How To Make a Thunder Tube

A thunder tube is a very curious hand-held percussion toy that recreates the sound of thunder when you shake it. Depending upon how you move the thunder tube, you can create unusual and weird sounds, making it a very creative device to use in musical and sound performances.

A thunder tube consists of a cylinder that resonates with a sound mimicking thunder, thanks to a drum head attached to one end of the tube and an 18 inch metal spring that is attached to the drum head's center. Thunder tubes trace their roots to American Indian music in which they were used with drums, rain sticks and flutes to recreate the sound and motion of a sudden storm.

Thunder tubes are enjoyed by children and musicians of all ages, but they can cost upwards of $25 at the retail store. Consider making it a family arts and crafts project on a rainy day to make your own thunder tubes.

  1. Start collecting the cardboard tubes that come with paper towel rolls and the wire spring from an old spiral bound notebook.
  2. Using scissors, cut a 12-inch square of heavy aluminum craft sheet metal into small pieces of various sizes. Pull a rubber balloon over one end of your cardboard paper towel tube. Stand your tube upright over a piece of cardboard and trace the outline of the tube's end, cutting out this circle and poking a small hole in the center of the circle through which you attach the end of the wire spring.
  3. Now fill your cardboard tube halfway full with your cut aluminum pieces, sealing the end of the tube by attaching the cardboard circle and hanging wire spring with glue and allowing it to dry for several hours or overnight to make sure the circle is securely attached.
  4. You may want to paint your thunder tube or add assorted decals or sparking sequins to decorate it. Now you are ready to make some noise. Hold the thunder tube in one hand so that the spring is hanging downwards. Now shake or roll the tube in a variety of directions. This will cause the spring inside to vibrate against the aluminum pieces filling the tube, a sound that will transfer to the balloon covering at the opposite end of the tube.

The sounds that you create using your homemade thunder tube will be similar to the crackling and roaring of a summer thunderstorm. Have fun seeing how many different and unique sounds you can create by shaking, rattling and rolling your thunder tube.


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