one with the most knots in it) and threw it in my friends workshop paint drying oven for 3 weeks. It helped dry it out quickly but also helped to give it some "character" cracks. I was now pretty sure that this was my test build.
I used the ban saw to shape the end closest to the  mouth piece area and make it a little narrower. Then I belt sanded it smooth.

I cut it in half length wise with the band saw and then hand chiseled out each half. That part sucked.

I glued and clamped the two sides back together and let it sit over night to dry.

Then I shaped the mouth piece a little more and sanded the crap out of it, getting it ready to be stained and then painted.

Then I coated it in a crystal clear epoxy resin. This was to strengthen it and fill in the few cracks that had occurred on account of speeding up the drying time in the paint oven. Lastly I heated up bees wax with a heat gun and shaped the mouth piece.
In the end it sounds great and I'm quite happy with it, I'm looking forward to making the next one.


jenn wyant said...

Can you post a video of you playing your digerydoo!?

Leigh said...

This is super awesome!

marie said...

What a satisfying project Dave!
I love the finished artistic style.
I remebering you playing a didge when you were a younger "kid". LOL. Thanks for sharing this process, this is interesting.