How to Make Taiko Sticks (Bachi): Part II

Japanese wood plane
-Photo by Phlora

I’ll explain in this post a more authentic way of making taiko sticks that wasn’t mentioned in Part I.

One of the most common materials for taiko sticks is the Japanese ‘hinoki’. It’s a relatively light wood that’s easy to shape and great for most taiko playing styles. The only problem with hinoki is its lack of availability outside of Japan. However, if you can find a wood, preferably something similar to cypress, that doesn’t seem too heavy or hard it shouldn’t be a problem.
See the Part 1 post for more about types of wood.

1. The first step is to go to a lumberyard or DIY store and acquire the wood. Find ones that are available in rectangular lengths and come in a variety of diameters. A typical ‘shime’ bachi for example, is about 3.5cm in diameter, so you want to find something no smaller than that.

2. Next, cut them to the lengths of your desired bachi.

3. Each end of the length should be squares. On that square end, use a ruler to draw two diagonals from the corners of the square. Where the two lines intersect is the center of your stick.

4. Using the center you found, draw a circle on the square end. The circle should be the desired diameter of your bachi. Do the same on the other end.

5. Next, take a hand plane and evenly shave off the wood right down to the line of circles you drew. A Japanese wood plane, like the one in the pic, are particularly easy for this purpose because of their shape and size, but other hand planes should work fine.

6. Next use the plane to chip off the sharp ends of the stick. You want the ends to be nicely rounded to prevent any damage to your taiko skins.

7. Finally, sand down the entire stick while giving particular attention to the ends of the sticks. Make sure they’re nicely rounded and smooth. As for the sand paper, I’d recommend starting with a rougher grain (about 80), and gradually going down to finer ones (400 and up).

Note: Step 5 is much easier said than done, but here are a few tips that might make it easier.

A. Rest the wood in a groove of some sort that will prevent it from moving around. If you can lay down the stick against something it’ll make it much easier to plane evenly.

B. When planing down the wood, shave off the four edges first

C. When planing, plane across the entire length of the stick. If you feel that one part is thicker than the other, continue to plane the entire length, just press the plane down a little harder when working the thicker ends.

D. In the beginning, adjust your planar to about 1mm of exposed blade. Gradually decrease the amount of exposed blade until eventually your only shaving off paper thin sheets of wood. This will make your bachi smooth and even.

Also see; 
How to Make Bachi (Part 1)

Here are some other taiko related resources you might find helpful:

Taiko Information:
Taiko Playing Styles
Why are Taiko Drums So Expensive?
How to Play Taiko Drums
5 Ways to Get Better at Taiko
Finding and Learning Taiko Music
Getting in Taiko Playing Shape
Taiko Drums vs Other Percussion

Taiko Building:
Where to Get Taiko Drums
How to Make a Happi Coat
How to Make a Taiko Drum
How to Make Handles on a Taiko Drum
How to Make Shime and Oke Taiko Heads
How to Make Taiko Skin (Drum Heads from Cow Hide
How to Make Practice Taiko Drums
How to Paint a Taiko Drum
How to Make Practice Shime Drums
How to Make Tire Taiko
How to Raise Money

TaikoSkin Podcast
The TaikoSkin podcast covers a whole range of topics related to taiko- building drums, starting groups, getting performances offers, going to grad school. Just about anything really. Download them in the iTunes store, or find all of the episodes here.

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