I could buy one. You can find a cheap one for around 200 US dollars. But what would be the fun in that?
Additionally, Percussionists are notoriously protective of our instruments (As all musicians should be). The problem is drums and mallet percussion instruments like the Marimba and Timpani are very large, very expensive, and about waist high. So other non-percussionists frequently mistake them for tables.
This Djembe is going to fix that problem by doubling as a table. This is an easy fix, all you have to do is place a glass top on it.
First you have to decide what "build" means to you. To me it means carve up a tree myself.
However, if you prefer you can buy ready made djembe shells from suppliers such as African Rhythm Traders. If this is the best option for you, you can skip the next few steps of the instructable. However this instructable will focus on making the shell, and I'll refer you to some other sources for tying the ring knots and verticals.
Step 1: Identifying a Tree
In my search, I looked for a tree which had already fallen.
The advantage is, half the work is already done for you and the lumber has already started drying (more on that later). The disadvantage is worms. If the tree has been down for some time, worms will have already started decomposing the material by burrowing holes in the material. This can be fixed later, so don't let that scare you.
Regardless of the tree's condition, try to get material from as close to the base as possible. For one, the diameter is larger, which will allow for a larger drum. Two, the "heart" of the tree is bigger (see pictures). I suggest you section off 2 or 3, 40 inch lengths to make your drum out of. 40 inches leaves plenty of work room and the additional logs can be used to make more drums, or as backup material.
Step 2: Drying the Material
1. Protection from rain.
2. Raised off the ground (so air can get under the log).
3. Standing upright.
4. All tree bark removed.
Time could be anywhere from a week to three months depending on whether the tree was freshly fallen.
Step 3: Dimensioning and Carving
So to recap the dimensioning process:
Drum Diameter - diameter of your log
Waist Diameter - 1/3 of your drum diameter
Flue Diameter - 1/2 of your drum diameter
Height - dependent on preference and but usually twice the drum diameter.
With "ideal" dimensions in mind you can begin carving the log. How you go about this is up to you, but my preferred method is a chainsaw. I suggest you start with the flue, and carve the upper portion later. Remember you're just trying to get the general shape at this stage.
This is probably a good place to add I don't suggest using a chainsaw if you're inexperienced. Ask for help from someone who knows what they're doing. Or just get creative. You can find other ways to do this.
Step 4: Hollowing
"The thinner the shell, the louder the sound."
So to you and me this statement means,
"Make it as thin as possible!"
As a side note, this mantra has inspired several composite (Fiberglass, Carbon Fiber) djembes.
Here I'm aiming for 1 inch thick. It can be further hollowed later.
My method here is using a chainsaw to break up the interior. Then I used a hammer to drive a steel pipe of about 2 inch diameter all the way through the drum. The steel pipe method will let you take out large amounts of material at a time. I suppose this goes without saying but this process will create mounds of sawdust as evidenced by the pictures. Also, the interior can be left a little rough. It does not have to be smooth, I think I read somewhere roughness gives a better tone.
Step 5: Final Shaping
1.) Electric Planer - Removes material faster than a sander and helped me with shaping the flue.
2.) Sander - Gives a smooth finish and can be used for making small adjustments to the shape.
3.) Wood Chisel - Helped me shape the waist.
Additionally you can use wood putty to fix any worm holes, if you have them.
The picture shows my djembe after I was happy with the surface finish and final dimensions.
Step 6: Drum Parts, Stain, and Varnish.
In the mean time, do any staining or varnishing you want to your drum!
Step 7: Mounting the Head and Tuning
Rather than explain how to tie the knots on the ring, make the verticals and so on, I'm going to take the easy and perhaps lazy way out and give you links to other people who have already said and demonstrated this better than I can. If I get enough requests I may type up my instructions, but I'd only be echoing the people behind the links below.
Knotting the Rings
Step 8: Conclusions, and Retrofitting Into a Table
I've had my drum finished for almost a month now and I'm quite happy with the result. I'm getting decent clarity between high and bass tones, and it performs well as a really cool table as well.