How to Prepare for Drum-Making

thinking wooden man
--Photo by gutter
Making a drum is a big-time project, especially the first time you do it. So before you set-out to make your first hand-made taiko, make sure you have the what you need to carry it out.
1. Time
If you devote 100% of your time to taiko, then you can make a nagado-daiko in a week even if it's your first time. Smaller oke-drums are even quicker, you can probably scratch one out in a few days. The quickest is shime-drums, if you have a helping hand and the right equipment, you can make it in a day.
Most people, however, have things to do, and can't afford to devote entire weeks just to taiko. If that's the case, no problem. You can divide up the process into steps and take your time. The only step which requires a undivided block of time is the skinning process. Because you need to finish the stretching process before the skins dry out, you need to do this part in one go. Fortunately this should only take a day or two so a free weekend is all you need.
2. Space
If you're making a shime or an oke drum, you don't need very much room at all. You can do it in your garage or basement, or if you don't mind the mess, in your kitchen.
Bigger oke drums and nagado-drums, however, will need plenty of space to work with. An indoor space is necessary to prevent the ill-effects of weather, and it'll need to be somewhere you can make a mess of, and isn't being used for anything else. An empty garage (you'll have to park your car outside for a while) works, but the best would be renting or borrowing a studio space. Local wood-shops or university studios might have spaces that are available for rent. Ask around before you decide to do it in your own living room.
3. Equipment
Shime-daiko and small oke-daiko should only require a couple of hand tools. These include a jig-saw, a circular saw, a hand-plane, a drill, and in some cases a small chainsaw. These are all available in any hardware store and if you don't want to buy you can rent them for a reasonable price.
Bigger oke-daiko and nagado drums will require some bigger power tools. Though technically you can build them with just hand tools, some heavy-duty equipment will make your life a lot easier. For a wine-barrel type base, you'll need a table-top planar, a table-saw and/or a band-saw. For a hollowed base, you'll need a big chainsaw.
For skinning nagado-drums, you'll need 5-8 car jacks, 15+ meters of rope, plywood and some 4x4 pieces of wood.
For oke and shime heads, you'll need an iron bar (to make the inner ring), string, big needles and a leather punch.
4. Money
So all this stuff above- equipment, space and even time- is going to cost you some cash. So make sure you have the funds before dive into a project. Real-deal shime and small oke will cost you about US$50-100 in materials, plus whatever else you need for equipment (borrow to save money!). Luckily space shouldn't be a financial issue for these drums.
You can make an average sized nagado-daiko for as little as US$150 dollars, but it'll be a couple hundred if you're using top quality material. Renting equipment and space can add another $100-200 in costs. If you buy it's obviously more, if you borrow, less.
Take note, though, that these are all just rough estimates. The above prices are for authentic style drums using cheap material. Good materials will cost you a lot more. If, however, you're OK with reducing quality a little, there are building methods that will cost a lot less. A nagado made from a hollowed tree, for example, will cost a lot more than making it wine-barrel style. Same goes for a shime drum.
There's always going to be unexpected costs (eg. things break and need repair) so have some safety money as well. Making one nagado drum can cost a couple hundred in total, if you make 5-6 together, you're looking at two grand even on the cheap side.
If you're a part of a group, make it a joint operation. If everyone pitches in their time and labor, the whole process is not only quicker but a lot more fun. Though you could also have members donate money to make drums, a much better solution if you're financial limited is to raise money together. Asking the right people for donations, and doing fund-raisers will get you the money you need much faster than you might expect.

This information isn't here to deflate anyone's motivation. Don't let it! It does seem daunting at first, but trust me, once you get into it, it's well worth it. You'll have your very own drums and pick up a lot of skills and connections along the way.
NB: Information about actual materials for the drums (skins, barrels, wood, etc.) will be in another post.

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