Making Bagpipes: Tutorials and Guides.
Everything You Need To Know!

A class of musical instrument, the bagpipes are aerophones that utilize enclosed reeds. These reeds are continually fed by air that is stored inside an enclosed bag. While the Scottish bagpipes are the most familiar to most people, bagpipes actually come from many regions across the world. These are different parts of Europe, the Caucuses, the Persian Gulf, and even Northern Africa.


Out of all the tools that are required to make decent bagpipes, the lathe is by far the most important, since without it, hardly any progress can be made on the bagpipes’ construction. Other tools in the construction of bagpipes are reamers, drills, and chucks. There are three types of lathe—ornamental, wood, metal—that bagpipe makers can use, and their main considerations should be centered around basics like budget and available accommodations, too. However, bagpipe makers should look for certain accessories that may or may not come with the lathe when they purchase it. Lathes should come with a self-centering chuck to hold materials in place, a faceplate, and then a four-jaw independent chuck. Any good lathe should also come with internal tapers that are attached to the headstock mandrel.

Information on the Lathe

Seller of Reeds

Bagpipes Tools Retailer

Reamer Cutting Speeds


The materials for bagpipes are, to a certain extent, dictated by the region of the world in which the bagpipes are being made and used. For instance, tropical hardwoods like ebony that are so useful in making the drone and chanter of the bagpipes would be well-suited for the damper climate of the UK, but they would not do well in drier parts of the US. That’s why, at times, plastics are used by manufacturers in order to create the pipes, as a way of avoiding predicaments that come from the climate complications. Bags in the UK must be water absorbent and also airtight, which is why sheepskin is the material of choice there. However, in parts of the US, cow or elk hide is used as material for the bag instead, and in Australia, the manufacturers there use kangaroo hide. At certain times, the material called Goretex is even used in place of any native hide.

Examples of Bagpipes and their Materials

Materials Resource Page

List of Bagpipe Materials

Materials used for Bagpipe Making

Materials of Various Bagpipe Parts

First Steps

A manufacturer uses wood that has been drying for years and employs a twist drill or a reamer to start boring out the cylindrical drones, and the finished bore is the point on which the outside shape of a drone turns on the lathe. The drones are finished with varnish, lacquer and wax. The chanter is created by boring on the cone inside of the chanter and by drilling finger holes into the bore that has been turned. At this stage, the chanter has to match the drones, so it is surface-finished to give it a matching look.

The bags are constructed out of either cow or elk hide; the hide is folded, and the sides of the bag are then cut out as mirror images. Once a leather welt is put into the right place, the welt and the seam are both hand-stitched using double needles. The various pieces that make up a basic bagpipe are then tied together, with the stocks first being tied to the bag by nylon or hemp. Next, both the drones and the chanter are attached to the stocks, and the reeds are then inserted into the bagpipes to complete the assembly. The bagpipes are completely finished by smoothing the pipes with sandpaper and then applying heated wax or oil on them with a piece of cloth by hand.

Assembly of Bagpipes

Making Bagpipes

Notes on the Construction of Bagpipes

Construction of Bagpipes

Making Bagpipes Yourself