Cardboard Conch Horn
Conch shells make a grand sound as a horn, but several species of the the actual animal are endangered, harmed by being harvested for the souvenir industry.

This is my attempt to create a more sustainable version of the instrument.

Step 1: Materials and tools

Cardboard Conch Horn
If you know my work, you know I like simple materials.

This is put together from corrugated card from an old box, duct tape, and a short piece of PVC pipe.

The only tools I used were a craft knife, my trusty Leatherman, and a hacksaw (to cut the pipe to length).

Step 2: The parts

Cardboard Conch Horn
The whole thing is made from the flaps cut from a large cardboard box.

Two flaps duct-taped together made the main coil, and a third flap, cut in half, made the end-pieces.


The flaps were 17cm wide, and when taped together they were just under a metre long. For the sake of aesthetics, I made the end-pieces 17cm square as well.

The pipe, a scrap I found in a corner, was about 2½cm in diameter, and about 10cm long.

Step 3: Curl it up

Cardboard Conch Horn
I needed the strip to spiral with ease.

To that end, I used the two flaps which had the corrugations at right-angles to the long dimension. I dragged the strip hard over the corner of the table to force it into a curl, like quilling, writ large.

Step 4: Fix the curve

Cardboard Conch Horn
Cardboard Conch Horn
Starting in the middle, I arranged the curled strip into a visually-appealing spiral. There may be an optimum shape, but I don't know what it is.

I anchored the spiral in place with small pieces of duct tape. Not pretty, but it worked.

Step 5: The mouthpiece

Cardboard Conch Horn
Cardboard Conch Horn
Cardboard Conch Horn
The mouthpiece was made from a short piece of PVC pipe.

For comfort's sake, I used my knife to chamfer the edges of the pipe.

I cut a suitable hole in the middle of the second end-piece, and then anchored the mouthpiece in place with more duct tape, then fitted it in place and fixed with... duct tape.

Step 6: Finishing (sort of), and moving on.

Cardboard Conch Horn
I taped around the visible edges of the coil with yet more duct tape, and that, really, was that.

All that remained was to find out if it worked...

That's horrible, right?

Things got better, though. When I showed the horn around the office, one of the suggestions was a proper mouthpiece. So, I took the horn in to a music shop near where I'm staying, and a very nice assistant let me borrow a mouthpiece for a few moments, and hand the horn to Roger-X, who happens to play the trombone.

The result was dramatic - instead of the hideous noise above, it produced a nice clear "F" (apparently - I am tone deaf, but even I heard that it sounded "nicer"). I would have videoed the nice note, but the very nice assistant seemed nervous about his boss finding out that he was loaning out a $110 mouthpiece to a strange foreigner off the street, so I decided not to.

So, secure in the knowledge that the concept works, I now need to move on to a version that won't turn to mush with use...

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