Homemade Instruments

Baker Ross DIY Castanets Kit

I love a Baker Ross craft kit to do with my children. I often get one or two of their kits to do over the holidays. Usually things like sticker scene kits (there’s some nice nativity scene sticker kits available), suncatcher kits or even paint your ow ceramics that we have done for gifts for relatives. A couple of months ago I saw that Baker Ross did a few DIY musical instrument kits, and so of course we had to give them a go.

I have previously made one of their tambourine kits, and you can read about how I got on with that here.

Fore more information on how to play castanets, click here.

These kits are generally easy to use, and mostly involve decorating the instruments you are making. Be warned that they don’t actually come with any instructions, just the picture on the front, so you do have t do a little working out of how to put them together once the children have finished painting them. Luckily, you have my blog post here to read through and can avoid making the same mistake I made at first (I shall come to that a little later in this post)!The other thing that you should be aware of is that the bag the castanets come in contains a little packet of silica gel. You will need to make sure that your children don’t get hold of this packet and that you throw it away as soon as you spot it.

The kit contains all you will need to make 3 castanets. No decorating materials are included, so you and your children can choose whatever you want to decorate them with. I went with some Scola Artmix paint that I have at home. I bought a set of about 9 paints something like 3 years ago, and we have used them a lot. Especially when both children were at home all the time last year. I am only just getting to the point where I will need to replace some of the bottles of paint now.

As the castanets are made of wood, they are very porous and need several coats of paint to give them a vibrant colour. I painted 3 coats of the green paint on my castanet top and bottom before adding the blue and red pattern on top, and the pattern needed a couple of coats on it as well. I went for a spotty pattern on one side and, as you will see from the short video at the end of this post, a hearts pattern on the other side.

The kit comes with three different coloured lengths of elastic to tie the 2 side of the castanet together, and a small wooden ball that goes inside for the top of the castanet to click onto, to make the instrument’s sound. You could tie the 2 halves together without it, but it would be much harder to play the castanet without it.

Now, this is where my mistake with this kit comes in. Once I had painted the 2 halves of the castanet and let them dry, I threaded the elastic through the pre-drilled holes in the top half and then picked up the little wooden ball, thinking I would thread the elastic through that before attaching the bottom half. There was no hole in the wooden ball, and then I noticed that there were 3 pieces in the kit that had an extra pre-drilled wooden hole in them. This is actually where the wooden ball is meant to go! Push the ball into this separate hole and it fits nice and snug.

So, I quickly painted the actual bottom half green to match the top, and now I have 2 of them. It’s a good job they come in a pack of 3!

I then threaded the elastic through the bottom half of the castanet, pulled the elastic tight and tied it with a double knot so that the knot was underneath the castanet. You could tie it so that the knot is inside the castanet if you prefer to make it look a little neater, but I am not sure it makes much difference to the sound, and might prevent you from getting the elastic pulled as tight as you need it to be.

There are different ways to play the castanets, here are 3 suggestions (using another castanet).

And here you have a timelapse video of me making the castanet and showing you how to put it together:

I bought this Baker Ross craft kit direct from Baker Ross and at time of writing this post it costs £4.50 for a pack of 3 (there is an offer on, and the kit is priced down from the usual £6.95). You can have a look at the Baker Ross website and the range of DIY instruments they have here.

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