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  • making a drum

    We are in the process of making a drum for our family. We have the frame built already. We got a cowhide fresh off the cow. It is in our freezer right now until we can deal with it properly. The question is.....what next? What's the next step in preparing the hide to cover the drum (other than defrosting it)? Need any advice we can get so we can tackle this project once the weather warms up. I've heard that we're supposed to soak the hide a bunch, but for how long. Thanks in advance for the help.

  • #2
    Scrape all the hair and fatty tissue off. Lotsa soaking. Soak some more. Then soak it. When you are finished soaking it, submerge it in cool water, then soak. Repeat.

    It's important to get all the blood, lymph, etc. out of the hide, because that's what the critters like.

    When the hide is cut, cut it the diameter of the drum + 4 to 8 more inches depending on how much hide is available or how much overlap wanted over the frame.

    Laces. Here's the phrase of the week: wider is better (unless we're talkin' about snaggin'!)

    Spring is coming. Wait for the wettest, most humid day possible to pull the hide. We do it with a vaporizer going in the basement with wet towels on the hide as we pull.

    Hope this helps.
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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    • #3
      Do you just soak them in water or do you put them in something else? Will the hair come off the hide if you soak it enough? Should we start soaking the hide the night before or days before we want to put it on the frame? Do rawhide laces work better than rope to lace the hides on the drum?

      I just had a few questions. ;)

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      • #4
        I know this is a guy thing, I'm following along to see how raw hide is made. I'd like to know so that I can make parfleches and a rawhide lampshade. Did you round the edges on your drum hoop? So when its played it doesn't thin the hide and wear it out prematurely. After all the work you'll be putting into your hide you should get all the play you can. I don't expect an answer and feel a little funny adding in but from what I was told its important and good info.

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        • #5
          Soaking WILL NOT get all the hair off. My advice would be to stretch the hide out on a frame and scrape it. Lacing from this hid e works better and will look better than rope. You'll stretch the lacing so much that you'll get about twic what you actually see out of it.

          Also, you probably want to soak the hide about 24-48 hours in advance of tying your drum.

          Singer

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          • #6
            Another helpful hint is to get a garden hose, o some clear tubing and cut it open. Line the edges of the drum shell with it using a staple gun. I've helped do this for three drums now, and to the best of my knowledge, it prevents the hide from wearing out arund those edges.

            Singer

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            • #7
              SouthernSinger: Thanks for the information about the tubing. I have a friend who's in the process of making a drum now and I will share this tip with him. Wearing out the drum head on the edges is the reason he's into the project again anyway. Thanks for the advice.

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              • #8
                thestogs,

                No problem! Glad to help! Oh, by the way, don't think I've forgotten about your copies!!! At any rate, just tell your friend to think before he does this. For darker hides, use darker hose/tubing (i.e. black/green, etc. For lighter hides, go for the slightly more expensive stuff from Lowes or home depot--the clear or white tubing. This way, all your buddies won't be asking "What's with the garden hose under your hide?"--they won't be able to see it! Think color coordination here!

                Singer

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                • #9
                  We're going to take a router to the edges of the drum frame and then sand it so it doesn't wear at the hide. Thanks for all the responses. Now if I could just get the weather to cooperate so we could put the drum together. ;)

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                  • #10
                    Some great advice here and I'm not even the one making the drum. SouthernSinger - I passed your tip on to my friend last night and he was most grateful. Thanks again everyone. It just proves the power of this little online community!

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                    • #11
                      I've recently talked to one of the best drum makers around and he recomends that you soak the hide for about a WEEK! Line the top and bottom of the frame with a piece of split garden hose. When you lace that thing pull it tight and go around again and tighten it some more. When it is as tight as it will get, put it down and have a small person bounce on it like a trampoline to stretch the hide the last bit and then tighten it up again. If you are worried this will tear your rawhide, then you need to use better hide. Stand the drum on its side in a dark room during very humid or rainey weather to dry, and rotate the drum a quarter turn every day so it dries evenly. Do this for about 10 days and don't even THINK about boomin on the head to see how it sounds untill it is way dry. The guy who made our drum for us is a very knowledgable maker and this is how he made ours and this thing ROCKS! Now, as soon as we learn to sing worth a hoot all will be well. Till then we will just be a bunch of noise. Maybe one day....

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                      • #12
                        appreciate your sharing the knowledge and the tips. I've got this project coming up soon as the last of the snow melts. Love the part about the little person jumping on the drum. I've heard of a drum maker down south that weighs over 300 lbs and thats his final test on each drum he makes.. he jumps on it. If it holds, he's happy, if it doesnt, he starts over.
                        Listen to the children

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