First three tongue drums

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Project by JoeinDE posted 12-26-2012 04:25 PM 2545 views 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These are all roughly the same size. The videos embedded give a better concept of size. They were given as Christmas presents to my sister’s kids who are all under the age of 5 so I was concerned with making them sturdy. The first has 3/4” ply sides and beech front and back with a walnut soundboard. The second has the same box build with a mahogany (?) soundboard. The third has sapele sides, beech front and back and a maple soundboard. All three have cedar OSB as the bottom. They are all finished with two “coats” of mineral oil. The mallets were made from super balls and 1/4” maple dowels. All the joints are simply glued with titebond and the corners were reinforced with a glued triangular wedge support. Since I was making seven of these I decided to take the easy way out.

So far the kids seem to like them. Below are the links to the videos that I made while playing these three. Sorry for the quality – I was holding the camera and beating a drum, which is not the easiest thing to do.
The soundboard does not resonate very well on this one
This one sounds better than the walnut
The maple soundboard has the best resonance of these three

As always, comments and critiques are welcome.


10 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3778 days

#1 posted 12-26-2012 04:28 PM

Looks like great fun Joe .nice work.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View dustyal's profile


1299 posts in 3676 days

#2 posted 12-26-2012 04:48 PM

Nicely done… sure the kids love to make noise… but, uh, how about your sister… how does she enjoy the musical merriment? I did something for my sister and her kids… and my sister didn’t speak to me for a few YEARS… Nicely constructed, however…

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View JoeinDE's profile


444 posts in 3524 days

#3 posted 12-26-2012 05:56 PM

Al – I specifically asked my sister and my sister-in-law before making these for the kids. They were both cool with the idea. All of my nieces and nephews already have a host of musical toys, so these are just adding to the “orchestra.”


View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30058 posts in 2539 days

#4 posted 12-26-2012 06:18 PM

Great job. Looks fun.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3468 days

#5 posted 12-26-2012 06:21 PM

what did you do to “tune” the tongues? my brother in law made one of these and all the tongues sound the same

View JoeinDE's profile


444 posts in 3524 days

#6 posted 12-26-2012 06:32 PM

Mike – I didn’t tune them. I tried to make them different enough in total mass, that they would resonate on different frequencies. This approach was only moderately successful. If I had more time, I would have tweaked the tones by taking mass off of different tongues and using a tuner to get the pitches correct. Since these were for kids, I did not worry too much about tuning the tongues. Had I been making these for adults, I would have gone to the extra effort to do so.


View ZED's profile


83 posts in 2559 days

#7 posted 12-27-2012 03:06 AM

These look great and I bet the kids are loving them. How thick did you make the sound boards?

-- A good craftsman is able to make it work with the tools he has, I still need more tools

View NormG's profile


6283 posts in 3204 days

#8 posted 12-27-2012 05:45 AM

Great drums

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View JoeinDE's profile


444 posts in 3524 days

#9 posted 12-27-2012 09:16 PM

Zed – I think they were all 13/16” thickness.


View mcoyfrog's profile


4542 posts in 3795 days

#10 posted 07-14-2014 06:31 PM

First one is my fav

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

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