Bear, Buffalo, Elk, Horse and Moose Drums and Rattles

Steven Kauder

Make Your Rawhide Drum

Making a drum is an involved process. You have to consider the quality of the hide. How tightly can you lace it? Does it have any weak spots? Are you making the drum for a dry environment or a humid one?

The images below are for making a round drum, but the process and steps are the same for an oval drum and for an egg-shaped drum.

For all drums, treat the drum hide, drum frame, and lacing with ceremony, respect, prayer, and gratitude.

I have retired after 20 dynamic years of drum making. Click here to see drums from my personal collection.

Instructions that go with these pictures - click here

1. Soaking the Drum Skin and Lacing

Buffalo Drum Skin and Lacing soaking overnight

Soak the drum skin and lacing in a tub until pliable.

Thinner hides, such as bear and horse, may be ready in
4 hours. Most other hides are ready in 8 hours, but the
thickest buffalo and moose require up to 16 hours.

2. Preparing to Lace the Drum

Drum Skin, Lacing, and Drum Frame on towel

Place the drum skin rough side up on some old towels,
and center the drum frame on the drum skin.

The lacing, a single 30-foot (9-m) or more strand,
is next to the drum skin and drum frame.

3. Lacing the Drum

Initial Drum Lacing

Lace the drum skin by following the diagram
and the instructions I provide. Several rounds of
tightening give the drum its tone and resonance.

Take care to keep the drum frame
centered in the drum skin.

4. Making the Handle, Part 1

Start making the Drum Handle

Wrap the center of the lacing with one end of the
lacing to form the first half of the handle.

Take care to keep the handle in the
center of the drum frame.

5. Making the Handle, Part 2

Finish making the Drum Handle

Wrap the other end of the lacing around the remaining strands of lacing to form the second half of the handle.

The additional tightening created by making
the handle further ensures the drum's
excellent tone and resonance.

6. The Lacing is Done, Handle Side

Cutting of ends of the Drum Handle

Cut off the ends of the lacing. The drum is ready to dry.

If you look carefully, you will see that the sides
of the hide bulge out from the drum frame.

7. The Lacing is Done, Drum Skin Side

Front side of Drum; edges need smoothing

This view shows the excellent color and spotting
variations in this hide. The side bulges are
very apparent in this image.

Wrap a cloth strip around the drum frame to
pull in those bulges as the drum dries.

Let the drum dry for 24 hours, and it is ready to use!

Completed Drum
This first image shows the centered handle.
That's visually appealing and makes it
easy to hold the drum.

Completed Buffalo Drum - Back Side

This second image shows the "scalloping" of the
edge of the drum skin. That shows off
the natural wood frame.

Completed Buffalo Drum - Edge View

This third image shows the texturing and
images of this drum skin.

Completed Buffalo Drum - Front Side

There is a lot to see and experience in this drum!

Completed Drums
Drum Kits
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Bear, Buffalo, Elk, Horse, Moose and Wolf Rawhide Drums and Rattles
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Steven Kauder

The small fine print: © 2002 - 2023 by Steven Kauder.