Xylophone – Marimba

Parts Needed:
  • 2 Models

  • 1 Baseboard, at least 12" x 6" and at least 5/8 thick

  • 40" Steel conduit, 10", 9", 8", 7", 6" works well 

  • 16" Dowels, 1/4"

  • 2 Nuts, 1/4"

  • 12+ Nails, two-headed concrete form nails

  • 10 Rubber bands, small

  • Cardboard for feet

Extra Tools: 
  • Drill

  • Drill platform

  • 19/64" bit

  • Rulers

  • Pipe cutters

  • Pencils

  • Hammers

  • Files

Parts Needed:
  • 45" 1.2 wood (instead of conduit) 11", 9", 8", 7" works well

  • 2 PVC pipe caps, 1/2" (instead of nuts) for the mallets of the marimba

Extra Tools: 
  • 15/64 bit

  • Wood saws (instead of pipe cutters)

  • Clamps for sawing

  • Files/sand paper

Project Description:



At one end of the baseboard make a mark one inch in both directions from the two corners. Lay the ruler so that it starts at one of these points and angles down toward the center (but not quite at the center) of the other end. 

Draw a line along the ruler then draw another one more or less symmetric with the first, starting at the other dot.  Using the original marks as zeros, mark every 1.5 inches down each of the lines until you have 6 dots. (This is to create 5 spaces for 5 pipes.  Of course you can make more if you have the material).

Hammer a nail in at each of the marks.  String two sets of rubber bands along the nails between the two heads. 

Mark and cut pipes to the lengths you wish.  The pipe cutter works by tightening it just snuggly, turning it around the pipe two times, tightening it another ¼ round, turning around the pipe two more times, on and on until the circular blade has cut through the conduit.  If you tighten it too much, it is bad for the blade, and impossible to turn the pipe. 

Slide the pipes between the two sets of rubber bands.  Place the longer ones on the end with the nails farther apart. 

Cut two dowels around 8”.  Slightly sharpen one end of each then thread on a ¼” nut until it is tight.  Drill two 19/64” holes in one end of the baseboard to hold the sticks when not in use.

Cut out and glue on cardboard feet.  These feet have two functions:  to avoid scratching the table with any nails that protrude through the bottom of the baseboard and to prevent the baseboard from rattling on the table when it is played. 


The nails on the marimba must be farther a part, at least 2”.  The bottom row of rubber bands may be below the double heads of the nails.  To make marimba mallets, drill a 15/64” hole in two PVC pipe caps. 

Hammer a ¼” dowel into each hole.  Use the rounded back of the pipe cap to hit the pieces of wood. 


1. ​Sound comes from vibrations. If you hear sound, something is vibrating.

2. Sticks of wood and metal vibrate and make sound when you hit them.

3. The frequency of this sound depends on the composition of the material and the length of it.

4. The volume of the sound depends on the amplitude of vibration, which is determined in large part by how hard you hit it. 


  1. What happens if you hold a pipe or stick when you hit it?

  2. How can you make the sound last longer after you hit it?

  3. Why is the sound different when you hit the pipe or stick with the wood side of the mallet?

  4. What happens if one of the pipes or sticks is pressed up against one of the nails?

© 2020 by Victoria Matelli, Calvin Norwood, Jade Murray

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