Introduction: How to Make a Reenactment Drum

Hi everyone.

In this instructable I will show you how to make a beautiful, sweet-sounding Reenactment drum. As far as I would go, I would say that it could be used from Viking Age Reenactment, and all the way up to, let's say, to the Renaissance.

This Instructable is not for beginners, and it is highly recommended to have at least basic woodworking and metalworking skills. There are some risky parts in the making of this drum.

Here's the beauty:

Step 1: Supplies & Tools

Okay, here's what you will need:

-Good quality plywood(I use birch)
-Drum heads(I used the very realistic Fiberskyn heads from Remo. Usually, I would keep away from using synthetic materials, but for me, goatskin or other authentic heads are too expensive, and I'm using the drum outdoors, so real skin is way too sensitive to weather change. With synthetic heads, I can keep the beat going whether it's rain or sun!)
-Iron rings, or, alternatively, long iron sticks that you can bend round, and put together with a bolt.*
-Rope(I use hemp rope, it has a nice feel, and adds to the look.)
-Wood glue
- Screws
-Wood(I use oak)
-Laquer for ships or musical instruments
-Wood stain*
-Common sense

The tools you will need, ranges from a simple drill, to a circular saw, so it would be highly advised to have a variety of tools to use. I will not list every single tool to use, as there are many ways to work and use the tools. As mentioned beforehand, it's a great idea to have basic woodworking skills.

* = optional, depending on which kind of fastening you want
** = optional, depending on if you want the raw wood or a fine staining.

Step 2: Cutting, Shaping and Bending the Wood

So, we are starting with the plywood. First of all, decide the size of your drum. I suggest using two layers on your drum. If you use synthetic heads, take in mind that not all sizes of heads are made. I decided, that my drum should be 22 inches across, and 50 centimetres from top to bottom. Sorry for the two different measurement units! 

Okay now. Here's some math. The two layers of plywood should not have the same length, because one goes into the other. The difference between the layers should be the thickness of the plywood times two.

So, you have marked up the wood. Now to the cutting. It has to be the outermost layer of the plywood, that sort of wraps around the drum. If you can't understand this, I will explain if asked to. :) Now cut that wood! Just make sure that you have the right measurements.

Now for the very frustrating part. Maybe you can skip easily over this. You will (maybe) have to cut grooves, as seen on the picture. On my drum, there is a 1 centimeter space between the grooves, that goes down in only about half of the plywood. This makes the wood much easier to bend. This can be done with a circular saw, with a metal ruler or some other stable, straight object.

Whoa, this can take a long time! But when you're finally done with the grooves, you can relax with a long, smoking hot shower....with your wood. Get your wood soaking wet, with the hottest water you can find(not boiling!), and really get them heavy with the water. Now, you should be able to carefully bend the wood, with the grooves on the inside. Find some straps, preferably some used for transportation. Wide, long nylon straps are best. Together with an other savvy hand, bend the wood, so that the ends of the inner layer are opposite the ends of the outer layer. Keep them together with the straps, and maybe some clamps. Again, your plywood may act different than mine. Let it dry for about a week.

Step 3: Securing the Shape

Okay, now for securing your fine, round shape. Cut some blocks, and screw them through your fine round drum shell, and onto blocks on the inside. The blocks should be positioned at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o' clock. But then again, maybe your plywood is stable enough, so the blocks are unnecessary. Use common sense. Please refer to the picture to see how it should look, just without the staining. Or, at least, how it could look. Now, lean back, and go check how expensive pre-fabricated drum shells are.

Now, sand your edges of the drum. Look, it's a giant science, what angle should it be? How round? Well, for me, It doesn't matter. Do what your want. Feel free to ask.

Step 4: Heavy Metal Hula Hoop!

Okay, now you have to options. If you want to make a Medieval style fastening to the skin, you can skip this part, and go directly poking holes in the skin, and strapping it, and then go drop some sick beats. An example of this is the drum below, the one that's on a wolfskin.

WARNING! If you have chosen the Medieval style, and you use a synthetic head, please be careful when making holes. The holes in the read can quickly rip, if not done properly. I don't know how to do it the right way, though.

But, if you want to make what I call a Renaissance style fastening, please read on, and see the intro image. This is an example of Renaissance style fastening. I have chosen this style for this drum.

Let's move on. If you have found metal rings that fit your drum right inside of the metal border around the synthetic head, great! You can go to the next step. If not, read on.

Now, find some round iron sticks. Bend them, so that they are as round as your drum, and the same size. If it is difficult, and you want a more pro look, you can run the sticks through a metal roller to get the perfect curve. Please allow a little space between the head and metal ring for leather tuning claws.

Step 5: Making and Fastening the Leather Tuning Claws

Now, this is still about the Renaissance fastening and tuning style. Now find your leather. It should be a little stiff, and should could take some downward pressure. Now, cut some oval pieces, you choose the size. Just make sure there is space enough for everything. I cut 9 claws for each metal ring, 18 all together. Mark two holes in each end, with a little space from the edge. Cut out the holes with a scalpel or a circular chisel.

Now, wrap them around the metal ring, as shown on the picture. This can be a little difficult, so you might need your savvy hand from step 2.

Step 6: Strap Up!

Now, this step is both for those Medieval style fastenings and the Renaissance style fastenings. For you Medievallers, you can just strap it with the rope thorugh the holes in the skin, one hole at a time. Renaissance, head on shell, metal ring on head, leather claws around metal ring, rope through the leather claws. Bottom, top, bottom, top, untill you have been all the way around. Medieval style, please look at the main image in step 4 to see the technique. Tie it, as hard as you can, and wait. It will slowly loosen up. Now, strap it even harder, tie, and wait again. Repeat untill it don't loosen up anymore. You will probably have to untie it, and tighten it again, probably with a couple of days intervals.

For leather tuning straps, as shown on the picture, you will need a appropriate width of leather. Sew them together, and tune it up!

Step 7: Boom Boom Clap! Done!

Heyhey! You´re basically done! Now, you'll need small things like maybe a gut snare, some drumsticks, a shoulder-carrying system, staining the drum or removing the brand stamp from the drum heads.

Please feel free to ask about anything that could come to your mind, questions, answers, anything. Oh, and remember to post pictures if you decide to make a drum, whether it's my way or anyone elses!!

-Oliver Larsen