OK, so this project started when a friend of mine told me he was going to make a snare drum from an antique table and I thought, "Wow! How?" He told me about stave drums and how they are made up of individual segments all glued together instead of bent ply and I was hooked. Long story short: I designed a jig to make the snare drum without any fancy tools and went on to make my first stave snare drum. As for my mate's table... well it's still a table! But he liked my snare!
So what do you need:
- Some wood
- A drill
- A router
- A chopsaw
- Some wire
- An old snare (or you can by the hardware online)
- A bit of wood working skill!
Step 1: STEP 1: Choose Your Staves
We're going to be making a 14" snare that is 6.5" deep and made from 10 staves (segments). The drawing above shows you some other options if you want to make a different diameter shell. Get yourself familiar with your dimensions, then let's get chopping.
One point here on selecting your wood. If you're like my mate, you might chop up an old table and use that. If you're like me you'll go to a good lumber yard and buy some exotic wood. If you ask them they will be able to check that the moisture level in the wood is less than 10%. To be sure you can leave the wood somewhere warm in doors for a couple of days first, e.g. boiler cupboard. I went with american white ash for my snare.
Step 2: STEP 2: CHOP YOUR STAVES
Based on the dimensions chosen, you need to set your chop saw up and cut identical staves. Take your time here to get the saw set up accurately and try a few practices cuts first. I performed the steps in this order:
- Cut the blocks into slightly over-sized rectangles exactly 6.5" high
- Your grain direction should run top to bottom
- The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that I have made 12 staves here - it's a good idea to do a couple extra just in case a couple go wrong!
- Set the chop saw to cut at exactly 18 degrees from vertical and add the angled edges to each stave
Step 3: STEP 3: GLUE THE STAVES
OK, so the next step is to glue all your staves together. Try a dry fit first and decide which 10 staves you are going to use and in which order and orientation to ensure you get the best fit. Once you're ready liberally apply wood glue and assemble the shell. Don't worry about any over-spill of glue here, as the inner and outer faces will all be cut away later.
It is essential that you apply some compression to the stave assembly while the glue dries - to do this, loop a couple of pieces of wire around the assembly and twist the ends together. I looped a screwdriver in and used this as a lever to twist the wires to a good tension.
Now you need to wait 24 hours...
Step 4: STEP 4: CREATE THE JIG
The drawings above show you exactly what you need to make the jig and there is a list of the parts required. The sides and rounds are made from 1" MDF (or any other cheap wood). I got my local lumber yard to cut the two rounds for me and they were pretty cheap. The sides I just bought as 600 mm square boards.
The next step shows you some photos of the assembled jig.
Step 5: STEP 5: ASSEMBLE THE JIG
Once you've cut out the sides of the jig to the drawing (I used a router and a jig saw here), you're ready to assemble the jig.
Step 6: STEP 6: ROUND THE OUTSIDE
Once you've created the jig you're nearly ready to start turning the outside face. First of all clamp the stave assembly in between the two rounds - try to align this as central as possible. Once you've securely clamped the staves you can insert the assembly into the jig.
Now set your router to fixed depth and spin the assembly by hand. Keep increasing the depth of your router until you reach the required diameter of the shell. This will be ~2.2 mm larger than the rounds that run in the jig. Don't worry about the shell being slightly rough at this point, this will be sanded down by hand to get a perfectly smooth finish.
Step 7: STEP 7: ROUND THE INSIDE
OK, now you've finished the outside take the assembly out of the jig and remove the round clamps. The drum shell is now going to run on the outer face of the shell onto the bearings, so apply a few laps of masking tape to the top and bottom edges so the bearings don't mark the shell.
Take the aluminium angle router guides from the top face of the jig and move them to the inside. you can now run the router through the inside of the shell and round in the same manner performed on the outside.
I went for a 10 mm thick shell on my snare.
Once you've reached the required thickness, turn the router through 90 degrees and use a flute bit to add a 45 degree chamfer to the inside face of the shell.
Step 8: STEP 8: SAND AND FINISH
At this point you need to put in a bit of manual work to get a pristine finish on the outside of the shell. First of all you need to sand the inside and the outside down until they have a smooth finish. Start with some coarse sand paper to get the shell generally smooth then work down through finer grits.
Once you've got the shell smooth you can finish it. I just used Danish oil to bring out the grain as this gives a beautiful natural look.
The last step before finishing is to drill the holes for the hardware you've selected. I used a 10 lug hoop as this meant I could drill the holes exactly in the middle of each stave.
Step 9: STEP 9: HARDWARE SELECTION
There are lots of websites that sell all the hardware you need for a custom drum. Of course you can just steal all the hardware you want from an old snare, but it's great fun customizing your snare at this point and making it truly a one-of-a-kind!
I went for black chrome lugs and hoops with a trick strainer.
Step 10: STEP 10: ASSEMBLE AND PLAY!
So you're pretty much there. Just assemble the hardware onto your snare, tune up and play!
Hope you enjoy and if you make a snare, please send me the pictures!!