How to Make a Steel Drum

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Large metal coffee can or large metal barrel
  • 6-inch long dowel
  • Rubber bands
  • Hammer
  • Earplugs

How to Make a Steel Drum. Steel drums have a unique sound that is synonymous with the Caribbean. Anyone can have that island sound by making a steel drum. With the right tools and a little knowledge, making a steel drum can be a fun weekend project. Read on to learn more.

Find a stick because a steel drum can't be played without one. A piece of dowel about six inches long with rubber bands wrapped around the end will work fine.

Place the barrel or can on a flat solid surface and draw a line with a pen across the top of the barrel or can so that it is off center and the circle is divided into two slightly different halves.

Beat up and down the pen line on the can or barrel with a hammer. By forcing the drum down, this will stretch the two areas and make them resonant.

Use the playing stick to test the notes while hammering the can or barrel. Try hammering up from the inside of the can or barrel if two notes are not clear. Hammering from the inside will raise note areas and make them more resounding. When the two areas of the steel drum are as rich as possible, the steel drum is complete.


For a genuine island sound, play the steel drum in a "boom boom ba-boom" pattern.


Always exercise caution when using a hammer. Use earplugs when hammering metal, as the sound can damage hearing.

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