Japanese Knotweed Flute – How To Instructions

Where to find Japanese Knotweed? It’s an invasive species here in North America, so alright to collect. At the Hebron Nature Preserve, you will find quite a bit of it around the parking area at the Porter Schoolhouse on Route 22 in Hebron, NY. It is best to collect in the winter time after the plant has died and gone into hibernation. It is bamboo-looking so you can’t miss it. Help yourself!

Tools needed: Sharp knife – Xacto is good, burning tool for holes (can use torch and screw), carving tool and something to hollow the stalk out. I used a long spring.

10 Not-So-Easy Steps

1. Find a stalk that is pretty wide in diameter and thick. The wider the more deep the tone. The smaller the stalk, the higher the tone. The stalk will need to be completely dried out otherwise it will split.

2. Cut stalk to desired length. Notice the sections. The section near the mouth end will stay intact while you hollow out the other section(s).

3. Mark on the stalk two holes – one on each side of the mouth end section.

4. Cut holes using Xacto knife.

5. Using your carving tool, scrape out center portion between holes. Do not over scrape. It is best to start small.

6. Using your burning tool with a small point attachment, burn angles into the holes. Refer to drawings.

7. Create a block to cover the first hole. I used a piece of the stalk. You will need to adjust it in position while blowing to find the correct air flow thus giving you a tone. I tied my block using a piece of hemp cord.

8. Burn finger holes into the flute with 2 holes and then 3 holes evenly spaced. The holes are about 8mm. I put mine closer together because kids have small hands. I started burning with a small pointed woodburning tip.

9. Enlarge the holes with a wider woodburning tip.

10. Finished flute.

The kids decorated by tying ribbon and cording at the top near the hole and at the end. They added beads and feathers. I hot glued the feathers to inside the beads so they wouldn’t fall out.

If anyone has photos of their finished flute, please email them to me and I will post. I was so busy gluing feathers, that I forgot to take photos!

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