MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS > PERCUSSIONS > STRYO-XYLOPHONE

This is about as simple as you can get.  The lightness of the styrofoam allows the wood to vibrate and, depending on the type of styrofoam may even act as a radiator (meaning that the air inside the styrofoam beads vibrates along with the wood and makes it sound louder).

DIY Homemade Xylophone with Bash the Trash
DIY Homemade Xylophone
DIY Homemade Xylophone
DIY Homemade Xylophone

There's a simple way and a better way. Let's start with the simple way. 

The Musical Instrument Procedure - The Simple Way

You will need:

  • A sturdy styrofoam box

  • Pieces of wood  - just about any solid piece of wood (no plywood) that is at least 1” thick and at least 12” long will do.  To get different pitches you will need pieces of wood that are different sizes.  Your wood pieces must be longer than the styrofoam box is wide.

Procedure: 

  • Simply lay the wood pieces across the styrofoam box as shown above.  If your wood bars bounce around too much when you hit them you can cut or rip some chunks of styrofoam off of the sides to form troughs for the wood to lie in.

For the mallets:

  • Wooden broomstick (or other wooden dowel) cut into pieces apx 12” long

  • Rubber bands

  • Procedure:  Wrap several rubber bands around one end of the sticks. You can play with either the wooden end or the rubber band end to produce different sounds.

The Musical Instrument Procedure - The BETTER Way

The styro-xylophone has several design flaws – the bouncing wooden bars and the lack of portability.  To build a better xylophone you will need to use a tool called a staple gun.  WARNING - Children must not use a staple gun without adult supervision, and everyone nearby should wear safety goggles!

DIY Homemade Xylophone with Bash the Trash
DIY Homemade Xylophone with Bash the Trash

You will need:

  • A sturdy styrofoam box

  • Pieces of wood  - just about any solid piece of wood (no plywood) that is at least 1” thick and at least 12” long will do.  To get different pitches you will need pieces of wood that are different sizes.  Your wood pieces must be longer than the styrofoam box is wide.

1. Step 1:

Wearing safety goggles and with the assistance of an adult, staple the foam rubber or soft cloth to the wood as shown (if you are using a drawer staple the wood to the tops of the sides of the drawer).  Wearing safety goggles and with the assistance of an adult, hammer down the staples until they hold the foam or wood snugly to the board.  There should be enough springiness to let the wood vibrate.  Test it by laying the wood on the foam and hitting it.

2. Step 2:

  • Place the wood pieces across the base, size/pitch order. Wearing safety goggles and with the assistance of an adult, staple the end of the twine to one side of the base (or the side of the drawer).  A double staple here will provide some strength.

  • Lay the twine across the bars and wearing safety goggles and with the assistance of an adult, staple the twine to each bar, then staple the twine to the opposite side of the base. 

  • Lay the twine across the bars somewhat away from the first side, once again stapling each bar wearing safety goggles and with the assistance of an adult, then double-staple the twine back onto the base near where you had started. 

  • You may need to hammer the staples a bit to make them tight. 

DIY Homemade Xylophone with Bash the Trash

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