Surdo beaters are one of those things the average samba drum band goes through quite a lot. New ones are not always cheap - single beaters can cost around 10 pounds each, and of course you end up buying 2 so you have a matching pair.
This Instructable is about how to make your own. The basic ingredients cost me about 10-15 pounds, but I've got 9 or 10 beaters out of them so far, so you can see the cost saving. Of course it gets cheaper if you can recycle old wooden broom handles, stuffing from broken stuffed toys etc. If your beater has broken off right near the head, you might even be able to reuse the shaft to make a new one.
Step 1: Get Your Stuff Together
Round wooden stick/ dowelling, 2-3 cm (0.8 - 1.2 ins) diameter.
Broom handles work well and I've also used a recycled chair leg. You could also use aluminium tubing
Self-adhesive rubber foam sealing strip
You can find this in any DIY shop, being sold to seal window or door frames, round the edges of baths etc. Go for something between 1-3 cm wide, and with a decent layer of foam. Boat stores/ ship chandlers etc. also sell similar stuff as weather seal for boats
Synthetic or cotton padding/ stuffing (I think it's known as batting in the US)
You're looking for the wadding you use to stuff quilts or coats. If you can't get that, toy stuffing works as well. You can often get a large amount very cheaply
2 or 3 round latex balloons
Elastic/ rubber band
Thick towelling sports socks or hiking socks work better than thin cotton ones.
Duct/ gaffer tape
Electrical insulating tape
Step 2: Wood and Felt
1. Cut your wood to the size you need.
Surdo mallets tend to be between 13.5 and 16 inches. What size you decide on depends on personal preference, the size of drum you play etc
2. Cut a strip of felt about 10 cm (4 ins) long and the width of your stick.
3. Roll the felt up into a roll then squish it down to flatten it a bit.
4. Place the felt roll on the end of your wood and tape it down with duct tape
I tend to use 2 lengths of tape crossing over each other, then use a third bit to tape the ends down to the stick firmly
Step 3: Padding
5. Cut a length of foam sealing strip about 38 cm (15 inches long).
6. Stick the end of the sealing strip to the stick, just below the felt/ tape ball. Wrap the sealing strip around the stick until about 5-7 cm (2-3) inches of the stick are covered.
How firm your finished beater is at the end can be altered by how tightly you wrap the sealing strip. If you want a firm beater, wrap it tightly. If you want a more squishy one, wrap a little looser.
Hint: The sealing strip is easier to handle if you peel the backing strip off as you go along, rather than taking it off all at once.
7. Cut 2 long lengths of padding, about 5 cm (2 inches) wide and about 100 cm (40 inches) long.
If you're using toy stuffing, this isn't so easy as it doesn't come in nice, easy-to-handle sheets. Get a good handful and try and tease it out into a long strip.
8. Tape one end of the padding to the sealing strip with duct tape.
9. Start winding the stuffing round the stick, building up the padding round the foam sealing strip. Do 2 layers over the the sealing strip, then start wrapping the stuffing diagonally so that you start to build up a nice round head. Don't forget to go over the top of the felt/ tape ball as well. Secure the end with tape.
This is harder to do if you're using toy stuffing. Try winding round what you can and mould it into a ball.
10. You should now have a ball of padding round the stick. Push the bottom of the ball round the shaft up so it's nice and round.
Step 4: Covering
11. Cut the mouth and a bit of the neck off a balloon.
12. Stretch the balloon over the stuffing ball. Pull it tightly down over the wadding, then down the shaft of the beater. If necessary, push the stuffing into the ball manually.
13. Repeat this with 1 or 2 more balloons, making sure that each time the neck of the balloon is pulled right down and over the shaft. Mould the head into a nice round shape after each balloon.
14. Tape the bottom of the last balloon down to the stick with insulating tape. Wrap it round 2 or 3 times for a good secure hold.
This might seem a bit of a faff, but it keeps the padding in one nice, tight neat round ball... and it stops the rain getting in!
15. Stretch a sock over the head of the beater and pull it tight (you don't want it sagging). Use an elastic band to secure the sock.
16. Cut round the sock below the elastic band, leaving about 2 cm (half an inch) below the head.
17. Tape the end of the sock to the shaft with insulating tape, then keep winding it round so that the end of sock up to the elastic band are completely covered. Also wind the tape down the stick a little way.
I find that my surdo beaters always break just below the head. By taping down the stick a little way, you give this area a little bit of reinforcement.
If you want to refine this a little bit, you could wrap tennis racket grip tape round the other end of the stick to give you a more comfortable hold. This especially recommended if you're using aluminium tubing rather than wood.
If you want to make these look a bit more swanky and professional, try using a file to round off the end of the wood. If you don't have a file, rub it on the pavement.
If your beaters are just looking a bit threadbare, gently peel off the cloth layer and replace with a sock. Check the layer underneath to make sure it's still holding up. Don't throw the beater away just because it's looking a bit tatty.