American Boom

by Kourtney C.

My instrument is a hand drum. My mom, grandpa, and cousin helped me to make my instrument. My grandpa, mom, and I went shopping at Home Depot to get the clear tubing, rope, cardboard tube, nails, screws, and washers. My dad had some plywood to make the wooden circles. My mom and I checked on the internet for goatskin, but it was too expensive. We decided to use leather. After looking at several stores, we found a leather scrap at a car upholstery shop. I measured and drew the circles on the plywood with a homemade compass. My cousin, Greg, cut the circles with his Scroll Saw. I sat the circular board on a piece of paper and traced it. I then cut out the circle on the paper. Then I folded it in half three times. When I unfolded the paper, it had eight fold lines. Then Grandpa drilled the holes in the paper where the fold marks were so that I could mark where to drill the holes when I laid the paper on the board. My grandpa put in the drill bits so that I could drill the holes in the board.

To get the leather to the right size, I laid the board on the leather and traced it. The I cut it out with scissors. I measured it to make sure it would fit. I got scrap 2x4's from my grandpa's for the legs. I watched him cut them with the table saw. I used a palm sander and sandpaper to sand the wood. My grandpa showed me what direction to sand.

My grandpa showed me how to stain the wood. I stained and finished the wood pieces. My mom gave me some American cloth to decorate my tube. We bought double sided sticky tape and fabric glue at Walmart. I used it to stick the material on while my mom helped hold it straight. My grandpa grinded the heads off the nails while I watched. There were a lot of sparks like fireworks. I soaked the leather in hot water.

I cut the clear tubing in half with scissors. I put it on the top of the cardboard tube. I taped the ends together. I stapled the leather to the top of the circular wood using a staple gun. My grandpa helped me to keep the leather straight. I put the rope through the holes. My grandpa showed me what to do with the nails and washers. Once we got the rope through, we tied the two ends in a knot. Then I tightened the ropes by turning the nails. Then I drilled holes in the legs and screwed them on the bottom.

When the leather was dry, I put mineral oil on the leather and let it soak in. I cut the carpet squares the same size as the bottom of the legs and stapled them on. Then I finished decorating my drum with ribbons. It was a long process and it took about one month, but now I can play my drum all I want.

My drum has to be tapped to produce sound. You can tap the drum with your fingertips or with your palm.

I can make the dynamics change by how hard I hit the drum and how I hit the drum. I can also change it by tightening or loosening the ropes. I cannot change the pitch. The timber sounds like an echoing boom.