I would like to know how to make my own drumsticks with a Swiss Army knife. I would like to know which wood to use, how long they should be, how to whittle the tips correctly.

My goal is to make a pair of rock drumsticks: they should be hard, heavy and very robust.

It would be very nice if you guys could explain it to me, or even send me some links of tutorials you would recommend.

  • The term you want is whittling, that'll help you a lot in finding relevant info on how you'll approach this. If you begin with the right starting point this should be doable, hard work but doable, but finding a suitable wood in the right dimensions to begin from may be more difficult than you're expecting. Also, you're going to have to get some sharpening equipment if you don't have anything already. Your SAK's blades will blunt surprisingly fast working with hard wood. See my Answer to this Question for more on that.
    – Graphus
    Nov 13, 2019 at 17:38
  • @GraphussupportsMonica Wow thanks! Ok now I understand, I obviously meant whittling not carving. Nov 14, 2019 at 8:47
  • The drumstick is inside the piece of wood, all you have to do is remove all of the wood that is not the drumstick.
    – Alaska Man
    Nov 14, 2019 at 20:50
  • @AlaskaMan Hahaha yes actually that's correct. Nov 15, 2019 at 7:13
  • I've found that whittling green wood is much easier than whittling dry wood. If you can find some fresh sticks roughly the right size and length whittle off the bark and do a little shaping.
    – David D
    Jul 7, 2021 at 14:09

3 Answers 3


(Answering as both a drummer and wood worker)

Going along with the previous answer, hickory is a common wood for drum sticks. It is nice and strong (also commonly used for baseball bats, axe handles, etc) and can be found at most specialty lumber dealers. You can try with other types too...

I do agree that shaping them with a knife will be very difficult. Try to find wood with straight grain across the entire length of the shaft to prevent breakage when you are playing.

  • Hickory is definitely a nice wood, though I'd rather use some good local wood, as it's easier to get. I live in Central Europe, so I thought something like beech could do it, but I'm not sure if it's hard enough for drumsticks. Mar 13 at 9:06

My guess is that drumsticks are not carved, but rather are turned. I can't imagine you'll get the feel you want from carving, especially with a single ordinary blade that was never designed for carving.

That's not to say you can carve with a plain pocket knife, but rather that the skill required to do so takes a long time to learn, and may only be appropriate for whittling-style chipping and paring. Not the smooth and balanced finish that musical instruments require.

If you do want to do this, you'll probably first have to select the appropriate hardwood. Some research will have to be done to know the qualities you want so by the time you get them down to size they don't just fly apart or whatever.

And then a further guess is that you will need a few more carving tools than a single pocket knife. A drawknife springs to mind, along with a shaving horse.

And probably a profile guide of some sort, because getting the complicated profile of a stick carved in even a marginally balanced manner is going to be really really challenging.

That all being said, my suggesting is to do some internet research, because I am almost certain that drumsticks are made by turning on a special lathe, not carved in a linear fashion.

  • Thanks for your reply, you surely are right. Still I would like to make my drumsticks with a pocket knife though. Nov 13, 2019 at 16:25
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    @GogoDev it sounds like you should just give it a try after a bit material research. Then you will be the expert! Maybe ask on one of the music oriented SEs what makes a good drumstick in terms of wood species and type. I don't think woodworkers in general would know this. And then get yourself a whetstone and learn how to maintain a nice carving edge on your knife - feel free to ask another question about hardwood carving and carving knife preparation.
    – user5572
    Nov 13, 2019 at 16:30
  • Ok, sure @jdv thanks! Nov 13, 2019 at 16:39
  • I can't believe I didn't mention a spokeshave or drawknife, which will probably be how most of the waste would be removed to hand-make a drumstick if it wasn't turned.
    – user5572
    Nov 21, 2019 at 16:12

If you go with a marching snare type of stick, you don’t even need to carve a bead head. Just a taper to a rounded end that starts between 1/2 to 2/3 from the bottom of the stick. The top of the stick will be about 1/2 the diameter of the butt.

Doing a traditional concert style stick with a bead head will require a taper down to about 1/3 the diameter of the butt of the stick. Which then swell back up to 1/2 the diameter on the bead.

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