Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to Make a Box Drum - Africa Style!

Drums are very poplar instruments used throughout Burkina. There are a variety of different styles of drums, but in the village church you will always find someone playing the box drum. With a box drum you play by sitting on the drum and using your hands and feet.
We recently made a box drum at the orphanage that was to be transported back to the U.S. Of course I documented this so that if anyone wanted to make their own they could follow these simple steps.
1. Make a wooden frame about 20 inches square.
2. Inspect your animal skin that has been soaking for at least 24 hours in water for imperfections. This is donkey skin and we were told it is the best to use for the box drum.

3. Find an old bicycle tire and trim off the sides.

 4. Place the animal sin over the wooden frame and trim off the excess. The skin should come down at least 8 inches over the side of the frame.

 5. With at least 4 people helping, stretch the skin tightly over the frame (hair side facing out) and nail the tire rubber in place to secure the skin.

 6. Now you can trim the skin so it is just below the rubber.

 7. The drum needs to sit in the sun for one day before you can shave the fur from the skin.

 8. When it has had several days to dry, you can start making sweet music.

IMPORTANT TIP: If you are wishing to transport a box drum on an aircraft, don't try to do it if your drum has had only one day to dry. The smell is pretty strong and will alert the dogs at airport security and they will confiscate your drum!


  1. I will put this on my "to do" list. Now all I have to do is find a dead donkey! How hard can that be ?

  2. Every little church without a band in the US should have a box drum! Cow hide? Rabbit skin? I don't have any donkeys here. Could this drum they made be the one that arrived in the mail at my house for Kirsten??