Intro: Making an Atabaque (Afro-Brazilian Conga)
The Atabaque is an Afro-Brazilian conga drum that is used in the Martial Art/Dance/Game of Capoeira, and the Afro-Brazilian Religion of Candomblé. The steps provided in this instructable are for making a rope-tensioned, as opposed to a lug-tensioned drum. If you wish to bring axé (energy) into your roda, or call upon the Orixas (protective spirits of Candomblé), this instructable will give you the information that you need to build your own Grande Atabaque! Muito Axé!
Step 1: Gather All of Your Materials
Materials needed for this over all are:
100 feet of Manila rope
9 boards of Maple that are .5" thick, 8" wide, and 40" long
1 Bottle of Titebond 3 wood glue, or any other water resistant glue
1 Can of Marine Varnish, or any other wood protectant
1 1 1/2"x1 1/2"x20" Black Walnut turning square
1 22" round of Cow Rawhide http://www.djembedirect.com/store/djembe_goat_skin
2 16" inside diameter steel rings that are 1/4" thickhttp://www.africanrhythmtraders.com/html/drumrings.html
1 15.5" inside diameter ring
2 Ratcheting tie downs
1 can of black spraypaint
1 gigantic 55 gallon plastic bag
1 pot large enough to boil water for 3 hours strong
1 table saw with a blade you can angle and rip fence, or 1 large woodworkers plane
1 small plane
1 large bucket or long planter trough (no holes)
1 screw driver
Step 2: Cutting the Boards
In order to create a round body for the drum, the edges along the sides will need to be at an angle of 10 degrees for 18 staves, so I devised a way to get the stave cut out of the board with the bevel at the same time.A small distance from the top, draw the top, middle and bottom widths at 58mm, 80mm, and 22mm wide, with the distance between the top and bottom widths 1000mm (1M) and distance between the top and middle at 457mm. this will be your template
Then get a second board and angle the saw blade to 10 degrees and placed the rip fence at a distance equal to the width of the second board away from the point of contact of the saw blade. Then line the drawn line of one side of the template board with the straight edge of the other board and tape it down with gorilla tape. Then run it through the saw, lift the tape, turn and repeat for all of the other sides of the template.
Trace the template twice on each board, next to each other with a gap between to allow the saw blade to rip the boards , and then repeat the cutting method for the template with the new staves.
Step 3: Forming the Shell
Next, for ease of forming, lay the staves side by side, wide ends together and wide ends up. Roll a lot of gorilla tape over it. A lot. Then flip the entire assembly, apply some water resistant glue to the valleys in-between the staves that the beveled edges create, and let the splayed, narrower edges stay dry. Roll the staves into each other, and tape or wrap shut. Allow the glue to dry for double the time, a lot of moisture and heat will be used.
Unwrap the new drum flower from tape a day after it was applied.
Set up the large boiler with water and make sure its really steaming. As its boiling, turn your attention to the shell again, and place some steel rings and/or banding around the already glued portion, securing it in place with screws. Then place the large plastic bag over the drum, and place the entire assembly over the pot, and let it steam for 3 hours.
Quickly, bend the rest of the wood together after the steaming, using either rope, or ratcheting tie downs. Tie downs can be hooked together to help tighten the staves, and they work well, they also stay in place better, but you better be strong to do it to the end because it gets tough. Also if your tie downs or rope slip, add resistance by putting screws in its path (you can use wood glue or putty to fill that gap close to the end of construction). Let the drum dry 2 days before loosening it a bit and applying glue to the bent legs then tightening it back up. Let the glue dry for double the time to allow the glue to cure well and get strong, there is pressure built up in the legs. Trust me; the double time drying makes a difference.
Step 4: Finishing the Shell
Sand the entire shell smooth, and follow your sealants instructions for use.
Step 5: Making the Stand
Take your plywood, then cut out 1 16”x16” panel and 2 16”x12” panels. Create a 3 sided box with it, using square strips of wood to join them together (by drilling into them). Find the center of the top panel and create a 10” hole. Finish the stand with any sealants.
Step 6: Making the Pegs
Take the turning squares and cut them using any kind of saw, preferably a band saw, into wedge shapes, allowing for a flat portion to help resist breakage of the ends when hammering the pegs down.
Step 7: Heading the Atabaque
Get your hide and submerge it in room temp water for about 8 hours. During this time, get your rings and rope together. get one of your large rings and begin making loops around it like these pictures illustrate.
Place the other large ring under the drum.
Loosely thread the rope under the bottom ring and through the top loops, and do not yet tie the ends together.
when the hide is done soaking, lay it flat on the ground and put the last ring in the middle. punch small holes around the edge (for ease of application) using a hammer and screwdriver on wood and thread small rope through it, cinching it up after you are done.
Now push the hide/ring combo through the vertical ropes on the drum and over the mouth of it. Get rid of the small rope and wiggle the skin and rings down a bit to get some room between the lip and the rings. tighten the verticals, and tie the ends together and let the skin dry un-tightened. it is normal at this point for the skin to suck into the drum as it dries, it will tighten up when the pegs are added.
After 3 days of drying, drive the pegs between the bottom ring and drum shell and tighten the skin. The atabaque is ready to be played!