Picture of Senegalese Style Drums
How to make an original drum - Senegalese Style

I visited a local drum factory in Dakar, Senegal. I made this instructable of the process that I saw.

However, this is not a step by step instructable but it will give you a general idea and almost all the steps to make a drum as they do in Senegal.

carving tools
some welding required
wood sanding tools
varnish ( lighter and darker preferred)
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Cut a piece of wood

Picture of Cut a piece of wood
this should not be done without supervision of an adult.

Step 2: Carving in the center

Picture of Carving in the center
getting the wood and shape

Step 3: Example

Picture of Example
you carve in the center of the wood piece, calculating the size that you want your drum to be.

Step 4: Lots of sanding

Picture of lots of sanding
Sanding lots of sanding

Step 5: Sanding the shape

Picture of sanding the shape
After all the sanding, the drum should look like this.

Very smooth and the circular edges are well made.

Step 6: Varnish

Picture of Varnish
it is recommended that you use two varnishes one that is lighter and one that is darker, ( first you apply one and after you apply the other one) however it is fun to experiment and to make it your own style.

Step 7: Paint and then sand it again

Picture of paint and then sand it again

sometimes you can paint it and then sand it again to make your desired color.

Step 8: Drawings

Picture of Drawings
You can get inspiration from magazines, or you can make your very own drawings to put in your drum

Step 9: Making the drawings

Picture of making the drawings
With ink or acryclic you can apply the drawings to the wood or you can also carve first the designs and then you can paint on top of them.

Step 10: The leather

Picture of The leather
After leaving the leather in water for a while, you should remove it ( be careful it smells) hang it for a little bit to remove the water.

Step 11: Removing the leather's hair

Picture of Removing the leather's hair
Use a razor to remove the hair.

it is totally up to you if you want to leave hair on the edges for decoration, however it will affect the sounds of your drums.

weaver_rage5 years ago
 woah a djembe.. i have been playing these drums a lot.. well if i am not mistaken natives use goatskin.. the side where the fur used to be must be facing up, however you can find sinthetic leather to put on but you need to put it on using bolts and stuff much like a drum.

if i may add, there is a type of weaving of the chord that augments the tension of the leather wich i do not see in the pictures, it's about using another piece of chord to cross the others and make them overlap, i cannot explain it further without  images but you may find something on the net.. also warming the skin on a flame ( froma  distance, you do not want to set your djembe on fire ) can improve the sound significantly..
sorry i was a bit lenghty but i love the drum.. thought it would be useful to some of you..
shmuki5 years ago
Just a couple things. Don't use leather, use rawhide. Leather has been cured in some way, adding chemicals and such. Rawhide is exactly what it sounds like, uncured hide. And if you live in the U.S. you could use deer hide. The natives have been using it forever. it gives a nice light sound.
jalakere5 years ago
 very nice instructable  have been searching for this for quite some time. I have one thing to add to the question about skin to use, many African drums (not djembes though) uses cowskin but that gives pretty much just one sound not the two or three you can get from a djembe. If you live up in the north (like Finland or Sweden) it is hard to come across fresh goatskin, if that is the case i have been recommended reindeer skin, it gives pretty much the same sound as goatskin and in some places it is much easier to get.
itak3656 years ago
I wonder if anyone's made a taiko drum: that would be amazing
Clayton H.6 years ago
My brother got one of these for christmas this year and they sound nice and low.
pyro2226 years ago
Beautiful work my friend. 5 *'s
Sgt.Waffles6 years ago
Sweet ible. These are called "djembes". I have 2 that were made in Africa, and 1 that I made myself.
homba6 years ago
These are a lot of work, but very satisfying when complete. I've made several and use these instructions as a reference.

BTW the hair side ends up facing up. You don't want to play the inside of the skin - it's a little yucky (fat and veins - ugh!) ... smells great when wet - kind of like a dog's rawhide chew toy (pretty much the same material).

Were you on a holiday when you took the photos? In Senegal, perhaps? Cool stuff!
artdaniela (author)  homba6 years ago
Those are nice instructions. Thank you. and yes skin side faces up! oops, but remember that if you are brave enough you can still play around with it to get different sounds. My sister lives there so it makes it easy to wonder around.
nerdologist6 years ago
That's neat that you got to tour a factory. What kind of wood and skins were used to get the best sound?
artdaniela (author)  nerdologist6 years ago
They were using goat and sheep skins. Goat makes a deeper sounds than sheep.
Maybe you can could it with his real name "Djembé", instead of Senegalese-Style Drum :) However, assembling a Djembé is one of the worse jobs ever though by a human being! :D It's takes forever, is dirty (skin cleaning) and fu*ing tiring (carving and roping). Good job anyway! Very detailed!
Thanx for the original name, useful when I blog this. Great instructable!!
silood6 years ago
excellent detail .. very nice work indeed .
nagutron6 years ago
Nice photos. Like you said, it's not a complete insructable, but I love seeing how things are made, even if the descriptions aren't fleshed out completely. One comment: "razor," not "racer." Nice work!