Introduction: DIY Tuneable Practice Drum Pad

Picture of DIY Tuneable Practice Drum Pad

 Well, I'm a percussionist and I spent the last 3 and a half years since I started without a practice pad (surprisingly). Yes, practice pads are pretty cheap (you could get one for $15 from Remo), but I much prefer making my own. I also had all of the parts available already. It took about a day to make this and write up the instructable.

So for this instructable, you will need the following:

THREE 1'x1'x3/8" (one square foot by 3/8 inch) pieces of particle board
SIX screws, nuts, and washers
TWO c-clamps
ONE drill
ONE Dremel with vertical cutting bit and drill press stand
ONE jigsaw
ONE sanding block with sand paper
ONE brush
ONE can of polyurethane or equivalent wood sealant
ONE drum head
ONE bottle of wood glue

some sort of padding (I used an old undershirt)
and the following basic items: pencil/pen, compass, protractor, ruler, safety glasses, face mask

Jigsaws cause wood chips to fly everywhere. It's a good idea to wear safety glasses. Also, please wear a mask when sanding. Wood dust in the lungs isn't as bad as fiberglass, but let's keep anything that's not normally part of the air out of our lungs shall we?

Step 1: Taking Measurements

Picture of Taking Measurements

 Measuring things out is always important. Make sure the pieces of particle board are large enough so that you can cut out circles that have radii 1/2" larger than that of the entire drum head. You're going to need that to put screw through later.

Step 2: Sketch Everything Out

Picture of Sketch Everything Out

 Find the center of each of the boards. Using a compass, draw out the circles. You will need the following pieces:

TWO inner rings that will fit within the inside lip of the drum head
ONE outer ring that will fit around the entire drum head 
ONE ring with a smaller inner radius than the prior outer ring
ONE round base

Each inner ring can be cut out from the same piece of wood as either of the outer rings.

It's hard to explain all the parts you need to cut out, but just look through the rest of the Instructable and it will make more sense.

Step 3: Cutting Part 1: Making Circles

Picture of Cutting Part 1: Making Circles

 Clamp all three boards together and proceed to cut. Do this part however you feel comfortable. I placed the two clamps on adjacent edges of the square (or what used to be square) and the cut off the opposite corner with a jigsaw.

Step 4: Cutting Part 2: Cutting Rings

Picture of Cutting Part 2: Cutting Rings

 This part is slightly tricky. Just remember to be patient. Work slowly and carefully. Particle board isn't be best material to work with because of its tendency to crumble.

I forgot to get a picture of this step, so I will try my best to explain it in words. Start by drilling a hole just inside the circle labeled "outer ring." Widen the hole with the vertical cutting Dremel bit. Finish the rest of the hoop with the jigsaw.

Step 5: Assembling Part 1

Picture of Assembling Part 1

 Now to put everything together. (sort of)

Step 6: Sanding and Assembling Part 2

Picture of Sanding and Assembling Part 2

The outside edge of the inner ring needs to be rounded lest you tear through the drum head when it needs tightening.

Step 7: Sealing

Picture of Sealing

I expect to use the practice pad a lot, so it's a good idea to seal the wood to keep out the moisture and keep the wood from crumbling.

Step 8: Assembling and Cutting (Final Step!)

Picture of Assembling and Cutting (Final Step!)

Put it all together and cut off the ends of the screws.


jehu.derecho (author)2015-01-15

Question, instead of drum head, can i put a sheet of rubber instead? i like how secured this pad looks like :D thank you

rotf101 (author)jehu.derecho2015-01-15


If you had a pretty stiff sheet of rubber, you might have some luck. You could cut out the rubber sheet and stick it to the back of the top wooden ring, drill the holes, and then assemble everything.

My recommendation, however, would be to find a old drum with a trashed shell and salvage the hoop and old head. You can then make the base of the practice pad as normal, and then you would have a drum pad with a rim and real head! That way to can practice your rimshots, too.

Hope that helps!

kaspercussie (author)2011-11-30

If you wouldn't use dampening and open up the bottom you could actually make really cool flat toms with this same method. The LP giovanni hidalgo compact congas are made by the same principle I think. Good job!

Spectrace (author)2010-04-06

thats neat. almost like the plastic ones you can buy for about $20-25. I have a two sided rubber practice pad, which i believe was $40 or $50 when i got it. I've been playing drums for about 8-9 years. And those look like the same drumsticks i started with. (Vic Firth SG1 i think they were?)

rotf101 (author)Spectrace2010-04-06

 Vic Firth SD1 generals. Probably the same just a different name.

Spectrace (author)rotf1012010-04-06

yeah thats it, i couldn't pinpoint the name. those are the same ones i started with. They've long since been retired since i got several pairs of Regal Tip sticks on sale when the family-owned music store near me closed.  Mine are so chopped up.

tbone121 (author)Spectrace2010-10-12

so your saying youve been druming for 9 years but have only had two pairs of stick, i prob have over 200 pairs and this is my 7th year druming, i have such alarge variety

Spectrace (author)tbone1212010-10-12

when did i say i only had 2 pairs of sticks. i have more than 2 pairs, but several are unused. I haven't been playing as much since going to college

chapa-de-frente (author)2010-10-05

yes, very good, i must do this as well (this site is so awesome)

macmaniac (author)2010-09-02

How loud is this?

rotf101 (author)macmaniac2010-09-03

It's as loud as any other plastic-head kind of practice pad. If you really want something quiet, go for a HQ practice pad. Those are really quiet.

Pants3000 (author)2010-04-07

Thinking...if instead of particle board you used actual spare drum rims, it could possibly be a step towards building your own roto toms...

drummonkey92 (author)Pants30002010-06-08

or make something simmilar to Pearl's travel conga

mainremission (author)2010-04-06

if you made a whole kit like that and put it on a frame, would it be practical? I know it would be easier to get a real kit, but I'm just wondering.

rotf101 (author)mainremission2010-04-06

 Sure you could make a whole kit like this, but making the frame for "drum rack" would be a whole other challenge of its own.

It's "do-able," but it will take a lot of time and patience. You will save a considerable amount of money though, seeing as the cheapest practice drum kit is about $200.

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