Reshaping the ends of a drum!!

22 Mar 2007
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United Kingdom
Hey everybody!

Well i would be very surprised if a question like this has appeared on this forum so for my first post ill share with you this dilema i been going through!

Anyway i play an instrument called the Dhol drum ( for more information), it is basically a wooden barrel with to drum heads either side, a thin treble side and a thick goat skin, which are both beat with 2 sticks.

Dhols are usually made of either Mango tree, a more dence rosewood. And are hand made, or carved out in india making everysingle one unique!

The bass is fastened using rope which is easily adjusted with the tention and The top end is fastened to the drum using some hooks.

From drum to drum the bass sides usually sound the same but top ends vary in sound BIG TIME.

Now the best sounding top ends (or treble side) ring and resonate at all different pitches depending on how much u tighten them, but in reality its very rare to get such treble sides, most of them sound like your hitting a pan..

i worked out its all due to , the quality of the wood, but most importantly the angle and condition of the wood which is actually in contact with the treble skin itself.

if you visit this link and download the file you can see some pictures of my dhol and the top end as described.

Now having made this discovery i taken my time to tune my dhols and other peoples simply by using a flat fine file and slowly going around the wood trying to keep it flat and at a consistant angle all the way round, and as you can guess its really not easy, infact its frustrating and time consuming and never guaranteed you'll get it right...

At the minute im working on this drum and the top end is in a really bad state, i cant get it level at a consistant angle at all but the drum is of highest quality of wood so i have to get it right!! another problem is i keep fileing away at the shell and its starting to get narrow so i need to think fast n make sure i get it right.

i need to be able to obtain a flat consistant edge all the way round the end, at a consistant angle...

anyone have any suggestions on a tool, or the best way i can achieve this? i need the drum skins to sit flat on the wood...

thanks alot! sorry about the essay, hope someone can help! if you need any more info, just ask :)

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I happen to play [ordinary] drums, so I have an idea of how important it is for you to get this right.

My first gambit would be to create a flat area and cover it with abrasive. This is a very fledgling idea, but the flatness is the easy part, and the abrasive part less so.

For example, a sheet of 25mm plywood would be nice and stiff, and you could stiffen it further by bracing underneath with timber. If you can't find anywhere to buy enormous sheets of sandpaper/glasspaper then could coat the ply with glue and carefully sprinkle the right grade of dry sand onto it.

Other than that, you could pay a suitable machine shop to mount the drum on a milling machine and get a flat edge with rather impressive accuracy.
i was thinking about covering some board with some abrasive paper and trying that approach but im quite interested in the milling machine idea, could you give me some more info if possible??

thanks so much for your help
What the range of diameters that you would need milling/flattening?
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the rim is about 1cm, all the way round and the actual end of the drum is about 12.5inches?

Find a local wood turner with a large lathe, they will be able to turn the end to what you need, will probably need cole jaws to hold one end and some form of bung to take the tail stock or a fixed steady. Could also be done on a large engineering lathe, a mill will get the end flat but will not be ideal for getting the angle as well, also those drumd are quite long so you may have a job getting the shell under the mill head

This is not a drum but will give you an idea of the setup


If you need an architectural wood turner there's a guy I know up on Cannock Chase who can turn large items (i.e. up to 4 or so feet in diameter and up to about 10 feet long), so if you luck out locally email me and I'll pass you his details.

yeah details could be great!! thanks alot for your help.
whats your email addy?


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