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Make A Native American Rattle

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

The rattle is important in various Native American ceremonies. Traditionally, they are made from things such as rawhide, deer hooves, turtle shells or gourds. You can easily obtain an ornamental gourd from an arts and crafts store, grocery store or farmer’s market. Just make sure it‘s totally dried before you use it. A dry gourd is light and dry to the touch, and sometimes you can hear seeds rattle inside.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 ornamental gourd, dried (preferably baseball size and smooth)
  • 1 1⁄4-inch-diameter dowel or stick, 14 inches long
  • Dry popcorn kernels or small
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • 1⁄8-inch and 1⁄4-inch drill bits
  • 1 12-inch-long coat hanger wire
  • Woodworking glue
  • Paint (optional)
  • Thin leather lace (optional)

What You’ll Do:

1) Carefully drill a 1⁄4-inch hole in the base of the gourd. Don’t drill too fast or the gourd can split. Ask an adult for help or permission if you are new to power tools.

2) Take the coat hanger wire and scrape out the seeds and membrane.

drill.jpg3) Drill a 1⁄8-inch hole in the top of the gourd opposite the 1⁄4-inch hole. Set aside gourd.

sand-to-taper.jpgbent-hanger.jpg4) Carefully stand the stick to a delicate taper, then gently fit into the holes in the gourd. The stick should fit snuggly in place.

paper-cone.jpg5) Remove the stick and place the pebbles or popcorn inside until the sound is right for you..

6) Put the stick back in place and carefully glue at each of the joints. Don’t play until completely dry.

painted-rattle.jpgThough painting and wrapping it with leather is a nice touch, the rattle is complete as is. If you use the leather lace, wrap a thin coil around the top and bottom of the gourd where the stick joins, and then glue the leather in place. Another attractive addition is wrapping leather around the handle to make a firmer grip.

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8 Comments on Make A Native American Rattle

  1. My hard gourd got moldy while trying to dry it. Think the wax cuticle has to be scraped off to help it dry. I cut a hole in the fresh gourd to scrape out. Save plug to reglue back on. Pull out the seeds and save for your next crop of gourds. Dry gourd in sun.

  2. You could make a rattle out of paper mache’, or buy a decoration from decor store.

  3. i wanted to make the dreamcatcher but couldnt find the directions

  4. this is not native american. i am 100% apache and this is not native american. i make real rattles and this not how you hake one

  5. i think native american rattles are cool becuse im half indian like chrokee,cree,blackfoot and apche.

  6. it was fun but it was hard to find a gourd.

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