DIY Shamanic Inspired Drum from a Whiskey Barrel Hoop and Rip Stop Nylon

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I've been wanting a big a** drum head for a while now, but not wanting to spend the sometimes upwards of $400+ to just buy a big drum head to bang on during the occasional sound bath. Granted there are less expensive options but I got obsessed with the idea of making my own out of (mostly) found items.

After daydreaming on a great many things that might be possible to use as the hoop/frame I got the idea of using a whiskey barrel hoop as the frame. I found a local person on Craigslist who sells hoops, barrels and all manner of furniture made out of whiskey barrels. Hoops were $5 each but were fairly rusty.

I used three grades of grit to remove the majority of the rust. Starting with 40, then 80 and finally a 120 grit. That was good enough to smooth out the hoop so it wouldn't put a snag into whatever I was going to use to make the drum skin. I used some leftover light blue spray paint that had primer built into it just to smooth over the metal and keep it from rusting.

For the first prototype drum head I used a tarp that we had stored in the shed. It was older than I realized and the silver and brown sides began to flake apart. I cut it down to size and serged the edges of it in preparation for inserting grommets. I used fabric glue on the spots where I cut holes to add the grommets, but the glue didn't really hold it together very well. It was quite tricky to pull the cording tight evenly and I quickly had grommets bursting from the tarp fabric. 

I found a lacing pattern online and I used this as my guide. Once I got it laced up as tight as I could manage, I realized that I had some thin spots in the tarp that I hadn't noticed. I thought it might be a good idea to put some Mod Podge over the drum head itself to keep it from flaking or degrading any further. Well that turned out to be a bad idea because the Mod Podge just ended up dulling the sound of the drum. Ugh, well it was just the first prototype.

My second attempt used some leftover red rip stop nylon that I had leftover from making the Kraftwerk Skydancer. This time I cut little squares and reinforced the areas where I was going to put in each grommet and I made a much smaller hole in the rip stop nylon as the opening for the grommet. I had more success with this method and none of the grommets has torn free from the rip stop nylon. The drum has a nice sound for what it is and I love that I have only $5 invested in it for the cost of the hoop. Everything else I already had from other projects. 

Yes you can make a decent sounding drum with rip stop nylon, grommets, nylon cording and a whiskey barrel hoop, in case you were wondering (like I was)!