Tongue Drum Journey #1: What's gone wrong?

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Blog entry by albachippie posted 05-01-2010 12:53 PM 5490 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I wanted to make a tongue drum for a friend who is a musician. I wasn’t too bothered about the tuning etc, I just wanted to try out something new. He could use it as a paper weight if nothing else!! The problem is it is barely audible. The construction is 3/4” oak top with 3/8” mahogany sides and a 1/4” ply bottom. This is based on a plan I found on the Portercable site (posted on this site somewhere, but can’t find it now!).

Some questions about this project….

Are the spaces between the tongues too wide? This is fairly close to the plan I think

My plan now is to router grooves along the base of the tongues to try and get more reverb. Will this work?

I have also not put any holes in the sides to let the sound out, would this help perhaps?

I still have some work to do to the finish, just one coat of tongue oil as yet (a first for me).

I welcome your feedback and suggestions,



-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

3 comments so far

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 4318 days

#1 posted 05-01-2010 03:49 PM

I made one with holes in the top and it has a very nice sound to it. Also my top is longer than yours and mine has 1/8 inch space between the tongues. I didn’t worry about the tuning since it was for my kids. Checkout the comments people made on mine for some ideas. I did make another with more tongues and it didn’t sound very nice. You might try a different box sizes.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View cutmantom's profile


408 posts in 4247 days

#2 posted 05-01-2010 05:28 PM

look at The Woodworking Video Library for the american wood shop episode jewelry box aztec wood drum

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4230 days

#3 posted 05-02-2010 02:17 AM

I made one years ago and I believe the problem may lie in the thickness of the board. I would say it needs to be thinned down a bit.

Erwin Jacksonville,FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

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