Across all time and in every culture, persons of power have traveled to alternate realities on the vibrations of a journey drum.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Repair your frame drum

I have been making frame drums for more than 30 years, and I sometimes repair splits in the dried skin where it passes over the drum rim. Here is a photo essay showing the techniques I use.

This drum has had the larger splits stabilized using small headed furniture tacks, and holes burned into the leading edge of smaller tears to stop their progress.

I assemble a needle nose pliers, a small hammer and nickel plated furniture tacks.

And also a wire cutter and small pair of vice grips.  I shorten the shank of each tack by almost 1/2 so I am not trying to pound its full length into the drum rim.  

The tack is then re-sharpened using a small taper file, again by holding it with the vice grips 
against a firm surface.  

The needle nosed pliers make it possible to grip the tack and keep it steadily positioned on the drum rim to one side of the tear.

Both sides of each larger split are anchored with tacks driven straight down into the center of the drum rim.  Takes a bit of courage to begin!

For smaller splits that have a clear leading edge, I use a large bodkin, or yarn needle, to burn a hole just where the tear ends. I am sure to mark the precise location with a pencil before heating the needle with a propane torch, because when the tip is red hot is not the time to go searching for the target. 

While not every split is capable of being stabilized using these two techniques, hopefully the overall effect will give the drum more years of being a voice for spirit. 

It is interesting to notice that most tears cluster on one side of a drum, as shown here by the position of the tacks.  This hoop is very strong, so when the uneven tension in the skin had to find release, it did so cracking itself, rather than by deforming the hoop.