Top Tips for Making a Native American Hand Drum

Top Tips for Making a Native American Hand Drum

  • January 7,2021
  • Tachini Drums

A Native American drum, no matter the type, is a sacred instrument. Whether they’re being used in spiritual ceremonies, grand events, or played on an everyday basis, they should be crafted, played, and cared for with the utmost respect. One of the first steps to owning a Native American hand drum is making it, either from hand or a kit, or purchasing it from a respected Native American seller. Before finalizing your decision to make and own a drum, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. A Native American drum isn’t something exotic or trendy—it’s an important cultural item and should be treated as such. Interested in learning more? Let’s check out some top tips for making a Native American hand drum.

How To Make a Native American Hand Drum

Before you start making your drum, you’ll want to make sure you have the right supplies and tools on hand. To make your drum, you’ll need:

  • Wooden hoop
  • Rawhide
  • Scissors
  • Awl or leather puncher
  • Sage

You can buy these supplies separately, preferably from a Native American seller, or together in a kit. When you’re purchasing the wood and rawhide, make sure you have enough. The average hand drum will range from 10- to 15-inches across. Choose the size that best suits your needs. Larger hands will need a larger drum, and vice versa. If you’re planning to carry it from place to place, a smaller drum is easier to store and transport.

Once you have your supplies, you’ll need to start preparing them for assembly. You’ll want to take your rawhide and, if it isn’t already shaped, cut it into a circle. The circle should be slightly larger than the actual diameter of your drum—it needs to be able to stretch across the sides. Use the spare rawhide to create your lacing. Cut it into a long, thin line.

When the rawhide is dry, it can be difficult to work with. To mold your rawhide around the wooden base, you’ll need to soak it. Take a container large enough to fit your rawhide, like a bucket, sink, or bathtub, and fill it with cold water. Place your rawhide—both the circular base and the lacing—into the water and leave it to soak overnight. After soaking your rawhide, you can remove it from the water. While it’s still damp and pliable, you’ll want to start assembling your drum.

Another top tip for making a Native American hand drum is to bless it if you have the materials and time. While optional, this step is recommended. The prayer blesses the drum so its sound will be well-received by anyone who hears it. To bless your drum, burn the sage around the drum materials and yourself while reciting a traditional Native American prayer.

After blessing your drum, take the rawhide and with the awl or leather puncher, make sixteen pairs of evenly spaced holes. Place the wooden hoop in the center of the rawhide and start weaving the lacing through the holes. Continue weaving until you’ve gone around the entirety of the hoop. Gather the lacing into four distinct groups and secure them in the middle with another strip of rawhide. This is the final step in assembling your drum.

Your drum might be assembled, but it’s not quite ready to be played. After soaking, the rawhide needs to dry. Hang your drum to dry for one to two days. As it dries, the skin will tighten. Make sure to hang your drum in a place where it can get enough air and that isn’t too hot, cold, or busy. After that, you’re all done! Your drum is ready to play. Now that you have your own Native American hand drum, there are a few other things you’ll want to know, including how to store and care for your brand-new instrument.

How To Care for Your New Drum

Your drum is a living being. You should listen to its needs and treat it like you would a fellow human. The better you care for your drum, the better it’ll sound and the longer it’ll last. The rawhide on your drum is susceptible to extreme temperatures and weather conditions. Heat constricts the skin, drying it out. Water will dampen and loosen the rawhide, giving your drum an unnatural tone. Both can split, crack, or otherwise damage your drum.

When you’re storing your drum, put it in a place that’s warm, dry, and secure. Keep it away from direct sunlight, gas or oil heat sources, open fires, and radiators. Basements, attics, and other areas of your home that are susceptible to water damage and mold are a poor place to store your drum, as are areas with an excess of windows and natural sunlight. Always store your drum wrapped, face up, and clear of any debris. If your drum is exposed to extreme conditions, don’t panic. If your drum is too hot, spraying cool, misty water on the rawhide will cool it down and loosen the skin. If the drum’s skin is damp and loose, you can heat it up by holding it to your chest or by placing it by a heat source and carefully monitoring it while it dries out.

Apart from proper storage, there’s one other way you can maintain your drum’s condition and improve its longevity. Cleaning and moisturizing your drum will keep the rawhide in good condition. If your drum gets dirty, you can clean it with a damp cloth. Once or twice a year, you’ll want to moisturize the rawhide with Shea butter, saddle soap, or a natural oil. Apply the oil to your hands and rub it into the rawhide using a slow, circular motion. This will keep the skin from drying out.

If you’re looking for supplies to craft your own hand drum, look no further than Tachini Drums. We have Native American drum supplies for sale that are perfect for your drum-making needs. With the help of our authentic, masterfully crafted kits, drum stands, and beaters, you’ll be able to connect with the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

Top Tips for Making a Native American Hand Drum

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