bang on an oildrum...

No fire (well eventually some fire, but none yet) - helping a kid who wants to make a steel drum or steel pan - the hammered in and
shaped/tuned Caribbean instrument formed from the bottom of a 55 gallon drum.
Not that I've done this, but I grasp hammering and cold work, so I'm happy to be of help if the kid is willing to stick with the project. Don't expect it will measure up to professionally built pans form experienced makers, but it will be a learning experience, at least.
Found a pretty detailed book on pans by a Swedish pan player (who also happens to be a physicist, so he got interested in how they work and and detailed how they are made quite nicely) as a guide. Lacking any locals in the business, it's the next best thing I could find.
http://www.hotpans.se/pan/tuning/pdf/
Got started on the sinking today, banging away for an hour or so, trying to get across the idea of hitting hard enough but not too hard, hitting with the face, not the edge, and the need to gradually work the metal through repeated cycles to draw the drumhead down without ripping it, and looking for places that are rising up and specifically hitting them to bring them down (at this phase of the work).
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Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

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Ecnerwal'a dangged cat walked on the keyboard and wrote:

Some butthead in AZ replied...
"Cool :D"
Alvin in AZ
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How did the steel drum turn out? We recently went to a local concert where one of the gals played one and I was reminded of a recent past "how it's made" program where they showed them being made. I have no idea how they tune certain portions to particular notes, but it sure sounds like a neat process. What do you use to back up the metal as you strike it?
Pete Stanaitis ---------------

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As a musical instrument, not so good. There are bumps that make different tones when struck, but calling them tuned would be generous, and not all of them really work. As a learning experience, pretty good. The idea that there may be something to learn involving the mechanical skills of doing things has finally penetrated, after the kid who thought she'd be knocking this out in the same times (and with the same results) given in the reference for professional pan makers (despite my pointedly pointing out that this would not be true from the get-go, or before) actually took a stab at it and stuck with it for most of the spring.
Nothing is used to back up the metal in most of the work. The rim of the drum constrains it, and the process is basically stretching the metal to make domes - first a large one ("sinking" the bottom sheet into a large bowl or wok shaped object) and then smaller ones of different sizes (the size of which is most of where the tuning comes into play, as I understand it) by both further hammering down between them, and then some hamming up from the undersides.
She got a bit enthusiastic (or in a hurry) when hammering down between the notes, and failed to spread that out any, resulting in some deep trenches (they were supposed to be more valley-like) and some rips. We probably also did not have the most suitable drum to start with - thicker is evidently better, and this is a fairly thin one, which may have added to the susceptibility to ripping. I welded up the rips, but the note shaping was never really all it should have been, and ultimately it hit a point where she settled for getting a few audibly different notes and a greater appreciation for the skills of professional pan tuners. I would guess that if she had the patience to crank through 5 or 10 more she might start getting somewhere, but I'll be somewhat surprised if she actually chooses to do that.
I darn near had a stupid - I was about to start welding up the rips when I recalled that while it was not a petroleum drum, the thing had been an oil (sesame) drum, and I was about to start welding on it, which could have proved far too exciting. Fortunately I listened to the little voice in my brain that had looked at all the "pictures of blown-up oil drums" at the welding supply and stopped to cut out the bung-end head-sheet, using a chisel (well, actually using a splitting maul head as a chisel) - took less than 5 minutes, no sparks, no heat to speak of. After that any fumes would just burn, not blow the thing up.
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Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by
Please don't feed the trolls. Killfile and ignore them so they will go away.
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