Arty Smarty: Upcycled Drum Set

Since my interview with Knot d’Amour last year, my plan was to upcycle cookie tins and disposable chopsticks into a drum set. However, the whole process took much longer than I expected! There was a lot of trial-and-error. I wanted the drum set to look as authentic as possible, and I wanted to use only lashings, but Science decided otherwise. I had to figure out the physics of preventing a top-heavy piece from toppling over because the chopsticks are too light and unstable. I had to figure out which lashings to use, and which ones would work for a specific part. I also learnt that using a fewer strands of twine made it easier to tie the knots and lashings.

In the end, I still had to rely on my trusty bottle of craft glue and tape, to ensure the lashings remain strong and stay in place. Anyhow, I am proud to reveal the prototype for my upcycled, DIY Drum Set!

**drum roll**

My DIY 4-piece Drum Set


Bass Drum, Rack Toms and Splash Cymbal

This is my favourite part of the drum kit, because it has a workable drum pedal. This was the first part I worked with, because I already had a concept of how I would like to assemble this.

The Rack Toms and Splash Cymbal is attached to the bass drum by drilling holes at the top. A Diagonal Lashing Knot is used to create a brace to keep the Rack Toms in place.

I used the Double Floor Lashing to create two “rafts”, which would make the base and the platform for stepping (footplate). A dish sponge is used to create the 45-degree angle to work the pedal. The beater is a rolled-up ball of aluminium glued to one end of a chopstick, and attached to the footplate.


Crash Cymbal, Seat, Ride Cymbal and Snare Drum

Crash Cymbal

To create a taller pole, I place two chopsticks together side by side and use a Round Lashing Knot.

I used the Round Lashing Knot for the Ride Cymbal as well. I had to use a heavier base with more marbles, to ensure the wide cookie tin lid was adequately supported. At this point, the chopstick base is just to match the aesthetics.

Ride Cymbal

I could not find a specific lashing to create the 3-legged stand typical of a drum stand, so I used a combination of the Diagonal Lashing Knot and the Square Lashing Knot. Considering the main idea is to ensure the lashings are secure, and they will not unravel, I paid attention to the frapping turns (the turns surrounding the lashing at right angles to exert a tightening effect) by alternating them—in/out, up/down.

I used bubble wrap and burlap as the skins (the playing surface on the top of the drum) for the Snare Drum and the Rack Toms, to offer different sound effects.

Snare Drum



To ensure more stability for the stool, I drilled holes by the side of the cookie tin, and used the Round Lashing Knot to secure the chopsticks. Still, sit with caution!




For the tip of the drumsticks, I started with a clove hitch, and then wrapped the twine around the tip several rounds, emphasizing on creating a small mound by making more rounds in the middle. I ended with another clove hitch, and then applied glue on the tip, to prevent the twine from unravelling.



This part of the drum set was both perplexing and exciting to create. The mechanism took a few tries to replicate, and a few straws were sacrificed in the process. I needed the footplate, when depressed, to be able to move the top cymbal towards the bottom cymbal to produce a sound. I managed to solve the problem by using a pyramid base, instead of the typical 3-legged drum stand. This solution offered better stability, which allowed the rod to be able to move smoothly within the straw.



We had so much fun making and playing with this drum kit!
If you have recyclables lying around the house, why not create musical instruments with them? This is my take on upcycling with cookie tins, disposable bamboo chopsticks and yoghurt containers. What do you think?


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