Apologies for the month of absence…the Christmas season can be pretty busy for those of us who like to make most of our presents.

Along the way though, on top of the spice blends, leathercrafting and inventing (which still isn’t alltogether finished), the most fun I had was making drums. Hose/pipe clamps (the type which close with screwdrivers or ratchetheads) do a half decent job tightly stretching some lighter grades of leather or vinyl, but when I looked into getting some proper drum-skinning rawhide (deer, elk, goat or fish is preferred), the price was pretty steep. I wanted to play around with something more like real drum – making, but still have the flexibility to experiment with some unconventional and recycled bodies. Skinning coffee cans is fairly standard, but there’s so many other handy resonant chambers you can use, and I’ve always had a dream of building my own drum set out of pots, pans and buckets.

It’s worth mentioning that on my way home from gathering supplies I found half a drum kit – snare, hi-hat and a bunch of stands. That was rather encouraging.

So where did I find rawhide? I bought a chew-toy at the buck store. I’ve been hearing for years you could simply soak them and re-form them, but had never had a chance to try it. It wasn’t big, but was essentially just a roll of rawhide. After soaking it for a while (changing the water for fresh hot water frequently seemed to help), it unrolled into a few pieces, including one useful sheet. It was just big enough to clamp onto a plastic MacGreen coffee mug. After cutting out the bottom with a hole-saw drill bit, and leaving the thing to dry for a day or so, the skin is rock-hard and the sound is pretty impressive for a drum which required less than $4 in parts.

What really surprised me is that when I looked for tutorials on how to do this better, I couldn’t find any. I found lots on making and playing drums, or on other improvised projects with rawhide bones, but this doesn’t seem to be all that common, which is sad for something that’s so cheap and easy. When people are using this stuff to reinforce their rifle stocks, why not use it to make some drums for your kids?

Today I went out and bought some much larger rawhide tolls for a little over $2 each, and one’s soaking now. I’ll post pictures soon.

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