How to Make Wooden Drum Rims

Written by lina schofield
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How to Make Wooden Drum Rims
Certain woods are preferred including willow, ash, cedar, hazel and birch. (willow image by Dragana Stojanovic from

Making your own wooden drum rims gives you more control over the tone, overall durability and quality of the drum. Drummers who want a lower pitch also tend to prefer wooden rims or hoops. Many shamanic practitioners who use hand drums like to make and assemble their own drums. Doing the work promotes a more substantial connection with their instrument throughout the creation process.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Kettle
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 branches 36 inches long and 1/3 inch wide
  • Knife
  • Cord
  • 12 branch segments 2.3 inches long and 1/3 inch wide
  • Elmer’s wood glue
  • Tape measure
  • 24 small headless nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail punch
  • 11.3kg. weight

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  1. 1

    Scrape the bark from the branches with a knife.

  2. 2

    Pour one quart of water into the kettle and bring to a boil.

  3. 3

    Hold the first 36-inch branch over the steam for five minutes. Slowly begin bending it into a circle for approximately one minute at a time for every five minutes of steaming. Determine the diameter that you want for the drum. Start bending the branch to your preferred size.

  4. 4

    Listen carefully for any cracking noises. If you hear anything at all, apply more steam and stop bending the branch temporarily to prevent it from breaking.

  5. 5

    Use the cord to tie the branch together after you have reached the point where you are able to form a size-appropriate circle for your drum. The two ends of the branch should overlap.

  6. 6

    Continue passing the circle over the steam until you have reached the ideal circular shape.

  7. 7

    Repeat these steps for shaping the second branch, but double-check to ensure exact replication of the first branch. Measure occasionally throughout the process, using a tape measure to confirm that all measurements are identical.

  8. 8

    Place one rim on top of the other and measure every two inches with the tape measure. Mark these measurements by making very slight notches in the wood with the knife.

  9. 9

    Glue the 12 wood segments at these notched points between the two rims. Hammer the headless nails into the wooden segments to ensure their stability.

  10. 10

    Use the nail punch to push the nails farther into the wood to prevent damage to the drum.

  11. 11

    Place the rims in a warm, aired-out location to dry. Add a 11.3kg. weight on top of the rims to help them keep their shape.

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