Duck calling is an essential skill for waterfowl hunters. Using duck calls allows hunters to attract and bring ducks closer for successful harvests. Homemade PVC duck calls offer an affordable and customizable option compared to store-bought calls. With some basic materials and tools, I can make functional duck call instruments at home.
Selecting the Right PVC Pipe
The most crucial component of a homemade PVC duck call is the PVC pipe. I need to choose the correct diameter, wall thickness, and length of PVC to get the right sound.
Most homemade calls utilize 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch PVC pipe. The wider 3/4 inch pipe produces deeper, raspier hen calls. The narrower 1/2 inch pipe makes higher pitched drake calls. I prefer 1/2 inch PVC for versatility to produce an array of duck sounds.
Schedule 40 PVC has a medium wall thickness and offers a balanced tonal sound. Schedule 80 produces a higher pitch, while schedule 20 makes a deeper, hollow tone. Schedule 40 PVC pipe provides the richest, most realistic duck call tones.
PVC pipe sections around 3-4 inches long make great sounding duck calls. Anything longer than 5 inches becomes awkward to blow. I cut my PVC tube segments to 4 inch lengths for easy handling and realistic duck tones.
PVC Duck Call Construction
Constructing a working PVC duck call requires careful assembly. Proper construction is key to achieving loud, accurate duck call tones.
Cutting the PVC Pipe
I use a miter saw with a fine tooth blade to cut the PVC pipe to precise 4 inch lengths. A hacksaw can also cut through PVC. I make sure cuts are perfectly square for proper duck call assembly.
Smoothing the Ends
Any rough edges or burrs on the cut PVC pipe need smoothing. I use medium grit sandpaper to smooth the ends of the pipe segments. This allows an airtight seal with the cork and reed components.
Drilling the Bore Hole
I use a 5/16 inch drill bit to bore a hole through the center of the PVC pipe segment. Drilling slowly avoids cracking the pipe. The bore hole enables air flow across the reed. I drill the hole slightly off-center for optimal reed vibration and sound.
Attaching the Reed
Double reed or single reed options both work for PVC duck calls. I prefer using hardy single reeds made of mylar or plastic. I line up the reed at the bore hole and secure it with hot glue for an airtight seal.
Inserting the Cork Wedge
A tapered cork wedge fits snugly into the opposite end of the PVC pipe. The cork forms an airtight seal to force air across the reed. I insert the cork gradually using a mallet if needed.
Waterproofing the Call
I coat the finished PVC duck call in a protective waterproofing agent like polyurethane. This prevents moisture damage and keeps the call sounding crisp. Two to three coats ensures full water protection.
Customizing and Tuning the Calls
Basic homemade PVC duck calls work great, but I can customize them for unique sounds. Adjusting certain elements tunes the calls to sound like different duck species.
Adjusting Reed Tension
Bending the reed alters tension and changes the tone. For high pitched drake calls, I bend the reed stiffer. For raspy hen calls, I loosen reed tension. I bend the reed gradually using pliers while blowing test calls.
Filing the Cork
Filing the cork wedge on an angle modifies the sound chamber. For higher pitched calls like a teal whistle, I taper the cork gradually. For lower, raspier calls, I use a minimal cork taper. I use a metal file to slowly shape the cork to tune the call.
Using Different PVC Parts
Using PVC joints instead of straight pipe creates innovative calls. I make double reed calls by using T joints or elbow joints. Angle joints like Y joints also change the sound. I experiment with different PVC parts to create unique duck call designs.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
When initially testing homemade PVC duck calls, I run into some typical issues. However, there are solutions for troubleshooting and improving subpar calls.
Problem: Reed Not Vibrating
If the reed doesn’t vibrate or emit sound, the bore hole may be too small. I carefully re-drill a slightly bigger hole like 17/64 inch so air can pass over the reed and make it flutter.
Problem: Air Leaks from Cork
Air leaking from the cork means it is not forming an airtight seal. I remove the cork and sand it gradually with fine grit sandpaper so it fits tighter in the pipe when re-inserted. This prevents air escaping.
Problem: Duck Call is Too Quiet
A PVC call needs adequate back pressure for volume. If the call is too quiet, I add another segment of PVC pipe to increase back pressure and create louder tones.
Constructing homemade duck calls from basic PVC pipe and supplies is an enjoyable hobby and a great way to save money over expensive store-bought calls. With some simple tools, materials, and techniques like choosing the right PVC diameter, smoothing cut edges, securing the reed correctly, tapering the cork, and waterproofing, I can make customizable, great sounding duck calls to use out in the field. Troubleshooting issues like air leaks and quiet calls help me improve my design and construction process. I love tinkering to create unique PVC duck call instruments that ultimately help me bag more ducks during hunting season.