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Project by Stonekettle posted 08-22-2014 07:44 PM 2203 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Zil are the finger cymbals used by belly dancers. Traditionally they’re made from bronze, brass, or silver.

However, metal zils are loud and dancers sometimes prefer zils made from wood for practice. Wooden zils are also sometimes used by musical groups for their distinctive sound and rhythm. Zils are used in pairs, held between the thumb and the middle finger (a tight elastic band goes through those slots). There is a concave cavity in the bottom that makes a loud Clack! when the zils are clicked together.

The zils are turned on my lathe from various hardwoods, each with its own sound. These are purpleheart, epe, oak, and rosewood.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

7 comments so far

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3561 posts in 4481 days

#1 posted 08-23-2014 05:37 AM


Another good educational experience for me! You have made good use of all those small scraps with which we have trouble parting.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2957 days

#2 posted 08-23-2014 12:02 PM

Howdy Jim,

That’s a lot of amazing work. I’d love to hear the soft clack.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View DonB's profile


582 posts in 3461 days

#3 posted 08-23-2014 02:31 PM

Well done. I learned something today. Very neat and tidy. Enjoy.

-- DonB

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 3933 days

#4 posted 08-23-2014 04:52 PM

Haven’t seen that done before…......very interesting….........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View oldnovice's profile


7553 posts in 4137 days

#5 posted 08-23-2014 05:06 PM

Haven’t seen those before, didn’t know what they were called, but I do know now! At first they looked like turned buttons. Neat project !

Do the different woods make different sounds?

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View Leonard5's profile


377 posts in 3462 days

#6 posted 08-26-2014 12:16 AM

Thanks for the info.

-- Leonard H.

View Stonekettle's profile


135 posts in 3673 days

#7 posted 08-26-2014 02:16 AM

Yes, different woods make different sounds. Very hard dense wood like the bolivian rosewood makes a very sharp loud click, like a castanet. Softer woods such as oak tend to make a more muted sound. The sound also depends on the shape and size of the cavity in the bottom.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

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