Dave's Videos #3: The Slit Drum

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 01-05-2015 02:45 PM 1629 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: How I made a Bandsaw Box Part 3 of Dave's Videos series no next part

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This is an older project, but I finally edited the video.

[Spektebla ankaŭ en Esperanto]

Slit Drum

A slit drum is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It is usually made from bamboo or wood in the form of a box with one or more slits in the top.

The majority of slit drums have only one slit, but some have two or three slits in the form of the letter “H”.

If the tongues have different lengths or thicknesses, the drum will produce two different tones.
The origin of the slit drum is found in Africa, southeast Asia and Oceania. In Africa such drums strategically placed for good transmission (such as along a river or in a valley,) were used for long-distance communication.

The Project

The wood for this project is 1/2 inch thick. I rescued it from the roadside when it was in the form of a discarded dresser. You can use any available wood of that thickness.

First cut the sides for the box according to the drawing below. The top and bottom should wait so that the measurements are correct.

The box can be put together with but joints, but I put a rabbet in mine to add some strength. After measuring for size, cut the bottom to fit between the sides. Glue the box together along with the bottom and set it aside to dry.

Now cut the top so that it just overhangs the box. Using a router in a router table or the method of your choice, cut the 3 slots in the top as indicated.

Measure to find the center of the slots in the top and put a mark about a quarter inch above the middle. Then in the other tongue measure another quarter inch above that. You can draw small curves to help ease the next cuts.

Use a jig saw, coping saw or scroll saw (your preference) to cut along the lines you just measured to create the tongues of the drum. Sand the slits to break the edges.

Now remove the clamps from the box (assuming it is dry) and round over the edges of the top and the corners of the box using the router. Remember to KEEP THE TOP EDGES OF THE BOX SQUARE so that it can be glued to the top!

Glue the top to the box, centering it for equal overhang and clamp it. When it’s dry, remove the clamps and sand the drum all over for finishing.

You can finish the drum with oil, lacquer, varnish, polyurethane or shellac.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

2 comments so far

View SirGareth's profile


85 posts in 1622 days

#1 posted 01-09-2015 01:57 AM

Another great instrument Dave. Your instructional video was super. It’s very easy to follow and well-paced.

-- Even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward. - Tim, Southern California

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1371 posts in 1610 days

#2 posted 01-09-2015 03:01 AM

Another great instrument Dave. Your instructional video was super. It s very easy to follow and well-paced.

- SirGareth

Thanks for taking a look at the video.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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