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Making an ash wood drum (part 1)

Alex feel the resonance of the stand and plays a tune.

I have been meaning to post a few photos of this little capoeira drum (or atabaque) project for a while now. This is the first part, about the drum’s stand. The stand is a good place to start, as many of the same techniques are used in making the actual drum, but it is smaller and simpler than the drum itself. Traditionally the drum is made from Brazilian Jacaranda wood or Brazilian Rosewood, but as this is effectively impossible to get hold of here in Wales (due to the dwindling numbers of these trees in the tropics) that was out! What we wanted was a locally grown alternative. Ash, seemed to fit the bill, being very strong and supple, a good candidate for steam bending, while still not being overly harsh on the woodworking tools.     

Locally sourced timber

After some rooting round at the local sawmill, we have some nice bits of Ash home and ready.
Original rough sawn, my bandsaw rip cut, and planed.

A lot of the pieces needed cutting down their length (re-sawing) on the bandsaw. They were also planed and thicknessed to make some nice even bits of wood to make up the staves for the drum stand.

An individual atabaque slat

Here I am about to cut out the shape of a slat for the drum stand on the bandsaw.

Putting the Atabaque stand together

I use the classic gaffer tape and roll-up technique to make a mock-up assembly. Looks all right, so lets go ahead and glue it!

Alex feel the resonance of the stand and plays a tune.
The glue is dry and Alex has come to join in with a bit of making. Here we are carefully marking out the position for the cut-outs (the holes in the bottom that lets the sound out). We make the hole with the super drill and hole saw, and then cut the triangle shape with a jigsaw.

Here Alex is getting a feel for the wood. Just tapping the ash stand is sounding nice, and excitement grows at the prospect of the actual drum…

Varnish is eco-friendly only

With the cut outs completed, some rounding off done, and a metal band hammered on, it is time to finish the stand with some eco style polyx oil. I applied two coats with a little dense foam thing I had knocking about.

Nice book matched slats

Here it is with some reclaimed leather round the rim - this will protect the drum and prevent scratches. The time I spent selecting the faces to display, ripping and book matching is now seeming worthwhile - check out some of those grain patterns.

Another view of the stand.

Here is another shot of the stand. It is quite solid and pleasingly hefty. It's a shame I didn't have thicker timber for the main drum, so I could have continued the book-matching theme...

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