Drumbuilding Manual: Tools, Jigs, and Materials
From TaikoForum Wiki
This section explains all the equipment and supplies necessary to build taiko exactly as described by this manual. All the tools and jigs that we describe are used by Zenshin Daiko in their drum-making process. A number of the tools and jigs they employ make building taiko much easier, but they are not necessarily required.
- Rubber or Plastic Tipped Hammer
- Measuring Tape
- 3 flat-blade Screwdrivers
- Miter Box and Saw, Fine Tooth
- Level or Long Ruler
- Grease Pencil
- Double-Pointed Compass
- Beam Compass
- 1/2" Metal Hole Punch
- Brushes (for applying glue and finish)
- Putty Knife or Spatula
- Large Plastic Tub
- Large Bucket
- Variable Speed Orbital Sander
- Heavy-Duty Belt Sander
- Light-Weight Belt Sander
- Hand or Power Planer
- Plunge Router, 2-3 Horsepower
- 1/2" straight bit with 3" cutting blade
- 45 degree bit
- Handheld Power Jig Saw
- Table Saw
- Screw Gun or Drill, 12 volts or more
- Assorted Drill Bits
- Wet/Dry "Shop" Vacuum
None of these jigs are required to build a taiko. However, they make the process considerably easier, faster, and more consistent. Thanks to the ingenious parents of Zenshin Daiko who seemed to have a jig for every job.
Circle Cutting Jig for Router
This jig is essential: it makes cutting a perfect circle fast and precise.
To make it, use a small piece of wood to join the two sliding shafts and drill a bolt down the middle. The bolt is the pivot point. The version shown here uses a 3/8" diameter bolt, because the hole for the bolt can easily be plugged with the same 3/8" diameter dowels that are used in the rim reinforcement.
Barrel Rotisserie for Sanding
This jig really impressed us: it cut our sanding time down from a few days to about 2 hours.
It is basically a big metal rotisserie with a motor that slowly rotates the drum (at about 9 RPM). This is a pretty heavy-duty jig, and it is certainly beyond what our group is capable of building, but we loved working with it. It would be possible to make a simpler version without the motor, and have two people rotate the drum by hand while the third does the sanding.
This is like a smaller version of the sanding jig. There are four rubber wheels mounted on a wooden frame, and the barrel is placed on top. Zenshin uses this when working on the inside of the barrel.
Drum Head Blueprint
This is a great idea for getting a skin quickly marked and cut: Just lay it out over the skin and mark the size of the head and the position of the mimi.
It is printed on thick wax paper (engineering paper). The Zenshin Daiko pattern uses circular holes for the mimi rather than slits. It has 9 sets of mimi for an 18.5" diameter head; each hole is 1 3/8" apart, center to center. The mimi are 3" from the drum head, and 3" from the mimi is the cut line. The center and drum head are also marked.
Tack Line Marking Tool
Simple tool, but the tacks come out straight every time.
It's just a compass C-clamped to one end of a beam. It can be easily adjusted, and the pencil marks wipe off.
Vertical Drill Guide
Another simple jig. This one helps guide the drill bit so that the hole will be perpendicular to the surface.
(Height: 24", Diameter: 19 7/8")
There are a number of barrel companies that sell barrels tailored to making taiko. To cut down on work, it helps to buy a barrel already cut to the proper dimensions, without the bunghole, and unsanded (since the drum will need to be sanded anyway).
- Where to Buy: Where to Purchase Drumbuilding Materials#Barrels
Finding taiko-quality skin is not easy, but there are a number of hide companies that have experience selling to taiko groups. Visit Rolling Thunder to get started finding hides. To cut down on work, it helps to buy rawhide that has already been cleaned.
- Where to Buy: Where to Purchase Drumbuilding Materials#Rawhide
(about 275 per chudaiko and 400 for an odaiko)
While it is possible to use upholstery tacks, Japanese taiko tacks are much higher quality. It used to be very difficult and expensive to get taiko tacks in North America (hence the popularity of the cheaper upholstery tacks), but now it is not hard to buy the real thing.
Tony Jones of Zenshin Daiko writes: "You can calculate how many tacks you need by measuring the circumference of the drum where the tacks will go. The tacks are placed about 1" apart, two rows of tacks on each side."
- Where To Buy: Where to Purchase Drumbuilding Materials#Tacks
1/2" thick, it takes approximately eight 2' x 2' squares.
- Zenshin Daiko uses wood glue.
- Polyurethane has its advantages, but they don't like it for several reasons: after applying, the glue foams and expands. They are uncomfortable with this because they don't want it pushing the staves apart. It also costs more, and is difficult to clean up -- especially from skin.
- One advantage however is that once cured, polyurethane glue it is not water soluble like most "yellow" wood glues. In other words you don't have to worry about moisture and humidity.
Buy 3/8" hardwood dowels, it takes approximately sixty 2 1/2" pieces for a chu-daiko.
Fiberglass Body Filler
Zenshin Daiko adds this to reinforce the rim, in addition to the plywood insert. They use "USC: Fiberglass Filled Filler DURAGLAS".
Staining the body once it is finished is purely an aesthetic step, but the stain can help to hide the glue lines and differences in grains.
Protects the inside and outside of the drum body from moisture.
- Mimi Rods (3/8" diameter stainless steel rods, 5 3/4" long)
- Rope (For forming/stretching heads)
- Sandpaper (Zenshin Daiko begins with 40 grit, then moves up through 80, 160, and 220)
- Cardboard or Newspaper (To protect floor while gluing barrel)
- Large piece of plywood (To protect floor while cutting skin)
- 8-12 Small Pieces of Thick Carpet (To protect body of drum from pulleys during skinning)
- Towels (Used during second soak to evenly wet head)
- Paraffin Wax (Rub on the edge of the body to make the skin slide easier when stretching)
- Duct Tape (To hold metal bands on while glue dries)
- Paint Thinner (To wipe down barrel while sanding. Water causes the wood to swell)
- Rags (For cleanup)