Make Your Own Pintail Whistle

This Simple Project Will Put More Sprigs in the Boat

By
Materials

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1 | Materials

One turning square about 1¼ inch in diameter and 4 to 5 inches long, depending on how ornate you want to make your call. Wood choices can vary depending on taste, but I really like osage orange, cocobolo and desert ironwood.

½-inch drill bit

¼-inch drill bit

Gorilla Glue

½-inch dowel rod cut to match length of mouthpiece to first hole radius

Countersink bit

About two hours

Photo © James Buice

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Step 1

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2 | Step 1

Secure the turning square centered in a chuck or vise, and drill a hole about 2¼ to 2½ inches deep. Do not drill completely through the block.

Photo © James Buice

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Step 2

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3 | Step 2

Place the call on a lathe, and turn it. Rough out the shape however you like, but make sure you leave 3 inches or more toward the mouthpiece in a consistent radius. This is where you will later drill the two holes that let the call render a sound and change the pitch of the call.

Photo © James Buice

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Step 3

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4 | Step 3

When you have turned the call to the shape you desire and sanded the surface smooth, chuck the call in a vise and drill two 1¼-inch holes. The first hole should be about 1¼ inches from the mouthpiece and the next about 1 inch past that. Use a countersink tool to round out the top of the holes, taking care to not go too deep and enlarge the pilot hole.

Photo © James Buice

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Step 4

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5 | Step 4

Now it’s time to cut the toneboard. This is where things can get tricky. Your radius on the toneboard is what will dictate the tone of the call (to an extent), but more important, if it will make a sound. Trial and error is your best friend, but generally, a gently sloping angle will work provided you don’t remove too much wood. When cut, place the toneboard in the call, making sure the lower end of the radius is facing the mouthpiece and the taller side is lined up even with the first hole. Blow into the call, and adjust the angle of the toneboard by sanding away small amounts until you get the tone you desire.

Photo © James Buice

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Step 5

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6 | Step 5

Glue the toneboard into place. Make sure the call sounds like you want it to and the toneboard is lined up perfectly. After it’s glued into place, there’s little chance you’ll get it out.

Photo © James Buice

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Step 6

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7 | Step 6

Finish your call with a weather-resistant finish, and let it dry. Congratulations. You’ve made a pintail whistle that should be with you for many years. Enjoy it, and go kill some sprigs.

Photo © James Buice

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There’s a great satisfaction from calling in an animal with a call you have fashioned yourself. I admit I’m no duck-call maker. That takes years of trial and error, knowledge of toneboard structure and many other variables. It’s way too much for me to delve into, especially when there are so many amazing duck-call makers out there, and you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a new startup call maker. I’ll stick with turkey calls and simple crafts, such as a pintail whistle.

Relatively easy to make with the right tools, a homemade pintail whistle is a fun project in the shop and effective in the field. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

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