DIY Turkey Calls: Build Pots and Pegs with Kids

Steps and Photos Show You How to Do It

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1 | Materials Needed

You'll need these materials to begin your build.

  1. Fine-grit sandpaper. We used three grits, starting with 150, then 230 and finishing with superfine 600 grit.
  2. Glue. Brookside recommends GOOP or another flexible, waterproof glue.
  3. Finish. We used multiple applications of hand-rubbed tung oil followed by oil-based polyurethane, but the polyurethane alone is all that is really necessary.
  4. Nylon or spring-style clamp.

(Michael Pendley photo)

 

 

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2 | Step 1

Sand all exposed surfaces of the pot.

We started with 150 grit until the wood was smooth, then switched to 230 grit, wiping the pot with a damp towel between sandings to raise the grit and make the following sanding round even more effective. 

(Michael Pendley photo)

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3 | Step 2

Finish the wood.

We applied Formby’s Tung oil on a clean cloth in multiple hand-rubbed applications. Between each application of oil, the kids wet-sanded the call with 600-grit paper then allowed the surface to dry completely before the next round of oil. They were satisfied with the call’s appearance after three coats. To further protect the surface, we applied a fine layer of oil-based polyurethane from a spray can. The shafts of the strikers were finished in the same manner, but the tip end was left unfinished for better sound. 

(Michael Pendley photo)

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Step 3Step 3Step 3Step 3Step 3

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4 | Step 3

Glue in the soundboard.

A thin bead of glue was applied to the raised center of each call. The kids centered their soundboards over the soundboard standoff. They were then clamped in place and allowed to rest for the glue to set.

(Michael Pendley photo)

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5 | Step 4

For Michaela’s glass-topped call, we chose a photo and cut it to fit the glass top using a razor knife.

To make an effective calling surface, glass needs to be etched to give the surface enough texture to allow the striker to grab and cause a turkey sound. To etch the glass, we used a product named Armour Etch, available in craft stores (ours came from Michael’s) or online. Simply tape off the parts of the glass you wish to remain clear with masking tape. Apply the etching paste to the exposed glass with a foam brush and allow it to remain for 30-60 minutes. Rinse well under cold water. The glass that has been etched will be frosty in appearance and have a slightly dimpled texture. 

(Michael Pendley photo)

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Glue TipGlue TipGlue TipGlue TipGlue Tip

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6 | Glue Tip

Use a clear-drying glue (we used a product designed for crafts named Modge Podge, also available at most craft stores) to stick the photo to the underside of the call surface.

Careful to orient the photo so that the etched area doesn’t cover anything important. Allow the glue to dry before step 5.

(Michael Pendley photo)

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7 | Step 5

Apply a thin bead of glue to the rim of the pot. Drop in the call surface and clamp it down until the glue is set; at least 12 hours. 

(Michael Pendley photo)

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8 | Step 6

Rough up the call surface with a green Scotch Brite pad or sandpaper.

Practice, practice, practice and go proudly call in some birds with a call you built yourself. 

(Bill Konway photo)

Go here for more Realtree turkey hunting tips.

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As we wandered the crowded aisles of the NWTF Convention in Nashville, all three of my kids homed in on one booth in particular. It belonged to Brookside Game Calls and it was adorned with all manner of call-making supplies.

As the kids ogled the pot blanks in various woods and styles, I asked if they would like to build a call of their own. A resounding yes came the reply. While Brookside offers ready-to-build kits, we chose to go the custom route with each of the kids picking their own wooden pots and calling surfaces. Both boys went with dark imported hardwoods, wenge and cocobola, with slate calling surfaces and glass soundboards. Michaela chose a lighter yellowheart double-sided pot with a glass call surface and a slate soundboard. Each then chose an unfinished striker they liked.

Since Michaela’s surface was clear, it allowed the placement of a photograph under the surface. We chose one of her with a turkey from last season. We worked on the calls an evening or two per week, first sanding and finishing the pre-cut pots, then assembling the calls. All told, we probably had eight to 10 hours in build time, but we took our time and used the process as a lesson in wood finishing. Without the additional teaching, a call can probably be completed in four hours or so of active build time with a 12-hour rest period for the glue to dry. 

[Editor's note: Steps with photos showing how to build pot and peg calls with your kids follow. This Realtree.com gallery was first published April 22, 2016.]

 

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