Make Your Own Civil War Drum

Great Civil War Projects You Can Build Yourself What You’ll Need:

  • cylindrical container like a coffee can, oatmeal box, or nut container–different size containers will make different pitches.
  • a Piece of Paper large enough to wrap around your container.
  • coloring/decorating materials
  • tape or glue
  • scissors
  • canvas or rubber material or leather large enough to cover the top and bottom of your container.
  • 2 large rubberbands
  • wooden spoons, sticks, wooden rods, pencils or pens for drumsticks.

What To Do:

  1. Cut off the top and bottom of your cylindrical container.
  2. Decorate your paper the way you want the outside of your drum to look.  During the Civil War, drums were usually stained brown on the outside and often decorated with tack-work in a certain pattern.
  3. Use tape or glue to attach your decorated paper to your container.  Cut paper to fit if needed.
  4. Take your chosen material for the top and bottom and cut out circular pieces that are larger than the diameter of the container.  The pieces should be large enough that an inch or two of material hangs over the edge of the container.  During the Civil War, this material would be made out of calfskin, which stretches easily and is very sensitive to moisture.  This was the easiest material to use, as there weren’t the man-made materials that we have today.
  5. Use the rubber bands to hold the material around the circumference of the container.  Pull the material taut so the drum will beat well.
  6. You can glue pieces of string or draw dark lines from the top to the bottom in a zigzag fashion, creating triangles or parallel lines on the outside of the drum.  Civil War drums had these, and they were made with brown or black rope.
  7. Now that your drum is complete, play it using your drumsticks.
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