rope tension drum

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Blog entry by JonJ posted 01-26-2009 08:13 AM 12605 reads 3 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had a couple of inquirys as to how I built my rope tension drums-

These are quicky sketches and kind of vague, but maybe will give someone who wants to try this a starting place
First of all…a little disclaimer: I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT DRUMS—-or I didn’t until this project. I was commisioned to build some replicas for a reenactment, and could not find much information on construction. I looked at a lot of photos, and figured out how to build them with what I had at the time. I went the route of making my own heads from hides- first calf (which was too thick) but wound up using deerskin.

The rawhide was a lot of stinky, hard work, and since these are probably not acurate construction techniques, I’d recomend REMO brand FIBERSKIN synthetic heads. They are easier, don’t go slack in humid weather, and probably sound better. They come with a metal hoop molded to the edge, but if you find just the right color of masking tape you can cover it and it wrinkles a bit and looks just like the rawhide is wrapping around the hoop on a real drum. Get the drumheads first and build the drum to fit them- I think original drums range anywhere from 14” to 16”. I’d go smaller and maybe make a mockup if young or short people are going to play them. They are a little hard to play if dragging the ground.

I have 3 pages of sketches so far…up to the point of putting the heads on. I will still have to do some on making the snare strainer, roping the drum & making leather tensioning ears, and making the sling…but I wanted to get these up so those inquiring could maybe get a start. Like I said, this is just the way I did it…there are lots of ways to build these things. The best way to make the shell I would guess is making it laminated, but at the time I did not have that equipment. If anyone has any questions or suggestions, I’ll try to help. If you click on the below pictures (looks like they are cropped on the blog page) I think you will be able to see all of it by scrolling around.

drum construction 1

drum construction 2

drum construction 3

-- Jon

5 comments so far

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3960 days

#1 posted 01-26-2009 06:44 PM

Good info here. Take a look.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4398 days

#2 posted 01-26-2009 09:23 PM

Thanks for the info.

It looks like some of the pictures/instructions are cut off on the right.

I found your pictures on Photobucket, but i didn’t see your drawing of the string tightener.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View JonJ's profile


163 posts in 3837 days

#3 posted 01-27-2009 12:23 AM

It looks like some of the pictures/instructions are cut off on the right.


I noticed that right after I posted it…Sorry! I don’t know how to fix it, but when I view it on the Lumberjocks page, then click on the picture-it opens a new window in photobucket that you can zoom in and out, and use the sliders when your zoomed in to pan around. If that doesn’t work let me know and I’ll PM them.

-- Jon

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4158 days

#4 posted 01-27-2009 07:36 PM

this is great. Wish I had the skills to make one.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View jhaneman's profile


1 post in 2634 days

#5 posted 03-17-2011 06:06 PM

This instrument is a wonderful example of craftsmenship. Please tell me that you have put together all you info in one place that I can purchase or use in some way. after making my own stave back celtic harp and hammer dulcimer I really want to try one of these. Thank you for all your hard work.

-- jhaneman

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