How to make native american drumsticks

Updated February 21, 2017

Native American drumsticks, commonly referred to as drum beaters, are padded sticks used to pound traditional Native American drums used in tribal songs and dances. The beater is an essential element in making Native American music and is usually designed to match the drum. You can make these drumsticks using natural elements and a few simple craft supplies. The ornamentation you use for your drumsticks is entirely up to you, so that the product you produce is completely unique.

Cut a fallen hardwood branch to size it 12-to-18 inches long and about one inch in diameter with a hand saw. You can try oak, hickory or any hardwood that grows around your area.

Strip the bark from the branch either by hand or using a small pocketknife.

Sand the stick smooth with medium to fine grit sandpaper.

Apply a thin line of tacky glue to a strip of cotton batting or wool and wrap the padding around the head of the stick two times with the 3-inch side extending down the shaft and the six-inch length wrapped around. Apply extra glue as needed to secure the batting to the stick.

Stretch the six-by-six-inch square of leather over the padded tip, gather the edges at the base of the padding and tie a piece of twine around the leather, at the base of the cotton batting.

Wrap leather lacing around the base of the leather covering several times to cover the ends where the leather cover meets the stick and to conceal the twine. Tie in place or add a bit of glue to secure the lacing.

Wrap the three-by-six-inch square of the leather around the other end of the stick to make a soft handle six inches up and around the shaft of the stick. Glue the leather in place.

Wrap leather lacing around each end of the leather hand grip and tie or glue in place. This will conceal the area where the leather and wood meet, hold the leather grip in place and serve as decoration.

Paint or use a wood burner to create small designs on the exposed shaft of the stick. You can skip this step if you prefer.

Protect the leather-wrapped ends of the stick with plastic bags and masking tape. Cut the bag down to size if you wish or use another type of plastic of your choice.

Spray the section of exposed wood with clear lacquer to give the wood a glossy shine and protect it from wear. Remove the plastic protection when the lacquer is completely dry.

Tie ribbon, leather lacing, twine, beads or feathers to decorate either or both ends of the drumstick. Use your own creative inspiration to design and personalise the stick to your preferences.


The cotton batting should pad about three inches of the tip of the stick, but the shape will vary. You can try fluffing the padding before covering with the leather to create a more rounded shape. Refer to pictures on the Internet or in Native American books to draw inspiration when designing your stick. You may wish to use traditional markings from the tribe in which you are most interested to decorate the shaft of your stick. You can make more than one stick that looks the same, or make others with changed colours, leather twine, decorative burnings/paintings and feather designs.

Things You'll Need

  • 12-to-18-inch hardwood stick
  • Hand saw
  • Pocketknife
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Tacky glue
  • Three-by-six-inches of cotton batting
  • Six-by-six-inch square of leather
  • Three-by-six-inch square of leather
  • Six inches of twine
  • Suede leather lacing to match the leather squares
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • Wood burner (optional)
  • Two plastic grocery bags
  • Masking tape
  • Clear spray lacquer
  • Ribbon
  • Beads
  • 1 or 2 imitation eagle feathers
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About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.