Update: We are now selling them. Visit our page: https://www.facebook.com/malucoatabaque

An atabaque is an Afro-Brazilian drum similar to a conga, but not as refined in the sound or the manufacturing process (but that does not mean it does not sound or look good). It's the 'rough' appearance that makes it stand out from other drums.
It is used in Capoeira and Candomble (Afro-Bahian religion) as well as some other activities.

First off, I'd like to express my gratitude to Chapa de Frente for his tutorial on how to make an atabque.
I did quite a lot of research on the topic, watched a good amount of footage and DIY videos
(links are given on the last page) here and there and the work of Chapa de Frente was the more reusable.

Still, all units and materials are specific to the US, and being in Australia, I just couldn't do the same.
Also, there was a number of things I wanted to attempt in a different way.
Lastly, there is no word whatsoever on the metal work involved. I tried to get quotes for that here in AU, and it was ridiculously expensive (like 100$ for a ring that costs 6$ a meter at the shop).

In Australia, capoeira is still developing and not as widespread as other places, but import restrictions are EXTREMELY tough. Wood and Skin are an absolute nightmare to get through. It's also very expensive to buy an atabaque in the first place (say 800$ plus shipping).

For all these reasons, I set out to build 'meu atabaque' from scratch, using methods explained in various places (including coopering ) and in the beautiful tradition of sharing for others to try themselves, I present my humble (sometimes very humble) construction methods.

It will cover
- build methods for both body and stand
- woodwork
- metalwork
- ropework
- notes on skin (unfinished)

I do not have any prior instrument-making skills, but I like a good challenge and above all I like fixing and tinkering.

If you're keen to make your own atabaque for a cheap price, read on. Bunnings has most of what you need.
The information presented here can be used in pretty much any country, providing you are motivated enough to find the materials and a way to use them to achieve the same result.

Targeted end result
A 24 staves atabaque that looks the part, 1m tall, 300mm at its widest point, 250mm at the skin, rope tensioning system and a matching stand.

A word on materials
The list presented here is probably not the most suited for the task, but it did the job.
The wood I used for example, is Tasmanian Oak because it is a local wood, cheap, pre-cut to the dimensions I needed at Bunnings. My research indicated that atabaques made in Brazil used to be made out of Jacaranda timber, but being now a protected species, nearly all of them are made of Pine. Bunnings has pine (that did not look good or flexible/strong enough to bend without breaking) and then Tassie oak. That's it. Short of going to an expensive special-purpose timber shop (that I have since found), the oak had to do it.
The metal is mostly scrap I collected. If you can buy it to the right dimension, go for it.
The skin remains an issue. I have not sourced a skin (calf/cow) yet and used a large piece of leather instead. It does the trick but I think the sound would be sensibly better with a real skin. Since it involves re-heading and thus re-doing the ropework, I'll save that for later :)


Drum Body
8x 40x10x3000 Tasmanian oak boards
3x 10mm x 10m Sisal rope
1x 6mm x 5m Sisal rope
1x 12mm x 1000mm steel rod
2x 10mm x 1000mm steel rod
4m 1mm x 30mm steel strip
7mm x 4mm steel rivets
wooden glue
wood stain
wood varnish
1x 700mm diameter skin/leather piece
black metal paint
hard wood for pegs

3x 40x10x3000 Tasmanian oak boards
1.5m 2mm x 30mm steel wrap
7mm x 4mm steel rivets
wooden glue
wood stain
wood varnish
tapestry nails
200mm x 1000mm leather piece
black metal paint

(the more the merrier)
circular saw (better: bandsaw, even better, router)
drill with drill bits and countersunk bits
sand paper
hand saw
hammer (large heavy for metal work, smaller ones for other work)
ropes and ratchets

In the course of making the drum, I had to make multiple jigs, for cutting, bending, adjusting etc. I had to get creative for some of them. You will likely find a better way to achieve the same result based on your own resources. Assess them !

IT TAKES TIME so don't rush it. you WILL get stuck at some point. You WILL make mistakes, be it in the preparation, cut or assembly. It's OK. just think before you act. You may have to fix things like I had to, that's OK too. Take your time. Between week ends and evenings, it took me 6 months to make mine.

On to work
This is how we are going to proceed:
1 Making the Base Stand
- woodwork
- metalwork
- finishing
- leather padding
2 Making the Body
- woodwork
- metalwork
- finishing
3 Heading the Body
- metalwork
- ropework

Chronologically, I made the stand after making the body. But this does not matter much.
There is a fair bit of specialized metal work that I completed using very humble means. People with more experience and machinery will likely laugh at it, but I got the job done nonetheless.

I had to pull trigonometry and primary school math to get it done. It was sort of fun. Angles and dimensions are approximative but they do work as intended.

Diameter at the base: (TO MEASURE)
Diameter at the top: (TO MEASURE)
Staves: 24
Stave length: 300mm
Stave cutting angle: 7.5 degrees (180/24)
Stave cutting point at the top:
Stave cutting point at the base:
Metal hoop cone angle: 5~6 degrees

Diameter at the base: (TO MEASURE)
Diameter at the widest point: (TO MEASURE)
Diameter at the top: (TO MEASURE)
Staves: 24
Stave length: 1000mm
Stave cutting angle: 7.5 degrees (180/24)
Stave cutting point at the top:
Stave length from top to mid-section:
Stave cutting point at the base:
Stave length from mid-section to the base:
Metal hoop cone angle: 5~6 degrees
Metal ring diameters: (top) (below top) (bottom)

Total weight after assembly: (TO MEASURE)

Step 1: Making the stand

Note: I made the base stand AFTER creating the body. It's much simpler to make the base, but making it after making the body allowed me to build it to size so it precisely fits the body (no nasty surprise) - Consider this, it may be good for you too.
Also, the construction method for the stand is identical (but much more simple) to the body. Have a look at the next step before doing this one.

First, cut 24 staves in 30cm strips.
Next, make a cutting gig (assuming you will use a circular saw) that will let you cut at a 7.5 degree angle alongside a straight line.
Cut all 24 staves on one side then adjust the gig and cut the again on the opposite side.
Sand a bit the newly-cut edge, as it will be glued and must offer the maximum contact surface possible.

On to the assembly.
Before you glue anything, put all the staves neatly sided and tightly aligned then tape them together with lots of strong tape.
(Same as Chapa de frente's photo and also my own)
Bring both sides of the tape together to obtain a full assembly that's solid and tight. Tape it a bit more if necessary and leave it be.

Now prepare a hoop with the 1mm thick steel strip. I got mine from a nearby warehouse that sells mattresses. They use the strips to strap the mattresses on pallets and thus are quite solid and up to the task. It's scrap for them, gold for me.
This first bit of metal work involves turning this flat steel into a cone-shape one.
Short of having a metal angled roller for the purpose, you can use a hammer and a round steel block to get the same result.
The process is simple but a bit tiring (and quite noisy, use ear protection and do it in a place neighbours won't complain): simply hit the metal strip (resting on the rounded edge of the block) on one side only (I only it the right side of the strip), alongside the strip. Repeat the process several times, going as far in as 1/3rd of the width of the strip so it's smooth enough that when rolled together in a cone shape, it shows a 5 to 6 degree angle. This will change depending on the diameter of the hoop so try and adjust as needed until it fits the base assembly we have created.

When the hoop is ready, cut it to length (so that it will fall about 10 cm from the top of the base assembly), drill 3 holes and rivet them onto itself with the rivet head inside (smoother) and hammer the opposite side down. 

Now, you can open the base assembly, lay it flat and put glue on the stave edges (not too much) and then re-wrap it together like before. Make sure the base is flat and all staves are aligned properly. Fix those that need be.
This time, place the hoop at the top and hammer it down a little bit (use a steel thin block, it helps a LOT).
Strap and ratchet the bottom then properly hammer down the top hoop until glue squeezes out of the stave joints. Leave it to dry for as long as the glue needs (usually a day or 2).
Note: The use of metal hoop at that stage is not mandatory but it ensures that the staves are aligned and tight. It's also very good practice for the body assembly.

When the glue has dried, remove the strap and ratchet, hammer the hoop out and remove the tape.
Plane the rough edges and sand the whole thing. You can spend a lot of time trying to make it super-smooth, as you wish.
You can decide to cut out some wood with a jigsaw if you want to give more style to the base. A simple diamond shape cutout gives it a nice look.

When the wood is nice and clean of glue and dust, apply a wood stain of your choice.

Now is the time to make a second metal hoop like the first one, adjusting its diameter so it's flush to the top of the base assembly but still tight on the staves. This hoop's role is to keep the staves together when the heavy body is being pushed down and slammed to produce noise (vibrations) so it must be carefully crafted.
Also take the fist hoop you created and adjust it (that may mean re-cut) so it falls nicely below the top hoop and leaves enough space in between for us to nail the leather down later on.
Hammer down those hoops in place until they are tight and secure. You may even drill an extra hole and screw them in place in the wood for extra safety.

Once in place, clean and paint the hoops with 2 layers of black metal paint. Basic paintwork advice: mask tape the wood around !

A bit later when it's dry, apply 3 coats of varnish on the wood.

When the wood finishing is done, nail in the leather so that the fold is on the outside and the open end come to the inside of the base assembly.
You may add an extra insert of padding to adjust for the body's bottom diameter to fit where you want. Leave it as this until the body is finished and come back later as needed.

When you are ready to finish the base and have added padding as necessary, fold the leather and padding back in and nail it into place securely.

That's it, the base is done (and it looks good, no ?)

<p>Fast forward a couple years. I have now made more atabaques and am in the process of making even more. Will be trying new building methods, but I can already tell you that using a bandsaw is a good option. More news and photos can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/malucoatabaque </p>
<p>I am learning how to play Capoeira instruments just now and i am starting with the Atabaque. Never though about building one myself so these instructions are great. Thank you</p><p>http://brazilian-martialarts.com/atabaque</p>
<p>Hi your instructable is really awesome ! I'm planning on making my own atabaque and i worry about the cuting part for the staves, i don't get how your cutting jig works. i know it's a bit old but if you can give me some advices that would be great :)</p><p>Ax&eacute; !</p>
Hey ! All the best with the adventure. It's VERY rewarding in the end.<br>My jig essentially pins down a wooden board so that I can cut it at a 7.5degree angle with the circular saw. The staves have sort of a coffin cut shape, extremities are thin, 3/4 down is the thickest point. That makes it 4 cuts (2 for each side) for every stave. My jig allowed me to reposition the staves for each cut. I did the first cut 24 times, then modified the jig and went on for the next 24, and so on. To be honest, my latest atabaque was cut on a bandsaw. Seems much better (even with a crappy bandsaw like I have). The ultimate cuts I have seen is made with a custom router table. 5 second job per side. That's for later.
<p>Thanks a lot for the tips ;) i only have a circular saw so i'll try to make the stand first and see how it goes :D</p>
<p>Legal! (cool!)</p>
Excellent! This is going in my to pile.

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