search  current discussion  categories  forms - misc 

drum making

updated mon 11 dec 00


doug honthaas on tue 22 dec 98

At 11:56 PM 12/21/98 -0500, you wrote:
> Thanks for the information about Tandy. I have ordered from them
>before, leather stamps which, by the way, make great impressing tools for
>delicate designs, but I had not thought of them for the drums! Since they
>are leather suppliers, just goes to show how my brain is NOT working these
> You had offered to send Carina more information, and I wonder if
>you could share that with me too. I am interested in making small-scale
>drums but haven't the faintest idea where to begin. If you can recommend

UP here in Montana, drumming is pretty big. Any occasion, campfire, full
moon gathering can turn into a spontaneous drumming session. Most folks
have some variation of wooden drums but my nephew brought over a few simple
clay drums one day and I went nuts. Just started throwing all shapes and
sizes. They all work and different styles have different advantages.The
smaller ones are easier to carry around and dance with while some of the
bigger ones have incredible rumbles.

Some friends took a bunch of photos a my Christmas home show and I should
have them in hand in a week or two and will try and get some photos scanned.

After experimenting with many different sytles, my current favorite is a
tall challice or goblet shape, single rimmed with ring attachment for head.
Earhenware works great but if you are using stoneware make sure the
claybody is suited for these lareger pieces. I made some out of a very
closed stoneware body and had some trouble getting the top and bottom to
stick together without cracks . Now I use clay with more sand or grog. I
throw the drum in two pieces ...about 5 lbs. each. The botton is stem-
shaped and to top piece is just a nice big bowl with a fat,rounded rim.
When leather hard the pieces are trimmed, the bottom cut out of the bowl
with a needle tool and I attach the two well scored pieces with lots of
slip.Dry very slowly. Decorate, glaze, carve as desired. Bisque and fire as

Attaching head:
1) cut 2 ( or maybe three)circles out of prepared rawhide (see last weeks
instructions on making rawhide) that are about 1 1/2 inches larger in
diameter than the diameter of the drum top. Take one of the circles and
make very small holes (just large enough for the lacing to go through)
about every 2 inches all around about 1/4 inch from edge. Soak this piece

2)Take the other circles and starting from the outside start cutting about
a 3/4 inch strip. Keep going round and round until you get this very long
and curly strip of rawhide. Note: rawhide string or lashing is made from a
circle and not from a straight piece of hide. Now soak these pieces overnight.

3)The next day I take a metal ring ...6'' to 10''...(from craft store) that
is big enoug to go over bottom of drum but to small to go over the belly
(bowl part)and start wrapping this ring TIGHTLY with the now soft rawhide
strip. Dental floss works well to secure ends while wet.Some traditions
just use heavy cloth strips to cover the ring but the rawhide looks really

4) Then next day after the now rawhide covered ring is fully dried I start
to string the drumhead on. You can use soaked rawhide lacing, leather
lacing or artifical rawhide lacing to attach the head. First I slip the
ring over the foot of the drum,place the soaked rawhide circle drumhead on
top and just start threading round through a hole in the head down and
arouwn the ring till it is strung. You will have to adjust your tension
good and tight and even. Make sure to string it as tight as possible. To
get a little fancier you can intermix beads between the head and ring and
these beads can be used to adjust tension of the drumhead. Dry slowly.

Hope to have some phots for you soon. Veronica

mudlark on sun 10 dec 00

Looking for info.
Instructions, materials for drum making.