How To Hollow Out Wood For A Drum

Knowing how to hollow out wood for a drum will allow you to create your own drum, achieving a natural acoustical sound that no other drum can reproduce.  The sound is greatly influenced by how thick you leave the wood, so a thinner wood is bound to produce to highest pitch. Hollowing out wood for a drum requires a rather tedious process that involves a lot of time and patience, but will create the best drum anyone could ever imagine.

To hollow out wood for a drum, you will need:

  • Thick log
  • Compass
  • Tape Measure
  • Sandpaper
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Safety goggles
  • Work Gloves
  • Band saw
  1. The first step is to select the log you want to use as the drum.  The log should be slightly larger in diameter than the desired size for the drum. Having a larger size will allow you to smooth the outer edges for a cleaner appearance.
  2. Next, cut the top and bottom off the log until you reach the ideal height for the drum.  The Band saw is a great choice for this, because they have the ability to produce some of the cleanest cuts imaginable.  If you do not have access to a Band saw, any type of had saw will work, but may require a little more sanding to smooth out the surfaces.
  3. Once the log is cut to the designated height, measure the top surface.  Mark the top at ¾” from the edge, and mark directly in the center.  Use the compass set for these two points to create a circular outline for hollowing. 
  4. It is now time to hollow out the log.  Begin by hammering the chisel around the line drawn by the compass.  Doing so will give you a firmer grasp on exactly what area is to be removed. Once the outline has been chiseled, begin to remove the center.
  5. To hollow out the log, begin the deep chiseling process in the center.  Pound the chisel down at least one inch each time, and work around smaller circles to remove a larger amount at one time.  If you go too deep at one time it can cause the log to break, so removing little by little is the key.  Gradually work your way to the outer lining from the center, and then continue the process deeper into the log.
  6. Once you have chiseled all the wood away, it is now time to smooth the surface.  Take sandpaper and gently smooth out the interior of the drum.  Some drum makers actually prefer a little roughness inside, as it produces a pleasantly un-expected sound. Continue to smooth the outer surface of the drum, as well as the top and bottom.
  7. You can now design the drum by adding paints and finishes to the outer surface.  This will allow you to personalize the drum to your preference.  Allow the finish to fully dry before applying a drum head.

Tips:

  • Hand drums use rawhide skin, soaked for twenty four hours and then it is tacked or tied onto the drum body. 
  • Kit drums use a head kid that is drilled into the drum shell and mounted through the supplied hardware.
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