How to Make a Stave Snare Drum!




Introduction: How to Make a Stave Snare Drum!

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.


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


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...


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!!

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      17 Discussions

      Sweet instructable and templates. Just a comment about exotic woods. Many endangered and protected woods can still be purchased at your local lumber yard. Even some that are illegal to import. I try to think about where my woods are harvested, not just who sources them. Local hardwoods work just fine for applications like this typically. Furniture makers throw out cutoffs bigger than these staves all the time, and typically they would rather give them away than trash them. Make friends with woodworkers and they will give you free wood and usually advice too.

      Your jig is amazingly inventive. It looks like it could be modified for other cylindrical shapes.

      1 reply

      Hi, yeah I'm sure you could make other things without too much modification...


      2 years ago

      awesome! Just wondering, did you have to sand down a little too create a snare bed in the shell or did you keep the bottom bearing edge perfectly flat.

      1 reply

      Hi, the bearing edge is identical on the top and bottom - they both had a 45 degree chamfer on the inside edge that stopped a couple of mm short of the outside edge. There is no recess for the snare wire, this is just held flat against the bottom head.

      See pic below - different snare, but looks the same :)

      Snare Wire.JPG

      great jig ! It's a shame my router wont fit inside a drum to round inside :(

      1 reply

      Thanks! I bought the little router I used for the jig - literally cost £10! But did the job fine :)

      Loved it. I voted for beyond. That jig to round the unit is a unique idea. You should market it lol

      1 reply

      Thanks! Yeah the jig worked out pretty sweet - poor man's lathe I guess!

      Great work!! The snare turned out beautiful. Voted!

      1 reply

      Hey man, thanks! Appreciate the vote!

      Hi Jason, yeah making a full kit would be incredible - you'd need a big jig for the kick drum though! I loved making this snare - takes a bit of time, but very rewarding!