The Travolette




About: Desktop Support Technician by day. Rock Drummer by night. DIY Home Improvement Enthusiast. Maker of whatever I can imagine in between it all. Professional level napper. I have a full workshop in my basem...

This is an American Percussion design.

If you would like to purchase a custom, handmade Travolette and/or Hat Box, please visit

It's no secret that drums and other percussion instruments are made in my workshop ... at least it isn't anymore if it ever was. Like most fabrication processes, there are leftovers ... mmmm leftovers. I love leftovers ... especially meatloaf and chili ... delicious. Anyway, they aren't leftovers as much as they are scraps or cut offs .. and not the kind of scraps you feed your family pet under the table when the Warden isn't looking.

Step 1: The Parts

Plywood drum shell stock comes in 24" deep tubes. Once you acquire all of your desired shells from this tube, you usually have a cut off. Maybe you are some Woodworking/Mathematics Ninja and/or you have the power to calculate everything perfectly, resulting in no scrap. In that case, I would like to hang out with you and Chuck Norris ... at the same time.

I however, am far from a Ninja .. I don't even own pajamas .. but I did have a 2.5" deep cut off of 8" diameter shell stock. I also had this Poplar board with some interesting grain and coloring.

I decided to make a Travolette, because I saw one on youtube, it looked pretty cool, and would fit right in on my big floating shelves.

Step 2: Milling the Playing Surfaces

The first thing to do was resaw the Poplar board. It was 6" wide, while the shell is 8" in diamater. I started on the bandsaw, but I'm not very skilled on the bandsaw. I can't take all the blame though ... there is a lot of vibration in the saw, as well as drift. In the interest of time and my attention span, I switched to the table saw. Little by little, the blade was raised to remove most of the material, then you can finish it off with a handsaw or whatever. I freehanded it on the bandsaw since I now had a channel to follow and I was too lazy to use a handsaw.

I cleaned up the boards and brought them to an equal thickness using the planer (around 3/16 in my case). You could use hand planes, but I don't have any at this time (I'm cheap).

I was hoping for more of a book match, but it wasn't meant to be, so I just aligned the grain the best I could. With the aid of several clamp, cauls, and wax paper, I glued these two boards up to become one.

Step 3: Fabricating the Playing Surfaces

I could've just glued the Poplar boards to the shell, but I foresaw them sliding around and making a gluey mess, which would then be impossible to clean up on the inside. My solution was basically a circumferential rabbet, which provided self-alignment, as well as more gluing surface.

I figured the easiest way to do this was with my newly made trim router radius jig .. slowly sneaking up on the perfect fit. Then I went against my better judgement and didn't make a test cut on scrap wood ... whoops ... first pass was actually undersized. Don't panic .. lower the depth, adjust to a larger radius, and make this the surface with the sound hole so you can' see the bad cut.

For the sound hole, I used a 2 3/4" forstner bit on the drill press and just eyeballed the distance in from the edge. The diameter of this hole will affect the sound, but I'm just using 2 3/4 because it looks right.

Step 4: The Glueup

A little glue in the rabbet ... making sure there is no nasty squeeze out on the inside of the drum ... a pile of clamps and some cauls. I did align the sides so that the grain pattern was parallel, but you could do whatever you want.

Step 5:

Once the glue cured, I rough trimmed all the waste using the bandsaw, and then flushed everything up with the trim router. This was followed by sanding, sanding, and more sanding.

Step 6: Making the Mallet

For the mallet, I just used a hole saw and some scrap Poplar to make a disc. The hole saw makes a perfectly centered hole in the disc that ended up being the exact size of a dowel cut off I had. I just cleaned up the edges of the disc on the oscillating belt sander and glued in the dowel.

Step 7: The Finish

I finished the drum with two coats of 50/50 boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. Once dry, I applied paste wax and then buffed it out.

The mallet was wrapped in a strip of felt using superglue to soften the attack. It could use a little more padding, but this is what I had on hand.

All in all, it looks and sounds pretty good ... especially for a bunch of leftovers.

Step 8: Build Video



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    11 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 7

    A thought,

    Maybe you could wrap the drum with Velcro. One side or the other. beautiful project. Thanks for sharing!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That's the exact video! That guy makes some cool stuff. I might have to make a Hat Box, Sizzle Board, and a perpetual rain stick.

    Matt Makes

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool Instructable, I have a few nice leftovers from various wood working projects as well and this seems like a great way to put them to use. Thanks for sharing!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    - Thanks for the drum, uncle!

    - Please nephew. I'm your uncle. And it is cheap.

    - But dad gives me every morning $1, if only I hadn't knocked.

    shed boy

    4 years ago

    Very nice


    4 years ago on Step 3

    Smart use of a bad cut!


    4 years ago

    I can see my daughters wanting to kill me if I make these for my grand kids, all under six. Good looking project.