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Tongue Drum with maple sounding board

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Project by GnarlyErik posted 717 days ago 2054 views 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my second of a planned five or six Tongue Drums – one for each grand child and one or two for my wife. This one is 3-1/2” x 9” x 18”. I tried a sounding board of maple with this one – the first was cherry. Otherwise there is little difference. And even though I halved the volume of the resonating chamber from the first one, the sound did not seem to change very much and there is little difference in tone. Changing the widths and lengths of the individual tongues seems to make the most difference.

I added a carry handle to this one which seemed needed since the drums are rather large and bulky, and a handle is very convenient. I will add a handle to all future drums I build.

Top is 3/4” maple, and sides and ends are 3/4 pine. Bottom is 6mm Okoume plywood, recessed 1/4” and is removable with 16 #6×3/4” RH wood screws. Carry handle is a piece of cherry on a nylon lanyard. The finish of the drum is Tung oil.

I am experimenting with different flavors of material sizes as I build these, and will pass along anything I may learn on this forum.

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!





12 comments so far

View MasterSergeant's profile (online now)

MasterSergeant

1285 posts in 1320 days


#1 posted 717 days ago

Nice work! I need to try my hand at making some of these. Actually 8, on for each of my grandchildren ;-P

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Monte Pittman's profile (online now)

Monte Pittman

13791 posts in 970 days


#2 posted 717 days ago

I assume you have a formula to “tune” the tongues? Really cool.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

205 posts in 766 days


#3 posted 717 days ago

Thanks Kelly and Monte. As I explained on my first one of these posted about a month ago, I know very little about music, tuning, etc. I only know what sounds good to me, and if a particular tongue sounds flat or not to my liking, trimming the end a bit changes things (raises the pitch). If I were more musically inclined I might be able to actually fine tune things to a specific note. Also making the tongues more narrow affects things. There is a definite relationship between width, length and thickness but I neither the knowledge nor a formula to tune to. Sorry.

I do know these are produced commercially, and those folks have the skill to tune them specifically I assume.

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1325 days


#4 posted 717 days ago

Wonderful. If I received this from a loved one, I’d treasure it to the grave.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Michael Wilson's profile

Michael Wilson

587 posts in 1122 days


#5 posted 716 days ago

Tuning is what’s stopped me from trying my hand at them. The patience to learn that kind of chicken sacrificing skill is beyond me. Perhaps I’ll just wing it.

Gorgeous piece.

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

3038 posts in 2226 days


#6 posted 716 days ago

Nice job, when I made mine http://lumberjocks.com/projects/19522 I didn’t tune them either but the sounds are so beautiful it didn’t matter. I’m sure a real muscian wouldn’t be very impressed but as far as it goes for me I love em.

I have to tell you thou I tried lots of different flavors and the cherry top really sounded great but I had this little girl at a craft fair pounding on it to try it out and all I heard was a crack and 4 of the tounges snapped off, I’ve never had any trouble with other species nor did I ever make another cherry one but it sure was strange. It was wierd because all the tounges that broke were at different locations not right next to each other. It might have just been a defect in that particular piece of cherry, I guess I’ll never know.

NE-way very good job on your drum and I’m sure the g-kids will love them..

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

205 posts in 766 days


#7 posted 716 days ago

Thanks McCoy -

So far my first gift to a grandchild was very well received. This child is seven and likely will drive her parents over the edge with this the way she goes at it. I have a Hondruas mahogany version almost finished and have material for a couple made with padauk, which I understand is really the wood of choice for these. I am experimenting as I go and plan to post whatever I can learn.

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

3038 posts in 2226 days


#8 posted 714 days ago

You bet,

Yes padauk and mahogany both are the originals thats all I use when I make them anymore. Also how do you make you sticks or do you. Mine are with superballs and after so much use they end up flying off and I have to reglue them on, It does take a pretty long time before they fly off but it gets annoying.

Talk to you later

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

205 posts in 766 days


#9 posted 714 days ago

I use 3/8” hardwood dowels for the sticks (mallets) and cut them 14” to 16” in length. I use two kinds of balls. The first is 1” super balls and a neat fitting hole is drilled not quite all the way through the ball using a Forstner bit. Then, I make a thin cut in the end of the dowel about 7/8” long and start a thin wedge about 3/32” thick tapering to nothing the same length as my cut and the width of the stick diameter. Using Titebond or a similar good glue, smear everything liberally, start the wedge in the saw slit, insert all into the hole in the ball and tap it home gently. This spreads the end of the stick inside the ball and once the glue dries it seems very solid. You probably already know this method is called ‘foxtailing’. So far none have come off for me.

The second kind of ball I have had success with are those 1-1/4” semi-hard kind used for throwing for dogs you get at the pet store or discount place, which are hollow. These are drilled all the way through. Then the end of the stick is roughed up with several shallow saw cuts across the end which will be inside the ball. Then, using expandable foam in a can for sealing windows and doors, the inside of the ball is filled with foam which will cure semi-hard in a few hours. You can fill the ball first, then shove the stick barely thru, but must do so fairly quickly. It helps to sand a quick chamfer at the business end of the stick. The foam will continue to expand for a minute or so and will grip the roughened stick completely and fill the void inside the ball. This can be messy, but can be cleaned up with acetone or lacquer thinner, along with the tube which comes with the can so that can be reused. After things have cured (next day) the end of the dowel protruding through the ball may be trimmed or sanded away for a neat finish. Seems to work just fine, and the mallets feel nice and solid.

I have been thinking also of using wooden balls and asking my wife to stitch a deer or calf skin cover on them, but have not tried that as yet. I expect that would produce a hide, sharp emphatic sound.

Hope this helps!
Erik
 

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

3038 posts in 2226 days


#10 posted 713 days ago

Cool thanks for the info, I don’t know why i never thought of the foxtail technique. Thanks again..

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View ruddy's profile

ruddy

396 posts in 1571 days


#11 posted 696 days ago

Nice project Erik. i have been toying with the idea to make one of these and I am inspired by what you have made here.
well done.

-- And my head I'd be a scratchin'

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

205 posts in 766 days


#12 posted 695 days ago

Thanks Ruddy-

These are fun to make. I am working on numbers four and five now. Will post those when completed.

Cheers,
Erik

-- Candy is dandy and rum sure is fun, but wood working is the best high for me!

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