MAKING A SET OF BAGPIPES
MAKING A SET OF BAGPIPES
Kintail Bagpipe Makers of Glasgow have kindly supplied a series of photographs showing the making
of a set of the KB2 bagpipes as sold at the School of Piping Shop. We thought this would be a good
opportunity to combine the photographs into an article showing how a set of bagpipes are turned.
The timber is supplied in a rough sawn state, cut into blocks, square in section, and of a finished
length. It must be straight grained, properly seasoned and free from defect. The first stage in
converting these blocks into a set of bagpipes is to mount them in a lathe and machine the exterior
round. The primary bore is made using a specialised drill capable of producing a straight and clean
surface. Any secondary boring (e.g. the larger diameters in drone top sections), is then undertaken
with larger drills.
Once the bores are done, work on the exterior shaping can begin. Some of the basic shaping can be
done by way of some simple profiling tools or by an experienced eye whilst the timber is still in the
lathe. Surfaces such as the compound curves on the drones are produced by hand. Needless to say, a
steady hand and a good eye is required to produce profiles that look right and are consistent across
Above shows a stock being shaped
Blanks for mounts are added to the shaped pieces and then turned to shape. The photographs below
show projecting mounts on a tenor lower section being shaped.
The following photographs show a ring cap on a drone top being shaped.
The drone top is the shaped prior to beading and combing.
The complex decorative exterior shaping known as combing and beading can now be applied. Much
practice is required to produce accurate and attractive combing and beading as this is applied
entirely by hand on the wood lathe.
Above shows combing patterns being applied to a tenor top.
Above shows beading patterns being turned.
Threading for hemping being turned on the pin of a lower drone section.
A finished drone section.
A finished Chalice Bagpipe following waxing.
Another finished product, a set of full silver Kintail bagpipes.
Kintail Bagpipe Makers of 113 Barrack Street, Glasgow produce a fully handmade product
manufactured by master craftsmen with years of experience in their art. The drones they
manufacture are based on the Henderson tradition with founder Greig Sharp having been the
Manager of Peter Henderson Ltd for some years. The drones produce a sonorous, full tone with
excellent steadiness and are very easy to set up and reed. More of their products can be seen at
We wish to thank Drew and Stephen Sharp of Kintail Bagpipe Makers for supplying the photographs
used in this article and for their support of the School of Piping website.
More information and further pictures of bagpipes being made are to be found in “The Complete
Pipers Handbook” which helps to fund this freely available site. The book is available here: